James Dean's Love Letters Flutter to Christie's, Discovering Jeff Koons's Secret NYC Quarry, and More Must-Read Art News

James Dean's Love Letters Flutter to Christie's, Discovering Jeff Koons's Secret NYC Quarry, and More Must-Read Art News
James Dean in "East of Eden," 1955
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

James Dean Love Letters Head to Christie's: Private letters from movie heartthrob James Dean to his then-girlfriend Barbara Glenn will go under the hammer at Christie's in November. The three letters — which capture Dean criticizing his Broadway show "The Immortalist" ("a piece of shit") and scolding Glenn for doing a swimsuit photo shoot ("Boy, that's selling out cheap") — are expected to fetch a total of £16,000 ($25,400). [HuffPo, Press Release]  



The Urban Quarry Where "Jeff Koons Shops": The New York Times stops by the Compleat Sculptor,a SoHo warehouse peddling slabs of 80-year-old ebony and 300 tons ofmarble, alabaster, granite, and soapstone. Patrons of the 16-year-oldfamily business range from Jeff Koons to Met Opera set designers to Greg Wyatt, the sculptor in residence at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.(The FBI also drops in from time to time to pick up ingredients for crime-scenerestorations.) "There are sculptors who eyeball a 400-pound chunk andsay: 'I see a butterfly in there! I see a dragon!'" said store owner Marc Fields. "Sculptors are all crazy." [NYT


Jackie Kennedy on Sukarno's "Lecherous" Art: In a new book of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s never-before-published interviews with JFK's widow after the assassination, the future Jackie O recalls a visit from President Sukarno of Indonesia where she and her husband leafed through a catalogue of Sukarno's art collection — only to discover that all of the paintings shared a common theme: a woman "naked to the waist with a hibiscus in her hair." Sukarno, meanwhile, "had a sort of lecherous look." Good times! [NYT]

The Teddy Bear Filter at the Bottom of the 9/11 Memorial: One of the more surprising details about Peter Walker and Michael Arad's recently unveiled 9/11 memorialinvolves stuffed animals. The designers incorporated large filtersat the base of the two sunken fountains to catch personal items they expect visitors to toss in, such as photographs,flowers, and yes, even teddy bears. The filters will allow these piecesto be collected and perhaps preserved. [LAT

U.S. Show of Palestinian Kiddie Art Canceled: The board of Oakland's Museum of Children's Art determined an exhibit comprised of artwork created by Palestinian preschoolers in art therapy was too violent for a young audience. Drawings included harrowing images of bloodshed and loss during the Israeli bombing of Gaza. The pictures have already toured various children's centers in Gaza and the United States; this is the first time a venue has pulled out. Exhibition organizers are currently looking for an alternate location in the area. [Mercury News

David Byrne on Singing the "Womp"s: When the former Talking Heads frontman's installation under the High Line (at the site of a future Pace gallery)debuts this Thursday, the uncanny sounds emitting from the squishedglobe will actually be his singing voice, slightly modified. [NYM

Norman Foster's Apple HQ Is an Endless Hallway: Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne criticizes the forthcoming 2.8 million-square-foot Apple headquarters in Cupertino — Steve Jobs's last major initiative before his retirement — as "doggedly old-fashioned... recalling the 1943 Pentagon building as well as much of the suburban corporate architecture of the 1960s and '70s." He argues that the isolated pastoral corporate campus, which will hold 12,000 employees, remains "aloof from the world around it": "The proposed building is essentially one very long hallway connecting endlessly with itself." [LAT

Jonathan Jones Discovers L.A.: Like some latter-day Tocqueville, the British critic has arrived at the California metropolis to find a "brave new world" of Ed Ruscha and Frank Gehry. For further (unintentional) comic effect, he compares everything in the city to aspects of British art and architecture — even the city's famous light, which is "like walking into a David Hockney painting." [Guardian

Jenny Saville on Her New Gagosian Show: For her upcoming show at Gagosian in New York, the British painter known for her portraits of obese women will explore the female form in a more delicate condition: pregnancy. Saville says her own recent pregnancy kindled ideas about how a woman looks when she is "at a human capacity." The artist, who has been hailed as Lucian Freud's heir apparent, sketched her own body, as well as those of 10 pregnant friends, for the series. [WSJ]

BAM Gets a Blog: The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced a new blog in conjunction with the institution's 150th anniversary. Blog content centers on BAM's past, present, and future, including archival photo and video as well as previews of upcoming programming. BAM's archive director, Sharon Lehner, intends for the blog to continue even after the conclusion of the yearlong anniversary festivities. [WSJ]

Franco Now Buying Art from Pubescent Fans: While leading a tour of his latest art installation in Toronto, James Franco spotted work by a fellow promising young artist. Thirteen-year-old Macy Armstrong arrived at the tour clutching three of her own artworks, including a portrait of Franco made out of yarn and a canvas inspired by the poster for "127 Hours." The movie star told Armstrong, "I wanna buy those," and had his assistant jot down her e-mail address. "He looked at me, he spoke to me, and I'm pretty sure we mentally got married!" she wrote of the experience on her personal blog, titled — we kid you not — jamesfrancoforever.tumblr.com. [CTV

Manser Medal Nominees Announced: The contenders for the Royal Institute of British Architects' annual Manser Medal for best private homes have been revealed, and they include Featherstone Young's Ty-Hedfan and MVRDV's Balancing Barn. If you want to secure your own nomination next year, consider incorporating a cantilevered room into your design: two of the six nominees feature rooms hovering in mid-air. [Guardian]

Of Masterpieces and Cats: That's right, catserpieces. To cure the Monday blues, check out the paintings of Botticelli, Rubens, and other great masters featuring very fat cats where buxom women once stood (or lay). [Laughing Squid]  

VIDEO OF THE DAY: "Sweet and Sad," presented by the Public Theater and written and directed by Richard Nelson, takes place on September 11, 2011 and follows a family trying understanding the attacks 10 years later. It's getting a lot of buzz. Learn more about the play in the video below: