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Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds Prove Hazardous to Visitors and Staff

Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds at the Tate’s Turbine Hall space in London opened to a good deal of rejoicing. Viewers and critics alike were entranced by the installation, a field of 100 million sunflower seeds that were actually carved from porcelain. An abundance of press photos show exhibition-goers frolicking in piles of seeds, tossing them up into the air, making seed-angels and having a great time. HOWEVER! The Tate has since been forced to alter Ai’s exhibition due to health hazards: the tons of porcelain seeds were kicking up a fine ceramic dust, easily breathed into the lungs of art aficionados. Visitors can now only gaze at Ai’s piece from a cordoned off observation deck.

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Raiders of the Lost Art

Reuters reports that, “A new online database recording more than 20,000 works of art looted by the Nazis from Jews in France and Belgium during World War Two shows that at least half have yet to be returned to their original owners.”

To view the database, where you will find works by Salvador DaliPablo PicassoHenri MatisseEdouard Manet, and almost every other master from the era, go to www.errproject.org/jeudepaume.

There are some fascinating photos on the Daily Mail website that show the extent of the looting that took place.

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Kanye’s George Condo Album Cover (Probably) Banned

In case you haven’t heard from the star’s overactive Twitter account, Kanye’s latest album is called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the just-released album cover art pretty much matches the title.

Following Kanye’s GOOD Friday single series which also featured the artist, the album cover is painted by none other than 1980s art world wunderkind George Condo. The image depicts a bear-like Kanye reclining on a bright blue couch, a naked human/bird hybrid with a polka-dotted (snow leopard?) tail perches on his leg and shrieks into the foreground, a classic Condo grin on her face. I would tell you this is a fine example of Fauvist coloring, but somehow it seems unnecessary.

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Art Attacker Pleads Not Guilty in Colorado

The Montana truck driver accused of destroying a controversial art work that featured the image of Jesus at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, Colorado has pleaded not guilty to charges against her Friday morning. According to news reports on 9news.com and the Denver Post website, Kathleen Folden pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal mischief, a class-four felony. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing and is scheduled for a three-day trial in January. If convicted, she could face two to six years in prison.

According to the Coloradoan, “Folden wore a black T-shirt to court that read ‘Jesus beat the devil with a big wooden stick.’” The Denver Post is also reporting that Enrique Chagoya, the Stanford University professor whose work was destroyed is “reportedly going to create a portrait of Jesus Christ for Loveland’s Resurrection Christian Fellowship as a conciliatory gesture.”

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BREAKING: People Want More Topless Nudes

We always say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether it’s destroying a blasphemous print, banning Robert Mapplethorpe from NEA funding, or censoring the David with a fig leaf, art presents some pretty easy flashpoints for scandal. Chief among them: nudity. An obvious lack of clothing rarely fails to be provocative, and such is the case with a certain Pittsfield, Massachusetts woman’s quest to allow women to go out in public, as men do, without shirts on.

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Ai Weiwei Spreads a Sunflower Seed Carpet at Tate’s Turbine Hall

Ai Weiwei, internationally famed artist and chief provocateur of the Chinese art world, opened his London Turbine Hall installation today, the eleventh, and first for an Asian artist, in the Tate’s Unilever series of exhibitions.

The installation forms a gesture both classic for the artist and yet totally unexpected: a carpet of sunflower seeds now covers over 1,000 of the Turbine Hall’s 3,400 square meters of floorspace, in total over 150 tons. Photos from afar show an unmeasurable expanse of gray, a rectangular infinity that calls to mind Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s candy fields: part minimalist, part maximalist. The seed carpet is visually stunning, but beyond its striking appearance, the installation has a deep political, historical and social background.

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Art Work Attacked in Colorado Museum

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Montana, has been charged with attacking an art work by California-based artist Enrique Chagoya with a crowbar while it was on display in the Loveland Museum Gallery in Loveland, Colorado. The 12-panel lithograph, according to the artist’s statement to FoxNews, depicts “no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact” and portrays “a dressed woman, a religious icon’s head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page.”

Critics of the work argue that it represents Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the son of God, as receiving oral sex from another man. FoxNews gives its own interpretation of the work and describes it as having “several images of Jesus, including one in which he appears to be receiving oral sex from a man as the word ‘orgasm’ appears beside Jesus’ head.” The attack took place last Wednesday at 4pm.

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Frank Gehry’s Latest Development Tango: The Joyce Theater’s New Lower Manhattan Home

The Joyce Theater is going to be a lonely Lower Manhattan performance tenant, with vacancies in the building if there are any performing arts organizations hunting for posh new downtown neighbors.

In a statement made earlier this week, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, alongside Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patterson, announced a federal funding allocation of $100 million for a much-touted and much-delayed performing arts center at Ground Zero designed by Frank Gehry’s firm.

Silver said that “this $100 million commitment clearly paves the way for this long-promised performing arts center,” and that it “will be a cultural jewel for Lower Manhattan.”

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What Does Facebook’s New Photo Viewer Mean for Artists Online?

Since the inception of Facebook’s photo viewer, an influential tool that’s become the go-to for documentation of everything from social events to product launches, users have been stuck at a pretty lousy 72 DPI and 720 pixels. Those digits mean an image size that’s low enough to make even high quality pictures look bad, adding grain and distorted colors. The limitations were even annoying enough for artist Jonald James to start a Facebook group in protest, Artists Against Facebook’s Image Compression Process. Yet though difficulties remain, new Facebook updates point to a way forward for art and artists online. The message of James’ group is that Facebook isn’t just for presenting shitty party pics, but also presents a tool that artists depend on for marketing and sales. “Let’s face it,” their About statement reads, “Facebook’s photo management really sucks.”