Christo Building $340-Million Desert Pyramid, DiCaprio Digs Warhol, and More

Christo Building $340-Million Desert Pyramid, DiCaprio Digs Warhol, and More
Scale model test at the proposed site of Christo's "Mastaba"
(Photo: Wolfgang Volz / © 2012 Christo)

– Christo Plans World's Most Expensive Sculpture: The indomitable land artist wants to build the world's largest and most expensive sculpture in Abu Dhabi. The 150-meter-high, flat-topped pyramid, made out of 410,000 multicolored oil barrels, would be taller than the Great Pyramid in Giza and cost a jaw-dropping $340 million to make. Christo first envisaged the project in a series of drawings more than 30 years ago with his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the brother of the crown prince, is already a fan of the project, which would dominate the desert landscape of Al Gharbia. Entitled "The Mastaba," it would be the artist's only permanent work of public art (and at these prices, that's a good thing). [Guardian]

– Leo DiCaprio Shops for Warhols: The "Titanic" sketch artist, currently in New York City filming "The Wolf of Wall Street," was recently spotted having a close look at Andy Warhol's "Flowers" at Upper East Side Eykyn Maclean Gallery. His art shopping also took him to last week's contemporary art sale at Christie's after visiting the pre-auction exhibition several times. [NYPost]


– Boston Museum Blasted for Renting its Masterpieces: Boston's Museum of Fine Arts has been raising good money by renting many of its most prized artworks — including pieces by RenoirManetvan Gogh, and Cézanne — to for-profit companies, a move that has been criticized by observers who feel that the rentals are depriving audiences of the museum's greatest assets. "We admit there is some crowding [on the list of masterpieces sent away],” MFA director Malcolm Rogers said. “Everything has come together at once." [Boston Globe]

– Portrait Gallery Acquires Dumas's Amy Winehouse Painting: The National Portrait Gallery of London has purchased a portrait of Amy Winehouse created shortly after the 27-year-old singer's death in 2011. The pale blue painting, cropped tightly on the singer's head and just larger than a sheet of A4 paper, is the work of South African artist Marlene Dumas, who is most famous for her evocative images of political figures. (For a peek, see our VIDEO OF THE DAY, below.) "The rich, translucent blues of this portrait allude to Amy Winehouse’s musical influences as much as to the melancholy details of her career," explained NPG curator Sarah Howgate. [Telegraph

– New Law Makes LAPD Deputy Art Critic: A recent Los Angeles ordinance governing what types of art can and can't be sold on the Venice Beach boardwalk has LAPD officers making the final call on local artisans' offerings. (The rule bans the sale of mass produced and utilitarian goods like pottery, but permits painting, sculpture, and other forms of artistic expression.) "You could have volunteer boardwalk walkers, but then what?" says Venice Neighborhood Council director Matt Kline. "It is a tough job for the police to do, but this is an ordinance, so they're really the only people who can do it." [WSJ]

– Google Maps Adds Museum Floorplans: Getting lost in museums may be a thing of the past. Google has unveiled a new feature on its browser-based map service that should help visitors navigate the sometimes-confusing maze of wings and galleries. Floor plans from dozens of museums and libraries in nine countries, including more than 30 in the United States, are now available online. Visitors can now consult their phones for help when trying to move through the halls of the Freer Gallery in Washington, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the British Museum in London, among other institutions. [NYT]

Kansas City Art Institute Sues Deadbeat Donors: The Missouri art institution is suing southern California couple Larry and Kristina Dodge over a $5-million pledge they made but are now unable to honor. The school built a $7-million new facility based on the Dodges' donation, but have yet to see $4 million of the promised funds. The couple says it has been battered by the recession and has resorted to selling belongings on eBay. "This is an organization that is ruthless," a sobbing Kristina Dodge said. "Completely ruthless and heartless." [Kansas City Star]

– Paddle8 Bids on Blacklots: The online art platform Paddle8 has bought up former Phillips de Pury chairman Rodman Primack's Internet auction site Paddle8, an enterprise launched by another former Phillips staffer, Alexander Gilkes, recently received a $4-million investment boost from Mousse Partners and has repositioned itself as an online auction site and inventory management database for galleries. [FT]

– Ayyam Gallery Expands: The gallery, which currently has locations in Beirut, Damascus, and Dubai, will expand to London and Jeddah in January 2013. Ayyam specializes in established and emerging Middle Eastern artists and will inaugurate its new spaces with work by Nadim Karam, Mohannad Orabi, and Lara Zankoul, among others. Of the expansion to Jeddah, the gallery's Hisham Samawi said, "We have recently witnessed a revival of the Saudi art scene and a concurrent flourishing of international interest in Saudi artists." [Press Release]

 RIP Lisa de Kooning, Willem's Daughter: The daughter of late Abstract Expressionist legend Willem de Kooning died at her home on St. Johns in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Friday at the age of 56 from unknown causes. Following her father's death in 1997, Lisa was named the co-executor of his estate, established a foundation in his name, and created a trust to handle her own collection of his work, ensuring the endurance of his legacy and the continued upkeep of his East Hampton studio. [East Hampton Patch]


The National Portrait Gallery's portrait of Amy Winehouse, by Marlene Dumas


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