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Cy Twombly, 1928-2011

The world lost a giant of American painting with the recent passing of Cy Twombly.  We love the (ca. 1950s) photos on his bio website, taken by none other than his good friend Robert Rauschenberg.  Also be sure to read, if you haven’t already, the full obituary that originally appeared on the front page of The New York Times.

His own beautiful, painterly (did we expect anything else?) photographs can currently be seen on exhibit at the Lambert Collection in Avignon, France and, of course, in Houston; check out the Menil Collection’s gallery.  Designed by Renzo Piano, this amazing Menil “warehouse” is devoted solely to Twombly’s work.

Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center Design Unveiled

With seemingly nothing but bad news coming out of Greece these days, we thought it was time to celebrate a major cultural project that looks to be moving forward in Athens.  The design of the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center slated to be built on 42 acres of the new waterfront Stavros Niarchos Park in the southern part of the city.  Plans include a theater for the Greek National Opera, a smaller performance space, and a large library space to accommodate over two million books of the National Library.  Starchitect Renzo Piano first produced renderings for the site in 2009, and it looks like the final plan retains most of his original major concepts. Those worried about the economic feasibility of the plan should know that the Center is being built with private funds, although it will eventually become the property of the Greek government.

Arkansas — World Class Arts Destination

It will be if Alice Walton — daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton — has her way.  Visitors to Bentonville, Arkansas (pop. 35,000) will soon be treated to 600 important works by American artists, to be housed at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, designed by much-feted architect Moshe Safdie.  Square footage is 201,000, and the building’s setting is a woodland park with trails that lead to town.  The collection is said to be growing as you read this, with an emphasis on 19th- & 20th-century work.  Opening day is November 11th of this year, so keep your eye on Bentonville in the fall . . . .

Tulip Time!

Don’t know where you are right now, but where we are, the tulips are in full bloom.  Meanwhile, in front of the U.S. Embassy, Beijing, Tulips by Jeff Koons is currently installed as part of the Embassy’s collection of works by American, Chinese, and Chinese-American artists.  The write-up on the U.S. State Department’s website is a bit confusing (they say the work is both “on loan” and “part of the permanent collection”), but we applaud the fact that the State Department is installing monumental art as part of its mission!

Now back to tulip picking . . . Happy Spring Travels to all.

Monumenta Paris 2011 Announced

The fourth temporary Monumenta installation in the massive — nearly 145,000 square feet — nave of the Grand Palais in Paris debuts next week and this year’s artist is one of our favorites, Anish Kapoor. Although he’s known for his large-scale works, such as the famed Cloud Gate in Millennium Park (see our Chicago issue), Kapoor usually sticks to working with solid, mostly metal, materials. His Monumenta installation, however will be four huge PVC orbs that will be inflated until they take up the entire Palais space under the great skylight. Catch it while you can: May 11th through June 23rd. More info at Monumenta’s website.

Update: Venice Biennale

In an update to our Venice news, you must visit Barbican International Enterprises’ fabulous website of contemporary Venice as seen by international photographers. As we all know, Venice is an artistic gem, and is an endangered one at that. Barbican has enlisted such artists as Nan Goldin, Pierre Gonnord, Robert Walker, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, and more to provide their interpretation of this most favorite art lovers’ haunt. The results are stunning!

To catch the show in person, be at the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore (on the Island of San Giorgio) on June 4th, where it will open as an official Biennale event. After that, you’ll need to be in London, in November.

Pritzker Prize Winner Announced Early!

It’s out already — wasn’t supposed to happen for another week, but Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has been named the winner of the 2011 Pritzker Prize. A Spanish news group couldn’t keep it to themselves, and it is exciting! Souto de Moura has an impressive body of public and private work, though none of it considered “blockbuster” — including an ARTExpress favorite, the Paula Rego Museum, though he is probably best known for his stadium in Braga, Portugal. For you trivia buffs, the 58-year-old architect is the second Portuguese architect to win the award (Alvaro Siza, who won in 1992, was first), and the winning design is for a private residence (lucky residents!).

The Restaurant of the Future is Here!

The hottest news in the restaurant biz right now may be the invention of the “pop up” restaurant.   How does it work?  Install a tiny (1,500 square feet) eatery on top of your very important building, for a very short time.  It’s happening right now in Brussels, where The Cube will be serving fine cuisine, along with tasty special events, atop the Arc De Triomphe of Belgium’s beloved Parc de Cinquantenaire through July only.  Chef’s duties will be divided among 2 top, Michelin-starred chefs for the duration of The Cube’s stay, before it then moves on to other amazing European locales.  The restaurant’s interior is “futuristic” in a retro-Star Trek style, and we love the look.  But only 18 diners may be seated at a time, so book now!  More information, including reservations, may be found at The Cube by Electrolux website.

Yet Another Reason to Visit LACMA

We recently covered the addition of the Resnick Pavilion to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  We now welcome a great new place to nosh, located conveniently adjacent to this vast new gallery space — Ray’s and Stark Bar.  Designed by one of the world’s starchitects, Renzo Piano (also designer of the Pavilion), and sited in the courtyard space highlighted by Chris Burden’s monumental Urban Light installation, the latest LA hot spot is named in honor of late film producer Ray Stark (Funny Girl, Funny Lady, Biloxi Blues, plus many, many more).

The restaurant half, Ray’s, has Executive Chef Kris Morningstar — recently of District and Mercantile — serving up deliciously bold Mediterranean fare, with emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.  On the other side is Stark Bar, a separate lounge/bar presided over by superb mixologist Michel Dozois.

These two halves definitely add up to one terrific whole.  See you there!

The Editors

New Soumaya Museum in Mexico City unveiled

If you have recently wondered what a private museum would look like if one were to be built by the richest person in the world (as of this writing), the answer is in.  The official ribbon-cutting took place this week for Carlos Slim’s second Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, and it supplants his smaller museum (also named Soumaya, in honor of his late wife) located south of the city.  Quick facts: its 66,000 pieces are divvied among 6 exhibition halls; overall cost was around $70 million; the museum was designed by Slim’s son-in-law, Mexican architect (and heretofore unknown) Fernando Romero.  In addition to all the art — post-revolutionary Mexican artists are represented, of course, but very heavy emphasis here on European masters, especially Rodin — plus a special hall devoted to Slim’s massive collection of coins, bills, silver and gold.

Although the museum has had its official unveiling, the public won’t be admitted until March 29; admission will be free.  Reviews so far are mixed, but the idea of a large repository of great art in this great city is receiving accolades.

As of this writing, the only website we can find is one connected to the first Soumaya Museum.  We’ll post a website address here as soon as it is available.

–The Editors

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