Smithsonian Honors the Great Betty White, Dubai's Auction Houses Wither, and More Must-Read Art News

Smithsonian Honors the Great Betty White, Dubai's Auction Houses Wither, and More Must-Read Art News
Betty White
(Courtesy Getty Images)

 Smithsonian Honors Golden Girl: Everyone, it seems, loves Betty White. Now, she'll be officially honored as an American treasure. On May 17, the Smithsonian will fete the suddenly ubiquitous nonagenarian with a gala event at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. "I have been a Smithsonian fan forever," the "Hot in Cleveland" star told the Washington Post. "Just the thought of being invited knocked me out.”  White plans to focus her remarks during the very special evening on her passion for animal rights. "Oh my career," she said, "everybody has had it up to here with that." [WaPo]

– Is Dubai's Auction Market Shrinking?: At least in terms of the number of auction houses there, it is. After a disappointing series of Middle Eastern and Arab art sales last year, Bonhams pulled out of the free-wheeling emirate. Meanwhile, Christie's most recent sale pulled in $6.4 million, above the high estimate of $6.1 million — but down from last year's $8 million total. "Tucked into this [sale] were a number of works offered 'without reserve' and quite a few decorated with the tiny triangle denoting works that actually belonged to Christie’s, generally because they had been guaranteed and failed to sell in previous sales." [FT]


– Heizer's Lives at LACMA Now: For over a month, the Nevada-based land artist Michael Heizer has been living with his wife and dog in an Airstream trailer on the LACMA campus while his monumental work "Levitated Mass" settles into its permanent new home outside the museum. L.A. county supervisor Zev Yaroslavky offers a behind-the-scenes look at the publicity-averse artist as he oversees the boulder being lowered into its permanent resting place. [L.A. County News]

 Cooper-Hewitt Opens Education Annex on the Park: The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is opening a new storefront classroom space on the northern edge of Central Park on May 12. The museum's building, the historical Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue, is undergoing a $54 million, two-year renovation and will reopen in 2014 with 60 percent more exhibition space. [WSJ]

– Tate Breaks Ground on Mostly-Funded New Wing: Construction has finally begun on the Tate's new wing, imaginatively dubbed "Tate 2." The long-in-the-works project was delayed due to fundraising difficulties, but the museum reports it now has about 75 percent of the £215 million ($346 million) needed. The new galleries, which will be housed in giant former oil tanks, will be opened temporarily from July to October for a festival that will coincide with the Olympics. Tate 2's tentative opening date is 2016, though director Nicholas Serota says, "My guess is, it’ll be sooner than that." [Businessweek]

– Street Artists Beastial Mural Has Little Italy Seeing Satan: A mural by street artist Tristan Eaton, recently installed on Mulberry Street across from a 124-year-old church in New York's Little Italy, is ruffling some local feathers. "I see the tiger's teeth in the crotch — that's dangerous," said one resident of the design, which features a human figure with a peacock head and tiger's head over the groin. "It looks like Armageddon. This is the devil." [NYP

– Swedish Culture Minister to Stay Put: Sweden's culture minister, Lena Adelsohn, said she has no intention of resigning over the bizarre and controversial photographs of her cutting into a cake shaped like a stereotypical African tribeswoman on World Art Day. The episode was intended to draw attention to genital mutilation, according to the artist behind the cake. [NYT]  

What a Nice Surprise: While visiting the Queensland Art Museum in Brisbane, Australia, a British Museum egyptologist discovered something the museum staff had overlooked: papyrus fragments from the ancient Egyptian funerary text known as "Book of the Dead." "We are incredibly surprised that we had such a significant object in our collection," said the museum's CEO, who probably shouldn't have admitted that. [CBC]

– Montevideo's Contemporary Art Museum Reopens: After a six-month-long renovation project, Montevideo's Bohemian Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Art reopened in the Uruguayan capital last month. The art center is run by the international collector and gallerist Virginia Robinson, who also owns Kansas's Bohemian Gallery. Upcoming shows at the museum include Julian Schnabel and Marc Chagall. [TAN]


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