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Artnet News
Apr. 1, 2010 

The innovative Portland-based Publication Studio is putting out a novel by curator Lawrence Rinder, an art-world roman à clef titled Revenge of the Decorated Pigs. Rinder, of course, is the current director of the Berkeley Art Museum, and former chief curator of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where he helmed the 2002 installment of the museum’s signature biennial. Revenge is described by the publishers as "an old-fashioned gay romp through the high stakes world of contemporary art and commerce;" Rinder himself calls it a "a subjective fever dream."

In any event, the novel tells the tale of "Kevin Forester," a curator at the "Merton Museum of Art" who faces art-world hostility as he attempts to forge his own path in curating (which involves bringing an unwieldy Earthwork into the museum). According to a review in the Economist’s "More Intelligent Life" blog, the cast includes such characters as "gangsta rappers who shop at Barney's, closeted globe-trotting business moguls, and edgy art-magazine publishers who commit themselves to weekend stays in mental hospitals to avoid ‘unpleasant’ people." It also seems to dwell a fair amount on Forester’s sexcapades, as he misses an appointment dozing off in a porn theater, and cavorts with collectors and artists alike.

Artnet News hasn’t had a chance to fully peruse Revenge of the Decorated Pigs yet. Within just the first couple of pages, however, the Forester character is sniping about an art critic couple, “Luella Cross and Barry Rotz,” a “thin-lipped newspaper art critic who was the most commanding voice in the New York art world,” and her “sidekick. . . a critic for the downtown ‘alternative’ weekly, The Soho Screech, [who] wielded extraordinary influence especially among hipsters and the college crowd.” This is followed by a description of “Frank Chickadee,” who writes for “the on-line journal ArtKvetch,” and who skewers “anyone who had the bad luck to fall into the roving spotlight of his menacing gaze.” We’ll let you guess what that’s about.

Interested art-world readers can see the entire text online, courtesy Publication Studio. As a bonus for anyone looking to take note of real-life analogues for any of Rinder’s zany characters, the online text is annotatable by users. [Note: Since the publication of this news item, Revenge of the Decorated Pigs has been taken offline. Publication Studio tells Artnet News, “the author now wishes we would sell books rather than giving the text away.”]

Grassroots exhibitions are the thing of the moment, and Bushwick is where it’s at this weekend in New York, as a two-day pop-up painting show opens at 245 Boerum Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Dubbed "Bushwick Schlacht!," the event is put together by the team of painter Tom Sanford, independent curator Guillermo Creus, German artist Marcel Hüppauff, and Photios Giovanis, who runs Callicoon Fine Art. Half of the show’s painters hail from the U.S. and half from Germany. Sanford says the exhibition is intended "to finally settle a long running bar debate over whether Berlin or NYC is the center of the painting universe," describing the curatorial vision as "a DJ battle inspired installation of small works by 70 (or so) of the best artists representing these two cities." Artists include Gregory Amenoff, Andreas Hofer, Aaron Johnson, Chris Martin, Richard Phillips, William Powhida and many, many other worthy souls. "Bushwick Schlacht!" is open April 3, 2010, 6-10 pm; April 4, from 12-7 pm; and April 5, by appointment only.

The Drawing Center in New York’s SoHo district opens two exhibitions for spring, though neither really brings daffodils to mind. "Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion?" Apr. 23-July 23, 2010, presents approximately 50 oil stick and ink drawings made between 1999 and 2004 by the political-expressionist painter (1922-2004), and also features Golub’s only unfinished painting -- a chalk sketch of two lions started in 2001 but never completed.

In the smaller Drawing Room space, the center is opening "Dorothea Tanning: Early Designs for the Stage," Apr. 23-July 23, 2010, which features 20 hand-drawn ballet costumes made in 1945-53 for a collaboration with George Balanchine.

Matthew Barney
’s five-part "Cremaster Cycle" -- which remains unavailable on DVD (though it does have an online trailer, here) -- is returning to theaters next month, some seven years after the last time the cycle toured. The International Film Circuit distribution company is re-debuting the film on May 19, 2010, at IFC Center in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, before the suite subsequently appears in Los Angeles, Boston and other U.S. cities. The five films, which range in length from 41 to 181 minutes (almost seven hours in all), are being organized into three separate programs (they can also be rented for $500 each, with the longer Cremaster 3 costing $800).

Curator and art dealer Robert Curcio’s TheGreatNude Invitational is now set to take place at the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, May 13-16, 2010. The "figurative arts fair" promises 30 exhibitors in the hotel’s rooms, all showcasing the nude in either group or solo shows. Word is that Donald Kuspit, a longtime advocate for figurative art, is going to organize an exhibition; and something called "sketch parties" are also planned. Some of the spots, which start at $2,500, may still be available for potential exhibitors. For more info, click here.

French president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy used the occasion of their recent diplomatic swing through New York to announce a new initiative of Bruni-Sarkozy’s recently formed foundation: an exchange program for "underprivileged French and American arts students." The program reportedly benefits about 50 students each year -- 25 from each country -- by sending them to study at partnered art institutions, including Juilliard, New York University’s Steinhardt School, the School of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as the Sorbonne and the Ecoles Nationales Supérieures des Arts Décoratifs, on the French side. The first round of exchanges starts Fall 2010.

The new cultural exchange program is funded by a €1.5-million gift from John Paulson, head of the New York hedge fund Paulson & Co., and the 45th richest man in the world, according to Forbes (a graduate of NYU, Paulson insisted that the exchange program be New York-based).

The motivation for the Bruni-Sarkozy/Paulson initiative is more than philanthropic, however. "President Sarkozy is acutely aware of the possibilities of arts and education in bringing governments together," his assistant chief of cabinet, Gregoire Verdeaux, told the Art Newspaper. "He thinks a lot like an American, and the concept of soft power does not escape him at all." Sarkozy has become increasingly unpopular with the French electorate, and the U.S. trip was intended to give him a boost.

The New York Photo Festival, May 13-16, 2010, in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, may include the kind of pay-to-play art contest that serious artists generally avoid -- entry fees start at $30 per photo -- but the event also includes four exhibitions (which do not charge the exhibiting artists a fee, of course), organized by New Yorker photo critic Vince Aletti, ad agency chief Erik Kessels, NYU photo prof Fred Ritchin and rock star Lou Reed. Aletti promises "Object Lesson," a still-life show featuring works by a dozen or so artists, while Reed’s undertaking, "Hidden Books, Hidden Stories," includes, on opening night, an outdoor slide show projected beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Reed is also credited with an installation of photos and videos documenting Doug & Mike Starn’s "architectural performance" known as Big Bambú, which opens in the roof garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Apr. 27-Oct. 31, 2010. The various show are sited at St. Ann’s Warehouse (east and west), Smack Mellon, and the front and back spaces of 81 Front Street. Admission to the photo fest is $15.

Are the organizers of the upcoming conference at Columbia University, "Modernism in Georgia: Redrawing the Boundaries," trying to say something about the 2008 invasion of the country by Russian forces? In any case, the one-day event takes place at 10am-7pm on Apr. 10, 2010, and promises to explore avant-garde art in the country in the early 20th century and during the subsequent Soviet era. The conference is accompanied by "Georgian Modernism / Tbilisi Avant-Garde Art," Apr. 1-May 15, 2010, an exhibition at Columbia’s Harriman Institute.

Participating scholars in the symposium are Catharine Nepomnyashchy, Lauren Ninoshvili, Harsha Ram, Françoise Le-Gris, Pamela Renner, Nana Kipiani, Levan Chogoshvili, Giorgi Gvakharia, Ketevan Shavgulidze, Tea Tabatadze, Nestan Tatarashvili, and Mzia Chikhradze.

Pratt Manhattan Gallery is holding a public art competition for artists to design "mobile voter registration centers" that will actually tour New York City as part of the upcoming 2010 election cycle. Open to all, the contest encourages designs that "provide visual political stimulation during the voter registration process" and must be light-weight, collapsible and "inform the public about the democratic process," in a non-partisan way, of course. The winning entries will be used in an actual voter registration drive on the streets of New York, Sept. 15-Oct. 1, 2010, in the lead-up to the elections, while all entries will be shown in a show at the Pratt Gallery at 144 West 14th Street, Aug. 31-Sept. 7.

A fairly distinguished team of judges will pick the winners: Nick Battis, Pratt’s director of exhibitions; critic and curator Eleanor Heartney; writer and performer Larry Litt; and Yale School of Art dean Robert Storr. Winners get prizes of $500, $400, and $300, plus $1000 fabrication stipends. Deadline for entries is June 15, 2010. Full info on the contest here.

PaceWildenstein, the New York gallery formed in 1993 by modern art-centric Pace Gallery and Old Masters dealer Wildenstein & Co., is breaking up. The separation is said to be "amicable," according to a report by Carol Vogel in the New York Times. Financial details are confidential, but involve "hundreds of millions of dollars," in the Times’ words, with Pace buying the jointly owned inventory as well as Wildenstein’s 49 percent share of PaceWildenstein. The Chelsea and East 57th Street galleries will henceforth be known, once again, as Pace Gallery, and the chain’s Beijing gallery also remains under the Pace name. Wildenstein & Co.’s East 64th Street headquarters, which always operated under its traditional name, "will continue to run as before."

So what’s behind the sudden break-up of one of the top brands of the New York art world? According to Vogel, the move reflects the fragmentation of the art market. The PaceWildenstein super-gallery was meant as a way to share client lists, allowing collectors to shop in the same place for modern art and Old Masters. However, this setup has apparently ceased to make sense in the face of a "trend toward more specialized collecting." Pace head Arne Glimcher summed things up thusly to the Times, saying, "There was no logic in keeping it going. We are not exchanging clients in the way we once were."

Dealer David Zwirner is expanding his Chelsea empire yet again, according to art journalist Lindsay Pollock, who reports that the gallery has purchased a three-story, 27,000-square-foot building at 537 West 20th Street (formerly the home of Bermuda Limousine Int’l Inc.),  for $8 million. Speculation is that the new building will house Zwirner’s secondary market business. "We are especially excited since it is so close to our existing location on 19th Street," Zwirner spokesperson Julia Joern told Pollock.

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