Great Art! 

Austrian director Johann Kresnik's re-interpretation of the classic Verdi opera "A Masked Ball" opened for a limited engagement in Berlin in April, aimed at America's "war and the excesses of American society today," he said. In one scene, against a backdrop of the ruins of the World Trade Center, 35 naked senior citizens danced, wearing Mickey Mouse masks.

"Art is no longer just a painting on the wall," said the curator of the Museum of Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, Israel, in April. "Art is life; life is art." He gave that as an explanation for why he had accepted, as a live exhibit, seven young people from Berlin whose art is merely to live in the museum for three weeks with lice on their heads. The artists denied they intended a Holocaust expression based on Nazis' references to Jews as "parasites."

Worth Every Penny: At an April auction in Beijing, artist Liu Xiaodong's large (8 feet by 30 feet) oil painting, part of his Three Gorges series, brought the equivalent of about $8 million. The work, "Breeding Ground No. 1," depicts 11 men in their underwear playing cards.

In May in New York City, a buyer spent $15.2 million at a Sotheby's auction to acquire sculptor Takashi Murakami's "My Lonesome Cowboy," which is of a naked man holding his penis and creating a long, curly lasso out of his ejaculate.

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