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Artnet News
Sept. 7, 2010 

Japanese superartist Takashi Murakami’s recent photoshoot with pop princess Britney Spears for Pop magazine probably did little to cool tempers in the lead-up to his upcoming show at Versailles, Sept. 14-Dec. 10, 2010. The cover pics, art directed by Murakami and shot by Todd Cole, feature the artist’s signature grinning flower motif, and a recumbent Spears adorned in attire meant to evoke an anime Lolita. The Pop issue dropped just as protests against Murakami’s appearance at the French palace were gearing up, with one group of cultural purists, the Coordination Défense de Versailles, garnering some 5,300 signatures in their campaign against the exhibition, decrying the artist’s work as trash and proclaiming, "No Manga at Chateau Versailles." (The same group previously led a publicity campaign against the Jeff Koons show at Versailles.)

But one person’s junk culture is another’s cry against censorship, apparently. According to an article on the Anime News Network ("The Internet’s Most Trusted Anime News Source"), Murakami’s collaboration with Britney Spears was an homage to the anime work of Seiji Matsuyama, creator of the so-called "fanservice" genre, which involves "scenes designed to excite or titillate the viewer" such as "scantily-clad outfits, cleavage shots, panty shots, nude scenes (shower scenes especially), etc." (to quote one online anime glossary). Murakami, it seems, solicited Matsuyama via Twitter about using his work as inspiration for the photo shoot, as an "indirect protest" against recent moves by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to limit sexualized depictions of youth.

Meanwhile protests against his "manga art" are not slowing Murakami down. Over the weekend, he revealed, also via Twitter, that the Versailles exhibition would feature a brand new anime film, titled Six Hearts Princess.

Mega-collector Charles Saatchi has backed away from plans to donate his art collection to the British public. In July, he had announced that his privately run Saatchi Gallery was to become the Museum of Contemporary Art, London after his retirement, with his collection -- including such seminal works as Tracey Emin’s My Bed and Jake & Dinos Chapman’s Tragic Anatomies -- forming the basis of a publicly administered collection. Now, apparently, talks with the government agency that was to assume control of the institution, the Arts Council, have reached an impasse. Why the reversal of fortune? Some reports suggested that it had to do with a clash over Saatchi’s insistence that the museum be able to sell works out of the collection to fund collecting, something that would violate the guidelines for a state-controlled institution in the UK.

"We have had discussions about the gift with the Arts Council, but we decided that we weren’t comfortable with the idea of working with them," Saatchi gallery head Rebecca Wilson told Bloomberg in an e-mail. "We are in conversation with several other potential recipients and will be making a further statement about the gift in due course."

A bankruptcy official has officially asked permission to send the collection of the defunct law firm owned by Marc Dreier to Phillips, de Pury & Co., according to the Wall Street Journal. Dreier pled guilty two years ago of scheming to sell some $700-million in bonus promissory notes, and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. In the wake of the scandal that brought him down, it was revealed that the high-rolling lawyer was, among other things, a big client of Gagosian Gallery, buying art worth $10 million in one year. The 81 lots from the Dreier LLP collection contain all that one would expect from such a big spender, including two Damien Hirst pieces, two works from Jasper Johns, seven from Ellsworth Kelly, one from Willem de Kooning, three Henri Matisse prints and five screenprints by Andy Warhol. The hearing determining whether the sale goes ahead is to be held on Sept. 30, 2010. The Phillips/Drier sale would be Nov. 21.

If you’re in Los Angeles, you may have noticed the recent public work of art by artist and UCLA "new genres" art prof Jennifer Bolande in the abandoned storefronts of Wilshire Boulevard. Or you might not have. The work, commissioned by West of Rome as part of its "Women in the City" initiative, involves hanging abandoned windows with fabric curtains, each one overlaid with an exact to-scale print of the kind of plywood barriers used to board up derelict buildings. According to the WoR press release, Bolande’s cryptic interventions are meant to inspire a double take, and "can signify both the end and also the beginning of something."

Can’t wait for the epic retrospective from New York’s Pace Gallery, Sept. 17-Oct. 23, 2010? Well, as they say, there’s an app for that. The gallery has launched an iPhone app specifically for its upcoming "50 Years at Pace" show. Users can browse checklists, view images of works from the show, and watch reflections of art historians and artists such as Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Kiki Smith and James Turrell -- all from the convenience of an iPhone. The app is rated "12+," for "Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References," "Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes" and "Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity." Check it out, here.

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