16 December, 2010

16 Dec - Albright-Knox Acquires Works

LAUNCHPROJECTS - The Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York acquired works by Patrick McFarlin and Eric Tillinghast to be added to their permanent collection. LAUNCHPROJECTS applauds our artists on this great achievement.

When Louis Grachos visited Santa Fe this past summer we had the opportunity arrange a studio visit with Patrick McFarlin to preview the works in our then upcoming show, Obituaries and (mini) Masterpieces. These pieces represented a departure for McFarlin. Eulogizing the work of those who have come before, he placed obituaries and masterworks into new and unexpected contexts, thereby recreating and reframing our assumptions of fame, mastery, and the anticipation of originality.
Grachos was already deeply familiar with McFarlin's work as they worked together for McFarlin's solo exhibition at SITE Santa Fe in 1996 when Grachos was then Director. He immediately responded to this new body of work and began the process of acquisition at that point. The five Patrick McFarlin pieces Grachos ultimately selected from this series were all of Joan Mitchell, one miniature painting, George Went Swimming at Barnes Hole, 1957 (pictured above) was based on the original already included in the Albright-Knox collection.

Grachos was also very familiar with Eric Tillinghast's work, and several of Tillinghast's pieces are already in in the Albright-Knox permanent collection from an earlier donation by Natalie and Irving Forman. The Pools portfolio selected by Grachos is a 24-piece collection of unique images of swimming pools, all depicting a different shape and color of water. In the words of Internationally acclaimed artist and critic Harmony Hammond "in Pools, Tillinghast reworked appropriated photographs of swimming pools. From a distance, the resulting condensed-down shapes— both familiar and strange — read solid turquoise. It’s only upon very close examination, that variation in water depth, reflection of light on the surface, and the side of or steps into the pool are discernible." To read more about this body of work please refer to the review by Jan Adlmann published in Art in America.
Works from both series are currently available at LAUNCHPROJECTS - please contact the gallery for additional information and availability.

10 December, 2010

10 Dec - The Art of Perception

LAUNCHPROJECTS - I am reading Robert Irwin's biography as slowly as possible. There is so much to it - it is subtle and complex and inspiring, much like Irwin's work itself. Learning more about Irwin's work and approach to life and art is shifting the way I consider and describe the highly complex and outwardly minimal paintings of LAUNCHPROJECTS artist Phil Binaco.

Philip Leider wrote in an exhibition catalog for a 1966 Irwin exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of art, "what Irwin manifestly wishes to do is to slow the viewer down, to prepare him, in effect, for an encounter. A certain measurable duration of time is necessary before one can even see what there is to be seen, so that the viewer will either see it the way Irwin wants him to see it or he will - quite literally - not see the painting at all".

This catalog excerpt is quoted by Weschler in Irwin's biography, then he goes on to describe witnessing a couple literally "not see" one of Irwin's 7-foot dot paintings hanging in a museum. Standing next to it at the Philadelphia Museum of Art "a couple walked into the room. The young woman, gesturing with a sweep of her arm, sighed in mock exasperation 'See, this is what I mean.' Her friend smiled knowingly... and the two moved quickly on. They had literally not seen a thing - one does not, one cannot in that amount of time. She was just sick and tired of having museum walls cluttered with empty white canvases."

Engaging, slowing down, allowing the energy and the beauty of what appears upon first blush to be "nothing" to reveal itself to us is a luxury that many of us choose not to take. There are certain artists - Phil Binaco, Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Agnes Martin - whose work we will literally miss if we do not take the time to wait and truly look. With time and attention these paintings open, they vibrate and "blush" as art critic William Wilson described in a Los Angeles Times review. They give back to us. In Weschler's words "engaging the picture, we in turn engage the wonder of our own perceptual facilities. As in so much of Irwin's later work, for a few moments, we perceive ourselves perceiving."

Pictured: Robert Irwin, Phil Binaco, Agnes Martin

07 December, 2010

7 Dec - Oscar Munoz and Cali, Colombia

LAUNCHPROJECTS - I am currently reading a great biography of Robert Irwin written by Lawrence Weschler. I will blog in detail about the book when I finish it, but reading Weschler's thoughtful words and interactions with Irwin reminded me of meeting him in 2007 in conjunction with The Disappeared Collaborative Project in Santa Fe.

This project originated as a single exhibition curated by Laurel Reuter at the North Dakota Museum of Art and consisted of twenty-seven living artists from South America who have made art about "los desaparecidos" or the disappeared. As the original exhibition press stated "these artists lived through the horrors of the military dictatorships that rocked their countries in the mid-decades of the twentieth century". The Lannan Foundation invited Reuter to New Mexico to discuss the exhibition and the result of the conversation was a collaboration by nine arts organizations throughout the community, including the Center for Contemporary Arts (where I was the Visual Arts Director and Curator at the time), SITE Santa Fe, the Lannan Foundation, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. The organizations presented exhibitions, lectures, films, and workshops.

I decided on behalf of the Center for Contemporary Arts to curate a solo exhibition of works by Colombian artist Oscar Munoz. Munoz is one of Latin America’s most significant artists working today, more so now since his video piece Re/Trato (pictured above and included in the CCA exhibiton) was later selected by Robert Storr for Think with the Senses Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present Tense for the Venice Biennale and by Sarah Lewis and Daniel Belasco for SITE Santa Fe's current Biennale, The Dissolve.

Ben, another CCA board member, and I traveled to Cali, Colombia to meet Munoz and get a first-hand look at his work, life, and tour Cali. We arrived to find a teeming art community amidst an otherwise impoverished and ramshackle city. This was due in large part to a small exhibition space founded by Munoz, Lugar a Dudas (Place for Doubts) in which he inspires younger artists with group exhibitions, film screenings, artist talks, and an extensive art library. Within the 36 hours we were in Cali, Munoz coordinated 14 studio visits with emerging Colombian artists. The artists were inspiring and extremely talented, each creating unorthodox and frequently political work that placed their lives in jeopardy to express their discontent with the Colombian government. Many of the artist's medium was cocaine because it was more readily available and inexpensive to use than paints or charcoals.

Lawrence Weschler states in the exhibition catalog "The challenge in these societies is to find a way of reclaiming the dead and honoring their presence in a manner that nonetheless stil allows room for, indeed, creates room for the living." Lugar a Dudas and Oscar Munoz' approach to his work, his city, and the potential of its youth was just that. Utterly inspirational.

Pictured: Me, Ben, Laurel Reuter, Oscar Munoz and others at Lugar a Dudas, Re/Trato video still

04 December, 2010


LAUNCHPROJECTS - This Thursday marks the opening of our exhibition The Rapture Project by Jennifer Joseph and Chris Collins. The Rapture Project features a site-specific swarm of 1000 lead bullets gilded with 23K gold leaf and “Bullet Halo” drawings, large sheets of paper shot with different caliber weaponry and then gold-leafed around their wounds.

Meticulous repetition, danger, and beauty are themes that have threaded throughout Joseph's work for the decade we have worked together. Past installations of acupuncture needles, straight pins, Swarovski crystals, and spray foam were clustered, threaded, and suspended into organic yet entirely spectral environments. Sculptor Chris Collins' extensive metal casting and foundry experience in addition to a long history with firearms brings to this project a mastery of material and process. In their first large-scale collaboration, The Rapture Project presents a dichotomy between the violence of weaponry and the visceral, shimmering lure of treasure. Desire and danger, gold and guns.

03 December, 2010

3 Dec - Jerry Saltz on Witch-Hunting

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Dear Jerry, we officially extend an invitation to Wojnarowicz to show his video in Santa Fe...

By Jerry Saltz
posted on facebook

"THE LYING CYNICAL RIGHT-WING REPUBLICANS ARE WITCH-HUNTING AGAIN. This time cry-baby House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and mindless Republican Eric Cantor have demanded that the Smithsonian close or cancel a show because it contains 11 seconds (!) of "offensive" videotape by David Wojnarowicz, A Fire in My Belly. The Smithsonian removed the tape! The reporter who started this also wants Creationism presented in the museum! The Catholic League stirs the bad-brew saying the work "insults and inflicts injury and assaults the sensibilities of Christians." Washington Post critic Blake Gopnick rightly reminds us, "If every piece of art that offended some person or group was removed from a museum, our museums would be empty."

Not surprisingly given these swarm of liars this isn't about Wojnarowicz' image of ants crawling on a crucifix for 11 seconds. It is about gay-baiting/gay-bashing - stoking the bigotry that fires the base of the Tea Party/Republicans. The Wojnarowicz was part of a show at the National Portrait Gallery titled "Hide/Seek" about "gay love."

Repulsive, deficient parasites searching for a host body (Art) to inhabit, secretly in love with hate, relentless, breeding sickness and nullity; zombies pathologically entranced by order, anesthetized to life and the damage they do; sadistic, jubilant, manipulative; marooned eternally inside themselves - we cry havoc. Whitney Museum; New Museum; Guggenheim; MoMA; Please screen the Wojnarowicz video. Anywhere. In a dark staircase. That alone will be enough"

02 December, 2010

2 Dec - Steve Martin voted off the island

LAUNCHPROJECTS - on Tuesday I blogged about French theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard's essay "Hyper-realism of Simulation" in which he asserts that the use and abundance of media, signs, and symbols has so bombarded our culture that reality itself vanishes within a media-dominated contemporary world. Reality TV is the primary means of this "hyper-realism," effectively replacing actual experience, becoming more “real” than reality itself. In the words of Baudrillard “everything is therefore right on the surface, absolutely superficial. There is no longer a need or requirement for depth or perspective; today, the real and the imaginary are confounded in the same operational totality, and aesthetic fascination is simply everywhere.” (1019).
This blurring of reality and dumbing down of experience was highlighted again on Monday at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when Steve Martin and art critic and New York Times Magazine writer Deborah Solomon engaged in a dialog about art. Halfway through their discussion a representative from the Y walked onstage and gave Solomon a note directing her to steer the conversation away from art and to focus on his early slapstick acting career. The art conversation was just too boring for the audience. In the words of Mary Elizabeth Williams for Salon.com:
"Blame it on "American Idol." Or maybe "Gladiator." If there was any doubt left that American audiences now believe they have the right to vote on how their entertainment unfolds, that notion was thrown to the lions Monday night, when actor/author/comedy legend/noted aesthete Steve Martin did not amuse the audience gathered at New York's 92nd Street Y to watch him in conversation with art critic and New York Times Magazine writer Deborah Solomon.
The tip-off that the event was taking a Sean-Young-on-"Skating With the Stars" turn came halfway through the evening, when a representative from the Y walked onstage and handed Solomon a note directing her to steer the conversation away from art -- the subject of Martin's new novel, "An Object of Beauty" -- and more toward his long and often hilarious career. Martin told the New York Times Wednesday that viewers around the country who were watching the interview on closed-circuit television had been e-mailing the Y to complain about the conversational subject matter.
Solomon told the Times Wednesday that "I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art." And Martin, after describing the Y's action as "discourteous" in the same story,tweeted late Wednesday that "the 92nd St. Y has determined that the course of its interviews should be dictated in real time by its audience's emails. Artists beware."
The Y sent out letters of apology to each of its 900 audience members stating "we acknowledge that last night's event with Steve Martin did not meet the standard of excellence that you have come to expect from 92nd St. Y. We planned for a more comprehensive discussion and we, too, were disappointed with the evening. We will be mailing you a $50 certificate for each ticket you purchased to last night’s event. The gift certificate can be used toward future 92Y events, pending availability." The Y is refunding the audience's money because a conversation between two members of the art community focused too much on art and bored its attention deficit entertainment seeking audiences. The audience members paid to hear a conversation about art, and then whined when Steve Martin failed to appear with a banjo and a bunny suit. The fact that the Y reinforced and pandered to this behavior is abominable. 92nd Street Y, you're fired.

30 November, 2010

30 Nov - Baudrillard and Reality TV

LAUNCHPROJECTS - In his essay The Hyper-realism of Simulation (originally published in 1976), French theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard asserts that the use and abundance of media, signs, and symbols has so bombarded our culture that “reality itself, as something separable from signs of it …vanished in the information-saturated, media-dominated contemporary world” (1018). Photography, mass production, television, and advertising have shaped and altered authentic experience to the point that “reality” is recognized only when it is re-produced in simulation. Truth and reality are mediated and interpreted to an extent that culture can no longer distinguish reality from fantasy. Baudrillard terms this blurring of mediated experience and reality “hyper-reality.”
Baudrillard's essay came immediately to mind when reading about the simultaneous successes of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" and her daughter Brisol's performance in "Dancing with the Stars". In Baudrillard's words, "unreality no longer resides in the dream or fantasy, or in the beyond, but in the real’s hallucinatory resemblance to itself." As Baudrillard predicted, in a world of hyper-realism “an air of nondeliberate parody clings to everything." I wouldn't be surprised to see future politicians creating reality TV shows in an attempt to appear more "real" to their audiences. The dumbing down of America via reality TV. Hallucinatory - nightmarish - indeed.
Pictured: Jean Baudrillard, Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin

29 November, 2010

29 Nov - Art Star Couple @ LAUNCHPROJECTS

LAUNCHPROJECTS - This is the final week of our exhibition Total Disinformation Awareness by Toronto-based collaborative Jennifer Marman + Daniel Borins. The following is a review the show received by Malin Wilson-Powell for the Journal North.

Canadian duo stir things up with provocative installations

The smart art partners Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins are Canadians, those nice folks along our northern border. While they operate within the legacies of the same North American cultural pool as the U.S., they have a built-in distance on the fractured, rambunctious, deconstructing behemoth to their south. Their current installation “Total Disinformation Awareness” uses the surveillance and information technology network of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as their organizing springboard. As I understand it, in the realm of privacy, Canadians like Europeans, have been more proactive enacting laws to govern the use and disclosure of personal information. In the name of preventing terrorist threats, our government uses private contractors (yikes!) to “harvest” (what a creepy word!) and store personal information on humongous databases including our phone calls, credit card usage, medical records, e-mails, social networking habits and who-really-knows-whatelse, without permission, awareness, authorization or safeguards.
Two prominent works in this exhibition update the family hearth to our electronic age. Astutely exploiting the domestic character of LAUNCHPROJECTS, which is located in an old home on Palace Avenue, the Marman + Borins’ team designed computerized cartoon-y eyes they dub “Google,” using the name of a company so ubiquitous it has become a verb (as well as the business that capitulated to Chinese government censorship). Here “Google’s” oversize eyeballs track visitors in the gallery’s old drawing room space with a stuttering click, click, click. In addition to being ogled by idiot technology, the fireplace floor is filled with “Burning Books,” a component comprised of a tray of burnt books in front of simulated electronic flames on a kinetic screen. This clever configuration of being watched from above while books are being consumed below speaks to the invasion of our homes by services and equipment we have bought, paid for and willingly install in the most private chambers of our houses.
The walls of this altered living room are hung with pristinely produced and beautifully presented flat works that include a group of four “Search List” variations. There is a typewritten list of names that most certainly get you a place on the government list as a “person of interest.” Apparently, the artists began searching this alphabetical list and their computer crashed. There is also an “erased” list, a square Plexiglas box of shredded lists and a complete blacked-out solid graphite-on-paper square. Each is a knowing inside the art world nod to formalist modernist, minimalist and conceptual strategies.
An alcove is casually hung with black-and-white renderings of small-scale centrally placed images isolated on expanses of paper. These loose sheets of paper are predominately head shots of “Bin Laden”; anonymous masked figures; “Ratavan, Ratavan,” with the war criminal Radovan Karadzic drawn as a dashing younger man and as a white-bearded, spectacled fugitive; and, “Paralax View,” a posed Warren Beatty acting in the 1974
film about the Parallax Corp., an enterprise for political assassinations.
Through their years of collaboration Marman + Borins have often “quoted” and recontextualized Modernist paintings to highlight the gaps between the formalist vocabulary of a hermetic art world and the commercially designed and industrially built corporate world of popular culture. There are two versions of an iconic Frank Stella painting that was “Googled” and processed through the computer into very low-resolution square blocks of color –– “Pixilated RGB,” i.e., red, green and blue; and “Pixilated Gray Scale.” The images are then translated back into paint using acrylic-onboard, resulting in surprising wider variation of value in the black-and-white interpretation. It is their practice to use the aesthetics of the subjects they critique. Because they are done with such care it does not come across as parody, but as a combination of intellectual inquiry, pushing limits, including the viewer as performer and, also, homage.
The burnt book theme extends into the second gallery at LAUNCHPROJECTS along with new subject-objects. Toy-like “Evildoers,” rumply figures with battery-powered glowing red eyes come in white and black. The white model is a concession to local narratives and is called “Zozobra Remix.” Standing 15-inches high, these look like painted piles of excrement. One of them is placed in a faux cave constructed on-site from foam covered with an adobe coat and titled “Cave with Evildoer (after Magritte).” A favorite little construction is a teeny cave on a shelf that made me wonder whatever happened to Charles Simonds, a master of building miniature reconstructions of archeological sites.
Marman + Borins strike a note for creative collaborations in the lineage of the General Idea Media collective, Gilbert and George, Gilbert and Sullivan, Venturi and Brown. Both are Toronto natives, and they met in 1999 during their third year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She was a graduate from Western Ontario University in philosophy, and he received his bachelor’s degree in art history from McGill University. Anointed an “art star couple” by the Toronto Star in 2008, their relationship is now professional after starting out romantically. In the article they declared: “Any partnership is a fluid thing. But we‘ve always found facing the world is an incredibly easy thing when we do it together.”

They started coming to Santa Fe in 2005 as independent exhibitor/vendors in the Art Santa Fe fair, and have attracted an active group of patrons and promoters here. This is their first solo exhibition with LAUNCHPROJECTS and their provocative, savvy installation raises hope that they have blazed the trail for other deft and discriminating Toronto artists who like to stir things up.


For the Journal

24 November, 2010

24 Nov - Hubert's Museum + Diane Arbus

LAUNCHPROJECTS - I found myself engaged in a bizarre and fascinating conversation while visiting a friend's law firm this week. One of the law partners began to describe an experience in the 1960's at Hubert's Museum in New York City involving well heeled audiences, poisoned darts, and a man called Voodoo Jungle Snake Dancer. A living "museum of freaks," Hubert's was established in the 1930's in the basement of what was then an extraordinarily unsavory Times Square. Retired circus performers and all manner of misfits performed, danced, and showed their freakiness to paying crowds. They swallowed fire, shot darts at the audience, wrestled snakes, directed Flea Circus', and strutted in drag. Hubert's closed its doors in 1965 but, to quote Jerry Eberle of Booklist, "Hubert’s seedy past remains culturally significant because it offers a peephole view of a less-sanitized America. Also, it was one significant artist’s portal and first foray into the world of freaks—photographer Diane Arbus".

In 2003, a rare bookseller came across a trove of "lost" photographs by Diane Arbus shot at Huberts in the 60's. With a bit of research I found the book Hubert's Freaks: The Rare-Book Dealer, the Times Square Talker, and the Lost Photos of Diane Arbus. The book relays the true story of this man's discovery of the photographs, his quest for authentication by Arbus’ estate and auction houses, and his simultaneous descent into madness and institutionalization.

After reading the unhinged and bizarre details of Arbus' life in Patricia Bosworth's Diane Arbus: A Biography I am eager to know more about Hubert's Museum and Diane Arbus' close relationship to its performers. Hubert's Museum was the physical manifestation of an intriguing and complex artistic underbelly of mid-twentieth century New York that captivated Arbus throughout her life and prolific career. Hubert's was a venue that celebrated the deviant and marginalized, "a mecca for millions, from the high-toned, tuxedoed Broadway theatre crowds of the 1920's and 30's ... and immortalized by A.J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell, Diane Arbus, Lenny Bruce, Tiny Tim, Andy Kaufman and many others, Hubert's was a worldonto itself" (taken from Hubert's website).

22 November, 2010

22 November - Robert Motherwell: Open

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Robert Motherwell, who died in 1991, was the youngest member of the Abstract Expressionists who also included Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman. Robert Motherwell: Open, released this past April, is the first extensive examination of Motherwell's Open series. Motherwell began this series in 1967 and continued it throughout his life.

The Open paintings are fields of color marked with faint charcoal lines that seem to indicated a door or a window. These paintings are utterly pared down and minimal, and a significant rupture from his Elegies series, for which he is probably best known. This book contains previously unpublished paintings as well as works in public collections, this monograph--the most comprehensive and best-illustrated book on Motherwell currently in print is a gorgeous collection of some of Motherwell's most compelling and enigmatic pictures.

19 November, 2010

19 Nov - Roxy Paine at James Cohan Gallery

LAUNCHPROJECTS - The first time I experienced Roxy Paine's work was in 2003 when I was volunteering as a docent at SITE Santa Fe. His solo exhibition Second Nature featured computer-driven automated art making machines as well as his hand made mushrooms, poppies, and poison ivy. Smart and elegant, I immediately responded to his work at to this day it remains among my favorite SITE Santa Fe exhibitions (including Juan Munoz, Janine Antoni, Gary Simons, and the group show
Uneasy Space curated by former SITE curator Norah Kabat Dolan).

Paine's latest project at James Cohan Gallery, Distillation is in Paine's words (from a New York Times Review by Hillary M. Sheets) "a meditation on seeking purity, the pure essence of something, but at the same time the piece is very impure...It also relates to the way I’ve always thought about my process. How ideas come in coarse and ferment in the brain, and eventually are distilled out of that brew. It’s a map of the way humans constantly flit between different frames of mind and fields of knowledge.”

Also included in the show is an elaborate mushroom installation and drawings, paintings, and a maquette of the Distillation installation. A gorgeous and thoughtful exhibition - Roxy Paine (who incidentally attended the College of Santa Fe) continues to grow and expand his original lexicon that straddles the lines of art making and automation, beauty and industry, perfection and rupture.

Pictured: Roxy Paine in front of a mushroom installation at SITE Santa Fe, Distillation 2010.

17 November, 2010

17 Nov - Steve Martin "An Object of Beauty"

LAUNCHPROJECTS - I acquired a preview copy of An Object of Beauty, Steve Martin's latest novel that focuses on the New York contemporary art world. An avid contemporary art collector (he sold Steve Wynn the Roy Lichtenstein that just sold at auction for $43MM), Martin clearly has the inside scoop on the Manhattan art scene. He describes uptown, Chelsea, SoHo, the art market and all of the inner workings of auctions, dealing, and art intrigue. It is a fluffy and fictionalized version of Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World with sex, scandal, and intrigue thrown in to constitute a plot.

Throughout the novel, Martin lists every restaurant, hotel, bar, and gallery in which the art glitterati dwell. Ben and I laughed as characters had cocktails at Boulud, partied at the Carlisle Hotel, and flitted to Chelsea for openings at Gagosian, 303, and Andrea Rosen. By page 200 the novel started feeling more like a Zagat guide to the Upper East Side than an actual work of fiction - the next time friends request the NYC art experience we will earmark pages from Object of Beauty for a perfect week of extravagant meals, elegant settings, and posh eye candy.

The book is unquestionably a fun read. Martin's access is real and he provides an astute assessment of both the pre- and post- 911 art scene in Manhattan. The book is also tedious and the characters are better described as caricatures. The "heroine" of the story uses her golden hair, sharp wit, and easy sexuality to climb her way to the top of the art world, burning the "nice guy," the "sexy French collector," "the struggling SoHo artist," and the "strong, silent detective" to get what she wants and never look back. Surely Martin could have come up with less predictable stereotypes and a more interesting story line to weave into his insight and experience in the art world. This book made me want to write my own tale of the scandalous and fascinating world of contemporary art... pure fiction, of course.

Images: In an art conversation at The Getty, Object of Beauty, with former partner Cindy Sherman

16 November, 2010

16 November - Bruce Nauman at Sperone Westwater

LAUNCHPROJECTS - While in New York we attended a private reception at Sperone Westwater for the latest Bruce Nauman exhibition For Children/For Beginners. The brand new Bowery space is a 25 by 100 footprint that includes 12 by 20 foot “moving gallery” - a very large elevator - approved as an "amusement ride" by the city of New York. The space is chic and a bit daunting to behold and the clean white interior worked well for Nauman’s site-specific audio and video installations.
Nauman’s installations enveloped the gallery, a projection of his hands filled the massive front wall with his voice calling out commands for his fingers to follow. I loved that it was his voice this time that commanded the room and his movements. The moving gallery was comprised three precarious (yet surprisingly comfortable) stools with only an elevator operator and the sounds of Terry Allen following Nauman’s instructions to play on the piano. The dynamic cacophony moved us slowly to the third floor where a clean white room held an audio installation of voices repeating over and over For the Children.
Nauman’s work perpetually poses challenges, creates tension, and heightens awareness through disorientation, frustration, awe, confusion, anger, and humor. The new Sperone Westwater exhibition space engages audiences in a similar manner. We found ourselves uncomfortably laughing at the opening as we heard voices and saw glimpses of people moving throughout the space, yet bodies and voices disappeared as we arrived to each floor to meet them. The gallery unquestionably boasts a white-cube Nauman/Hitchcockian mystique yet inherent in its design is a sense of isolation and frustration – even the staff has to have a surveillance camera base operator to find one-another throughout the day.
Fitting that the space dedicated to Nauman’s ongoing explorations dealt with the same limitations of space, comfort, and possibility; but it begs the question how other artists – painters, for instance – might manage such a maze of levels, heights, and vertiginous spaces.
Pictured: The gallery from the street; In the elevator with Juliet Myers, the installation from the second floor balcony

15 November, 2010

15 Nov - Christies, Sotheby's, and Phillips

LAUNCHPROJECTS - We returned last night from New York where we attended auctions, Bruce Nauman's opening at the new Sperone Westwater Gallery, met with clients, gallerists, and saw many great exhibitions and works of art. All three auctions were exciting and indicated that the market is truly in recovery mode, the three auction houses combined came to the sum of $632 million, almost triple the $216 million a year ago.
Phillips de Pury was the first of the three auctions and made the most stunning increase in sales over it's results last year, increasing its total nearly 20-fold to $137 million total. The stunner of the auction was a black and white painting of Elizabeth Taylor by Andy Warhol fetching $63.4 million, the second-highest price ever for a Warhol at auction.
At Christies, Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 painting of a pouting redhead sold for an artist record $42.6 million - it seemed as though as buyers stuck predominantly with 1960s pop art. The evening was excruciating long (two hours, 75-lots), yet 93 percent of lots found buyers. At Sotheby's, a Warhol painting of a Coca- Cola bottle sold for $35.4 million yesterday, making the artist the star of New York’s contemporary art auctions across the board. As art advisor Mary Hoeveler told Lindsay Pollock reporting for Bloomberg, “Warhol has been the driver of the postwar- and contemporary-art market since the decline...The appetite at the very top seems insatiable. You can name your price.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of this week's auction was that much of the success of Phillips de Pury's auction can be attributed to collector and private dealer Philippe Segalot who curated “Carte Blanche,’’ a smaller section of the Phillips evening sale. Segalot stocked the sale with names he champions and lined up bidders in exchange for a cut of the buyer’s fees. With the success of the joint venture it seems likely that there will be more "curated" auctions in the future. Auction catalogs already look like exhibition catalogs with critical essays and art historical references - this new approach promises to further blur the boundaries of the gallery, museum, and auction worlds.
Pictured Above: Roy Lichtenstein's record busting "Ohhh...Alright..." at Christie's from seller Steve Wynn, Tobias Meyer with Warhol Coke bottle at Sotheby's press preview. © Photo: Lindsay Pollock