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Sunflower Seeds at Sotheby’s: $120,000, Chinese Fakes: $.25

There’s a pile of sunflower seeds on sale at Sotheby’s upcoming February 15 Contemporary Art Evening Auction, and it’s going for an equally large pile of money. How does $120,000 for 100 kilograms of seeds sound? But these aren’t just any seeds: they’re the same hand-crafted porcelain replicas that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei had made for his Turbine Hall installation. The real joke is that a (presumably) fake version of the artist’s work is up on Taobao (the Chinese version of eBay) for only $.25 per seed. Get ’em while they’re dusty (and still online)!

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Jersey City Museum RIP?

In what almost sounds like an obituary for the Jersey City Museum, The Star Ledger is reporting the following about the ailing art institution: ” … what may be the best contemporary art collection in the state, is so strapped for cash that it can’t keep the lights on.” So, what is happening at the New Jersey art institution and what, if anything, will happen to its 10,000 piece art collection?

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New Artemisia Gentileschi Pops Up on Lower East Side

The Bowery isn’t the first place in New York you’d think of to run into a Baroque Old Master painting, but then when the “old master” in question is actually one of the pre-modern era’s only iconic female artists, maybe a little bit of downtown attitude should be expected. “Portrait of an Unidentified Man” (1630-1640) by Artemisia Gentileschi is now on view at Sperone Westwater gallery.

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VIP Art Fair Violates Online Privacy, Won’t Load, Deletes Chats?

Today marks the first (and only) full week of the world’s first online-only art fair. Ending on January 30, the VIP Art Fair has already begun to make waves. How is the fair fairing? Well, visitors are having mixed results. Due to heavy traffic the fair’s website has been loading slowly, harshing the buzz on a big opening weekend. You think the oldsters on dial-up will stand for that? Art Review reports that VIP Art Fair might be stealing your email address. Critics and gallerists complains about the molasses-like speeds. I complain about the Tweet-share button. Here’s a post-weekend guide to the VIP Art Fair, including my own initial impressions.

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Protesters Stage ‘Funeral Procession of Free Artistic Expression’ in LA Against Smithsonian Censorship

Los Angeles — With a cardboard cross and draped coffin, a group of activists and artists assembled in front of downtown LA’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel to stage a “Funeral Procession of Free Artistic Expression,” where Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough was speaking as part of the Town Hall Los Angeles public issues series on “New Perspectives at the Smithsonian.”

The funeral procession was organized in large part by the art protest group LA Raw and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), in response to Clough’s ordered removal of David Wojnarowicz’s 1987 video “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition in late November 2010.

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As Protests Take Place in LA, a Smithsonian Secretary Clough Update [UPDATED]

Today is the day that Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough is going to face the press in Los Angeles to answer questions related to the Wojnarowicz censorship case.

I’m sure there will be lots of news from the event, particularly since LA Raw will be protesting the appearance at the Biltmore Hotel, but before things kick off, we wanted to get you up to speed on the latest developments.

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Guggenheim Might Go to Finland, But Probably Won’t

Even after the reviled imperialist Thom Krens regime ended at the venerable Guggenheim, the museum is still trying to push its brand with new art outposts abroad. Yeah, the Guggenheim Bilbao was a surprise architectural and economic success, but it’s not a given that the same windfalls will come to every international Guggenheim post. Add to that the fact that most planned Guggenheim outposts have fallen through. So really, a Helsinki option is in the works? Why don’t I feel good about this?

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Tomorrow LA Raw Staging Protest Against Smithsonian Secretary

Los Angeles-based art protest group LA Raw will be staging a Funeral Procession for Freedom of Expression on Thursday, January 20, 2011 (11:00 AM) at the Biltmore Hotel (506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90071).

The event will coincide with the visit of Smithsonian secretary Wayne Clough, who will speak at the Biltmore the same day at noon as part of Town Hall Los Angeles public issues series.

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Lost Tomb of Caligula Found as Tomb Raider Nabbed

In a plot worthy of Indiana Jones (or maybe Angelina Jolie in a B-movie), Italian police have apprehended a man attempting to smuggle a suspicious sculpture out of Lake Nemi in the south of Rome. After examination of the statue and questioning of the thief, authorities have determined that the sculpture was stolen from Emperor Caligula’s lost tomb, a previously undiscovered site.

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Deitch Condoms Ensures Your Art Is ‘Safe’

Last Thursday January 13, there was a panel discussion at LA’s Fowler Museum titled “How Does Street Art Humanize Cities?” Organized with Zócalo, the event featured curators, artists, and reporters, most of whom were associated in some way with the LA MOCA’s upcoming street art exhibition, yet to everyone’s surprise the topic of the Blu mural whitewash wasn’t even discussed. But that’s not to say it didn’t come up in other ways. A new protest group, LA Raw, handed out condoms branded with MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch’s name on them to remind those in attendance that the erasure of artist Blu’s mural is not forgotten. One source told us that he estimates 80% of the audience to the Fowler event received one of the protest condoms as they walked in and additional condoms were placed around the venue.

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