Wanted: government work of art legs it from UK's supreme court
The UK's Government Art Collection has suffered the misfortune to have had one of its works stolen or lost in the Royal Courts of Justice, in London's Strand. In response to a Parliamentary Question this month, tourism and heritage minister John Penrose admitted that the work had been on loan there and was recorded missing during an inventory check on 10 April. It was an engraving of Henry Powle (1630-92), Master of the Rolls, based on a portrait by Godfrey Kneller. The framed print was valued at just £100. Although very modest in artistic terms, one might have expected it to have been safe in the high-security Royal Courts of Justice, the country's Supreme Court...
Americans: Your Museum Needs You!
Upstanding US citizens, please note: the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta closes this week. But surely there are enough American flag-wavers around to keep this star-spangled monument to Uncle Sam open? Sadly not - the institution, whose jaunty slogan is "Come for a memory, leave with a mission", is the latest victim of the economic downturn. "Therefore, The National Museum of Patriotism had to answer the call of the new economy to find a new way of doing business. The National Foundation of Patriotism will become a virtual museum online," according to the museum website. A spokesman told local press that the museum will continue to host special events "relating to patriotism".
Keller looks to LA, Larry eyes up the Louvre and Broad takes steam out of Koons train
Juicy art world nuggets abound in a feature on the turbulent Los Angeles museum scene in this month's Vanity Fair. Writer Bob Colacello unravels the various rifts and love-ins among the key players, including LACMA director Michael Govan, the omnipresent philanthropist Eli Broad and collectors Stewart and Lynda Resnick (the Fiji-water billionaires who have funded a $54m exhibition hall set to open at LACMA in October). Colacello describes how Broad turned to him during a powerpoint presentation given by Jeff Koons about his Train sculpture planned for LACMA (a towering life-size replica locomotive dangling from a crane)and muttered: "$40m for a train hanging in the sky? Is that what the city really needs? It's a lot of money to raise these days." Govan, however, is determined that the piece will be built, saying that the "board made it part of our long-range plan at the last meeting". Broad also reveals that Sam Keller was in the running for the directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art: "There were two people we were interested in: Sam Keller from the Beyeler [Foundation in Basel] but he couldn't leave Ernst [Beyeler, the founder] who was still alive [Beyeler died in February]. And Jeffrey." The aforementioned ex-NY dealer Deitch recently took the reins at MOCA, apparently prompting Larry Gagosian to say that he "was holding out for the Louvre"....
The Office with Ed Vaizey and Tracey Emin
The DCMS office art saga continues—we recently reported that Jeremy Hunt, UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, had proudly tweeted about bagging a Wallinger work for his workplace. But the Wallinger/DCMS love-in takes another twist with the recent news that Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, plans to display a piece by the Turner prize-winner in his office (a fetching 2008 billboard poster entitled Mark Wallinger is Innocent). Unsurprisingly, Vaizey has also bagged a work by Tracey Emin (the politician and Emin reportedly enjoyed a three-hour lunch prior to the general election). Vaizey has also selected works by Richard Long, Michael Landy and Paul Graham from the Government Art Collection.
Wallinger will grace Jeremy's joint
Jeremy Hunt, the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has cheekily tweeted: "Proud to say Mark Wallinger will soon be gracing my office after my visit this morning to the govt art collection." But which Wallinger piece did the high-profile politician pick? Surely not State Britain, the artist's 2007 re-creation of peace campaigner Brian Haw's Parliament Square protest? Haw's encampment forms part of Democracy Village, a community of peace activists sited opposite Parliament which mayor Boris Johnson succefully evicted this week.
Dope might be damaging works of art stored in the basement of the Vancouver Art Gallery, according to a member of the museum's acquisitions committee. David Allison reportedly told a public information session that “[marijuana smoke] wafts in from the front steps. So here I am in this room surrounded by Emily Carrs and Group of Seven pieces and all these amazing, amazing contemporary artworks that we have in our possession as a city and as a citizenry, and there’s dope wafting through the air.” The gallery is apparently a well-known meeting point for pro-marijuana events. Gallery director Kathleen Bartels, who aims to relocate the museum to larger premises elsewhere in the city, told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail that the works are protected.
Takashi's a tad tense about Versailles
Japanese superstar artist Takashi Murakami has told French newspaper Le Figaro that he's a little nervous about his forthcoming blockbuster show at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris this September. "I'm slightly fearful of the public reaction to my works in this historic context..I don't know if it will be good or bad." And how controversial does he expect the exhibition to be? "I'm not the first [contemporary artist to show there]. I don't think I'll be criticised as much as Jeff Koons was (his Balloon Dog work was a visual shock)."
New National Museum Wales director is crazy about Cymru
The press release announcing the appointment of David Anderson as the new Director General of the National Museum Wales (NMW) just can't stop telling us how Celtic Anderson is. "Born in Belfast and brought up in Warwickshire, David Anderson was initially inspired to study archaeology by his radical rugby-playing history teacher, which, in turn, led to him specialising in Irish history at Edinburgh University. His love of Celtic literature, music and folklore makes him keen to engage with and promote Welsh culture at home and across the world," notes the press statement. Paul Loveluck, chair of the board of trustees, even comments that "David Anderson and his family will soon settle in Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) and in Wales – and not solely because of his love for rugby!" Anderson, director of learning and interpretation at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, takes the reins in October.
Gargantuan still-life on a German motorway
One of Europe’s busiest motorways is to be closed on 18 July, in the cause of culture. Billed as the world’s largest still-life, it will involve banning vehicles from the 60-kilometre stretch of the A40 autobahn between Duisburg and Dortmund, in west Germany. Thundering traffic is to be replaced with 20,000 tables (each for 10 people), for the largest banquet ever held. Those at pre-booked tables will not only tuck into a meal, but are also asked to make some sort of “cultural contribution”. Suggestions range from singing with your choir to revealing your knitting club’s special stitches. The project is a highlight of Ruhr 2010, European Capital of Culture this year. Over one million people are expected for "Still-Leben Ruhrschnellweg (Still-life Ruhr A40)”. The Duisburg-to-Dortmund side of the motorway will be reserved for tables and guests, with the other side given over for pedestrians and cyclists to observe the festivities. For the comfort of banqueteers and beer lovers, 3,000 portable toilets will be available along the 60-kilometre art intervention. For info: www.ruhr2010.still-leben-ruhrschnellweg.de
Serpentine embraces Senior Citizens
A 16mm film co-commissioned by London's Serpentine Gallery and Camden council - The Future's Getting Old Like The Rest Of Us by Beatrice Gibson - throws the spotlight on old age, an important but overlooked subject. Set in a care home, the piece - part documentary, part fiction - is based on verbatim transcripts of a discussion group held over five months with the residents of four care homes in Camden, north London. Eight monologues subsequently make up the piece. In a neat twist, the film is set to be shown, along with stills and scripts, in the spanking new Maitland Park care home, due to be completed in Camden by 2012. In the meantime, the work can be seen at the Sackler Centre of Arts Education, Victoria and Albert Museum (23 July-19 September).
Banking on Bahrain
Yet another major European gallery is, it appears, looking to the Gulf. The London newspaper The Evening Standard reports that the Royal Academy of Arts has been in talks with Bahrain officials for the last six months about sending its exhibitions to a Zaha Hadid-designed museum of contemporary art planned for the island nation. In return for sending shows, the RA will reportedly receive sponsorship for both future exhibitions and the redevelopment of Burlington Gardens, the former Museum of Mankind building to the north of Burlington House. The Louvre, meanwhile, is set to receive an endowment fund of €400m from the government of Abu Dhabi for opening an outpost there by 2012-13.
Sgarbi looks to Greenaway for Venetian gallery revamp
The newly appointed superintendent of the Venice Museums group, the flamboyant celebrity art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, has told our sister paper Il Giornale dell'Arte that he'd like UK film director Peter Greenaway to create a work for one of Venice's most famous landmarks. The Gallerie dell'Accademia is undergoing an extensive restoration, prompting Sgarbi to say: "I intend calling Greenaway [about the Gallerie] because he constructed a piece [around] a Veronese copy at the Cini Foundation." Greenaway's exploration of Le Nozze di Cana, 1562-63, Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese's great feast scene, was a hit at the 2009 Venice Biennale. A modern copy of the original picture (which was confiscated by Napoleon and remains in the Louvre) was installed in the church refectory on San Giorgio Maggiore in 2007, serving as the screen for Greenaway's special effects.
Art historical (denim) discovery? The Master of the Blue Jeans....
Canesso Gallery in Paris will unveil a series of 17th-century Italian works this September that deal in all things denim. The gallery says that curator Gerlinde Gruber of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, has discovered the painter whose subjects wear a fetching denim-like material, hence the catchy exhibition title: The Master of the Blue Jeans. "The group of paintings attributed to [the artist] include the recurring presence of a blue cloth, whose white thread weave shows the typical structure of Genoese fabric; its place of origin [Genoa] led to the modern designation of jeans," says the gallery.
Saatchi goes Korean in 2012
Collector Charles Saatchi, always keen to put his stamp on art world trends, is set to curate a show of contemporary Korean art at his King's Road gallery in London in the summer of 2012. But the Korean snowball has already started rolling at the Saatchi space with the opening there this evening (5 July) of "Fantastic Ordinary", a group show of 12 artists organised by the non-profit foundation Korean Eye. Bianca Jagger, spotted in the throng, was keen to point out that she particularly liked two digital animation pieces by Jeon Joon-ho (The White House, 2005-06 and Welcome, 2009) that cheekily depict dollar bills.
Football-mad Marlene parties in Porto
There was a feisty crowd at the opening of the Marlene Dumas show at Museu Serralves in Porto on Friday (until 10 October) and no-one was feistier than the artist herself. Jubilant following Holland's victory over Brazil in the football World Cup (2-1 to the Netherlands), Dumas exclaimed that it "was difficult to look at art because the Dutch have won!" The artist, who has broken her arm, was sporting an unusually stylish sling which, she explained to The Art Newspaper, was made out of her pyjamas. Meanwhile, curator Leon Krempel of the Haus der Kunst in Munich revealed further details about his Dumas show in October that will juxtapose Old Master portraits (in the style of "tronies"-character heads) with "head" paintings by the South African-born practitioner. And the most illuminating "overheard" comment of the evening? "Chris Dercon [newly appointed Tate Modern director) will certainly organise a Dumas show in London. He's championed her for years."
Fry's farewell to Sebastian
Dandy artist Sebastian Horsley would, no doubt, have been thrilled (and amused) at the 300+ guests that turned out in all their glory for his funeral on 1 July at St James's church off Piccadilly. Artists Sarah Lucas and Maggi Hambling were among the mourners following his horse-drawn hearse through the streets of London while UK sculptors Tim Noble and Sue Webster, author Will Self and high-profile entrepreneur Ivan Massow made up the throng inside. Stephen Fry pointed out in his engrossing eulogy that Sebastian ended his letters with the words "My Useless Love" which, as Fry so eloquently pointed out, was anything but.