Good reviews for Münster; Ai Work Falls; Dispute over Documenta Giraffe; Dutch Museums Use eBay; Ile Seguin’s Future; La Pinacothèque Opens; Goldberg Gets Cartier-Bresson Prize; a Show for Manson


While the Venice Biennale and Documenta 12 took a mild beating in the newspapers, Skulptur Projkete Münster 2007 seems to have won critics over. Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung's Samuel Herzog writes, “In contrast to Venice and Kassel, where there was nothing to laugh about this year, the path along the Münster Aa river is sometimes downright witty.” For Herzog, the sculpture decennial smartly avoids the problem of reducing public works to mere decoration. “Art often saves itself by becoming invisible, reduced to fleeting gestures or concocting concepts with which local residents might participate—an attempt to give work relevance that often leads to an unappetizing instrumentalization. With all the qualitative differences between the individual works, Münster makes clear that one can still successfully animate public space with art.”

Die Welt's Tim Ackermann recalls that the first edition in 1977 originated in scandal. The event was organized after a group of Münster citizens snubbed an installation of an abstract stainless-steel sculpture from George Rickey in the city in 1973. By the fourth edition, locals have learned to enjoy public sculpture. Ackermann's favorites include Mike Kelley's petting zoo with a salt sculpture of Lot's wife as a licking post; Bruce Nauman's massive inverted pyramid, Square Depression; and Andreas Siekmann's protest against art as city marketing. The artist made a large ball with scraps from fiberglass municipal mascots (such as cows, deer, and bears) that have come to adorn the public fairways of many European cities.


Ai Weiwei's monumental sculpture Template has collapsed after a short but violent storm in Kassel. As Der Standard reports, the thirty-nine-foot-tall wooden structure—the most photographed work at Documenta 12—is made with doors and windows from houses that have fallen victim to China's building boom.

Ai seems undisturbed by the destruction. “It's better than before,” the artist told the newspaper. “Now the force of nature becomes visible. And art becomes beautiful only through such emotions.” Hours after the sculpture collapsed, a buyer was due to inspect the work for purchase. “Now the price has doubled,” said Ai.


Peter Friedl's stuffed giraffe—another photographer favorite at Documenta 12—was taken from the defunct Palestinian zoo in the West Bank. But rumors are circulating that the idea for the artwork came from artist Ayse Erkmen. Writing in Die Tageszeitung, Christiane Rösinger notes that Erkmen is said to have seen the giraffe first and had already made plans to transport the stuffed animal for another exhibition, when Friedl “simply snapped up” the work.

“Now a legal battle about intellectual property is said to be in the works,” writes Rösinger. Whoever wins, Rösinger is not impressed by an argument that concerns the property of a zoo devastated by war. “Is it customary for visual artists to loiter around in Palestinian zoos and swoop objects away from one another?” she asks. “The strange world of art . . .”


The Dutch Instituut Collectie Nederland is taking advantage of eBay to relieve its overflowing archives. As Die Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, the independent institute—whose goal is actually to protect and preserve Dutch cultural heritage—will be auctioning off fourteen hundred works over the next weeks. The lot—which comes from the holdings of Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, Utrecht's Centraal Museum, the Industrion in Kerkrade, the Hague's Museum for Communication, and the Lakenhal in Leiden—comprises works that the museums no longer want to keep in their collections or that have been infrequently exhibited. Items up for grabs include paintings, sculptures, drawings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, and even some state-sponsored art commissions.


What's happening with Ile Seguin, at the edge of Paris? Le Monde's Emmanuel de Roux checks out the deserted island, which once promised to showcase François Pinault's private collection—now a long-term resident of Venice. While the old industrial buildings have been demolished, it remains unclear what will replace them, although a bridge recently opened to join the island with Boulogne-Billancourt.

There are plenty of promises. Prior to his election, President Nicolas Sarkozy headed a panel of experts convened in 2006 to decide the island's fate. A “Centre Européen de Création Contemporaine” (European Center for Contemporary Creation) was set to replace Pinault's defunct foundation. “The project remains unclear,” writes de Roux, “even if its future director, Daniel Janicot, a manager of the Magasin de Grenoble for contemporary art, is working to define the contours of ‘a new Villa Médicis’ with residences and artist ateliers.”

To date, the British architectural group FOA, owned by Farshid Moussavi, has won the architectural competition to build the residency for both artists and researchers. An agreement has also been signed with the Université Américaine de Paris, which will move to the island, into a new building to be designed by Jean-Paul Viguier. The city of Boulogne is planning a music center, designed by the architect Rudy Ricciotti. A garden designed by Michel Desvignes for the center of the island is also awaiting the green light.

“The go will not be given until there is a critical mass of projects,” writes de Roux. Three research institutions—Inserm, CNRS, and the National Cancer Institute—are still deliberating on a move. The dream of a happy union between the arts and the sciences on the island may not be realized. As de Roux notes, municipal elections in Boulogne in 2008 are sure to thematize the island's fate—and perhaps once again redefine its future.


La Pinacothèque—a new private center for modern and contemporary art—has opened its doors in Paris with an exhibition of works by Roy Lichtenstein. As Le Monde's Emmanuel de Roux reports, the twenty-thousand-square-foot space, located at Place de la Madeleine, was created by curator Marc Restellini using a novel formula. “Since it's too complicated to create a foundation in France,” Restellini told Le Monde, “we simply started a limited company with a capital of €400,000 [$544,500].”

La Pinancothèque does receive other funding; the owner of the building, the French bank Crédit Agricole, made a contribution for the Lichtenstein show. The annual budget—five to six million euros ($6.8 to $8.2 million) for eighteen employees—is partially covered by a group of collectors, who may also contribute works from their private collections to exhibitions. The one hundred works that cover Lichtenstein's oeuvre from 1970 to 1990 come from private collections and foundations.

Ticket receipts also play a major role in the venture—one hundred thousand tickets must be sold for the show to break even. Restellini—who ran a similar institute in the Rue de Paradis with the exhibition “Picasso Intime”—is confident that people will come. That space, which opened in 2003, was forced to close due to an insufficient security system.


The Henri Cartier-Bresson Award has been given to Jim Goldberg. As Le Monde reports, the American photographer won for his work in progress The New Europeans, which documents the flow of migrants to Europe. The biannual prize, which is accompanied by forty thousand dollars, will allow Goldberg to complete the project for an exhibition in April 2009 at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris.


Marilyn Manson is a man of many talents. As the APA/dpa reports, the American rock star unveiled thirty-three watercolor works in an exhibition at Gallery Brigitte Schenk in Cologne. Manson remarked that he was inspired by Germany, particularly the city of Berlin, and the country's history of Expressionism. The “absurd to morbid” watercolors include some familiar faces, including the late actor Christopher Reeve and Adolf Hitler. While successful at the gallery, Manson was not so lucky at Cologne's Dom (cathedral). “Unfortunately, I was not allowed inside,” said Manson, “probably because I was wearing lipstick.”

Jennifer Allen