Munch Investigation At A Dead End

Despite a steady flow of tips, consultations with international art experts, and a continual media focus, police in Oslo say that they have made no progress in tracking down Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which was stolen at gunpoint in late August. There are currently no suspects and no leads, and the thieves have made no attempt to ransom the painting.

Scaring Ourselves To Death

Whatever happened to America’s old swagger, the visible confidence of a nation that could simultaneously project ultimate strength and ultimate benevolence? The national character these days seems to be pure, unadulterated fear, augmented by the violent rage that accompanies the experience of being trapped in a corner. “We are a population whose vulnerabilities and insecurities have become a central focus of our popular culture and our politics.” From books to films to television and beyond, we have become a culture of terrified victims, lashing out not only at the dangerous world beyond our borders, but at each other.

Toronto Art Fair Gains Steam

The Toronto International Art Fair may not measure up to the top art bazaars of Europe, but the event has become the place to see and be seen for movers and shakers in the Canadian art world. “At capacity this year with 83 dealers from near and far, the fair appears to be cresting the summit of a long, slow climb, from an inaugural year of relative obscurity to its current status as perhaps the essential event of the year.”

The Oundjian Era Begins In Toronto

Ever since Peter Oundjian was appointed music director of the Toronto Symphony, questions have abounded about whether the hometown kid and relative newcomer to conducting really has enough game to lead one of North America’s top ensembles. Oundjian clearly isn’t lacking in confidence, however, and his first programs with the TSO featured Beethoven’s 7th and Mahler’s 1st, two of the most well-worn staples of the romantic era. The result, according to William Littler, was not unimpressive, but “bravery is not a synonym for wisdom,” and Toronto may need to have some patience with its still-developing conductor.

A Whole New Life

Life magazine, which defined America in pictures for much of the 20th century, is back on newsstands again, only four years after its last comeback attempt floundered. “The photo journal disappeared from newsstands in 1972 and a short-lived revival in 2000 failed to match its circulation during its heyday from the 1930s to the 1960s. A new revival, featuring the classic red-and-white logo, appears on Fridays as a supplement in more than 70 newspapers around the country.”

Barnes Case Wraps Up

“The court hearing into whether the Barnes Foundation can move its one-of-a-kind art collection from its home in Merion to a new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway concluded yesterday just as it began: with two starkly differing visions of the gallery’s future… The decision now rests with Montgomery County Orphans’ Court Judge Stanley Ott, who is not expected to rule for at least a month.”

Taking The Direct Route

Orchestras everywhere love to talk about their commitment to music education. But the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has taken the unusual step of adopting a specific school where the music program was in danger. Last year, Wilkinsburg High School didn’t even have enough instruments for the kids who had signed up for band. Then the PSO, which already had a relationship with the school, showed up and played a benefit concert, raising $17,000 for the music program. The orchestra is repeating the benefit this year, with the aim of solidifying music as a core component of the school’s curriculum.

Falling Hard For A New Dance Fest

New York’s new Fall For Dance Festival appears to be a major hit right out of the gate, with packed houses and enthusiastic crowds at most performances. The decision by fest organizers to price tickets at the bargain rate of $10 per show appears to have paid off, as has the the eclectic programming, which features everything from authentic flamenco to breakdancing.

TV’s Bold Return To Misogyny

The new season of American television is sending a strong message that the industry is through with political correctness. In fact, the major networks seem positively giddy about a horrific return to casual sexism and racism, says Alessanda Stanley. “Desperate Housewives is entertaining, but it turns the clock back to pre-Betty Friedan America, lampooning four bored, frustrated, white upper-middle-class ladies who lunch. Boston Legal lets women practice law, but mostly on their backs… Meanwhile, comedy-variety shows are positively reveling in their new-found freedom to be unfair.”

Saatchi Goes Mainstream? Don’t Bet On It.

Charles Saatchi’s infamous collection of controversial work by the so-called Young British Artists is headed for storage, and won’t be back on view at the collector’s London gallery until 2006. In their place, a “new show is devoted to the work of five painters, Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Marlene Dumas, Jörg Immendorf, and Martin Kippenberger, described by Charles Saatchi as ‘key European artists’… Yet those who believe Mr Saatchi has lost his appetite for shrewd investment in the work of unknown artists should think again.”