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Feb. 4, 2010 

Berlin-based artist Tino Sehgal’s show has opened at the Guggenheim Museum to generally good reviews, particularly for his moving performance This Progress, which has volunteers engage visitors in philosophical conversation while ascending the museum’s famous spiral ramp. However, one aspect of the work has notably provoked a small-scale revolt -- Sehgal’s much-commented-upon prohibition on photographic documentation of his work. Even before the show had opened, in fact, the art blogger Martin Bromirski (a.k.a. Anaba) posted some lovely shots of Kiss, the performance piece that occupies the museum’s central atrium (the work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which has “loaned” it to the Guggenheim). Asked in the comments section of his blog where he had acquired the pics, Bromirski answered that they were from “someone's facebook” whose “photo settings are public.”

This was followed, on Jan. 31, 2010, by a thoughtful review of the Gugg show by Holland Cotter in the New York Times. Cotter (approvingly) described This Progress as “awkward, rambling, indeterminate, peppered with doubt and ambiguity.” Of the photo ban, however, Cotter stated that it “may be unenforceable in this day and age.” And, to hammer home the point, his article was illustrated with two more photos of the embracing actors interpreting Kiss in the Guggenheim lobby. Both were captioned that they were “taken on an iPhone,” yielding the humorous mental image of the Times critic sneaking a snap on his phone while the guards were looking the other way.

The harshest critic yet of Sehgal’s attempt to control documentation of his work comes from Swedish artist Lars Vilks. The cantankerous Vilks has a history of flouting prohibitions on representation. He is best-known for the international furor touched off in 2007 by his drawing placing the head of the prophet on a dog’s body. Apparently, this January, in the lead up to the Guggenheim show, Vilks received a message from Sehgal’s Berlin gallery asking him to remove from the web a picture he had taken of the artist’s work at the 2005 Venice Biennale. In response, Vilks posted a video cutting together footage from several YouTube clips of the Venice performance, along with an image of Sehgal himself spliced into the snow-covered Swedish wilderness.

Vilks, who considers himself an institutional-critique artist, was much less forgiving of Sehgal’s foibles than Cotter: “Sehgal was very interesting when he took the art world by surprise,” he said, “but now he has entered into his establishment phase when he enters the institutions.”

Meanwhile, the online versions of our two most influential art magazines seem to be going along with the ban. The Artforum Diary has so far posted only an (admittedly charming) photo of Sehgal along with Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector, while Art in America finesses the issue with a shot of the museum’s skylight. And though Flickr doesn’t seem to be overflowing with newly purloined images of the show, people are posting rather impressive homemade vids of the exhibition on YouTube, here and here.

The Museum of Modern Art, via its hip contemporary outpost in Queens, P.S.1, has entered the futuristic world of online cyber-communities with its new Studio Visit website. Described as a web initiative devoted -- like P.S.1’s forthcoming “Greater New York” exhibition -- to “emerging artists working in the five boroughs and the greater New York area,” the site invites artists to make a “virtual presentation of their studios” via uploaded jpgs and vids. As a result, many of the participants -- an incredible 460 artists are online already -- have posted images of their buildings and workspaces along with shots of their works. The site even includes a map of the city with all the studio locations marked.

Meanwhile, the Brainstormers art group is using the Studio Visit website to advocate for parity between men and women artists in “Greater New York,” which was 70 percent male the last time around. The feminist group is urging artists to register on the site and post there one of several headlines, such as “P.S.1 Art Show Biased against Women.”

A few fans of painter Robert Kushner, long celebrated for his luxuriously elaborate and colorful paintings of flowers, may remember his youthful antics back in the 1970s, when he was known for organizing (and starring in) fashion shows in which the models were more-or-less nude, clothed only in garments made of vegetables and fruits. The last time Kushner organized one of these events was in 1976, at the behest of a small New York-based art magazine called Art-Rite.

Now, he is reviving the performance, which was first done in 1972, as part of an evening event honoring the 10th anniversary of Gastronomica Magazine. Scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, at 6 pm, Robert Kushner and Friends Eat Their Clothes is billed as a “very brief performance” of 12 nude models wearing primarily fruit and vegetable costumes of Kushner’s design and construction. The performance takes place at the Astor Center in Lower Manhattan; “seating is very limited,” says Kushner, “because the room is small!”

The current exhibition at the Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn -- a program of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, founded in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons -- is “Black Artist as Activist,” Jan. 31-Mar. 28, 2010. Organized by Danny Simmons and Laurel Adams, the show examines the notion of “artists as transformative agents” in social, cultural and political fields. The show includes works by Regina Agu, Andrea Chung, Kevin E. Cole, Derick Cross, Sheryl Renee Dobson, Wilhelmina Obatola Grant, MLJ Johnson, Kalid Kodi, Zorsida Lopez, JoAnne McFarland, Jasmine Murrell, Adeomola Olugebefola, Shani Peters, Terrence Sanders and Malik Seneferu. The exhibition is funded in part by a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

When the 2010 Outsider Art Fair opens tomorrow in New York at 7 West 34th Street, a portion of its proceeds are to be set aside to be donated to Doctors Without Borders, for the purposes of disaster relief in Haiti. An as-yet-undetermined portion of the tickets will be donated to the cause, while several dealers are also planning to “devote sections of their booths to Haitian artists with a percentage of sales to be contributed to the relief efforts,” according to a press release. “Many of our exhibitors have connections to the Haitian art community, and the simple humanitarian act of donating to a charity working on this tragedy is imperative,” the fair’s producer, Sanford Smith, explained. The fair runs Feb. 5-7, 2010. Admission is $20 daily and $30 for a two-day pass.

The second annual installment of the Dallas Art Fair, Feb. 5-7, 2010, kicks off at the 20,000-square-foot Fashion Industry Gallery next door to the Dallas Museum of Art in the city’s downtown art district, presenting more than 50 dealers from across North America (plus one or two stalwarts from London). Special events include a symposium on “The Power and Burden of Beauty,” moderated by former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue and including artist Rachel Hovnanian, and “Finding Frida,” a symposium moderated by art journalist Jason Edward Kaufman on the so-called Noyola Collection of newly discovered material controversially attributed to Frida Kahlo. The fair’s 2010 presenting sponsor is Veuve Clicquot. Sounds like fun.

The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation has announced the 30 recipients for 2009 of its $20,000 awards to American contemporary artists in its biennial competition established 32 years ago (and now administered by Artists Space). The winners were selected from a list of more than 400 artists, gathered by nominations by art-world professionals. In addition to considerations of quality and promise of the work, candidates were also evaluated in terms of “timing,” e.g., “the amount of critical or commercial recognition” their careers have received.

Recipients are Derrick Adams (Brooklyn), Diana Al-Hadid (Brooklyn), Dawolu Jabari Anderson (Houston), Lisa Anne Auerbach (Los Angeles), Andrea Bowers (Los Angeles), Tania Bruguera (Chicago), Matthew Buckingham (Brooklyn), Beth Campbell (Brooklyn), David Colosi (Brooklyn), Kate Gilmore (New York), Josephine Halvorson (Brooklyn), Michael Hurwitz (Phialdelphia), Colter Jacobsen (San Francisco), An-My Lê (New York), Judy Linn (New York), Katherine Newbegin (Brooklyn), John Newman (New York), Sarah Oppenheimer (Brooklyn), Ann Pibal (North Bennington, Vt.), Matthias Pliessnig (Philadelphia), Julika Rudelius (Brooklyn), Matt Saunders (Baltimore), Joseph Scanlan (New York), Gedi Sibony (Brooklyn), Dean Snyder (Providence, R.I.), Alison Elizabeth Taylor (Brooklyn), Christopher Taylor (Central Falls, R.I.), Phoebe Washburn (New York), Suara Welitoff (Cambridge) and Joe Zane (Cambridge).

The members of the awards jury were United States Artist project director Amada Cruz, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art assistant curator Apsara DiQuinzio, Cranbrook Academy director Gerhardt Knodel, Boston Museum of Fine Arts curator Jen Mergel, critic John Perreault, artist Martin Puryear and Yale University School of Art dean Robert Storr.

Michael Cooper, 60, an artist known for collages made from photographs and all manner of printed ephemera, including stickers, bus tickets and candy wrappers, died at home on Jan. 23, 2010, following a long and courageous battle with Leukemia. Cooper had his first solo show of found-object collages at OK Harris Gallery in SoHo in 1976, and more recently exhibited with Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea.

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