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MOCA’s Dennis Hopper retrospective becomes a memorial, Kate Moss’s stolen Banksy, and Rome’s first Modern Art museum were among the week’s headlines. Read on for ArtWeLove’s news digest, now also available in email form—bringing a comprehensive roundup of the week’s art developments to your digital doorstep. If you aren't signed up, click here. As always, we welcome your feedback at email@example.com.
CURRENT AND COMING ATTRACTIONS: MODERN ART, STARCHITECTURE, AND A NEW WHITNEY
All roads lead to Rome, and in Rome all roads lead to antiquities unless you’re on the road to MAXXI. Twelve years in the making, Rome’s first Modern Art museum recently celebrated its grand opening, just as the Museum of London reopens its own modern galleries, following a 3-year, $29 million renovation. In the Lone Star State, ambitious starchitect Renzo Piano revealed the design for what Architectural Record terms a “respectful” addition to the career highlight of one of America’s most mythologized architects. Piano on Louis Kahn, or rather, Piano on Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum, is scheduled to open in 2013. Despite earlier dissention, the Whitney’s board members have voted unanimously to begin construction on a new campus in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, to be completed by 2015. Once fractured plans seem to be moving forward for another downtown museum, as well. Eli Broad confirmed the architectural shortlist for his Los Angeles museum, including Pritzker Prize winners Rem Koolhaas, Christian de Portzamparc, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, and the Japanese firm SANAA.
GIVE AND TAKE: STOLEN MASTERPIECES AND FREE ART FOR THE MILITARY
France seeks Interpol’s help in recovering over $125 million in paintings stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art recently, suggesting that the works may have already been taken out of the country. Motive speculation theories for the crime include gangs attempting to extort government money, barter for imprisoned criminals, and trade on the black market. Apparently, Picassos are the most frequently stolen artworks worldwide according to the Art Loss Register. That same week, another Picasso was stolen and a collector beaten in his home in Marseille, France, a city that has been plagued with art robberies since December 2009. Thieves also struck in London, breaking into Kate Moss’s apartment and taking a Banksy mural portrait of the model depicted with several celebrity friends worth over $200,000, among other art, while she slept. On the happier end of the spectrum, the National Endowment for the Arts has organized a summer-long program called Blue Star Museums, which grants active-duty military personnel and their families free access to many of the nation’s top museums.
A MATTER OF HOURS (AND OTHER ECONOMIC WOES)
In the city that never sleeps, the Whitney became the museum that never closes—or at least, for a few days last week, it stayed opened 24 hours to fulfill the terms of Michael Asher’s Biennial exhibit. Meanwhile, the Seattle Art Museum is crunching its budget by decreasing its hours, with a planned two-week closure in early 2011, salary reductions, and 15 staff layoffs. And the Art Institute of Chicago is on its second round of layoffs. Last summer 22 positions were cut, and last week an additional 65 staffers were sent home. Many of the reductions were in security—with international art criminals on the loose, is this really the best area to slash? More money troubles across the pond—Morris Singer, the 170-year-old British foundry that made some of the world’s most famous statues, including the lions in London's Trafalgar Square and Saddam Hussein’s crossed-swords arch in Baghdad, will face imminent closure unless the company can find a buyer. According to a survey by the Alliance for the Arts, New York’s cultural institutions have yet to experience much of the commercial art world’s gradual recovery. Nearly half of the respondents expect to cancel programs this year, while 60% claim still shrinking budgets. Greece is the economic crisis of the minute, and now the government can add striking museum staff to its woes. Workers are demanding back pay and job security while planned exhibits have been postponed indefinitely.
HIGHS AND LOWS: JUDGEMENT, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND DOUBLE STANDARD
The spat between down-and-out tech exec Halsey Minor and Christie’s auction house has been partially settled in court. Apparently, Minor enlisted Christie’s to sell seven Richard Prince paintings, and when they didn’t sell, the company held them as collateral for the $12 million debt Minor had accrued from previous auction purchases. In a more publicized dispute, a federal judge decided not to force Zwirner Gallery to sell Marlene Dumas paintings to blacklisted collector Craig Robins, although the judge decried the entire case as an “unflattering portrait” of the art market. On a more positive note, the Royal Institute of British Architects presented 102 excellence awards to projects in Europe, covering buildings as lofty as museums and as lowly as bus-stop bathrooms. Taking its cue from the Japanese phenomenon of texted “thumb novels,” LACMA is launching “Cell Phone Stories.” Anyone can sign up to have artist and celebrity narrated tales inspired by the museum texted to their phones. And Jeffrey Deitch’s first show as director at MOCA is still scheduled to open on July 11 despite the recent passing of Dennis Hopper. The retrospective showcasing Hopper’s photographs, paintings, sculptures, and collages, is curated by Julian Schnabel and titled “Double Standard” after a 1961 photograph Hopper took of the two Standard Oil signs in West Hollywood.
BOLD MOVES: BARNES FOUNDATION, PAINTING IN BAGHDAD, AND THE SOCIOLOGY OF ART
Protest erupts as Merion, Pennsylvania’s Barnes Foundation plans to move its salon-style jumble of old masterworks and new masterpieces to more accessible digs in downtown Philadelphia. Critics are calling the tourism-fueled move misguided and destructive to historic preservation. In Baghdad, controversy surrounds a mosque’s decision to commission art. Zulfiqar Mosque’s display of paintings—a move that would have been illegal under Hussein—is gaining international attention in part because depicting living creatures is banned in some Islamic sects. According to its congregation, the paintings of important religious battles represent a step towards more freedom for Shiite Muslims. For Canadian sociologist Sarah Thornton, art is not merely an experience, a statement, or an investment. It’s a microcosm, and the key players—artists, curators, and dealers—warrant the same kind of observational study and behavioral analysis as Margaret Mead’s Samoans. Her book, “Seven Days in the Art World,” focuses on cultural ritual and hierarchy. Finally, a spray-painted division of a Manhattan sidewalk comes with a hierarchical statement of its own—tourists to one side, New Yorkers to the other. But, is it really a Banksy?