Obama Courts Art World Vote, UK Loves Random Romantic Art, and More Must-Read Art News

Obama Courts Art World Vote, UK Loves Random Romantic Art, and More Must-Read Art News
President Obama courts art world vote
(AFP/Getty Images)

– Obama Proposes Boost for NEA: In what may be an effort to court the cultural vote, the President's election-year budget, made public yesterday, would raise the agency's annual spending to $154.255 million — an increase of over $8 million. Half of that increase would go directly to not-for-profit arts organizations, while $2.7 million would go to state arts agencies and regional organizations. [NYT]

– The Most Romantic Artwork in the UK: An oil painting of Romeo and Juliet by Sir Frank Dicksee hanging in Southampton's municipal gallery is Britain's most romantic work of art, according to a survey of the public conducted by pollsters YouGov for the Art Fund. Romantic and artistic value, however, might be two different things: Auguste Rodin's "The Kiss," only came second. [Daily Echo]


– Las Vegas Gets a Mob Museum: The $42 million survey of the American gangster, unfolding in 17,000 square feet of exhibition space in a landmark building on Stewart Avenue, features artifacts, interactive displays, photographs, and videos. "The tension between allure and disgust recurs throughout," writes Edward Rothstein. [NYT]

– The Forger Turns ArtistWolfgang Beltracchi, the German forger who fooled the art world and was condemned to six years in jail, has started collaborating with photographer Manfred Esser. Their works come with a price tag of between €15,000 and €20,000 and are available for sale on the website Beltracchi Project. [Journal des Arts]

– Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships Expects Record Audience: "We might say it's a love museum, just upside down," says Drazen Grubisic, who founded the Croatian monument to breakups with his ex Olinka Vistica. Today is its busiest day of the year. Key pieces include an axe used by a woman to smash her girlfriend's furniture, an unworn garter belt, and teddy bears given as Valentine's Day presents. [AP

– "I Am Afraid of Men": Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who recently unveiled a highly-anticipated retrospective at the Tate, chats with Bloomberg about the opposite sex in this Valentine's Day interview. "I don't have many positive feelings about them," she says. (Since Kusama filled two exhibition rooms in the 1960s with drooping sculptures representing male appendages, perhaps that doesn't come as a huge surprise.) "I haven't had sex with a man for decades." [Bloomberg]

 Kodak Museum Struggles to Stay Afloat: Cameras aren't the only casualties of Eastman Kodak's bankruptcy. The camera company was also the longtime benefactor of the Kodak Museum, which must now move forward without its aid. The museum is located in Kodak founder George Eastman's palatial 50-room former home in Rochester and serves as the world's largest repository for all things photographic. [WSJ]

– D.C.'s Commercial Art Scene Inaccessible: Washington's downtown has been redeveloped, and arts spaces are now mandated by zoning. But some property managers view the requirement as "a poison pill," according to local gallery owner Margery Goldberg, and push art spaces away from storefronts and into tucked away interiors. [WaPo]

– What Does Greece's Financial Crisis Have to Do With Art Theft?: The Los Angeles Times proposes that Greece has been made vulnerable to art theft due to the country's economic crisis, which leaves the Culture Ministry desperately sort of cash. Security personnel were scaled back at Greece's National Gallery, where a $6.5 million art theft took place last month. [LAT

– Kim Jong-il Gets an Arty Birthday Present: In honor of the North Korean dictator's birthday (he would have been 70 on Thursday), officials unveiled a bronze sculpture of him riding side-by-side with his father, North Korea founder Kim Il-sung. The two bombastic bronzes tower over downtown Pyongyang. [Telegraph

– Kimball Art Center Chooses Architect: The BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group has won the design competition to renovate and expand the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. The architects will use massive stacked timber elements reclaimed from train track piles from the Great Salt Lake in their design. [Press Release] 

– German Artist Aids Ailing Cab Drivers: Artist Olaf Nicolai has joined forces with taxi drivers in Italy, who are protesting the increase in gas prices included in the government's austerity measures. Nicolai mailed post cards around the world publicizing the protesters' situation. [Julie News via Artforum]

– Art Dubai's Projects Programme Announced: Coinciding with Art Dubai (March 21-24), Art Dubai Projects focuses on the workings of an art fair, and will include site-specific commissions by Fayçal BaghricheYto BarradaCarlos CeldranJames ClarKoken ErgunRami Farook,Setu LegiMagdi MostafaUBIK, and Deniz Üster. [Press Release]

– RIP Fashion Photographer Lillian Bassman: The magazine art director and photographer, who achieved renown in the 1950s with her high-contrast portraits of models and then re-emerged in the '90s as a fine-art photographer after a cache of lost negatives resurfaced, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 94. [NYT]


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