US Supreme Court To Hear Nazi Loot Case

The US Supreme Court says it will hear a case “about Nazi-era stolen art to clarify when foreign governments can be sued in U.S. courts. ‘The diplomatic ramifications of a United States court holding that Austria, a nation friendly to the United States, must appear in a United States court to answer charges that it is actively advancing Nazi war-crimes in connection with a matter of extreme domestic importance to Austria, cannot be understated’.”

No Nudes, Please. Not In Public

When five of 60 artists participating in a group studio show in a California county building submitted pictures of nudes, they were told they couldn’t display them. The artists were told it was a county policy for “no nudity:” “The artists were told to take the nudes down because it was our feeling since the art is being displayed in a public place where the public is not coming to the building to see art but rather to do business, that there’s a more appropriate place for the pieces. It’s a public building, they’re asking our permission to put their art there, and we have a say.”

Pass It On – The Gift Of A Mentor

Last year Rolex initiated a program of arts mentorships, placing outstanding younger artists with older star qartists. “It began with a star-studded advisory board that included Frank Gehry, Christo and Jean-Claude, and Jessye Norman. Then the company arranged for nominations to be made by distinguished panelists working in anonymity, choosing potential protégés from a pool of 96 candidates in 39 countries. There was prize money, too: $50,000 for the mentors and a $25,000 stipend for the protégés. And of course, a Rolex watch for each.”

Does Testing Kill A Love Of Literature?

Children’s author Philip Pullman says relentless testing of reading and writing in UK schools is causing students to hate reading. “The things you can test are not actually the most important things. When teachers are under pressure to get so many pupils to such-and-such a point, in order to meet an externally imposed target, they have to do things – for the sake of the school – that might not be things they’d do for the sake of the children.”

How To Turn Around The Royal Shakespeare Company?

Michael Boyd has a big job ahead of him turning around the RSC (which is in something of a mess). “When he took over as director from Adrian Noble last year, he inherited a £2.8m deficit and an institution in search of its soul. Now Boyd is confident enough to outline his long-term vision for the company, which includes the staging in Stratford of all Shakespeare’s plays in 2006 and an international Shakespeare festival in 2007. But first…

The National Theatre’s Turnaround

Nicholas Hytner’s reinvention of London’s National Theatre has been a big success so far. “Hytner’s gamble that the NT could get the same income from near 100% capacity at bargain basement prices as it could from 65% utilisation at traditional prices does, of course, depend on producing high-class shows. If Mr Hytner can continue as he has started, he has a real chance of turning the National into a People’s Theatre. That would be a rare achievement.”

White Cube… It’s So…. Yesterday!

Dealer Charles Saatchi says the white box gallery space is dead. “Many in the art world, artists included, feel contemporary art can only be seen properly in a perfect white space. If art can’t look good outside the antiseptic gallery spaces dictated by museum fashion of the last 25 years, then it condemns itself to a worryingly limited lifespan. What’s more, that once cutting-edge gallery style is beginning to look like a cliche trendy bar or loft conversion. It’s time for a rethink.”

Iraq Symphony To Perform At Kennedy Center

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra will perform in Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. “The orchestra, which was formally organized in 1959, will play on Dec. 9 at the center with the National Symphony Orchestra with music director Leonard Slatkin and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The concert – with a program still to be determined – will be free. ‘I want to put a spotlight, not just on them, but Iraqi arts and the needs of Iraqi arts . . . and encourage the building of institutions, bit by bit’.”

Us – Reflected In A Football Stadium

Early reviews of Chicago’s new Soldier Field have been critical. But Herbert Muschamp suspects the verdict will change: “I suspect that it won’t be long before the city embraces the new field. The design’s urban and architectural merits are considerable. Its conceptual qualities are better still. If you set out to write something bad about the design, you ultimately end up with a critique of the society that produced it. But the design is much more than a symptom of our time. It is a creative response to it. Soldier Field is a daring study of urban America in extremis, precariously poised for a future beyond its widely unlamented demise.”

Remembering Kazan

Elia Kazan’s movies, “seen today, are likely to seem less slices of life than social and psychological fables, more rhetorical and high-minded than tough and unvarnished. Which is what they always were of course, and why they stay with us. They are parables of conflicted conscience and unstable desire, studies of individuals — of men, to be precise — driven to rage, rebellion and sometimes to do the right thing.”