Monday, November 17, 2014

'Tis the season - contemporary art auction week in NYC... and in Connecticut too!

I love it when the art world descends on New York City.  It happens a few times a year - around the major Contemporary and Modern art auction sales in the Fall and Spring, and during the big art fairs such as the Armory Show and Frieze New York.  And this year Independent Projects tried something new - they set up shop for a week as an solo art fair concurrent with the auction sales at the old DIA center where they have been on view during the Armory Show for the last several years.


Not only do I love having friends in town from around the globe, but all of the galleries and museums put on their best shows to appeal to all of the collectors, curators and directors that come to town for the sales or the fairs.  That said, I was able to see a lot of incredible art in the last two weeks in Chelsea, the Lower East Side,uptown at the auction houses and even in suburban Connecticut.  

The auction sales are over, with record breaking prices and sales at Christie's & Sotheby's.  Christie's set a record for all auctions ever and everywhere with $852,887,000 for only 75 works of art!  
Warhol's Four Marlons, 1966 went for whopping $69,605,000.
But some of my favorite highlights were at Phillip's including works by Julie Mehretu, Ai Weiwei and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The Independent closed on the 15th so unfortunately you'll have to wait until they have their annual fair in March 2015.  But Chris Ofili exhibition Night and Day, just opened at the New Museum on the Bowery and is up until January 25th.  It is a beautiful exhibition taking over almost the entire museum and spans most of Ofili's career including over thirty major paintings, drawings and a selection of sculptures.  The British born artist is heavily influenced by Zimbabwean culture, the Bible, Blaxploitation and hip-hop.

The Lower East Side has some fabulous shows that just opened up and are worth visiting.  And conveniently, most of them are around the corner from the New Museum.  One of my favorites that actually just closed was a three part show by Canadian artist Alan Belcher at Marlborough Broome Street. His series 10.5 is a commentary on pop-culture in America and replicates images of limited edition Nike sneakers - he actually outsources them to be painted in China and then he signs and shrink wraps the canvases, and puts them on display as if they were in a show store.  Another series called Corportraits captures moments of the stock market for some of the biggest and most popular American companies, critiquing America's obsession with corporate identity.  And the third part of his show is an installation of ceramic wall sculptures of the popular icon of the Jpeg.  It was a wonderful show and I was glad to get to see it more than once.

A few other shows off of the Bowery that I would highly recommend include the historic Bill Traylor (1854-1949) at Betty Cunningham Gallery of the iconic, outsider artist.  I also love the two part exhibition Valeska Soares: Any Moment Now at both of Eleven Rivington's galleries.

A new show that just opened up is by Parisian-born, Algerian artist Kader Attia at Lehmann Maupin on Chrystie Street, as well as their location on 26th Street.  The exhibition on Chrystie is an installation of old doors cut into A-frame shapes and topped with megaphones that symbolize a crowd of political demonstrators.  The doors represent barriers, confinement but also political freedom.   

I would also go see the Heinz Mack: From ZERO to Today at Sperone Westwater Gallery that coincides with the ZERO group survey exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum.  

Salon 94 has two wonderful shows up right now as well: video artist Takeshu Murata: OM Rider and a gorgeous exhibition by Australian artist Jessica Rankin, Dear Another...

In any case, run don't walk to the LES to see some intriguing art in what is thought of as the "brain" of the New York art world.  These shows were all appreciated by the fun Greenwich Arts Council collector's group I lead last Wednesday, November 12th.

Another show I would encourage you to see opened on the west side of Soho at Jack Geary Contemporary.  It's a glorious photography show of a new series titled Walks by my friend and Chicago artist Suzette Bross.

And sometimes the art world takes itself to the "country."  Last weekend, the Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut opened a new blockbuster show Deliverance with Larry Clark, Cady Noland, Richard Prince and Christopher Wool.  They opened this show, as they always do, with grandeur including an afternoon-long brunch in a beautiful clear tent on the stunning grounds of the Foundation next to the Polo fields.  It was a perfect fall day that invited guests (all of the art world Who's Who) to linger and enjoy incredible art, a delicious meal, cocktails and a take-home treat of cookies by Sweet Lisa's with replicas of some of the art works by Prince and Wool.  Try to take advantage of the Foundation's free guided tours that you can register for on their website.

Another event that happened this past Saturday was the inaugural display of weR2 Studio's Dream Machine, an airstream trailer that is part exhibition-space and part-travel trailer at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  This collaboration of art and design by former-gallerist Sara Meltzer and designer Suchi Reddy will be at the Aldrich until November 23rd, after which is travels to Miami for Art Basel week next month.  It will be situated in front of the UNTITLED Art Fair in South Beach from December 3rd-7th, 2014.  I missed the panel discussion that they hosted at the Aldrich but I did get to go to an art workshop for kids hosted by artist Jason Middlebrook, which was a big hit with my youngest daughter and my nephew visiting from Brooklyn.


In the theme of "let's go anywhere", I am off to Chicago this week to see the Wangechi Mutu exhibition at the Block Museum at Northwestern University.  I hope to see some other art while I am briefly in the Windy City.  And after Thanksgiving, I will be heading to Miami for Art Basel.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art in our Nation's Capital and the Capital of Culture

I spent three of the last five days having the opportunity and time to look at art.  While in Washington, DC reuniting with some of my best girls from college, I spent a rainy day visiting the National Gallery.  While there wasn't a blockbuster show on view that I was dying to see, we went to see some of the permanent highlights at the National Gallery and in the sculpture garden.  Two of my favorites are the massive 1976 Calder mobile that hangs from the ceiling in the atrium of the contemporary East Wing and the Richard Long slate circle that rests on the lobby floor.  And I am always eager to see Louise Bourgeois' enormous Spider from 1997.  I had the great honor of working with the artist herself when I was at Robert Miller Gallery and Cheim & Read.  The Spider in DC was commissioned while I was at Cheim & Read.  In fact, our inaugural exhibition at Cheim & Read included a version of that Spider installed right in the gallery.  It was a joy to "live" with that piece everyday.  I was also reminded while cruising the Mall that every museum there is FREE!  What a bonus in a world where its difficult to find anything gratis!  It's nice to see our Federal tax dollars at work.

Back home, my kids were out of school on Monday so we headed to NYC to see the newly opened Matisse Cut-out exhibition at MoMA.  I was seven years old when my mother took me to see a show of Matisse paper cut outs at the St. Louis Art Musuem.  It was imbedded in my memory and I can probably attribute my earliest attraction to contemporary art to that exhibition.  I wanted to give my daughters' that same experience.  It was moving to see those works again.  I definitely plan to return to MoMA to see the show again taking more time to really look at each piece and read the wall texts.  Museum visits with children tend to be a quick and hurried - although insightful through their eyes.


And yesterday, I lead another gallery tour in Chelsea for the Greenwich Arts Council Collectors' group.  We saw some incredible shows.  Aside from Ezra Johnson's sculpture at Freight + Volume, there was a common thread of painting using unusual techniques and incorporating collage and found objects.  Ezra Johnson's ceramic "sponges" and bright collage paintings are candy for the eyes.


Elliott Puckette's recent paintings at Paul Kasmin's new space are based on wire maquettes she constructed and used as models and translated  the three dimensional shapes into a flat one-dimensional images.  These works are less calligraphic in nature and more abstract.  She is also know for the her colorful and decorative works but these remain in shades of blacks, grays and whites using a razor blade to etch out the image from the prepared grounds.

We also went to see Jenny Holzer's Dust Paintings at Cheim & Read, Dan Colen's Miracle  paintings at Gagosian, and Norwegian artist Fredrik Vaerslev's show at Andrew Krep's A Shore Thing -- all of which I posted about last week.

Arturo Herrara's new body of works at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. includes paintings on linen, aluminum, canvas, used books and canvas totes.  They are multi-leveled pieces that use cut out of thick pieces of felt with layers of table clothes and vintage magazine photographs.  The paintings reference pop culture and are both "revealing and veiling" at the same time.

And lastly we visited Anton Kern Gallery, where Chris Martin's (not to be confused with the rock star) new paintings were recently installed. What is interesting about these works is that they were all produced concurrently in the same space (a large barn in upstate NY) over the course of three months yet they are incredibly diverse.  Martin's use of massive amounts of glitter is literally spectacular and it works!

If only every week allowed so much time to explore galleries and museums...