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As usual, the economy's effects on the art world dominate this week's news: closings, layoffs and sell-offs, oh my!
More museum troubles: the Guggenheim is cutting eight percent of its staff, the Art Institute of Chicago is cutting three percent, and the small Long Beach Museum of Art, unfortunately located in the bankrupt state of California, is threatening to sell off its collection. This theme is continued in the auction houses, where Christie's is cutting its staff.
But the saddest news out of Chelsea this week is that one of its most prominent young galleries, Bellwether, will close, citing the economic downturn. And amid all of this hardship, who is trying to snooker hardworking artists out of their rightful profits? That's right, multibillion-dollar, do-no-evil Google. On the plus side, collectors are finally getting some deals! Thanks to the down market, shrewd shoppers were able to find plenty of bargains at Art Basel.
It hasn't been all closings and layoffs this week however. The years-in-the-making Hermitage Amsterdam will open next week, bringing Russian masterpieces to the city of Rembrandt. And in New York, the newly opened Dwyer Cultural Center is setting out to making its mark on the new Harlem Renaissance (despite budget cuts). The Cleveland Museum of Art is also unveiling its newly expanded galleries.
But more often than not, the economy is continuing to wreak havoc in the architecture world. Unsurprisingly, Norman Foster's tallest-building-in-Europe project will not get built in Moscow as planned--instead, rather depressingly, the site will be converted into a parking garage. Dreams of building the tallest building seem so twentieth century; the architecture of the future seems as if it will look less like the epic--and much-admired--buildings of Star Wars and more like Daniel Liebeskind's new line of practical (ahem, for millionaires) prefab houses.
Finally, judges weighed in on some high-profile art cases this week. A collector was granted the right to sue Louis Vuitton over Murakami prints that he bought and now alleges were just leftover material from the artist's handbags. A New York judge castigated MoMA and the Guggenheim in court, saying that they cut a lucrative backroom settlement to get out of returning Nazi-looted paintings, and that the public has the right to know what money changed hands. Then, giving new meaning to the term "art lover," a woman who kissed a Twombly painting at a French museum show, leaving a tell-tale lipstick trace, was ordered to pay the $25,000 cleaning bill.