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News Highlights of the Week: April 7 – April 13, 2007

April 13, 2007

by James Murdock

Italian officials have selected Tadao Ando’s design for a new art museum in Venice, to be operated by the French billionaire and art collector Francois Pinault, The New York Times wrote on April 7. They chose this scheme instead of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s plans for a new facility; the Guggenheim and Pinault were competing for the right to convert the 17th century Punta della Dogana building. Construction of Ando’s design, estimated to cost $26 million, will be finished in time for the 2009 biennale.

Heavy snowfalls this winter, which continued even into this week, kept visitors away from Daniel Libeskind’s new Fredric C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Post wrote on April 10—and now the museum is trimming its fulltime staff by 14 percent through layoffs and early retirements. This cost-cutting measure will no doubt help the institution afford repairs to its snow-damaged, leaky roof. ArchRecord.com reported this week that large sections of ceiling in the Hamilton Building must be replaced.

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Sol LeWitt, the artist who helped define Conceptualism and Minimalism during the 1960s and 70s, died on April 8 at the age of 78. LeWitt’s paintings—many of which were painted directly onto gallery walls—and sculptures were often deeply architectural, featuring bold geometric patterns and cube-based structures. Early in his career, LeWitt was a graphic designer for architect I.M. Pei., the Hartford Courant reported on April 9. But that was not the Connecticut-based artist’s only influence. “LeWitt’s wall works took on new colors and a new responsiveness to architecture after his move to Italy during the ‘80s,” the San Francisco Chronicle wrote on April 12.

A brighter note to end on: If you can’t afford to build Rem Koolhaas’s architecture, you might at least be able to wear it—for $160 a garment. The Dutch architect has collaborated with the Italian fashion house Prada on a line of T-shirts called Obvious Classics #1. Depicting scenes including parents choosing the sex of a baby, and taking a pill that increases one’s “style quotient,” the shirt patterns are “meant to offer a colorful and playful spin on today’s culture,”  Women’s Wear Daily wrote on April 13. The 27-piece collection goes on sale this weekend in only 22 stores worldwide.

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