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ARTS IN THE NEWS: 6 ARTISTS TO BE HONORED FOR LIFETIME CONTRIBUTIONS

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Six winners have been recognized by the Praemium Imperiale Arts Prizes for lifetime contributions to the arts. The prizes of $100,000 each and a commemorative medal will be awarded in a ceremony in Meiji Memorial Hall in Tokyo on Oct. 27.

Winners of the 1989 awards, designed to be the artistic equivalent of the Nobel Prizes, are French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez; French film and theater director Michael Carne; Italian sculptor Umberto Mastroianni; painters Willem De Kooning and David Hockney, and architect I.M. Pei.- AND AT THE KENNEDY CENTER for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., five American artists are slated for honors in 1989, recognized for their contributions to the cultural life of the nation through the performing arts. They are singer and actor Harry Belafonte, actress Claudette Colbert, actress Mary Martin, dancer Alexandra Danilova and composer William Schuman.

The five will receive their awards at a dinner with the trustees of the center on Dec. 2 and will be saluted at a gala performance in the Kennedy Center Opera House on Dec. 3, following a reception at the White House.

- THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART recently established a blue-ribbon task force to consider the future of director Christina Orr-Cahal, whose cancellation of an exhibit embroiled the museum in three months of controversy.

Franklin Kelly, the museum's chief curator, last week asked for Orr-Cahal's resignation, but Orr-Cahal refused, and no one in authority has asked her to step down. The task force of board members will look at the status of Orr-Cahal, staff morale and other pressing museum concerns.

Orr-Cahal, who joined the Corcoran 18 months ago, shocked the art world in June when she announced that a photography exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe scheduled to open July 1 had been canceled.

The exhibit, which contained some explicit homoerotic photographs, was canceled out of fear the Corcoran would become embroiled in a discussion on Capitol Hill over federal funding of controversial art, Orr-Cahal said, and the exhibit did indeed lead to the famous Jesse Helms flap.

Her decision was upheld by the board at its last meeting in June, but the museum has since come under intense criticism. An artists' boycott has forced the cancellation of two exhibits and endangered a third; realist painter Lowell Nesbitt cut the Corcoran from his will; and Jane Livingston, associate director of the museum and its second in command, has announced her resignation.

The Corcoran issued a statement last week apologizing for canceling the Mapplethorpe exhibit and announced that the museum's "course in the future will be to support art, artists and freedom of artistic expression."

- ONE OF THE BIGGEST violin competitions in the world is putting out the call for contestants. The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Aug. 31-Sept. 16, 1990, will award more than $200,000 in prizes, with the gold medalist winning $20,000, a Carnegie Hall recital and more than 50 appearances across North America and Europe.

To apply, write to the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Cathedral Arts, 47 South Pennsylvania, Suite 401, Indianapolis, Ind. 46204.

- THE MAY-DECEMBER MARRIAGE of former Metropolitan Opera director Sir Rudolf Bing, 87, and Lady Caroll Douglass Bing, 50, was annulled recently in New York City, thus ending a bizarre trail of international happenings that began with the couple's elopement in January 1987. Bing, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, cannot remember the marriage.

His estate has dwindled from a net worth of about $900,000 to $30,000 in available cash and some substantial art objects. His attorney, Paul Guth, said he could have supported Bing on $150,000 a year very nicely, but instead had spent $600,000 to protect him from Douglass, who would spirit him away unexpectedly. The money went for round-the-clock detectives, additional nurses, litigation and other protection.