Zahi Hawass Rallies Defense of Egyptian Museums, VIP Art Fair Stays Mum on Dealer Refunds, and More Must-Read Art News

Zahi Hawass Rallies Defense of Egyptian Museums, VIP Art Fair Stays Mum on Dealer Refunds, and More Must-Read Art News

Zahi Hawass Says "My Heart Is Broken and My Blood Is Boiling": The swashbuckling Egyptian antiquities chief has — via a fax sent to Italy — posted a piece on his blog about the situation in Cairo. "I feel that everything I have done in the last nine years has been destroyed in one day, but all the inspectors, young archaeologists, and administrators, are calling me from sites and museums all over Egypt to tell me that they will give their life to protect our antiquities. Many young Egyptians are in the streets trying to stop the criminals. Due to the circumstances, this behavior is not surprising; criminals and people without a conscience will rob their own country. If the lights went off in New York City, or London, even if only for an hour, criminal behavior will occur. I am very proud that Egyptians want to stop these criminals to protect Egypt and its heritage." [Zahi Hawass]



Offline: In the wake of last week's VIP Art Fair, co-founder Jane Cohan has declined to tell the Wall Street Journal whether the fair was going to provide refunds of any stripe to the dealers who, like Lehmann Maupin's Rachel Lehmann, feel let down by the technical shortcomings that plagued the online fair's debut. [WSJ


The Hairy What?: In time for her exhibition of artist Jim Nutt, Chicago MoCA curator Lynne Warren has provided a glossary of the painter's different art-collective affiliations, from the Hairy Who to the Chicago Imagists. [Chicago Tribune]


150 Museums Added to Bank of America Program: The bank has expanded its 14-year-old "Museums on US" initiative, which looks to boost arts access to people around the U.S. by offering BoA and Merill Lynch cardholders free entrance to cultural institutions over the first weekend of each month. [Museums on Us]

Couple Digs Up Henry VIII: A husband and wife who are in the midst of renovating their Tudor home (formerly the residence of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury) have discovered a medieval mural that depicts the saturnine, wife-decapitating king — presented upon a throne, wielding a scepter. [Telegraph]

India Art Summit Report: The Times surveys the three-day fair, which brought in some 128,000 visitors with a vast array of spending points and tastes, who handed over millions of dollars to dealers. [NYT]

Collect 'Em All!: ARTnews issues a yearly phone book of an issue naming the top 200 art collectors in the world, but now the Observer has put out a smaller, sprightlier list that narrows its focus to the 50 most important collectors in New York. Hedgie Steve Cohen, no surprise, leads the bunch. [Observer]

"Rise of the Art Pros": As a supplement, Anthony Haden Guest analyzes the ascent of the "professional collector," the newish breed of primarily mercenary art buyers who view the purchasing and flipping of artworks much in the same vein as their side jobs that are often in the speculative financial industry. [Observer]

When Critics Are Passionately Wrong: The Guardian's Jonathan Jones considers why 18th-century philosopher and art critic Denis Diderot could have preferred Greuze's "sentimental, morbid, palpably dishonest" paintings to the "hugely pleasurable" yet intensely flimsy confections of Boucher. [Guardian]

Brazen Actor: Estonia's Scottish Club in Tallinn has continued the small northern country's tradition of eccentricity by unveiling a bronze bust of the actor Sean Connery that looks quite a bit like another denizen of "The Russia House," Lenin. [AP]

High Art: Finally, in an illuminating profile of Sue de Beer, the New York Times acknowledges marijuana as an art-making material: "A few helpers built a late ’70s Trans Am from wood — complete with the phoenix hood decal known in its day as the screaming chicken — spending little money except on a certain smokeable substance to make the experience more enjoyable." [NYT]

Gallery Blaze: A fire in the building containing Montreal's Jean-Pierre Valentin gallery did an estimated $1 million in overall damage, causing firefighters to remove "several hundred pieces of art — worth millions of dollars" from the charred premises. [Montreal Gazette]

Humor Malfunction: In our ongoing roundup of clumsy attempts at art-world satire, the Weekly World News has issued a fake report about how the VIP Art Fair succeeded last week despite New York's snow storms, which somehow failed to impede traffic to the online fair. Not even going to start with where this one goes wrong. [Weekly World News]

Remembering Peter Marzio: In a memorial in honor of late MFA Houston director Peter C. Marzio, who died last year at 67, former Met director Philippe de Montebello said, "Thanks to Peter Marzio, Houston can now boast truthfully that it has a world-class art museum. For that fact alone, Peter will no doubt figure in the city's annals as one of its greatest citizens, because in transforming the museum, he transformed the city — transformed how it is regarded from without." [Houston Chronicle]

VIDEO OF THE DAY: When Jenny Drumgoole's mom suggested she enter Paula Deen's "Real Women of Philadelphia" cream-cheese recipe contest, the Yale MFA video artist reached beyond the usual ingredients to incorporate a wind machine, cat toys, Rambo, and subliminal text in her YouTube contribution. [Philadelphia Inquirer]