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Jan. 25, 2010

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The wit and wisdom of Artnet’s favorite museum director, the late Thomas Hoving (1931-2009) -- his memoir, Artful Tom, is published online here -- have now been translated into an app for the iPhone and iPad. With the oversight of Nancy Hoving, Tom’s widow, his 2005 book of educational art games, Master Pieces: The Curator’s Game, has been artfully digitalized, with the app featuring Hoving’s text, over 200 jpgs of 44 masterpieces, and three different games that get more difficult as you go along. It’s great fun. The price is $9.99, available from the iTunes store.

The Republican Party may be planning to zero-out the arts and humanities in the U.S.A., but art still finds friends among world leaders. According to scattered reports, Damien Hirst is going to demonstrate his signature spin-art technique to the assembled dignitaries at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Jan. 26-30, 2011, otherwise known as Davos. Of course he is.

Also making the Alps art scene are Jeff Koons, Guggenheim Museum director Richard Armstrong and Olafur Eliasson, who are scheduled to speak at a philanthropic roundtable organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Charmingly dubbed "modernARTization: Art and Philanthropy in Changing Societies," the event also includes Qatar Museums Authority chair H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Brazil’s Inhotim museum founder Bernardo Paz. Paulo Coelho is moderating.

Artist Dennis Oppenheim, who died at age 72 on Jan. 22, 2011, was very active in the public art arena. At his death, he was completing a $700,000 public art project in downtown Las Vegas. The "paintbrush gateway," as the work is often called, consists of two 45-foot-tall paintbrushes, lit by LED lights in a kind of choreographed lightshow that would arch across the boulevard like a gateway.

The project had been controversial -- as with many of Oppenheim’s public works -- but was due to be completed last month, a schedule that was clearly derailed by the artist’s sudden illness. According to a report in the Las Vegas Weekly, the Las Vegas Arts Commission plans to move ahead with the project.

Tod’s, the Italian luxury design firm known best for its sleek leather loafers and simple handbags, has pledged $34 million towards renovation of Rome’s 2000-year-old Colosseum. The project is slated to take between two or three years, and include the reinforcement of some underground spaces that are currently off limits to the public.

Tod’s founder Diego Della Valle said that he had no plans to exploit the sponsorship for commerical purposes, and expressed hope that other Italian businesses would follow suit with similar philanthropies. Private sponsorship of the arts is relatively rare in Italy, which has been cutting back on its culture ministry budget because of the global recession.

Former Venice Biennale curator Daniel Birnbaum took over as director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm only last October, but he’s already shaking things up. "Another Story: 1,000 Photographs from the Moderna Museet Collection," a show that opens to the press on Feb. 23, 2011, and that promises to "give a fresh angle on art history" -- namely, one that replaces the permanent collection with nothing but photographs for the next year.

The rehang of the museum’s photo collection, which numbers more than 100,000 works, takes place in phases: "Another Story: Possessed by the Camera" features contemporary photo-based art; "Another Story: See the World!" covers the period 1920-80; and "Another Story: Written in Light" shows the early decades of photography. The job is overseen by Birnbaum and Ann-Sofi Noring, the museum curator now promoted to co-director.

The award of the 2011 Art Cologne Prize to veteran German art dealer Michael Werner provides the opportunity to review briefly his impressive career. After working for Berlin art dealer Rudolf Springer, Werner and Benjamin Katz co-founded a gallery in Berlin in 1963. The very first show at Werner & Katz, which featured works by Georg Baselitz, was plunged into controversy when the public prosecutor seized Die große Nacht im Eimer (The Big Night Down The Drain), a painting of a dwarf-like creature holding what appears to be a red phallus; the picture now hangs in Cologne’s Museum Ludwig.

In 1964 Werner opened his own gallery, calling it the Erster Orthodoxer Salon (First Orthodox Salon) and setting up in a former coal depot. A few years later he moved to Cologne and quickly became a major proponent of German Neo-Expressionist painting, working with Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Eugène Leroy, Markus Lüpertz, A. R. Penck, Sigmar Polke and Don Van Vliet, among others. He also showed Marcel Broodthaers and James Lee Byars, and specialized in classical modernism by artists such as E. L. Kirchner, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Henri Michaux and Francis Picabia.

Werner currently operates galleries in New York, Berlin and Cologne. The 2011 Cologne Art Prize, which includes a purse of €10,000, is presented at a ceremony in Cologne’s Historisches Rathaus on Apr. 14, 2011, as part of Art Cologne, Apr. 13-17, 2011.

New Yorkers now get their chance to survey 30 years of work by the beloved illustrator, author and designer Maira Kalman in "Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)," Mar. 11-July 31, 2011, at the Jewish Museum. The show includes more than 100 items, ranging from paintings and books to clothing and watches, presented in a special installation, designed by the artist, featuring "chairs, ladders and many tables of many things." The show originated at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

They call it the art world’s version of the Academy Awards (though no golden statues are involved). The U.S. Art Critics Association, also known by its French acronym, AICA-USA, plans a big blow-out at the Cooper Union on Mar. 14, 2011, when it presents its annual awards for excellence in art exhibitions to 26 winners in a dozen categories.

Award winners include exhibitions by contemporary artists Marina Abramovic, Tino Sehgal and Cai Guo-Qiang, by pioneering modernists Arshile Gorky and Yves Klein as well as 19th- and early-20th-century masters Henri Matisse, Otto Dix and Claude Monet. Also honored are thematic exhibitions dealing with women Pop artists, the history of performance art, and the Bauhaus.

Special honors go to art editor Elizabeth C. Baker. Other presenters include artists Chuck Close, Christo, Martin Puryear, and Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai.

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