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Madonna of the Pseuds
The Spectator 13.9.2003
Tom Utley was suddenly conscious that he admired neither the work of Leonardo nor many other acknowledged masterpieces.
"Leonardo’s ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’, stolen the other day from the Duke of Buccleuch, is the painting that changed my view of civilisation. I know it quite well.
My life-changing moment came on about my third visit to the castle, when I was standing in a little group of tourists in the Staircase Hall.
Hang on, I thought. I’m only pretending to like this picture. I don’t really like it at all. If I had seen it in the alfresco art market in the Bayswater Road on a Sunday afternoon, I would not have given it a second glance. It was only because it was hanging on a castle wall, and because I knew that it was attributed to Leonardo, that I was putting on this show of soulful rapture.
In that moment of revelation before the ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’ it occurred to me that there must be tens or even hundreds of thousands of people like me, going through life pretending to like the sort of things that the sort of people we would like to be are supposed to like. If my theory is right, the entire economy of the culture industry depends upon people like me, trying to be thought cultivated. It would be interesting to put it to a scientific test: wire up the average self-declared art-lover, stick him in front of a Leonardo and measure his endorphin levels. Then give him a flash of Kylie’s bum and measure them again.... ture."


Johnny Cash, Country Music Bedrock, Dies at 71
The New York Times 13.9.2003
Known as the Man in Black, both for his voice, which projected the fateful gravity of a country patriarch, and for his signature look, which suggested a cowboy undertaker, Mr. Cash was one of the few performers who outlasted trends to become a mythical figure rediscovered by each new generation.

Guggenheim looks to Taiwan as Brazil project falters
The Art Newspaper 12.9.2003
A feasibility study undertaken to establish whether Taichung, Taiwan, is a suitable venue for a new Guggenheim Museum has just been submitted to the Guggenheim board for consideration. If the project moves forward and the museum is built, it will be the first Guggenheim in Asia.
The planned museum is to become part of a new NT$12.4 billion ($360.4 million) district in Taichung to include an opera house designed by Jean Nouvel, architect of the proposed Guggenheim Rio, and a new City Hall to be designed by Frank Gehry, architect of the Guggenheim Bilbao.
the terms of the agreement are expected to be similar to those negotiated between the Guggenheim and Rio: the City of Taichung would foot 100% of the bill for the new museum, including a fee to the Guggenheim. In return the Guggenheim would provide its name, management experience, and access to collections and exhibitions.
Meanwhile, the Guggenheim’s proposal to build a $250-million outpost designed by Jean Nouvel in Rio de Janeiro is almost certainly dead in the water.


At Museums, a Quiet Power
The Washington Post 7.9.2003
At this time last year, the museum world looked as though it was doing some retrenching. Few blockbusters were on the roster; fewer shows of any kind had been announced than was the norm throughout the 1990s.
If last year looked like a retreat, this year may be a rout.
There's hardly a single true blockbuster built around a famous name. Instead we get a very modest spread of focused, scholarly shows featuring less celebrated figures.

So what's new?
The Guardian 9.9.2003
There is a tang of blood in the air, blood on the walls and on the floor. The smell of blood gets the critic going, but it isn't often that your shoes get sticky. So opens Damien Hirst's show, Romance in the Age of Uncertainty, at the White Cube in Hoxton Square, London - his first exhibition of new work in the capital in eight years.
"My disappointment has nothing to do with the publicity that preceded this exhibition. Nor is it that I have become disabused of the idea that Hirst is a very good artist. It is simply that nothing seems to have changed in his work. Here are cows' heads and cows cut in half, formaldehyde, things in cabinets, compendious titles and big issues; here are the mordant and morbid, the horror and the humour."

A Perpignan, les photographes s'interrogent sur leur travail en Irak
Le Monde 8.9.2003
Le 15e festival Visa pour l'image, jusqu'au 14 septembre, est l'occasion d'un vaste débat sur le métier de photoreporter. La pratique de certains journalistes qui ont accepté d'être embarqués, ou "embedded", dans les unités américaines pendant la guerre divise la profession.
Le directeur de Visa pour l'image, Jean-François Leroy, a lui-même mis de l'huile sur le feu dans un texte intitulé "Embedded...", où il écrit : "Où est l'info, quand on est sur un char, sans aucune liberté de circuler ? A Perpignan, les photographes -sont- là pour témoigner, en toute liberté (...). Les esprits seront redevenus plus lucides, et ceux qui auront accepté de "coucher avec..." se seront réveillés."
Ceux qui étaient "embedded" n'ont pourtant pas eu l'impression de "coucher" avec les Etats-Unis. "Je n'étais pas à l'aise, mais aucune de mes images n'a été censurée ou contrôlée, dit Chris Anderson.
Le problème de l'immersion n'est pas tant la censure que les liens affectifs qui se nouent. "Ce fut une lutte quotidienne d'être objectif, reconnaît le photographe. Quand on dépend d'eux pour l'eau, la nourriture, le lit, on est dans leur point de vue." Mais il ajoute aussitôt : " Robert Capa pendant le débarquement en Normandie de 1944, David Douglas Duncan en Corée, puis Larry Burrows au Vietnam étaient déjà "embedded" avec les Américains !"


What Does the Pentagon See in 'Battle of Algiers'?
The New York Times 7.9.2003
The Pentagon recently held a screening of of Gillo Pontecorvo's 1965 film The Battle of Algiers.
The idea came from the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, which a Defense Department official described as a civilian-led group with "responsibility for thinking aggressively and creatively" on issues of guerrilla war.
About 40 officers and civilian experts who were urged to consider and discuss the implicit issues at the core of the film — the problematic but alluring efficacy of brutal and repressive means in fighting clandestine terrorists in places like Algeria and Iraq. Or more specifically, the advantages and costs of resorting to torture and intimidation in seeking vital human intelligence about enemy plans.
As the flier inviting guests to the Pentagon screening declared: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

"I have come here not for what I may learn, but for what I may feel"
Financial times 5.9.2003
Tom Stoppard (British playwright (sixty-five), with Sergei Kornilov, (sixty-three) the guardian of the Bakunin estate and a former man of the theatre, his wife Alla, and an FT reporter) visits for the first time the now-dilapidated estate where his trilogy The Coast of Utopia begins.


For mutual profit
The New York Times 6.9.2003
The combination of sometimes desperate financial need and innovative ways to make money is a hallmark of a new era in the relationship between corporate culture and higher education. In articles, symposiums and a host of new books, scholars and educators have been warning that the traditional mission and standards of the university are at risk of being compromised by increasing commercialization.
Financial pressures, of course, have always existed. But a series of developments over the last 20 years or so are creating new ethical quandaries. At the same time, government financing for college is decreasing, and tuition covers only a portion of the rising cost, which goes up about 6 percent a year. The university, critics warn, is in danger of selling its soul.

Internet film launch stalled
BBC News 5.9.2003
This Is Not A Love Song - the new feature from Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy - was due to start streaming at 1800 BST on Friday.
But soon after, overwhelming demand from the public to see the movie caused the site's streaming facility to crash.

La culture trop chère ? Essayez l'ignorance
Le Monde 4.9.2003
plusieurs milliers d'artistes et de techniciens (4 500 selon la police, 8 000 à 10 000 selon les organisateurs) ont défilé à Paris, jeudi 4 septembre, du siège du Medef avenue Bosquet (7e) à la place du Palais-Royal, devant le ministère de la culture (où Jean-Jacque Aillagon présidait le Conseil national des professions de spectacle), à l'appel de la CGT et des coordinations. Ils demandaient le retrait de l'accord signé le 26 juin, modifiant le régime de l'assurance-chômage des intermittents du spectacle et de l'audiovisuel.

World auction market shrinks
The Art Newspaper 5.9.2003
The world auction market for fine art contracted sharply over the last 12 months, according to figures just published in Britain and France. The sorry story is substantially the same at both the British Art Sales Index (ASI) and the French Artprice, although their results differ slightly.
The figures cover the period 1 August 2002 to 31 July 2003. ASI recorded sales of $2.32 billion (£1.45 billion), based on results from 424 auction houses, a drop from $2.34 billion in 2001/02. The number of lots sold also dropped, from 139,574 in 2001/02 to 123,476.
Somewhat inexplicably, Artprice, which draws on a much larger base of 2,900 auction houses, is even gloomier and reports a smaller total of $2.29 billion, for 156,513 lots actually sold (it adds the interesting information that another 88,706 lots were offered but remained unsold). Neither company could offer any reason for the different findings.

Musei torinesi, gestione pubblico-privata
Il Giornale dellArte 08.2003
Dopo una lunga e a tratti difficoltosa gestazione, la Fondazione Torino Musei entra nel viso della sua attività: approvato lo statuto e nominati i vertici, il nuovo istituto, cui è affidata la gestione dei musei del territorio (Galleria civica d’Arte moderna-Gam, Museo d’Arte antica a Palazzo Madama, il costituendo Museo d’Arte Orientale, Borgo e Rocca Medievali), è chiamato a dimostrare l’effettiva efficacia di un modello di gestione museale inedito in Italia (la fondazione «pubblico-privata» consentita dall’art. 35 della Finanziaria 2002), e per cui la città di Torino si propone quale precoce sperimentatore.