Freakonomics Calls Koons's Balloon Dog Suit "Chilling," China Makes All Museums Free, and More Must-Read Art News

Freakonomics Calls Koons's Balloon Dog Suit "Chilling," China Makes All Museums Free, and More Must-Read Art News

More On Koons's Balloon Dog (With a Side of Unicorn Meat): The New York Times's "Freakonomics" blog has brought in copyright specialists Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman to throw a little light on superstar artist Jeff Koons's recent attempt to claim intellectual property rights to all balloon dogs. The experts mainly find it ridiculous, but do use Koons's suit as a case study in the potential "chilling effect" of copyright law, which can be used by the powerful to harass the little guy, thereby stifling legitimate expression. And they point to, a Web site that catalogs such abusive copyright suits — which, in turn, led us, fortuitously, to this particularly amazing example: The National Pork Board's cease-and-desist letter to the Web site ThinkGeek for a parody ad they put up for a product called "Canned Unicorn Meat." [Freakonomics]

New York Slashes Culture Funding: Yesterday, Michael Bloomberg's preliminary budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year came out, proposing severe cuts for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, whose budget would plummet from $143 million to $103 million. [WNYC]

China Makes All Museums Free: Meanwhile, in China, the government's vice minister of finance Zhang Shaochun announced today that the government is allocating 1.8 billion yuan ($274 million) to finance the nation's public libraries, art galleries, and cultural centers in an effort to make them free to all. [Xinhua]

The Economist Hearts Artists: Lately, business leaders have gone beyond just writing "the odd cheque to support their wives' bearded friends," and are actually looking to artists for inspiration, writes the Economist's "Schumpeter" column on business strategy. Apparently a new wave of tomes with names like "The Fine Art of Success" and "Artistry Unleashed" argue that CEOs have much to learn from the bohemian set when it comes to management. The suits are called on to remember that artists like Tintoretto were game-changing entrepreneurs. But also, "Studying the art world might even hold out the biggest prize of all — helping business become more innovative." (The column does end, somewhat pathetically, with an exhortation to the creative set: now that business types are learning from artists, maybe artists could try to pretend that businesspeople are cool too, OK?) [Economist]

Cory Arcangel, Virtual Bowling Game Historian: The Brooklyn-based artist's new co-commission with the Whitney titled "Beat the Champ" incorporates 14 bowling video games from the 70s through the aughts. Learn how he hacked the games so that they only roll gutter balls and why the results are "kind of sad." Besides, you know, the general sadness of bowling gutter balls. [Dazed]



Salman Rushdie Hits Up Fashion Week: The British-Indian novelist could be seen front row at the Phillip Lim show in New York, in one of the more surprising moments of Fashion Week (other than when we spotted Julia Stiles'sshocking new bangs). Why was this politically contentious penman perusing the latest in womenswear? "I let myself get dragged out," he explained, apparently as a welcome diversion from his memoir-writing. [NYM


A Prickly Public Art Controversy:Tragedy struck in Albuquerque, when sanitation workers hauled off a piece of public art to the dump, destroying it. The $50,000 sculpture, which took the form of a large green fiberglass cactus, was the work of Working Classroom Inc.,a group that brings in professional artists to collaborate with at-risk youth on public art. "There are just layers of tragedy here," said Working Classrooms executive director Nan Elsasser. [KRGE]

In Case You Forgot About Banksy For a Second: The street artist has garnered even more publicity by spray-painting works — including ones depicting Charlie Brown smoking a cig, and a child soldier shooting crayon bullets — all over Los Angeles. Across from the Directors Guild of America headquarters a billboard has been tagged with a boozy Mickey Mouse fondling the bosom of a lady who is definitely not Minnie, although that might be her stripper name. [Guardian]

In Other Oscar-Related Breaking News: When stars and starlets rip open the envelopes on February 27 to read off the names of the winners — as they have been doing for 70 years — they will be dealing with far snazzier stationary featuring an Art Deco-themed design on high-gloss metallic gold paper, conceived by designer Marc Friedland. Inside is a heavy card with a gold-leaf embossed statue and the words "And the Oscar goes to…" followed by the words "Colin Firth," probably. [LAT]


Photographer of Nuremberg Nazis Dies: The cameraman who documented Hitler's top officials answering to the International Military Tribunal at the war crimes trials has passed away at 90. He is perhaps best known for his image of a group Nazi defendants, including Hermann Göring (wearing sunglasses), seated in the box at the Palace of Justice. [NYT]

Happy Birthday, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Today marks the 163rd birthday of the lamp-loving artist. The Morse Museum will be opening a new Tiffany wing as a present. And many more posthumous celebrations, we say! [press release]