Top ART News: Week In Review | Oct. 25 - Nov. 1

Garage Sale Picasso: Is a Two Dollar Purchase Worth 2 Million? | More >

Andy Warhol's King of Pop Portrait Enjoys Its "15 Minutes" | More >

Artists Hope Ice House Makes a Chilling Statement in Detroit | More >

The 82-Story MoMA Monster Is Coming to New York City | More >

The Guggenheim Museum Celebrates 50 Years | More >

Met Museum Repatriates the Naos Egyptian Artifact | More > 

Attention Mall Shoppers: World's Largest Mona Lisa On View | More >

A Night at the Museum: Guggenheim's First Annual Art Awards Ceremony | More >



A Night at the Museum: Guggenheim's First Annual Art Awards Ceremony

Guggenheim Museum, First Annual Art Awards
NEW YORK, NY -- There are dozens of award shows honoring actors and musicians, and now artists are finally being recognized for their creative achievements. On Thursday evening, stars including Kylie Minogue, Julianne Moore, James Franco and Mary-Kate Olsen, were at the Guggenheim Museum for a Hollywood-esque awards ceremony - The First Annual Art Awards. Conceived by artist Rob Pruitt, The First Annual Art Awards "honors select individuals, exhibitions, and projects that have made a significant impact on the field of contemporary art during the past year." And instead of the traditional metal statuette, winners took home a celebratory bucket of champagne that conveniently also serves as a fully functional lamp.

More than four hundred artists and art world professionals selected the nominees. And winners are (envelope please)...

Artist of the Year | Mary Heilmann
Curator of the Year | Connie Butler
Exhibition Outside the United States | Jeff Koons, Versailles, Château de Versailles, France
Group Show of the Year, Gallery | Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns? Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York
Group Show of the Year, Museum | The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
New Artist of the Year | Ryan Trecartin
The Rob Pruitt Award | Cynthia Plaster Caster
Solo Show of the Year, Gallery | Manzoni: A Retrospective, Gagosian Gallery, New York
Solo Show of the Year, Museum | Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Museum of Modern Art, New York
Writer of the Year | Jerry Saltz
Lifetime-Achievement | Joan Jonas and Kasper König




Attention Mall Shoppers: World's Largest Mona Lisa On View

Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci

WREXHAM, WALES -- Mall shoppers in Wales were certainly treated to something better than a sweet snack at the food court on Wednesday. The world's largest reproduction of the famed Mona Lisa was revealed at the Eagles Meadow shopping center in Wrexham.

“It’s mind-blowing, but the smile is still as enigmatic as ever. It took over a week to do her face — everybody knows what it looks like so we had to make sure it was exactly right," said artist Katy Webster, who was in charge of the project. Here are some more impressive stats: the project required 245 people, working for 987 hours, using 23 gallons of paint on 82 different vinyl squares, to create a work of art that measures 2,583 square feet.

Unlike visiting Leonardo da Vinci's original fine art masterpiece in Paris' Louvre Museum, shopper-spectators are not charged an entry fee, there is no neck craning or eye straining necessary, and visitors can touch the masterpiece without fear of tripping any alarms.

Members from the entire community contributed to the construction, including school children from Victoria Primary School and members of the Haulfan Centre for people with disabilities. Folks can purchase a little piece of the record-breaking artwork by donating money to Hope House, a local charity that provides for terminally ill children.




Met Museum Repatriates the Naos Egyptian Artifact

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Egyptian antiquities, Naos

CAIRO -- Egypt's Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, is continuing his scavenger hunt through the world's most prestigious museums. Since taking office in 2002, Hawass has been on an archaeological quest for so-called stolen Egyptian antiquities. Earlier this month, there was a dispute between Hawass and the Louvre Museum in Paris, ending only after the museum agreed to return 5 fresco fragments. On Monday, New York's Metropolitan Museum confirmed it will be the next institution to send an artifact back to Egypt.

The Met acquired its Egyptian relic from a private collector about a year ago, making this the first time a museum has purchased an item solely to repatriate it. The object is a red granite fragment belonging to the ancient "Naos," a pharoanic shrine honoring the 12th Dynasty King Amenemhat I, who ruled 4,000 years ago.

Hawass claims to have recovered 5,000 Egyptian artifacts thus far, however not all of his campaigns have been successful. Berlin's Neues Museum is refusing to hand over its bust of Queen Nefertiti, and the Rosetta Stone is still housed in London's British Museum.



The 82-Story MoMA Monster Is Coming to New York City

Museum of Modern Art, New York City tower
NEW YORK, NY -- The Museum of Modern Art's plans to alter the New York City skyline have finally been approved. Between debates over height specifications and speculations as to whether architect Jean Nouvel would quit the project altogether, it seemed the 82-story tower would never materialize. But on Wednesday, the City Council approved the construction of 1000-foot building, nicknamed the "MoMA Monster." The spire will be erected next to the museum, located in Midtown Manhattan on West 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenue.

The stunning skyscraper will provide the MoMA with a significant 40,000 square feet of new art gallery space. 150 residential apartments and 100 hotel rooms will also be housed in the tower. Just imagine - one of most influential museums of modern art in the world will be called home by some lucky future residents. And the rest of us can look forward to making hotel reservations.




Artists Hope Ice House Makes a Chilling Statement in Detroit

Ice House Detroit, architectural installation
DETROIT -- This winter, two artists plan to make a chilling statement about the high foreclosure rate continuing to debilitate the city of Detroit. One of the 80,000 abandoned houses in downtown Detroit will be sprayed with water in subzero temperatures and gradually covered in layers of ice. In the spring, any salvageable materials will be reused, the house will be demolished and the lot donated to local farmers. The process will be documented and shared via blog, photographs and film, with additional plans to produce fine art prints and a limited edition art book.

Dubbed Ice House Detroit, the architectural installation was conceived by photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune. According to their website, Ice House Detroit "aims to uphold concepts of neighborhood integrity, material reuse, public art, social empowerment, and urban farming." The pair are currently trying to raise the $11,000 necessary to complete the project. Their deadline for funding is December 16.

Watch the following video or visit to learn more:



Andy Warhol's King of Pop Portrait Enjoys Its "15 Minutes"

Michael Jackson, Christie's fine art auction, King of Pop, Andy Warhol
NEW YORK -- It was Andy Warhol who coined the phrase, "In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." In the case of Michael Jackson, however, we have yet to stop talking about him, his music, his eccentric lifestyle, since his untimely death on June 25.

Understandably, Jackson memorabilia is more popular than ever, including fine art pieces depicting "The King of Pop" and others created in tribute. Those in the market for such works will soon be in luck; a 30x26" silk-screen portrait of the singer in his Thriller-era red jacket will soon be up for bid. The 1984 work was done by Andy Warhol in his Pop Art style, with bright colors and squiggly lines. Christie's will auction the work on November 10; it is one of three similar lots expected to fetch an estimated $500,000-$700,000.

The widely publicized Michael Jackson documentary, This Is It, will make its worldwide premier in movie theaters on Wednesday. But as far as the King of Pop's growing popularity, his legacy as a musical genius and the constant media attention  -  this is definitely not it.
[Photo: Andy Warhol. Michael Jackson portrait, 1984.]

* * * * * UPDATE * * * * *
Nov. 11, 2009 — The Andy Warhol silk-screened portrait of Michael Jackson sold for $812,500 on Tuesday evening. The work was sold by Christie's to an anonymous collector in New York.



Garage Sale Picasso: Is a Two Dollar Purchase Worth Two Million?

Pablo Picasso, painting
SHREVEPORT -- Antique furniture, used clothing, old books...those are the typical garage sale offerings. Once in a while you even find an item worth bargaining for, and for just one dollar another person's trash becomes your treasure. For two dollars, you can have that painting in the cheap little frame, the one over there with the fake "Pablo Picasso" signature scribbled across the front of it.

That was the scenario at Edith Parker's garage sale - except in this case, the Picasso painting may be real. Parker, who resides in a Shreveport, Louisiana trailer park, inherited a pile of leftover junk from her recently deceased neighbor. She knew her neighbor was an art collector, but his family assured her the painting in the pile was just a fake. So Parker sold the item to Teisha McNeal for $2.

Most of us use the internet to find answers to our most curious questions; McNeal got home with her $2 purchase and curiously searched for it on the web. What she found led her to believe the painting was not only authentic, but stolen. While the FBI has since confirmed the work is not stolen, "They told me that it looks like an original," McNeal said in an interview.

Whether the painting is worth two dollars or two million remains to be seen, but maybe we'll all think twice before skipping out on our neighbor's next yard sale.

[Read More - Finding Art Treasure in the Trash | ABC News] 

* * * * * UPDATE * * * * *

10/29/2009 -- "Looks like an original" does not mean is an original. The Shreveport Times has reported that the $2 garage sale painting is NOT an authentic Picasso. "As far as we can tell, the painting does not appear to be an original," said Steve Hall, supervisory senior resident agent of the FBI's Shreveport office. "The dimensions of the print do not match the dimensions of the original Picasso painting."

The outcome isn't as surprising as it is disappointing. Still, you never really know what treasures you may find if you don't at least look...

[Read More - $2 Yard Sale Acquisition Spurs Frenzy of Calls | Shreveport Times] 


Top ART News: Week in Review | Oct. 18 - 25, 2009

Conde Nast's #1: 21c Museum Hotel Offers Rooms and Art | More >

Nefertiti Remains in Berlin's Neues Museum, Despite Egyptian Demands | More >

Defining a Masterpiece at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts | More >

Stars Shine at Whitney Museum Gala Benefit for the Arts | More >

The Guggenheim Museum Celebrates 50 Years | More >

American Feminist Artist Nancy Spero (1926-2009) | More > 

Contemporary Art Rendez-Vous at the FIAC in Paris | More >

LAPD Chief Calls It a Cow Splat, But Is It Art? | More >

Green Day Rocks Fine Art | More >  

The Art of the Sun King Reigns in Versailles | More >

Emerging Artist Wins Big in Temple University Art Competition | More >   

Emerging Artist Wins Big in Temple University Art Competition

Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Wolgin International Competition in Fine Arts
PHILADELPHIA -- Doesn't this October seem to be the month of art competitions offering hefty cash rewards? First there was ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. And this week, the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Pennsylvania, named a winner in the world's largest juried visual art prize granted by a university.

28-year-old painter/sculptor/filmmaker and Philadelphian, Ryan Trecartin, was awarded $150,000 cash in the first annual Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts. Trecartin won for his 50-minute video entitled Sibling Topics (Section A). "I'm completely honored. This is going to change my life and my practice," remarked Trecartin at Thursday night's award ceremony.

The Wolgin Competition was endowed by Philadelphia real estate investor, Jack Wolgin. 20 competitors were chosen by an advisory board seeking to find "an emerging artist whose work transcends traditional boundaries and exemplifies the highest level of artistic excellence."

Trecartin, however, doesn't exactly personify an "emerging" artist, having exhibited at the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), Saatchi Gallery (London) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York). The other two finalists, Sanford Biggers and Michael Rakowitz, have similarly impressive curricula vitae. Perhaps contest organizers should redefine their criteria/mission statement before next year's competition.

[Read More - Philadelphia Artist Takes First Wolgin Prize | Philadelphia Inquirer]


The Art of the Sun King Reigns in Versailles

Louis XIV, Sun King, Palace of Versailles

PARIS - Objets d’art, sculptures, paintings and furniture celebrating the reign of the "Sun King," Louis XIV, are now on view at the Palace of Versailles. Louis XIV: The Man and the King is the result of over two years of curating more than 300 exceptional works that, until now, have never been exhibited together.

Louis XIV's reign lasted longer than any other European Monarch - over 72 years, from 1643 to his death in 1715. He was nicknamed the "Sun King" after the Greek god Apollo, and as the planets revolve around the sun, so did the French government revolve around King Louis. With a taste for opulence, Louis XIV was able to construct his public persona as a powerful, iconographic monarch through his patronage of the arts.
Louis XIV: The Man and the King (Oct. 20, 2009 - Feb. 7, 2010)
Palace of Versailles | Website


Green Day Rocks Fine Art

Green Day, The Art of Rock
LONDON -- The band who produced hits like Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), has devised an innovative way to promote the release of their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown. Most of us would agree that music and fine art are two complimentary creative outlets. With that in mind, Green Day commissioned a group of hand-selected artists to design album covers inspired by lyrics from the songs on 21st Century Breakdown.

The Art of Rock exhibition, featuring the album covers, is on now view at the StolenSpace Gallery in London, where the band is currently on tour. The paintings included in the show were created by artists such as; Logan Hicks (also the show's curator), Ron English, The London Police, C215 and Will Barras.

“Seeing the pieces that our new album has inspired is very exciting. We feel a strong connection to that type of creative expression; we think the fans coming out will love it," said band leader Billie Joe Armstrong. Rock on, Green Day.
The Art of Rock (Oct. 23 - Nov. 1, 2009) @ StolenSpace Gallery | Website


LAPD Chief Calls It a Cow Splat, But Is It Art?

Peter Shelton, LAPD, sculpture

LOS ANGELES -- Artist Peter Shelton has called his mammoth bronze sculpture "sixbeaststwomonkeys" and "animaline," but Los Angeles police chief William Bratton has another name for it - "some kind of cow splat." The $500,000 sculpture (not yet formally named) is installed outside the back of LAPD headquarters. Though the artist set out to create a "playful and provocative" work, his art is provoking negative responses from some of the staff inside, including the outspoken chief Bratton.

"An unwanted thing just suddenly landed here. I just don't get that, and we are stuck with it," Bratton said in an interview. Some critics don't understand what the massive structure is supposed to represent, others question whether this was money wasted in a time of economic crisis.

Shelton, who has exhibited at prominent art institutions, including New York's Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, is pleased with his work. After 10 years working on public art projects he looks forward to going back into the studio.

[Read more - Bratton, Artist at Odds Over Sculpture at LAPD HQ | San Francisco Examiner]


Contemporary Art Rendez-Vous at the FIAC in Paris

FIAC, Paris, contemporary art fair
PARIS -- Art aficionados have gathered in "The City of Light" this week for the 36th annual FIAC ("Foire internationale d'art contemporain"), the most prestigious contemporary art fair in France. Following on the heels of London's Frieze Art Fair last week, Paris' FIAC is hoping to capitalize on the momentum of this year's reported upswing in art sales achieved at the Frieze. Despite 28 dealers and more than 40 galleries from last year not returning, FIAC 2009 will present over 200 exhibitors representing thousands of artists.

At FIAC's VIP preview on Wednesday night, Femme Ecrivant, a $24 million painting by Pablo Picasso of his mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, was put on reserve. Fine art by other modern masters such as Francis Bacon, Piet Mondrian and Fernand Leger, will also be up for bid. More than 65,000 visitors are expected to stroll the picturesque locations around the Tuileries Gardens, Grand Palais and the Louvre Museum, where the FIAC will display some of the world's finest modern masterworks.

FIAC (Oct. 22 - 25, 2009) | Website
[Read more - $24 Million Picasso Reserved as Arnault Joins Browsers at FIAC | Bloomberg]


American Feminist Artist Nancy Spero (1926-2009)

Nancy Spero, figurative artist
"I have come to the conclusion that the art world has to join us, women artists, not we join it. When women are in leadership roles and gain rewards and recognition, then perhaps 'we' (women and men) can all work together in art world actions." ~Nancy Spero

NEW YORK — Figurative artist Nancy Spero died of respiratory complications on Sunday. She was 83. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Spero and her husband of 53 years, painter Leon Golub, lived together in New York City until his death in 2004. The couple met while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago.

An active feminist, Spero's focus was primarily the representation of women from various cultures throughout history. Her works combine drawing, painting, collage and printmaking techniques to reflect her strong ideals. The artist has exhibited at prominent institutions such as New York's Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, and a retrospective of her work is scheduled at the Centre Pompidou in Paris next year.



The Guggenheim Museum Celebrates 50 Years

Guggenheim Museum, 50th anniversary, New York City

NEW YORK -- Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum! The internationally renowned art museum was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and officially opened its doors on October 21, 1959. From the beginning, the relationship between the breathtaking architecture of the building and the art it was built to display has inspired controversy and debate.

To celebrate their golden anniversary, the Guggenheim offered free admission today as well as a variety of educational programs, special screenings, giveaways and a live Twitter tour of their landmark building.

The New York Daily News published a fantastic list of 50 reasons to visit the Guggenheim in honor of the big day. Here are just 10 of those fun museum facts:
  1. Curator Hilla Rebay, a German baroness, chose the museum's architect. Some theorize that she selected Wright, a renowned American visionary, to pacify critics who accused her of favoring European creative minds over American ones.
  2. To design the museum, Wright created more than 700 sketches.
  3. The structure faced harsh criticism when it opened in 1959. One critic dismissed it as "a war between architecture and painting, in which both come out badly maimed." Another called it "an indigestible hot cross bun." NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses snapped that it looked like "an inverted oatmeal dish."
  4. Wright wanted the building to have curved surfaces to convey "an atmosphere on the unbroken wave." He was adamant that there be no distractions, not even carpeting or curtains.
  5. Wednesday night, the Empire State Building will be lit "Guggenheim red" in celebration of the museum's anniversary. Early on, Wright wanted the museum to be crimson, which he described as "the color of creation." Rebay wrote back, "Red is a color which displeases [founder Solomon Guggenheim] as much as it does me."
  6. An early version of the museum was housed at 24 E. 54th St., where it was called the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. The gallery featured plush carpeting, burning incense, and a soundtrack of Bach and Chopin. The paintings were hung close to the floor so that they could be viewed by seated visitors.
  7. One of Guggenheim's favorite painters was Wassily Kandinsky; he bought more than 150 works by the artist. An exhibition of Kandinsky's work is on view at the museum through the end of the year.
  8. Guggenheim helped the Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall flee Europe in 1941.
  9. In August, during normal business hours, graffiti artist Mat Benote managed to stick one of his canvases to a wall in the museum, complete with an explanatory blurb. It was removed within minutes.
  10. A Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, was designed by Frank Gehry and opened in 1997 to rave reviews. A Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi, also designed by Gehry, is in the works.

[Read more - 50 Facts About the Guggenheim | New York Daily News]



Stars Shine at Whitney Museum Gala Benefit for the Arts

Whitney Museum Gala, Donatella Versace, Jennifer Hudson
The stars were shining on Monday night at the 2009 Whitney Museum Gala in New York. The annual museum event raises funds to support museum exhibitions and educational programming. Sponsored by Versace, the museum's black-tie benefit was attended by the likes of actresses Lindsey Lohan and Mischa Barton, actors Gerard Butler and Patrick Dempsey, designer Charlotte Ronson, singers Shakira and Jennifer Hudson, and the list goes on.

“I draw, but only cartoon figures, so I would never make it into a museum like this,” said singer Jennifer Hudson, whose special musical performance elicited a standing ovation from the crowd. Other celebrities also discussed their artistic abilities (or lack thereof). “I have ‘paint parties.' I put up blank canvases on the wall and everyone comes over and paints on them," Mischa Barton said. “I make sculpture, I used to paint fried eggs—I was in a phase,” added Shakira.
NEW YORK / In addition to sponsoring the Gala, Donatella Versace collaborated with the Whitney’s Education Department to create Art Unites, a global initiative aimed at providing needy children in the United States  and China with the incomparable spirit, creativity, inspiration and solace that visual arts bestow. The program, officially launched on July 1st, benefits the Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families in the US, and the Versace One Foundation (founded by Jet Li)  in China, an organization committed to the long-term recovery of the areas devastated by last year’s earthquakes in the Sichuan province, funding and operating two Versace One Foundation children’s centers with schooling, psychological therapy, and post  trauma counseling for over 1200, through creative visual arts, an essential form of relief.
As part of the Art Unites program Versace provided canvas and art supplies to 500 children from Starlight and 900 children from the Versace One Foundation to create original drawings using the theme of “friendship”.  Each child’s work of art has been fashioned into a one-of-a-kind Versace canvas tote bag which are being sold worldwide now at Versace boutiques and the Gilt Groupe, a member’s only ecommerce site.  The bags retail for about 200 euro, and 100% percent of the proceeds from the sale of the bags will be donated equally to Starlight and to the Versace One Foundation.

[Read more - Versace Sponsors 2009 Gala |]


Defining a Masterpiece at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Johannes Vermeer, The Astronomer (1668). Louvre Museum
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Superb art objects from Paris' famed Louvre Museum are now on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA). The Louvre and the Masterpiece explores how the definition of a “masterpiece,” as well as taste and connoisseurship, have changed over time. “We are thrilled to present such a magnificent group of works from the Louvre’s collections to Minnesota for the first time,” noted Kaywin Feldman, the MIA's Director and President.

The Louvre and the Masterpiece features sixty-two works of art drawn from all eight of the Louvre’s collection areas, spanning 4,000 years. Paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and drawings are divided into three major themes: the changing historical and cultural definitions of a masterpiece; authenticity and connoisseurship; and the evolution of taste and scholarship.

"We have an idea that one is good, one's better and one's the best," said Feldman of the exhibit's theme. "We encourage visitors to examine and decide."
The Louvre and the Masterpiece (Oct. 18, 2009 - Jan. 10, 2010)
Minneapolis Institute of Arts | Website

Nefertiti Remains In Berlin's Neues Museum, Despite Egyptian Demands

Neues Museum, Queen Nefertiti

BERLIN -- For the first time in decades, Berlin's Neues Museum opened to the public on Saturday, following a $298 million reconstruction led by British architect David Chipperfield. A WWII bombing left much of the building in ruins and most of its treasured fine art and artifacts spent years tucked away in storage. "70 years after it was closed, this building can be handed over to the public again," said Hermann Parzinger, head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

The Neues Museum's "complete reconstruction" has drawn its share of criticism from some traditionalists, who petitioned for a redesign more faithful to architect Friedrich August Stueler's original building. Most Berliners, though, are pleased with the new museum, so much so that over 35,000 people lined up for over three days in March for a sneak preview.

The centerpiece of the museum is a limestone and stucco bust of Queen Nefertiti, circa 1340 B.C. Egyptian antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, recently alleged that the bust left his country illegally and demanded its return. But German officials are adamant that documents exist showing the artifact belongs where it is, as the Neues Museum's most famous resident. The Nefertiti relic was discovered on the banks of the Nile in 1912 by German archaeologist, Ludwig Borchardt, who wrote: "Words cannot describe it; you just have to look at it."

Read more -
Queen Nefertiti's Home, a Ruin for 70 Years, Opens in Berlin | Bloomberg
Egypt Demans Return of Nefertiti Statue | New York Times


Conde Nast's #1: 21c Museum Hotel Offers Rooms and Art

21c Museum Hotel, Conde Nast

LOUISVILLE, KY -- When you pull up to the entrance, it's hard not to notice the bright red penguins guarding the doors. And that's not all that sets the 21c Museum Hotel apart. After 25,000 individuals voted, the 21c Museum Hotel was recently named #1 hotel in the United States and #6 in the world in the prestigious 2009 Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards.

The 21c Museum Hotel is more than just an overnight stop for Louisville guests. Even without reservations, all are welcome to visit the hotel's 9,000 square feet of exhibition space featuring rotating art displays. And, of course, there are the 40 red penguins who roam the hotel as permanent guests, originally commissioned as public art for the 2005 Venice Biennale. Philanthropists and art collectors, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, founded the hotel in 2006. Their vision was to make contemporary art accessible for everyone.

"We are thrilled with the recognition 21c Museum Hotel has received from travelers around the world and from Conde Nast Traveler," said Wilson. "Louisville is widely known for the Kentucky Derby, but there is much more to do in our city than go to horse races. We look forward to welcoming new visitors to experience 21c Museum Hotel and our presentation of works by living artists."

[Read more - 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky Voted #1 Hotel in U.S. and #6 Hotel in the World In Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards | Reuters]


Top ART News: Week in Review | Oct. 11 - 18, 2009

Van Gogh Letter Exhibits a Method Behind the Madness | More >

Editions with Additions: Working Proofs by Jasper Johns at the National Gallery of Art | More >

Will the Frieze Heat Up London's Art Market | More >

Bailout Forces Royal Bank of Scotland to Share Art Stash with Public | More >

19K Portrait Is a Leonardo da Vinci Worth Millions, Fingerprints Show | More >

Can Hirst Paintings Intoxicate Like Formaldehyde? | More >

British Museum Has Two Months to Return Artifact to Iran, Or Else | More >

Tate Modern Replaces Indecent Brooke Shields Photo, Reopens Gallery | More >

The Painter of Black and Light: Soulages at the Pompidou | More >

The Art World's Most Influential Figures | The Power 100 List (2009) | More >

Human Art Experiment Ends After 100 Days | More >

19K Portrait Is a Leonardo da Vinci Worth Millions, Fingerprints Show | More >

Art Collector Waives Insurance Policy for Stolen Andy Warhol Paintings | More >

Michelangelo's Travelogue Includes a Tour of Seattle | More >

Archaeologists Crusade for Ancient Murals in Syria | More >

Fairey's Lawyers Drop Case After Obama "HOPE" Poster Artist Admits Lies | More >

New Olympic Medals Unveiled for 2010 Olympic Games | More >


New Olympic Medals Unveiled for 2010 Vancouver Games

Vancouver 2010, Olympic medals
VANCOUVER, BC -- In a ceremony Thursday, one of the last major announcements was made before the start of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, scheduled to begin February 12 in Vancouver. The medals to be awarded at the Winter Olympics were unveiled, which for the first time in history will each feature a unique design.

The 2010 medals will also differ from past years in their weight (they are heavy than ever), and surface design (undulating rather than flat). These non-traditional designs were created by architect and industrial designer Omer Arbel, while Corrine Hunt completed the artwork.

Hunt based her work on Canadian aboriginal imagery. The artist explained her choice to depict orcas and ravens, "I felt that the Olympics are a community and would reflect not only the strength of the athletes but the strength of the movement itself. The orca or the killer whale is really a beautiful creature that is strong, it has many wonderful physical characteristics but it also is a creature that lives within a community." Hunt continued, "The raven is a totem rising, it's a creature that is all things, and I think Paralympic athletes have that in them. They're sometimes given challenges and they rise above those challenges and the raven does the same."

How will the athletes react to these new medal designs? We'll find out soon - most likely they'll be happy just to win one. 



Fairey's Lawyers Drop Case After Obama "HOPE" Poster Artist Admits Lies

Obama, HOPE poster, artist Shepard Fairey

NEW YORK -- By now everyone is familiar with the iconic Obama "HOPE" poster, many have even used online generators to customize it with their own personal photos. Shepard Fairey didn't use such a generator to create his version - he used a paintbrush; and then the artist became embroiled in a legal battle over copyright infringement.

Shepard Fairey, designer of the original "HOPE" poster, said he based his artwork on an AP photograph of then-Senator Barack Obama seated next to actor George Clooney. But the AP asserted that Fairey's original painting was actually based on another photo taken at the same event, showing Obama seated alone.

Why does it matter which source image the artist referenced? Because Fairey did not pay for use of the copywritten photographs nor attribute them, claiming his artwork design complied with "fair use" regulations. After the AP sued Fairey for copyright infringement, the artist countersued in February, alleging his interpretation of Obama was dramatically different as it was based on the photo with Clooney.

But in a statement issued Friday, Fairey admitted, "...the AP is correct about which photo I used...and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images." Attorneys for Fairey have withdrawn from his case, saying the artist misled them.

[Read more - Obama Poster Artist Admits Error | AP]

Archaeologists Crusade for Ancient Murals in Syria

al-Marqab Citadel, mural paintings
DAMASCUS, SYRIA -- "Crusaders did not stay in one place for a long time, and so it very rare to find such paintings left behind by them," said Michel Makdisi, head of excavations at Syria's Directorate General of Antiquities. Very rare, but experts believe that two murals found during an excavation inside the medieval church at al-Marqab Citadel, in fact date back to the 12th century Crusades.

Al-Marqab, a fortress in Syria's eastern city of Tartous, is perched atop a hill overlooking the Mediterranean coast. In an ancient chapel inside the fortress, archaeologists spotted two 8 x 11.5" dirt-covered murals hanging on either side of an altar.

One of the murals depicts scenes of heaven, showing saints surrounded by light colors, while the other illustrates hell, with people being tortured and burned. Once restored, these ancient paintings could provide insight into the Christian knights who battled Muslims for control of the Holy Land so long ago. These are the first murals found in the Middle East to portray heaven and hell.




Michelangelo's Travelogue Includes a Tour of Seattle

Seattle Art Museum, Michelangelo, art exhibit
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- Twelve exceptional drawings by Renaissance master Michelangelo have journeyed to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) on loan from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, home of the largest repository of the artist's drawings in the world. The exhibit Michelangelo Public and Private focuses on the Old Master's preliminary work for the Sistine Ceiling and the Last Judgment, and features original drawings, portraits of the artist, personal documents and decorative items.

Museum visitors will gain insight into Michelangelo's working process - a notion that would not exactly thrill  the artist. It is said that Michelangelo burned most of his drawings and preparatory works, “so that no one should see the labors he endured and the ways he tested his genius, and lest he should appear less than perfect," according to Renaissance biographer Giorgio Vasari.       
Michelangelo Public and Private: Drawings for the Sistine Chapel and Other Treasures from the Casa Buonarroti (October 15, 2009–January 31, 2010)
Seattle Art Museum | Website

Companion Features to the Exhibit
Hidden around town are one dozen 18-inch-tall statues that SAM calls "Little Davids," replicas of Michelangelo's David sculpture (1504) housed in the Accademia. Those lucky enough to spot a "Little David" in his traveling crate are encouraged to take photos of themselves with the statue (ala the "Roaming Gnome") and upload them to Little David's Travelogue.

The SAM also released the following video featuring Curatorial Advisor on the exhibition and Deans Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University, Dr. Gary Radke, providing a fascinating lecture on  Michelangelo Public and Private


Art Collector Waives Insurance Policy for Stolen Andy Warhol Paintings

art insurance, Andy Warhol, paintings
LOS ANGELES -- The LAPD would like to speak with art collector, Richard L. Weisman, the owner of 11 Andy Warhol paintings which he reported stolen from his home in early September.

That is, if they can track him down.

The elusive Weisman has apparently decided not to collect on his insurance policy for the missing fine art, estimated to be worth $25 million.

It seems unthinkable that anyone would settle for such a loss, but Weisman worries that an investigation would impose on his friends and family. "They turn you into a suspect," he explained, adding that he doesn't want his records being pored over by authorities.

Police say they do not have a suspect in the case as of yet.




Human Art Experiment Ends After 100 Days

Fourth Plinth, One & Other, artist Antony Gormley
LONDON -- The Fourth Plinth art project/human experiment ended just after 9am on Wednesday with its final participant, Emma Burns. The 30-year old photographer released 96 red balloons in memory of the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster and stepped down as the last in a long line of human installations.

For 100 days and nights, 2,400 volunteers took turns for one hour each (doing pretty much anything they chose) atop The Fourth Plinth in London's famous Trafalgar Square.

The plinth was originally built in 1841 for a statue of King William IV on a horse, but the project was never completed. The platform has since become a tourist attraction, a site for political demonstrations, and most recently, a display stand for human contemporary art.

Artist Antony Gormley is the creative force behind the so-called One & Other project. "We've had 2,400 unbroken hours of occupation by living, human people in a place of bronze public sculpture and that's an achievement," said Gormley.

But was this 100-day public display really an artistic "achievement", or a result of the usual human quest for "fifteen minutes an hour of fame"? After all, the plinthers weren't exactly doing "artful" activities - at least not in a traditional sense. Performances on the plinth included singing, pole dancing, stripping, protesting, dressing as feces, begging for a job, releasing live chickens, hollering bedtime stories through a megaphone...and the list goes on.

Either way, Gormley believes his project succeeded. "But at the same time I'm very sad that it's over. It's become, in a way, part of London life," said the artist. 



The Art World's Most Influential Figures | The Power 100 List (2009)

ArtReview magazine, Power 100
ArtReview magazine has published the eighth annual Power 100 - a comprehensive list of the most influential figures in the art world. This year's list includes artists, curators, art collectors, museum directors and critics. Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist was named the most powerful figure in the contemporary art world for 2009.
LONDON /ArtReview/ -- Coming on the heels of 12 months of extraordinary financial stress, both in the art world and the real world, the 2009 edition of the Power 100 reflects fundamental changes in influence. Previous No. 1s, both artists and collectors, have plummeted, while only the most ambitious of museums have stayed near the top; meanwhile, percolating up from the middle ranks is a new generation of highly networked, flexible, globetrotting curators – men and women at the very center of a new way of working.
1. Hans Ulrich Obrist
2. Glenn D. Lowry
3. Sir Nicholas Serota
4. Daniel Birnbaum
5. Larry Gagosian
6. François Pinault
7. Eli Broad
8. Anton Vidokle, Julieta Aranda & Brian Kuan Wood
9. Iwona Blazwick
10. Bruce Nauman
11. Iwan Wirth
12. David Zwirner
13. Jeff Koons
14. Jay Jopling
15. Marian Goodman
16. Agnes Gund
17. Takashi Murakami
18. Alfred Pacquement
19. Peter Fischli & David Weiss
20. Mike Kelley
21. Barbara Gladstone
22. Steven A. Cohen
23. Dominique Lévy & Robert Mnuchin
24. Adam D. Weinberg
25. Marc Glimcher
26. Amy Cappellazzo & Brett Gorvy
27. Cheyenne Westphal & Tobias Meyer
28. Ann Philbin
29. Matthew Higgs
30. Matthew Marks
31. Tim Blum & Jeff Poe
32. Gavin Brown
33. Ralph Rugoff
34. Liam Gillick
35. Anne Pasternak
36. Dakis Joannou
37. John Baldessari
38. Isa Genzken
39. Paul McCarthy
40. Michael Govan
41. Eugenio López
42. Cindy Sherman
43. Ai Weiwei
44. Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
45. Annette Schönholzer & Marc Spiegler
46. Diedrich Diederichsen
47. Richard Prince
48. Damien Hirst
49. Bernard Arnault
50. Massimiliano Gioni
51. Amanda Sharp & Matthew Slotover
52. Joel Wachs
53. Victor Pinchuk
54. Udo Kittelmann
55. Marina Abramović
56. Michael Ringier
57. Gerhard Richter
58. Richard Serra
59. RoseLee Goldberg
60. Kasper König
61. Roberta Smith
62. Monika Sprüth & Philomene Magers
63. Germano Celant
64. Emmanuel Perrotin
65. Peter Schjeldahl
66. Beatrix Ruf
67. Okwui Enwezor
68. Nicolas Bourriaud
69. Karen & Christian Boros
70. Isabelle Graw
71. Maurizio Cattelan
72. Charles Saatchi
73. Jerry Saltz
74. Jasper Johns
75. Louise Bourgeois
76. Thaddaeus Ropac
77. Mera & Don Rubell
78. Thelma Golden
79. Sarah Morris
80. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
81. Anita & Poju Zabludowicz
82. Paul Schimmel
83. Jose, Alberto & David Mugrabi
84. Sadie Coles
85. Daniel Buchholz
86. Victoria Miro
87. Maureen Paley
88. Johann König
89. Nicolai Wallner
90. Maria Lind
91. Massimo De Carlo
92. Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi & Maurizio Rigillo
93. Rirkrit Tiravanija
94. Toby Webster
95. Long March Space
96. Nicholas Logsdail
97. Harry Blain & Graham Southern
98. Claire Hsu
99. Peter Nagy
100. Glenn Beck


The Painter of Black and Light: Soulages at the Pompidou

Centre Pompidou, French abstractionist Pierre Soulages, Photo: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen (France Entertainment)

"Painting is a play of opacities and transparencies."  ~Pierre Soulages

PARIS -- The Centre Pompidou is putting on a major retrospective to celebrate the work of an artist who the museum calls, "the greatest painter on the current French scene." Approaching his 90th birthday, Pierre Soulages, nicknamed the "painter of black and light," is recognized as a major figure in the genre of abstract art.

Following a National Museum of Modern Art show in 1967, the Centre Pompidou held its first large scale exhibition of Pierre Soulages in 1979. This autumn's show looks back at over 60 years of painting and offers a new reading of the artist's oeuvre, with emphasis on more recent developments in his work.

Soulages brings together over a hundred major works dating from 1946 to the present day, from the striking walnut stain works executed between 1947 and 1949 to the paintings of recent years. The collection displays the dynamism and diversity of the artist's constantly evolving approach. Most of the paintings are being shown for the first time.

Soulages (Oct. 14 - March 8, 2010) @ Centre Pompidou | Website

Tate Modern Replaces Indecent Brooke Shields Photo, Reopens Gallery

Tate Modern, Pop Life: Art in a Material World, Richard Prince

LONDON -- A nude photograph of a ten-year-old Brooke Shields has been removed from Tate Modern's exhibition entitled Pop Life: Art in a Material World. The Richard Prince photo (Spiritual America, 1983 - detail shown above left) was deemed offensive by some exhibit attendees, prompting a museum visit from officers of the police's obscene publications unit.

A police spokesman “explained the legal position which is clear that anyone convicted of distributing or showing an indecent image of a child would automatically be placed on the sex offenders register.” But is it "indecent" when the image is displayed in a cultural establishment, like the Tate, and in the name of art?

The museum temporarily shut down, but reopened Tuesday - sans the 1983 photo. A later version of the Richard Prince work (Spiritual America IV, 2005 - detail shown above right), was hung in it's place.

Many in the art world believe the authorities' investigation (and threats) went too far. Art lawyer Mark Stephens commented, "With exhibitions in cultural institutions [it] can rarely, if ever, be in the ‘public interest’ to prosecute. It [would not be] in the public interest to prosecute [Tate over] this Richard Prince image, particularly taking account its long history of public exhibition.”

Pop Life: Art in a Material World (Oct. 1 - Jan. 17, 2010)  @ Tate Modern | Website



British Museum Has Two Months to Return Artifact to Iran, Or Else

British Museum, Cyrus Cylinder

TEHRAN -- A clay artifact dating from the 6th century BC is the center of a dispute between Iran and London's British Museum. The Cyrus Cylinder, currently in the British Museum's possession, is an object relating to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus of Persia, who Iranians consider a great historical hero. Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization has given the British Museum a deadline of two months within which to return the cultural relic to Iran.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi explained, "There was an agreement between Iran and the London museum to the effect that the...cylinder would be lent to Iran for display." Qashqavi believes the controversy over Iran's spring election caused the museum to reconsider the arrangement.

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said they intend to send the item to Iran citing "a number of practicalities" as reason for the delay. But Iran is sticking to its two month deadline. "If within this period this pledge is not honored then all agreements in archaeological research, trade fairs and so on with Britain might be harmed," Qashqavi threatened.



Can Hirst Paintings Intoxicate Like Formaldehyde?

The Wallace Collection, Damien Hirst

LONDON -- Starting Wednesday, The Wallace Collection will host an exhibition of 25 new paintings by British artist Damien Hirst. No Love Lost, Blue Paintings will feature works that according to the artist, are “deeply connected to the past.” With pieces created between 2006 and 2008, the show marks the artist’s return to the solitary practice of painting.

Hirst is notorious for challenging the status quo with his preserved butterflies, sheep and sharks swimming in formaldehyde. But there will be no such works on view at the classical Wallace Collection. No Love Lost was inspired by the artist's more traditional visual mentors; Goya, Rembrandt, de Kooning and Bacon

"You kind of think that you've done all that formaldehyde work and then it's a real shock that you're doing something quite straightforward," Hirst said.
No Love Lost, Blue Paintings (Oct. 14 - Jan. 24, 2010) @ The Wallace Collection | Website

19K Portrait Is a Leonardo da Vinci Worth Millions, Fingerprints Show

Alessandro Vezzosi, Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci, AP
In 1998, Christie's art auction house sold a $19,000 drawing to New York dealer Kate Ganz. Catalogued simply as “German, early 19th century,” Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, (a 13x9" portrait, in chalk, pen and ink on vellum, mounted on an oak board), was purchased by Canadian-born Peter Silverman in 2007. Silverman decided to do some sleuthing into the provenance of his newly-collected, unattributed work of art. His curiosity just may have paid off.
LONDON /TimesOnline/ -- The ghost of a fingerprint in the top left corner of an obscure portrait appears to have confirmed one of the most extraordinary art discoveries. A growing number of leading art experts agree that it is almost certainly by Leonardo da Vinci and worth about £100 million.

Carbon dating and infra-red analysis of the artist’s technique are consistent with such a conclusion, but the most compelling evidence is that fragment of a fingerprint. Peter Paul Biro, a Montreal-based forensic art expert, found it while examining images captured by the revolutionary multispectral camera from the Lumière Technology company.

The fingerprint corresponds to the tip of the index or middle finger, and is “highly comparable” to one on Leonardo’s St. Jerome in the Vatican. Importantly, St. Jerome is an early work from a time when Leonardo was not known to have employed assistants, making it likely that it is his fingerprint.
Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford, is convinced and recently completed a book about the find (as yet unpublished). He said that his first reaction was that “it sounded too good to be true — after 40 years in the business, I thought I’d seen it all”. But gradually, “all the bits fell into place.”
If it is by Leonardo, it would be the only known work by the artist on vellum although Professor Kemp points out that Leonardo asked the French court painter Jean Perréal about the technique of using coloured chalks on vellum in 1494.

[Read More -  Unrecognized Leonardo da Vinci Portrait Revealed By His Fingerprint | TimesOnline]


Bailout Forces Royal Bank of Scotland to Share Art Stash with Public

The Atlantic Surf, Sir William McTaggart, Royal Bank of Scotland

A previously hidden trove of British artwork, one of the largest corporate collections in Britain, will soon be shared with the public. The Royal Bank of Scotland has been criticized for keeping its 2,200 piece art stash out of public view - until now. The bank has reexamined their position, considering the artwork is now 70% taxpayer-owned after a treasury bailout saved RBS from collapse. RBS has yet to disclose a comprehensive list of the artwork or reveal its value, however the collection is said to include paintings and prints by artists like LS Lowry, David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield, Sir William McTaggart, Johann Zoffany and Joshua Reynolds.
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND /The Guardian/ -- RBS has told the Guardian it broadly agrees with its critics that it now has a public duty to share its collection and is in discussions with museums and arts experts, including the National Galleries of Scotland, which runs five galleries in Edinburgh, about possible loans and exhibitions.
Colin Tweedy, the chairman of Arts & Business, an influential charity which promotes culture and the arts in business, said the bank's silence about the collection and its failure to show it publicly had been frustrating and worrying. "I can understand their embarrassment, but the difficulty is that the collection seemed to have disappeared," he said. "I was worried it had been thrown away and damaged. My view is that this is something they should be proud of, instead of being embarrassed." He added: "It is not only a public duty but also a business opportunity, because people will see some wonderful British work and realize it is owned by RBS."
The department of culture urged RBS to put its works on show: "We want the British public to have access to great works of art, whether they are in public or privately owned collections. We would encourage any business which owns a corporate art collection to enable it to be seen by the public where practicable."

[Read More - Royal Bank of Scotland Agrees to Put Hidden Art Collection On Public Display | The Guardian]


Will the Frieze Heat Up London's Art Market?

Frieze Art Fair, London, artist

LONDON -- This Thursday, the art world heads to London for the seventh annual Frieze Art Fair. Frieze will showcase new and established artists to an international audience of curators, artists, collectors, gallerists and critics, as well as the general public. The event will take place under a large temporary structure of approximately 21,000 square meters in beautiful Regent's Park.

Frieze is one of the only exhibits of its kind to focus solely on contemporary art and living artists. This year, 164 of the world’s most exciting contemporary art galleries, representing 30 countries, will present new work by over 1,000 of the world’s most innovative artists. 2009 will also introduce Frame, a new section within the fair dedicated to solo artist presentations.

The equivalent of Switzerland's Art Basel, Frieze is a barometer for how London's art market will fair in the coming months. Frieze welcomed 68,000 visitors in 2008. This week, all eyes will be on the UK to determine whether the numbers predict success for next year.
Frieze Art Fair (Oct. 15-18, 2009) | Website

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