Newsletter: June 2012
Frieze New York, NADA, Gallery Shows and the Brant Foundation
Back in NYC for the much anticipated Frieze Art Fair New York on Randall’s Island. So excited to be home. And this is the view from my hotel room-I am in an Empire State of Mind.
FREIZE NEW YORK
The ferry ride over was a little surreal. I haven’t spent much time on boats in NYC. But it was incredibly easy. We just jumped in a cab to 35th and the East River and then hopped on the boat which dropped us off right at the entrance to the fair. My overall thoughts are that it was exceptionally pulled off. The tent was spacious and airy; the food choices were inspired and varied, everything from the art haunt Sant Ambroeus to Roberta’s pizza and food trucks. The quality of galleries was of the highest caliber, and being so far removed from Manhattan, the dealers had a captive audience. Once you were out at the fair, you weren’t headed anywhere else and so you resigned yourself to the fact that you would be there all day. Some went once and never came back, but others (myself included), went on multiple days. I felt I had to go more than once because one of the drawbacks for me was its size. Though it was spread out and well laid out, I never felt like I seen all the art on view. It still seemed too big. One of the reasons I am not including many images of work on view at the fair is because I felt that the majority of it was safe. And I feel like I had seen a lot of it before, some of it just a few weeks earlier at ZONA MACO in Mexico City. The exception was the work on view in the Frame and Focus sections. And the furniture in the common areas was pretty weak, half-ass painted mdf in snakelike forms. But what was a big question mark has turned into a whopping success. Well done, Frieze!
In addition to all of the wonderful works on view inside, Frieze included large scale sculptures and installations outside, much as they do in Regent’s Park in London. Not many of the works inspired me except for this gorgeous Bourgeois sculpture which you could see from the outdoor eating area.
Soho house set up shop in the VIP lounge with sit down food service by Cecconi’s.
Night Gallery is one example of the innovative booths in the section for younger galleries.
Random cool art that made me laugh.
And then, of course, there is always the celebrity buzz. Gavin Brown and doppelgänger, Mark Ruffalo served up sausages to visitors at the VIP preview.
NADA Art Fair
I always enjoy the NADA fair in Miami and the first iteration in NYC did not disappoint. In the same space the Independent uses every March, the old Dia building with its winding staircase provided the ideal location for this fair. Small and manageable with much more interesting work on view than the main fair (in my opinion), the layout is less open than the Independent but it still somehow manages to feel cohesive. I loved this terrifically unique work by DeLucia at Eleven Rivington’s booth at the NADA art fair.
And these works at Christopher Crescent’s NADA booth intrigued me.
David Hendren’s works hung on the outside wall of The Company’s booth. I loved the raw jute with dabs of pinks and reds, patterned yet disorganized.
Unfortunately, I do not have much to say about the Pulse fair. My mother taught me that if you don’t have something nice to say, not to say anything at all. The only work I found remotely interesting, despite its decorative nature, is this work made out of sequins by Daniel Gonzalez at Diana Lowenstein’s booth.
The show that I knew nothing about upon entering was the same one that knocked me off guard. I had never heard of Sheila Hicks but as I walked around the galleries at Sikkema Jenkins, I was blown away! I am not normally a fabric/fiber woven art kind of woman. Am I not familiar with her because she was born in 1934 and has lived in Paris since 1964? A student of Albers and a contemporary of Eva Hesse, Hicks explores ideas of color and form in her work.
I loved the installation of Jedediah Caesar’s work at D’Amelio Gallery. In the center of the gallery are tables with mounds of clay. Along the baseboards of the main gallery are stills from a film about a trip from the city to the desert and back. I am not even sure what the show was all about. I just knew the moment I walked in that it was new and different and that I responded positively to it.
And then on the Lower East Side, I stumbled upon one of the finest shows I have seen in recent years at Untitled: Oddly enough, while talking to a friend the artist was pointed out to me at the opening and I knew I had seen her somewhere before. Aha, I remembered, it was at the Columbia MFA open studios. And even then I was interested in her work. This, her first solo show in NYC, includes monochromatically neutral works devoid of true color. But even wall works have a three-dimensionality that makes the viewer long to touch the textured surfaces. It was is a wonderful show that is an absolute must if you are in New York.
On view through June 16th is the incomparable Dana Schutz’s show at Friederich Petzel.
At Marianne Boesky’s 24th Street Gallery and The Pace Gallery on 25th Street, a wall has been knocked out and the collaboration between the two spaces is wonderful. “When the dreamer dies, what happens to the dream?” is an historical exhibition of works by Arte Povera artist, Pier Paolo Calzolari. The press release for the show states, “the artist may best be described as an activator—an activator of materials, senses and environments who seeks to “contaminate” art with life. His toolbox is elemental and frequently organic, including frost, fire, water, salt, lead, copper, neon, tobacco, moss, burnt wood, feathers, wax, butter, and plant leaves. In his installations, Calzolari transmutes these materials, oftentimes fixing them in ephemeral states, suspending matter in a transfiguration that envelops and inundates the viewers’ senses.”
And lastly, “The Unplayed Notes,” an exhibition by Loris Gréaud at Pace on 25th, was certainly a different kind of experience. Gréaud is concerned with creating alternate realities using the help of engineers, architects, scientists and musicians. One enters the show through a black corridor made from ashes of previous works that have been burned. I am familiar with the artist due to his inclusion in the last Venice Biennale.
KAREN KILIMNIK AT THE BRANT FOUNDATION
Up through September at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, the show is by appointment only but if you like her work, it is worth a visit. She began as an installation artist and the people I went with explained that she is a bit of a recluse and believes strongly in the occult.
which explained the rooms that looked like this. I am more used to seeing works like the one below with tents, etc.
But I had not seen photographs by her and I quite liked this one with marker.
Outside, people dined on roasted lamb under a beautiful tent. And I got to schmooze and hobnob with the art elite that afternoon. Taking a break from it all with gallerist, Nicolo Cardi.
Tara Donovan and Isaac Julien at the Milwaukee Art Museum
I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting on my trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum. And perhaps it was because I had no expectations that I was amazed at how stunning the main building is. The museum is actually made up of three buildings, all designed by famous architects: Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava.
Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava, has a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling, and the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily which can be viewed from the bridge outside.
Dan Kiley is the landscape architect who designed the gardens at the entrance to the museum. Natural light floods the central space and views of Lake Michigan at every turn. Whether one looks to the ceiling or down a hall, the architecture mesmerizes.
Currents 35: Tara Donovan
I have written much about Tara Donovan before and though I love her work, I am not usually surprised by it. However, when I entered her “Currents” show at the museum (a series of installations and exhibitions by younger contemporary artists), I was blown away. Selecting one manmade utilitarian material, Donovan creates otherworldly landscapes. For the work above, the hole in the gallery wall provides a two-sided space allowing light from the window and lake to shine through and bounce off of the film that comprises the work. Therefore it is constantly changing. And in the next gallery plastic rods make up what appear to be ice crystals (I felt like I had stepped onto Superman’s planet). But “Haze” from 2003 was the most incredible work I have ever seen by Donovan. No, I take that back. It wasn’t the most incredible work I have seen her create, it was just the one I was most taken with. It looked as if a cloud had landed on an entire wall of the museum. It undulates with both concave and convex areas. When you get closer and your eyes focus, you begin to see the individual straws that comprise the work–two and a half million straws that took five people two full days to create. An unbelievable work!
Currents 36: Isaac Julien “Expeditions”
“Fantome Afrique” from 2008 is the second video work in Julien’s “Expeditions” trilogy which is being screened at the museum. This is the first time all three will be exhibited together in any museum. Showing Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, Julien contrasts this cinematic center of West Africa with extreme rural spaces surrounding the city. This imagery is interspersed with archival footage from colonial expeditions. With both a male and female protagonist, the three channel video takes away some of the mystique of filmmaking by showing the cameraman and boom at various points. The contrast between night sequences and the hot dry desert day shots is beautiful. Julien is concerned with the movement and circulation of people in response to globalism.
The permanent collection of modern and contemporary art had some strong pieces including works by Eva Hesse, Rachel Whiteread, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Barbara Hepworth, Riopelle, Mark Rotko, Josef Albers, Gottlieb, David Smith and many more.
There was a Tony Cragg work in wood called “Lost in Thought” and a Martin Puryear piece entitled “Maroon” from 1988-89 in one gallery that were stunning–and the dialogue they had with each other was inspired.
I particularly loved this Kees van Dongen painting from 1918-20 in a special exhibit of highlights from Mrs. Harry Lynne Bradley’s collection.
This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s at the MCA
This exhibition covers the period from 1979-1992 when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher dominated the political world, punk and hip-hop ruled the airwaves, and technological advancements such as the Sony walkman, personal computers, and MTV came onto the scene. Looking through the lens of visual arts, the works on view demonstrate America’s focus on desire——desire of objects, fame and a certain lifestyle that dominated the psyche of the public during that time.
The feminist movement that took place in the 1970s created a demand for equality and social justice but it was difficult for visual art to compete with America’s obsession with Hollywood and advertising. How were marginalized people able to find a voice? During a time when there was an increase in HIV and AIDS and some discontent, there was a wide range of art being made by a diverse group of artists. The works on view demonstrate, “the decades’ moments of contentious debate, raucous dialogue, erudite opinions and joyful expression-all in the name of an expanded idea of freedom, long the promise of democratic societies.”
Gretchen Benda investigates mass media’s effect on public consciousness. A grid of monitors transmits live tv feeds. The artist has placed text on the bottom of the screens altering the tv from a pleasurable activity to a strictly political one.
John Ahearn’s sculpture, Raymond and Toby from 1989 speaks to the marginalized members of the artist’s neighborhood, the South Bronx. Depicting a local boxer with a pit bull, the controversial work was removed a week after it was installed due to the fact that the artist, a white man, was memorializing a black man.
Tseng Kwang’s photographs of Keith Haring tagging subways are fun.
David Hammons How Ya Like Me Now from 1988 alters Jesse Jackson’s image highlighting the disconnect that occurred between the Civil Rights generation and the Hip-Hop generation of the 1980s.
My favorite artist, Doris Salcedo, has a work made of 21 cloth shirts that speaks to the experience of Columbian women who saw their husbands murdered due to their involvement in labor struggles. The work jumps out against the white wall behind it as it stands monumentally in the center of the gallery.
There are works by Carrie Mare Weems, Jeff Wall, Barbara Kruger, and Donald Moffett before his oeuvre shifted to the paintings we are familiar with today.
I loved seeing the inkjet adhesive vinyl Kissing Doesn’t Kill: Greed and Indifference Do by Gran Fury from 1989 speaking to the AIDS epidemic that was becoming the central focus of the gay community at this time.
Some artists were focused on “debunking images of the masculine as heroic and suffused with authority.” Rosemarie Trockel wove corporate logos for Woolrich and Playboy into a piece emphasizing the power that logos have even when removed from their products and context. The Guerrilla Girls have a work on view in this gallery, and Albert Oehlen’s painting from 1984 shows that his own artistic identity was in crisis, partly a comment on the insanity of the art market at the time.
Eric Fischl, Julian Schnabel, Carroll Dunham and Robert Gober also have works on view. Tony Cragg’s work from the 1980s, work that I actually prefer to his recent sculptures, uses debris that reflects our industrial consumption and waste. Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy’s video as well as Kelley’s stuffed fabric toys and wax candles on a wood base are also in this gallery.
The next gallery highlights artists reaction to common media images filled with desire. Richard Prince’s enlarged photos of advertisements place mass media in a new context. Haim Steinbach makes us reconsider our relationships to everyday objects by placing them to look almost like a minimalist sculpture but in a commercial display but in a fine art gallery. One finds work by Sophie Calle, Laurie Simmons, and Nan Goldin. Koons, Mapplethorpe and Gonzalez-Torres, Kippenberger, Sherman and Isaac Julien. Also on view are works by the Starn Brothers, Christopher Wool, Pettibon, Christian Marclay and Allan McCollum, James Welling and both an abstract and photorealistic skull by Gerhard Richter, the artist of the moment whose works go for tens of millions of dollars.
Tony Tasset’s button progression combines the grid of minimalism with design and domesticity.
Martin Puryear’s pine plank with white gesso which showcases his immense skill as a carpenter while creating something reminiscent of a grave stone.
A well-curated show which highlights works that have been overlooked by the majority of the art world over the years.
Kansas City trip: Nelson-Atkins, Kemper and Nerman Museums
The Nelson-Atkins has over 33,500 works of art and is considered “one of the finest general museums in the United States.” It is home to African, Chinese, Modern, and Decorative Arts just to name a few.
The 17 acre Kansas City Sculpture Park at the Nelson-Atkins opened in 1989 and includes the largest collection of monumental bronzes outside of England. It includes works by Claes Oldenberg and Magdalena Abkanowicz (seen above), as well as works by Calder, Hepworth, Noguchi, von Rydingsvard, Renoir, Rodin and many others.
Works range from this gorgeous Asian Buddha…
to contemporary works by artists like Subodh Gupta. This egg is made up of hundreds of tiffin pots from India. Both the material and subject touch upon the domestic theme that is often found in Gupta’s work.
Kemper Museum of Art
The Kemper opened in 1994 showcasing contemporary work by both emerging as well as established artists.
I loved this small, haunting image made with rust on wood by Esther Solondz.
And the large painting by David Bates was made in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. And the Petah Coyne tree with peacocks stood out against the bright blue walls. After looking around, be sure to visit Café Sebastienne for a yummy meal.
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
In a community college campus in Overland Park (30 minutes outside of Kansas City), one would not expect to find a state of the art contemporary art museum. But in fact, that is exactly what is there waiting to be discovered.
This $15 million building is 41,000 square feet. The elegant, minimalist building was designed by architect Kyu Sung Woo and is clad in Kansas limestone. Throughout the museum’s two levels are ten expansive galleries for temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection. The entrance features a dazzling 60,000 white LED installation by artist Leo Villareal. The permanent collection consists of gifts from the Oppenheimers. One stellar example from the permanent collection is the striking Do Ho-Suh sculpture made of thousands of dog tags which can be seen outside from the upstairs window.
Two other wonderful works from the collection are the Sillman and Ferris paintings. Both abstractions with multiple layers and gorgeous colors, they are the gems of the galleries I walked through during my visit.
But the real gift of this museum is that they are tremendously supportive of local Kansas artists. A nice blend of local and fantastic international contemporary work.