Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Guggenheim Museum's 50th Anniversary Exhibition

Not many buildings in New York City cause me to stop, look-up, and take a minute to appreciate their architectural beauty, but the Guggenheim Museum is definitely one that continually grabs my attention. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed museum, which opened in 1959, has forced artists and architects to challenge their own creative minds and produce unique solutions to the building's central void and rotund shape. Their various responses have led to some extremely memorable exhibition designs and site specific solo shows over the past several decades.

Thus, it is only appropriate that the Guggenheim celebrates its 50th anniversary in a way that showcases the masterfully complex design of the building. The Guggenheim Museum has invited over 200 artists, architects and designers to produce design and display works for the exhibition, titled"Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum," on view from February 12 to April 28, 2010. The much anticipated display will emphasize the rich and diverse range of proposals that have been received from an eclectic array of creative minds.

To read more about this exciting exhibition and the artists whose work will be exhibited, click here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Bauhaus

Looking ahead, and looking forward, to next week...

opens at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Sunday, November 8th.

From the MoMA website:

This survey is MoMA’s first major exhibition since 1938 on the subject of this famous and influential school of avant-garde art. Founded in 1919 and shut down by the Nazis in 1933, the Bauhaus brought together artists, architects, and designers in an extraordinary conversation about the nature of art in the age of technology. Aiming to rethink the very form of modern life, the Bauhaus became the site of a dazzling array of experiments in the visual arts that have profoundly shaped our visual world today.
The exhibition gathers over four hundred works that reflect the broad range of the school’s productions, including industrial design, furniture, architecture, graphics, photography, textiles, ceramics, theater design, painting, and sculpture, many of which have never before been exhibited in the United States. It includes not only works by the school’s famous faculty and best-known students—including Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Lilly Reich, Oskar Schlemmer, and Gunta Stölzl—but also a broad range of works by innovative but less well-known students, suggesting the collective nature of ideas.

Click here to find out more

Bauhaus 1919-1933
will be on view from November 8, 2009 until January 25, 2010.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2822 Records

What I am really looking forward to seeing this week is the Christian Marclay: 2822 Records (PS1) installation at P.S.1 in Long Island City. I fully appreciate opportunities to experience art in unique contexts or through a different perspective - in this case, for example, standing on the installation itself!

P.S.1 describes the installation as follows:

Consisting entirely of 12-inch records of every musical genre and style, Marclay's installation highlights the experiential qualities of music and vinyl recording by inviting visitors to walk on the artwork. Marclay’s installation highlights some of the most primal notions around music, namely volume, space, and physicality. As an example of viewer and audience participation, it highlights a seminal aspect of the upcoming exhibition 100 Years (version #1, ps1, nov 2009), drafting a short history of actions, events, situations, happenings, and performances...

Continue reading

Christian Marclay: 2822 Records (PS1)
is on view until April 5, 2010.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Use of Space at 395

I hopped over to Brooklyn last week to attend the open house for a series of new installations. Not only was the artwork impressive, but the concept was genius! Rather than leaving vacant commercial spaces empty and unwelcoming, why not fill them with vibrant works of art???

The project - 395 - is a collaboration between New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), Your Art Here and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. They have filled, and are still in the process of adding work to, six storefronts situated along 395 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Brooklyn.

From the 395 website:

This 5-month presentation opening October 9th provides support for galleries and emerging artists as well as an opportunity for the greater public to access and experience contemporary art. Educational activities, performances, and a variety of events will be programmed throughout the duration of the show in collaboration with local businesses and cultural institutions.

Click here to read more

Although the exhibition spaces are already open and accessible to visitors (during open hours), there is a grand opening scheduled concurrently with the NADA County Affair on October 18th from noon until 6pm.

395 Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon - 7:00pm

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Experience Green at DAC

If the description alone does not make you want to visit this art installation, I don't know what will...

"Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen will fill the Dumbo Arts Center with their enormous site-specific installation The Experience of Green. Opening September 25, 2009, the exhibition will emphasize the contrast between the organic and the built environment. Viewers will step out of Dumbo’s stark brick-and-glass commercial district into a fantastical forest; a walk-through labyrinth of old growth trees made entirely from red kraft paper. The spectacular network of gnarled tree trunks and twisted roots will extend over every inch of the gallery, suspending the boundaries of space and time while fully immersing the viewer..."
Continue reading at

The Experience of Green at Dumbo Arts Center through November 29, 2009. Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 6:00pm.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Premier Gallery Exhibition

Now that the semester is in full swing I am prioritizing must-see gallery shows for the fall. An exhibition at Hauser & Wirth - a recent and exciting addition to the New York art gallery scene - is at the top of my list! Three contemporary artists have been commissioned to reinterpret Allen Kaprow's famous work from his 1961 New York "happenings" on their 50th anniversary. In addition to the date, historically significant to this artistic recreation is the location. The space where Kaprow's Environment Yard originally appeared (formerly the Martha Jackson Gallery) is now occupied by the Hauser & Wirth gallery.

Allan Kaprow YARD
September 23, 2009 - October 31, 2009
Hauser & Wirth New York
32 East 69th Street. Tuesday-Sat. 10am-6:00pm
Allan Kaprow, Yard, 1961.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Museum round-up

The art scene these days is certainly a busy one - there have been non-stop openings and events for the past couple of weeks and I must say I've been very excited. While I've spent much of my energy focused on the great gallery shows happening, there are in fact quite a few museum exhibitions of note:

September 18, 2009 - January 13, 2010

September 13, 2009 - April 12, 2010

Monday, August 31, 2009

Next week!

Whew! I can hardly believe summer is about to end. With all of the rain we've had in the city, it almost feels like we went straight from April showers to Autumn (minus a few weeks of hellish humidity and heat). I am really excited, not only to break out my fall clothes and order a Pumpkin Spice Latte, but to get back into opening season at New York galleries. Pretty much starting next week, most galleries will be opening their new September shows, and I can't wait. Here's a few that I will definitely be checking out:

Farmani Gallery
111 Front Street, Suite 212, 718-578-4478
September 10 - October 3, 2009
Opening: Thursday, September 10, 6 - 8:30 PM

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery
Williamsburg / Greenpoint / Bushwick
438 Union Avenue, 718-383-7309
September 11 - October 11, 2009
Opening: Friday, September 11, 7 - 9 PM

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Luhring Augustine Gallery
531 West 24th Street, 212-206-9100
September 12 - October 24, 2009
Opening: Friday, September 11, 6 - 8 PM

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Met Exhibiting Vermeer's Milkmaid

I'm incredibly excited for this upcoming show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art- they're receiving Vermeer's The Milkmaid from Amsterdam where it has been at the Rijksmuseum.

This will be the first time the painting has traveled to the USA since the 1939 World's Fair. It will be exhibited among five other Vermeers and work by other admired Delft artists such as
Pieter de Hooch, Gabriël Metsu, Nicolaes Maes, Emanuel de Witte, Hendrick van Vliet, and Hendrick Sorgh.

The exhibition will open on September 10 and will be up until November 29, 2009. After such quiet weeks in the art world (as is usually in the month of August), I have something to look forward to - I absolutely adore Vermeer's use of light - who doesn't?

Click here to read The HuffingtonPost article on the upcoming exhibition of Vermeer's Milkmaid at the Met

Friday, August 7, 2009

MutualArt Open to All!

Thought I'd share some good news! One of my favorite art resource websites,, just restructured its subscription service, allowing free access of the website without having to have a member profile (which is actually free anyway).

Keeping up with the art world is not easy, especially in a city like New York, with hundreds of galleries and dozens of museums. In order to stay up to date with the openings, events, happenings and news of the New York and international art scene, I check every week because they have comprehensive profiles on galleries, art fairs, museums, artists and a free article database.

I signed up for a basic membership, which is free: you fill out a profile about your art interests, what artists or cities you want to track, and every week MutualArt emails you a list of events, venues, and artists that might peak your interests, based on your member preferences. And for the person who really wants full access to the website, there's a premium membership (offered now at a special price $19/month or $199/year) that has the works.

Anyway, I find the website pretty helpful and easy to use, so thought I'd share. Stay in the know--check it out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ART Santa Fe Highlight: David Henderson

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending ART Santa Fe, the first non-New York City art fair I've attended (click here to read my full review of the art fair.)

One of the highlights, in my opinion, of the fair's offerings were the acrobatic sculptures of David Henderson, which toe the line of sculpture and installation. Using a very lightweight carbon fiber plastic, Henderson pushes the envelope of tension, gravity and spatial relations. The sculptures just gently kiss the wall at one point, creating an uneasy tension and awe in the spectator. Their unique design also allows the works to attach to the walls in innovative and flexible ways.

Despite the heavy, marble-like appearance of the pieces, this one on the left weighs six pounds, and can be held in one hand. And they are surprisingly sturdy--according to the gallerist who chatted with me, on opening night of one Henderson's pieces was knocked off its pedestal, bounced down the hall before rolling to a stop, in one piece.

The gallery that represented him at ART Santa Fe was a local one, William Siegal Gallery. You can also check out Henderson's work at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Structured Simplicity at Dumbo Arts Center

There's still a few weeks left to see "Structured Simplicity" at the Dumbo Arts Center (show closes August 9). According to the favorable review in ArtForum, the premise of the show is "extropy, or the gradual distillation of chaos and complexity into fundamental essence....Emerging from a sea of summer shows teetering on conceptual premises doomed by either willful obscurity or ham-fisted obviousness, 'Structured Simplicity' distinguishes itself with a bracing concentration on shape, color, texture, and—in the case of Amy Yoes’s hypnotic video loop Modification and Collapse, 2009—movement and sound."

While the reviewer sounds somewhat full of structured B.S., the artwork nevertheless sounds interesting, and covers a diverse range of media. And the artists are all women! You go girl...s.

Friday, July 17, 2009

An Insider's View of Warhol's Factory

So, sadly, the exhibition at 303 Gallery of photographer Stephen Shore's snapshots from Andy Warhol's Factory closes today. I didn't read about it until today. Doh.

But, even if you, like me, missed the exhibition, there's a cool feature with a selection of Shore's images in Time Out New York online. The photographer provides interesting anecdotes and tidbits about fifteen photos of icons of the 60s, such as Edie Sedgwick, kicking back in the studio. The Factory truly seemed like such a cool spot. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Live Music Starting this Friday at the Whitney

Whitney Live, a program of live, "cutting edge" performances, is starting up this Friday, July 10, and will continue every Friday for the month of July in conjunction with the exhibition Dan Graham: Beyond. Kicking off the series are two bands, Titus Andronicus, and Real Estate. According to the Whitney website,

Titus Andronicus are from Glen Rock, New Jersey, and take their name from the Shakespearean tragedy. Their sound is punk-infused Replacements-esque pop music with screaming vocals, layered guitars, and songs about suburban malaise....Real Estate, led by singer/guitarist Martin Courtney, also has roots in the Garden State. Their songs evoke visions of tract housing, basement band practice, and wasted youth, mixing languid psychedelia, muted vocals, and a boomy undertow of drums.

How can you say no? I guess it is a toughie, with the Lesbian exhibition also opening tomorrow...hmmm...

Whitney Live is free with admission, which is pay-as-you-wish on Fridays from 6-9 pm. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Passion: Lesbian Visions

On the occasion of NYC Gay Pride (and this one is especially significant, given the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall crackdown and riots) I devoted one of my other blogs (I write a few) to what I think is an interesting and controversial topic: "gay art," and how to define it. Sadly due to its unusual length I didn't even get to plug the exhibition I plan on checking out for my gay art education!

The Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation and Gallery provided the cornerstone of my internet gay art education; their most recent exhibition just closed on the 27th, but their next exhibition opens July 11: in conjunction with the Fresh Fruit Festival, the gallery is hosting a show called "Passion: Lesbian Visions 2009," curated by Heidi Russell. There is actually not much information about the show on the Leslie-Lohman website, but the Fresh Fruit Festival has a more detailed write up:

What is a Lesbian? Who occupies post-modern Lesbos? Fresh Fruit has invited an international array of self-defined Lesbian artists to tell us what ignites their passion. Their unique perspectives are revealed in this multi-media gallery show. Sculpture, photography, painting, drawing, mixed media, installation, fabric art, video, sound, poetry, prose, and performance art all involve the on-looker in an astounding range of Lesbian creative passion. Among the participating artists are: Jeanine Alfieri, Prinny Alavi, Laura Cappadrione, Cecy Canarte, Leslie Cloninger, Felice Cohen, Giegia Cotellessa, Maggie Cousins, Marge Doherty, Liz Gold, Nicole Guest, Kanika Hodges, Joan Katz, Jill A. Kolodin, Nina Lourie, Lora Morgenstern, Mari Morimoto, Sara Mussen, Olga, Kenya Robinson, Daniella Shachter, Alina Wilczynski, An Xiao, Heather Young, Lisa Zilker

Friday, July 10th, 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Opening and artists' reception,
Saturday, July 11th - Saturday, July 25: Tue-Sat, 12 Noon - 6:00 pm
Special Events: July 15th, 7:00 pm performance art evening
July 21, 7:00 pm Readings
Admission: Free / Open to the Public
Leslie-Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster Street, New York, NY 100013 (212-431-2609)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What you lookin' at?! The Female Gaze in art

Any art history student has most likely had their dose (overdose?) of feminist art history in college, reading about the male gaze, the voyeur, etc etc. But it's not too often that you hear about the female gaze. Opening this Thursday, June 25 at Cheim and Read gallery in Chelsea is an exhibition called "The Female Gaze: Women Looking at Women." According to the event profile on, it's a

group exhibition of women artists depicting the female form. With this premise, the show seeks to present a collection of works which reclaim the traditional domination of the "male gaze" and reorient the significance of the female figure to allow for more varied interpretations...This exhibition attempts to debunk the notion of the male gaze by providing a group of works in which the artist and subject do not relate as "voyeur" and "object," but as woman and woman.

The list of participating artists looks varied and fantastic. I will definitely be checking this show out!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Keepin' it on the "DL"

Every week for a year I've been walking by a poster of Picasso's 1900 Moulin de la Galette (above) in the hall of my graduate department. I think Picasso's pre-Cubist career is too often overshadowed by his Cubist works, but recently this painting has stepped into the limelight--and not for the work's technical bravura. Since 2007 this painting, along with Boy Leading a Horse of MoMA's collection, have been in the middle of a Nazi restitution case. The Guggenheim and MoMA just settled out of court with the claimant, Julius H. Schoeps, without the judge's authorization. He was less than pleased.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Richard Avedon at ICP

My own familiarity with the photographer extraordinaire Richard Avedon is his portraiture, such as his iconic image of Marilyn Monroe with her guard down; after hours of posing for Avedon, the tired actress plopped down on a stool and let him snap a few more, which artist Vik Muniz rightly characterizes as "a picture of Norma Jean, not Marilyn."

The current show at the International Center for Photography showcases another side of the versatile photographer's oeuvre: Avedon Fashion photographs, 1944 - 2000. The exhibition opened on May 15th and runs through September 6th (note, press release says Sept 6, website says Sept 20). Roberta Smith had nothing but glowing things to say about the dynamic, vibrant photographs in the ICP exhibition:

Avedon’s fashion photographs from the late 1940s to the early ’60s are everything you want great art to be: exhilarating, startlingly new and rich enough with life and form to sustain repeated viewings. Their beauty is joy incarnate and contagious. The best of them are as perfect on their own terms as the best work of Jackson Pollock or Jasper Johns from that era, and as profoundly representative of it.

You can read Roberta Smith's full review here. I am putting this exhibition on my must-see list of the summer!

(below, left: A 1994 shot of Stephanie Seymour; right, Veruschka, dress by Kimberly,
New York, January 1967.
Copyright 2009, the Richard Avedon Foundation)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

In the summer 2009 issue of ArtForum, the magazine is publishing a conversation between Rirkrit Tiravanija and Yoko Ono. The former is presenting at this year's Venice Biennale, and the latter is being honored with the Biennale's Golden Lion award. The preview of the phone interview on artforum's website is, uh, rich. Here's a snippet:


YOKO ONO: I’m here. You sound really distant; why is that? Is it your phone, or . . . ?

RT: Well, I am in Thailand. [laughter]

YO: Oh, of course, that’s right. So we’ll have to sort of stretch our ears. It’s very interesting, doing it like this, you know. But please go ahead. You wanted to ask me some questions?

RT: Well, something noteworthy to me is that it’s the fortieth anniversary of the Bed-In, and maybe we should talk about that. Many people have heard a little bit about that moment already, I think, but maybe you could say more.

YO: I do feel that it was a very interesting performance-art work, in the sense that it has stayed in people’s minds for such a long time.

RT: That was something I found myself quite interested in, actually, because Bed-In seems like something that happened in an almost completely natural way.

YO: Yes, it did begin as a rather natural thing to do. At least, you know, we were in bed. It wasn’t like standing around every night for four or five hours. It was very comfortable.

RT: But you had started it in Amsterdam, and then you went to Montreal, where you continued it, right?

YO: Montreal is a very, very beautiful, beautiful city. And we enjoyed that.

RT: And that was also when you recorded the song . . .

YO: Pardon?

RT: That’s also when you recorded the song.

YO: Yes, yes.

RT: And was the song just written in the bed?

YO: About what, the bed? This what?

RT: You wrote the song in the bed?

YO: [pause] You know, maybe you need to talk a little farther from the microphone or receiver.

RT: I just kind of continued on the question about the bed.

YO: Or maybe say it slowly.

RT: It’s about how you came to write the song that was set in the bed, right? [laughter]

YO: I think this is very interesting, the kind of challenge that we have been given. You’re an artist, and I’m an artist. And somehow we were given this incredibly strange situation where we have to communicate over a very, very long distance, which means a huge amount of air is between us.

Hopefully the fully published interview in the magazine issue is more than a chronical of "huhs?" and "whas?". If you'd like to read a little bit of reflection Rirkrit was able to squeeze out of Yoko, check out more of the interview at ArtForum online.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happily Stranded in LIC

One of the best kept secrets of the Manhattan art scene is its extension to other boroughs, where one can experience the refreshing work of emerging artists without the 'tudes of Chelsea gallerinas. Opening this Sunday, June 7, at the Dutch Kills Gallery in Long Island City, is Stranding Memory, a sculptural video installation by collaborating artists Erik Sanner and K Staelin. The work will only be on view Sunday (2 - 6pm) and Tuesday June 9th (5 - 8pm), during which time both artists will be present.

A description and image (digital collage) from the collaboration are below, although something tells me that neither will truly do the piece justice: this is the kind of work that must be experienced in person, so get your hide to LIC on Sunday or Tuesday! And as long as you're making the "schlep" (really, no griping, it's just a few subway stops!), here's some other current LIC art events and shows worth checking out.

Stranding Memory
A sculptural video installation by Erik Sanner and K Staelin
Sunday, June 7, 2-6pm and Tuesday, June 9, 5-8pm
Opening: June 7, 2-6pm

Press Release:
Dutch Kills Gallery presents Stranding Memory, a collaboration between Erik Sanner and K Staelin, two artists who grew up in the same town yet first met in New York City while living around the corner from one another. Stranding Memory uses the structure of the double helix to explore our movement through time and the falling away of events and memories. Captured within a translucent plastic membrane, fog rises, forming one strand of the helix. Images of people are projected onto this fog and as they ascend their movements gain speed. In contrast to the people in the rising strand, video and animated pictures of discrete events in the artists' personal lives is projected onto the descending mist and slowly spirals down the second strand. On the journey, portions of the images blur while other portions become more focused and delineated. Some memories become intertwined; all are lost.

Dutch Kills Gallery is a contemporary exhibition space that presents new work of various media from artists with a diverse set of creative practices that draw on the energy of the rapidly evolving artistic hub of Long Island City. The gallery is committed to fostering a rigorous and open community as well as providing a place for experimentation and interaction. In addition to monthly exhibitions, programming at the gallery includes frequent performances, screenings and events.

37-24 24th Street, Suite 402, Long Island City, NY 11101 +
718.784.2737 +

Dutch Kills Gallery is located at 37-24 24th Street, Suite 402 which
is between 37th Ave. and 38th Ave. in LIC. Three subway lines are near-by:

N/W to 36th Ave.
7 to Queensboro Plaza
F to 21st Street/Queensbridge

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Highline to open in June!?

Ever since I started visiting my friends in the West Village - long before I moved here - I have heard stories about the Highline Project.

An abandoned above-ground railway - built in 1930 and left empty since the 80s, the Highline has gained a reputation among many of being "one of those dreamed-up projects that was never going to happen". The city has long envisioned it as a new kind of green space, floating above the city - stretching up the West side of Manhattan. Well it looks like Section 1 of the "park", located in the Meatpacking district, may finally be opening in Mid-June.

See the video below from the Sundance Channel

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Well I had a great time this past weekend - I made it to Chelsea and saw a lot of work that was really great. I'm planning on heading over to the LES (Lower East Side) at some point this week because I've heard great things about some shows over there.

For starters, there's a project that is in an old medical clinic, entitled HomeBase, where artists are "exploring their own ideas of home".

There are a few other things that some friends of mine said not to miss, so I'll pass them along:

Voshardt/Humphrey, Double Blind / Double Blind at Greene Contemporary

George Sagri, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is and if Approaching Pain Gives You A Way of Recovering Memory of Flesh Then Go Elsewhere at On Stellar Rays

Hilary Harnischfeger at Rachel Uffner Gallery

Philip Argent, New Paintings at Luxe Gallery

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So now that it's SPRINGTIME!!! in the city and I'm just about done with finals, I'm going to come out of the dungeons/libraries and make a huge effort to go see a lot (really a lot) of art over the next month or so. There are so many things that I want to see, and that I've been putting off - I really can't wait.

First, I think I'll head over to Chelsea, where I'll be sure to stop by:

Sophie Calle at Paula Cooper

Rosemarie Fiore at Priska C. Juschka

Anne Eastman at ATM

Joseph Grigley at Sara Meltzer

and Charles Ray at Matthew Marks (see image below)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Met

The weather in NYC has been superb lately! Over the weekend we had 70 degree sunshine and I went to the upper east side with a friend and spent several hours in the Met. I think that when most people visit the Met they just straight to the Impressionist paintings. Or straight to the Modernist works. I spent several hours hanging out with the Greek and Roman sculpture It was incredible. I mean, the way the Met works you sort of have to walk through the sculptures but no one ever actually really sees them.

I took several Greek art classes in college and it has really helped me understand the evolution of art. And to see these masterpieces right in my backyard is just incredible. 

I highly recommend any of you New Yorkers to rediscover the Met. Whether it is the Greek and Roman sculptures or the Tribal Art sections. There are so many treasures in the museum 

Friday, April 3, 2009

We're finished!

We finished our project and it went off without a hitch. I'm really impressed with our group for pulling it together at the last moment!

Part of what really helped us find all these great artists around the world is this new site I've been raving about called It's like a content aggregator that lets you put in your preferences and then suggests things that you'd like to read about and artists you'd like to learn about. We put in the names of a few artists we were already interested in and the website popped out all these other ideas. It also has some great recs on galleries, exhibitions, museums and everything. It's especially great if you live in NYC like I do but I imagine that other art world capitals are probably pretty well represented there too.

Check it out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Project Update

Well, nothing much is going on around here in the big city. Well...I guess its starting to be spring-ish (not counting today where its like 20 degrees). It's been consistently warmer lately, everyone is feeling a little bit less sluggish and a little more annoyed at winter. I've just been going about my business trying not to be too overwhelmed with all the work I have to do at school.

For one of my school projects I have to put together an art collection for a fictitious "private client." It's been really run so far running around to all the galleries and art fairs trying to come up with a coherent collection. The focus of the project is on "new media" works - that means (or so much teacher says) that things plug into the wall. We've already got some cool works lined up by artists like Tim Tate, Anna Frants, and Anselm Reyle. It's a really great look into what the life of an art consultant is really like. 

I'll let you know how things turn out as the project progresses.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Santa Fe

I'm here in Santa Fe, New Mexico right now. And I must say it is considerably colder than I thought it would be, but still an incredible town. There are 200+ galleries for a population of about 65,000 people. That's the largest per capita art gallery population of any city in the world. While not all the galleries are world class, there are quite a few very good ones with some mid-market artists. The most noticeable difference is the "look" of the galleries - they are more like homes with fireplaces, front doors and porches, and the kindness of the owners and operators. This is the only place I've ever been where EVERY SINGLE gallery person said hi, got up and shook my hand, and asked how they could help. It was such a nice change from Chelsea galleries. 

Some of my favorite galleries here were Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Gerald Peters Gallery, Linda Durham Contemporary Art, and William Siegal Gallery. There is one road in town called Canyon Road where a majority of the smaller galleries are - it's worth visiting here for a couple of days just to check out all of these. And to take it slow. We tried to do a whole day of Canyon Road and were completely tired out by the end of it. Seriously exhausting to see that much art. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Armory Show

I went to the Armory Art Fair today. It was awesome! And I'm so glad I went today (I was sort of considering waiting for the crowds to die down - today was opening day - but it wasn't even crowded today). There was some amazing art - one of my faves is this 150 year old wagon wheel that was lit from behind by color-changing LED lights. It costs 80,000 Euros! Ga! That's a lot - and for a wagon wheel. Oh well, one day perhaps.

There was some a lot of great new media stuff, very few photographs, some (but not much) weird mixed media sculpture, and a lot of staples. I thought that the prices would be lower because of the economics....ahem....problems, but just about everything that I asked after was VERY expensive ($100,000 expensive). I couldn't really get a feel for how things were selling - but a girl I'm doing a project with in class was walking around with me pretending like she was an art advisor and EVERYONE was willing to give her a 20% discount. That would have been RARE last year. Definitely.

All in all today was a great day. I love that I live in New York City where these sorts of things are at my fingertips. It's really incredible. This weekend will be very busy - I've got papers upon papers to write and then I'm going to Santa Fe for a week! Yaay! 

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Chinese Drama

In the wake of all the YSL sales bliss, the winning bidder of the the two controversial Chinese bronzes has been announced: a Chinese man with connections to a Chinese non-profit called the National Treasures Fund. But there's a catch: he's not paying. 

Cai  Mingchao says he never had any intention of paying for the bronzes and just wanted to raise awareness about their true home in Chinese cultural history. He says they should be immediately returned to the Chinese - who, also, shouldn't have to pay for them. 

In one of my classes we're studying Cultural Property and Arts Repatriation initiatives so this is a really interesting side note to all this. The LA Times was one of the first to break this story and put an interesting spin on it. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Auction of a Lifetime

Well, Christie's has done it! They've pulled it off, maybe saved their company, maybe saved the whole art world. We'll have to see. 

What they did do is they managed to sell $477 million dollars - that is 96 percent of everything offered - worth of art, furniture, goodies, etc. Major winners include the two Qing dynasty bronze heads for $40 million, a dragon chair for $28 million
“This was a once-in-a-century sale,” Hugh Edmeades, deputy chairman of Christies South Kensington, said in an interview. He has been involved in single-owner collections at the London-based auction house since the 1980s and said, “I can’t remember anything like it. I’ve never seen people queuing for hours to view an auction before. Patriotism was definitely a factor.”

It is certainly something that I will remember for a long while. And hopefully it will be one part of the puzzle that pulls the art market out of its downward slump. But we've got to remember that this is a single person sale - and I don't see YSL dying again any time soon. It was Christie's one big chance and opportunity but it was also a one off deal. Hopefully they can continue taking risks, working hard, and making the art market work to their favor. We've just got to keep our heads up and everything will be ok. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

ADAA: The Art Show

Every year the Art Dealers of America Association throws a major art fair at the armory. This year there were over 70 galleries which participated this year in the fair, despite a falling economy and anticipation of diminished sales. 

Most of the galleries brought a high proportion of secondary market pieces (secondary market means that the work has already been marketed by a gallery, sold to a collector and is being resold through another gallery by the collector). Secondary pieces are a tried and true way to way some money when times are hard. For the most part, pieces that go to the secondary market are by better known artists, artists whose reputations have already been established, pieces that have accumulated in value by collectors who want to capitalize on value. These sorts of shows with lots of secondary market pieces are often more like a museum show than an art fair - people will gather around Picasso's, de Kooning's, and any number of other well known artists' work. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Michel de Broin

Wow, I've been absent for quite a while. Such is the life of a student during a long holiday weekend :)

Here's some food for thought - some candy for the eyes. 

The artist is Quebecois Michel de Broin. He is currently represented by the new Lower East Side Gallery On Stellar Rays. At the group show's opening last night, he brought this awesome piece - half television, half fireplace. The piece could be hooked up to a fireplace and used accordingly. And the owners would sit around the "TV" like people used to. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


We had an appraisal specialist come into one of my classes today. It was really fascinating because for all that I know about art and the art market I still have very little idea about how value comes about. And its a very interesting process. 

We haven't really learned how to do an appraisal (and, granted, that is not really the type of school I'm in) but we have learned what it's all about. Appraisers are basically super intense researchers - they aren't specialists in any particularly field but know a little about everything and have the wherewithall to find just about any information possible. We looked at two Frederic Remington sculptures sold within several months of each other at auction- both were from the same cast, but from different years (around 15 years apart) and different foundries. The prices varied drastically - the earlier version was valued at between $500,000 to $700,000 and sold somewhere in between while the later version was valued between $100,000 to $150,000 and BI'd. It's sort of crazy. I mean, I couldn't tell any difference between the two and I don't know that I'd even really care about those 15 years (especially when its a cast sculpture) but obviously someone does. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Emily Mason Show

I went to Emily Mason's gallery opening on Saturday at the David Findlay Jr. Gallery in the Fuller Building on 57th St. The most successful works in the artist’s exhibition were her large and intensely saturated canvases. The aptly named Earthly Sun (2007) is a full-on explosion of bubblegum pinks, chrome oranges, and cadmium yellows with a touch of cerulean blue. The colors are washed across the canvas in easeful but controlled sweeps, unexpected at such a large scale. The brushstrokes are strong and daring but seem somewhat incidental to the use of color. The careful application of cerulean is a reprieve from the infinite desert sun; it is a cold glass of water to a long, hot day. At 4½’ by 6’ and brightly colored, the canvas is confrontational while Ms. Mason’s easy style ensures that it remains accessible and relatable. 

The exhibition taken as a whole focuses on Ms. Mason’s use of vibrant and nuanced colors: lime green, vermillion, Indian yellow, hot pink, and deep azure. Yet the artist’s work is not lost in color. Her paintings find their strength in the relationships the artist draws through the unanticipated juxtaposition of various elements in a work.  The colors, though saturated, are laid on the canvas as though the oil paint were as light as watercolor, effortlessly melting into one another in ink spill-like patterns. Each color, individually overwhelming, is tempered and enhanced by the artist’s choice of a color pairing. The structure and use of color in each work suggest both intention and spontaneity, cohesion and chaos, the natural and unnatural. Ms. Mason’s “Recent Paintings” succeeds due to her exploration of these dichotomous relationships. 

On the whole the exhibit was lovely and quite crowded. Most all the attendees I recognized as members of the artists family and friends, so I felt a bit out of place. But I really enjoyed myself all the same and loved getting to know Ms. Mason's work

Here's my favorite work, Earthly Sun:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Chelsea Art District

I went around Chelsea this week. Maybe not the best choice in the world - since it was FREEZING - but I had a good time all the same. Chelsea is the major arts district in the world right now. According to their website, there are over 330 galleries in a four block radius. It's pretty incredible. For me though, the concentration of art is very overwhelming - I never know which galleries to go into, which artists to see, which shows to see. It's very exhausting just thinking about it - and trying to plan something. Well, this weekend, I just decided to go for it - I decided that I would walk until something really struck me and then I'd go in. I wouldn't let the overabundance of art overwhelm me.

I saw the Von Lintel Gallery. Right now they have an exhibition of Izima Kaoru, the Japanese artist born in 1954 who takes these disturbingly beautiful photos of young women as corpses. 

It was a really interesting show - not necessarily something that I want to be hanging in my living room, but I appreciate it all the same.

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Season of Auctions

So the latest auction season has officially started. I like to follow the auctions quite closely (or at least those at Sotheby's, Christie's, and Phillips de Pury) to get an idea of the value and valuation of works of art at market right now. It's so difficult to get any price information from galleries unless they think you're a serious buyer, so this is really the most transparent and easily accessible way possible. 

The New York Times, published this story recently on the Old Masters auctions. On the whole, the action didn't do quite as well as "expected" but then again we didn't really think it would. I'm sure the estimates were really just an attempt for the auction house management to appease the consignors. I mean, they have to think they'll get something for the work or they won't bring it to auction. Sometime soon, the auctions will have to rethink their marketing ploys. They can't get works just to fill up their auctions, if none of them are going to sell. It's all about managing expectations of consignors and making them understand that you can't get top dollar at every state of the economy. 

Anyway,  "One of J. M. W. Turner’s classically romantic images brought $13 million at Sotheby’s on Thursday morning, becoming the most expensive work in two days of turbulent old master painting sales." but otherwise there were few notable sales. 

This Hendrick ter Brugghen sold for a record $10.2 million after a bit of a bidding battle between the buyer, Richard Feigen and a phone bidder. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Campana Brothers

I saw the Campana Brothers for the first time at Design Miami and I’ve since seen there EVERYWHERE I look. 

The elder brother, Humberto, was born in 1953 and graduated from the University of Sao Paulo with a degree in Law while the younger brother, Fernando was born in 1961 and graduated from the University of Sao Paulo with a degree in architecture. I think this surely says something about the role of education in future life choices – it may instruct future choices but by no means should a student be restricted is his or her chosen profession by his or her education.

The brothers started working together in 1983, sharing a joint studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Since that time they have become known as Brazil’s most famous and most innovative designers. They occupy an interesting space between art, design and architecture. When I first saw their work, I was particularly intrigued by a bench woven from the fibers of an invasive Brazilian jungle weed. The woven material was seen “growing” over other organic materials like quartz rock. This isn't the exact piece but it is a bit similar.

The brothers did an extended interview with Design Boom – a design and art magazine – here is my favorite response from the interview:

when you were a child, did you want to become a designer?

Fernando: me? an astronaut.

Humberto: I wanted to be a native indian...

I always wanted to be an Indian, too!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Art v. Design

While I was in Miami, I attended a panel on Mid-Century Modern Design. While I don’t know quite as much about design as I do art, the subject is nonetheless very interesting to me. I have a good friend who has her own design firm and it is always interesting to see the sort of things you can do with a good design background (and how something as simple as a couch or a chair can transform the way someone lives in their home). On this panel were several prominent figures of New York City’s design world including the design director of the Noguchi Museum, head of the Eames Office, owner of a design gallery, and the specialist of Sotheby’s Modern Design department. These men (and yes, they were ALL men) talked at length about what design means to the world around us, how there has been a recent convergence of art and design (mainly due to the fact that so many designers are now issuing design editions – like print editions – wherein they issue only a limited number of the design in question), how the term “mid-century modern” is sort of a conundrum in itself, and other interesting tidbits. This talk reinvigorated me to learn more about design (beyond the countless Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and West Elm catalogs I read every month). So in addition to writing about art in this blog, I hope to bring in some information about design as I set out to learn more about it every day.


To begin my education in Miami, I attended the design fair. It was MUCH smaller than the main Art Basel fair and even much smaller than the other satellite fairs like Pulse or Scope. There were maybe twenty booths with an array of furniture, mirrors, carpets, lamps, tables, chairs, etc. Sometimes the gallery or designer created a cohesive “room” while other times it seemed more like a whole bunch of stuff just crammed into a single space. It is a whole lot more expensive to transport and display furniture than it is art, but I think the general public and the design industry could do with more exposure of the artsy high end stuff. I hope in the future we’ll see more influence of these innovative designers (like the Campana Brothers who I hope to write about in one of my next blogs) on everyday mass produced markets. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Art Basel Miami Beach

So I have completely forgotten to fill you all in on one of my latest and best adventures. I had the opportunity to go to Miami Art Basel last month in Miami, FL. Art Basel in Switzerland is probably the largest and most well respected art fair in the entire world. People get on these crazy waiting lists to even be up for the chance to participate in the fair and pay some crazy fee to have a tiny booth there. Miami Art Basel is the offshoot of this original art fair. It is a little more party-centric (it is Miami after all) but the quality of art is usually on par. This was the first time I’ve ever been to Miami so I didn’t have much to compare it to. From what I’ve heard this year was much more low key than years past – fewer collectors showed up, gallerists were a bit kinder, and the parties were less extravagant. It’s a bit funny and peculiar that when the economy goes sour, that all those rich folks out there feel like they can’t keeps spending money in the same way they are used to for fear of making the poor people feel bad about themselves.


I got the feeling that people were pretty well prepared for poor sales and so when fewer people came to the fair and even fewer people bought at the fair, no one was particularly disappointed. I still got the feeling that people couldn’t quite figure out who I was – is she an art consultant? Is she important enough that we ought to talk to her? Will she buy anything? – and that made it interesting. I saw quite a bit of art that I was unfamiliar with and quite a bit that I liked a lot. There was also an over saturation of Damien Hirst pieces with skulls and butterflies and whatever other else limited pieces he makes. And from what I could tell (and what other, non gallerists told me), prices were pretty steeply discounted and gallerists were offering BIG (20% big) discounts to just about anyone walking in off the street. I think they were really trying to make a sale, whatever it took. It is very expensive, after all, to get all the works down to Miami and they needed to make up their costs somehow.


I can’t wait to go to my next art fair and I would always love to go back to Miami next year. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Is the Art Market Dead?

Everyone has been talking about the demise of the art market since the stock market collapse in October. My opinion of the whole situation probably doesn’t vary too much from other things that you’ve read recently, but I’ll lay it out all the same.

The art market is a market like any other Adam Smith, Invisible Hand-wielding capital structure. It is lodged firmly in the structure of basic free-market economics, governed by the principles of supply and demand. That is, an optimal price is reached when the forces of supply (how many people want a product) and the forces of demand (how many are available for people) collide. People may think that the art market differs from say the market for canned soup because it is not an easily commodifiable good – not every piece of art is exactly the same and so the process of valuation differs per product. Or by the value we derive from art is not just an easier understood Utilitarian value (the more we have of something the better) but is consistent with value as it pertains to ineffable values of cultural capital. While this does make the art market far more complex than other markets it doesn’t make it any different.


In any market there have been booms and busts. Booms come about when consumer confidence is especially high and people are willing to wage more money on the fact that the product is going to increase in value. Often times these are built up artificially high by speculators – or those who are not really involved on a personal level in a product but are merely trying to “flip” the good and reap the benefits of the spread. It is a bit like arbitrage in the general market. Once consumer confidence falls apart (it could be anything from a 9/11-like attack, withdrawal of “free-money” in the form of credit, etc.) all these speculators pull out of the market and thus the prices tumble very rapidly. This leads to a bust. We’ve seen it most recently in the credit market and the house market (indirectly) in the US, but also during the dot com era, and in any number of other consumer goods. 


I will go into more detail on this later, but essentially, I believe that the art market was highly inflated. And the art market is particularly susceptible to inflation because the means of valuation rests solely on the shoulders of public opinion and consumer confidence – it is little to no intrinsic value. People had been so confident in their artworks as to push the prices waaay high up until they could no longer sustain themselves. I see a major reorganization of the whole market in the coming future and a return to 1990s level. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

New York, New York

Being back in the city that never sleeps never fails to elate me. I am going to be starting up with school again, new classes, new reading, new year, new president, new everything! So I thought I should go with the spirit of the new year and get out there and see some new art and galleries. I've been to Chelsea several times before but it doesn't fail to intimidate me. The "gallerinas" are as intimidating as ever with their designer clothes and scowls (do they hire them because they have such nasty looks on their faces?). I wondered if things would get a bit more friendly as the economic downturn pulls into its third, fourth...fifth (when will this even be over?) month. 

Art sales are noticeably down but either these girls can't seem to understand what it means to welcome someone into a space or their faces really are just stuck like that. Last month at Art Basel, dozens (if not hundreds) of galleries felt the sting of diminished pocketbooks and shocked stock portfolios. Fortunately, few people's hopes were high enough to warrant any real shock at the result. 

What will happen, I think, is that the galleries that have gotten lackluster results even in high times will be whittled away until only the strongest and most innovative survive. They don't call it Survival of the Fittest for nothing.  We are going to see some major changes in the coming months and years. The question stands as to what sort of changes and innovation will save the gallery (and what form it will take in the coming future).