Ken’s Art/Frank’s Building

Ken Thomson’s $370 million gift to the Art Gallery of Ontario will help make possible a $178 million rebuild of the museum by Frank Gehry. Gehry grew up in Toronto before leaving for the US in 1947, but up til now hasn’t designed anything for his hometown. “The Thomson-Gehry alliance is a magical one. The men enjoy a relaxed jocularity together and their admiration for each other is easy to read.”

The Art Of Sinking

How fast is Venice sinking? For at least three centuries it’s been going down at a rate of about 8 inches a century. How do scientists know? By looking at the paintings of 18th Century painter Giovanni Antonio Canaletto. The scientists turned to Canaletto because precise measurements of the city’s sea level only date to 1872, while the artist’s works are from the previous century. Canaletto was so true to detail he even painted the dark algae stains on buildings along canal banks, a detail many artists avoided for aesthetic reasons.”

National Book Award Winners

“The third time was the charm for Robert A. Caro, who finally won the nonfiction prize for the third volume of his majestic Lyndon B. Johnson biography, The Master of the Senate (Alfred A. Knopf). Caro was a finalist in 1975 and 1983. Other winners include: for fiction, Three Junes by Julia Glass; for young people’s literature, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer; and for poetry, In the Next Galaxy by Ruth Stone.

Confessions Of A Judge

Michael Kinsley ought to have known what was expected of him when he agreed to be a judge for this year’s National Book Awards. “It served me right when the books started rolling in and I realized with horror that I was actually expected to read them: 402 in all. Three FedEx men and our local UPS woman had been retired on full disability by the time all these packages were lugged up our front steps. If you lined up all these books end-to-end, you would just be putting off having to open one and get cracking. Who are you trying to kid?”

$100 Million For Poetry?

“One can but wonder what this will do for that most marginalized literary form. Visibility, for sure, since suddenly there’s lots of 0000’s at the end of the $$$$’s attached to the word poetry. Poets are a quirky lot, and the first, but not lasting, reaction from some was concern, since this peripheral art’s loneliness was seen as part of its strength; the next common reaction was that the idea of connecting money to poetry was somehow unpoetic.”

Uffizi Gallery May Shut

Florence’s Uffizi Gallery could see its lights turned off because it has been unable to pay its utility bills. “The arts authority owes £165,000 for electricity and other bills have been mounting up. Its financial plight, which caused a stir in the art world when it was reported in the newspaper La Repubblica yesterday, is attributed to recent government moves to make the management of art heritage autonomous.”