Have Your Cake: Armory 2011

Armory 2011Not just to be traditional in hating the big ones, but just to be hands down honest, I have to say that the 2011 Armory show was pretty dull going. And that, despite Marjorie Strider becoming the new Tom Wesselmann even while the old Tom Wesselmann is still squeaking out dozens of tiny tin farts in the form of those homely little steelcuts.

I didn’t really hate Strider so much before I saw her tryptich and then wandered through a forest of Mel Ramos while contemplating the sad little Wesselmanns that were keeping lonely vigil on narrow, barely examined walls. The thing about Strider is that she’s on a tribute bandwagon but all I see when I look at her vapid models is the lack of design, something Wesselmann had going in spades. Mel’s just a boner machine and that’s swell, but, dare I ask, is it STILL art? I mean, at best this sort of thing was sort of politically, and socially clever, a way of  “having your cake and eating it too” — but now, it’s just “eating it.”


A 1976 Tom Wesselmann, Study for Bedroom Face at Hollis Taggart Galleries. Not that I would ever have dreamed of saying this, but really, for a bit of hammer over the head symbolism and some swell Matisse-like P&D appeal, Wesselmann had it. Photo courtesy of Hollis Taggart Galleries

Marjorie Strider, the new Wesselmann: Green Tryptych at Hollis Taggart. Dumb stuff. Photo Courtesy Hollis Taggart Galleries

 

This lovely deeply textural 1979 Pousette Dart, Red Oasis, also courtesy Hollis Taggart Galleries

Theme #2 this year was TEXTURE, with a good deal of the newer work being so irresistable to touch that there were signs warning one not to. I found that most of my photos of these works were awful, so I snagged this one, below, from the Galerie Thomas site.

A continued respect for Pousette Dart and Gerhard Richter were also indicative that a love of texture may be ongoing trend. So Holis Taggart had Strider, but also a Pousette Dart room as well, and it was salon full of those cakey little bakeys, old and new, most of them petite (oldies cranking out tiny newies was a subtheme, I must say, with many sub-sized John Chamberlains and not a few teensy Stellas clinging to the walls like exotic bugs).

Theme #3 would be Tricky Optics: A lot of wires and tubes played tricks on my eyes, (and my horrid camera), there were many lovely pieces of drilled and molded acrylic, and acrylic layered on canvas and also on enamel… chunky colorful and textural, these layered works were just about the only pieces that were flattered by the awful lighting and industrial feel of the Armory.

Marta Chilindron, Fire, 2010 at Cecillia De Torres, LTD.

The cleverest work I saw was also the dullest. It attracted a good deal of attention due to Juan Genoves’ use of paint as a bas relief medium, creating weensy beensy people out of charming colored blobs. Very dear and eye-catching, but ultimately pointless.

 

Juan Genoves' Little Paint-built peeps climb on the canvas of Magma, 2009 at Marlborough

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Christie’s Mysterious New Blood

Courtesy Christie's, via ArtInfo.com Steven Pleshette Murphy: Christie's 1st American born CEO

Christie’s recent top management shuffle has inspired a good deal of speculation regarding the strategic intentions of owners, François Pinault and his investment firm, Groupe Artemis SA.  Does Artemis, which acquired the auction house in 1999 for $1.2 billion have secret plans to sell in the near future?

Sprung upon with announcements of a new CEO, Steven Pleshette Murphy, formerly president and CEO of Rodale publishing, and the promotion of former CEO, Edward Doleman to chairman, Christie’s execs can’t help but wonder what to expect next.

Kept secret until its announcement via a Sept. 20th e-mail to worldwide staff, the news apparently caused quite a shake up, not only because it was so sudden and unanticipated, but also because Murphy was chosen over seemingly more likely candidates like Marc Porter, the chairman of Christie’s America, and François Curiel, president of Christie’s Asia.

Artemis, meantime, denies all rumors of an impending sale, claiming it holds long-term plans for Christie’s which is, they say, one of their “strategic assets,” producing sales of $2.3 billion in the first half of 2010.

However, asked by ArtInfo’s Judd Tully about whether Christie’s has any more surprises in store, Murphy, Christie’s very first American born CEO, said, “There will be more to say in a few months.”

BITS: Art for Art’s Sake and Art for Espianage

THE UNDERBELLY PROJECT

This past week, Vandalog,  and The New York Times (amongst very few others) reported on a very elite art viewing experience. This was not for folks with paddles, not for Armani-suited champagne-sippers, and not even for the hippest hipsters, consulting Flavor Pill and attending the latest Winkle and Balktick events.

TrustoCorp Photo by RJ Rushmore. See more thorough coverage of this story and lots of amazing photos by Mr. Rushmore, Workhorse, and PAC on the Vandalog site.

Nope. This was for a select group of intrepid insiders. Journalists, who were, by invitation only, escorted into the unhallowed depths of our unfair city to view an art show that was created soley for, and in tribute to, art itself.

Continue reading “BITS: Art for Art’s Sake and Art for Espianage”

Feel Free to Match the Couch: A Guide to Buying Art Online

Popping up, all over the internet, like bald little mushroom heads in the corner of an overgrown garden, are dozens of buy-art-online sites. Their spores are in the air. There’s a new one every day, with offerings that cover the whole gamut of affordability, quality and snob appeal.

It’s time to match the couch, my friends — shamelessly, and in the privacy of your own homes; the way you shop for porn.

BZA CO

Continue reading “Feel Free to Match the Couch: A Guide to Buying Art Online”

Reducing Collection, Chagall, “Paris Red Sun”

Chagall Red Sun Over Paris
Marc Chagall, Red Sun Over Paris

The ad, at the back of this Summer 2010 Art News, was placed with two others under the heading ART FOR SALE.

But it stood out. It was not for Limited Edition serial artwork, nor was it placed by an artist selling their own landscapes.

It was an ad for several paintings, some of them by brand name artists: and all listed with very specific, oddly low, prices, like something you’d see on Craig’s List or EBay, only this Ed Sanders guy was selling Chagall and Miro. He was asking directly for “best offer over $50,000,” and flat out naming prices like $4,500 for Norman Rockwell’s “Football Hero”.

So I called him.

Continue reading “Reducing Collection, Chagall, “Paris Red Sun””

ARTrocities: Timeline of the Bad and the Ugly

1961 Piero Manzoni: The Artist’s Shit: the artist sells, essentially, his “shit” in limited edition cans. We all have our favorites: this one’s a favorite of mine.

Of the many things I love about this piece, the most important is that it is the baldest, most hideously obscene insult that has ever been delivered by a piece of art.  It falls within a great tradition of biting the hand that feeds, and the subset of that, insulting the audience.

pieromanzoni_merda d'artista
Mr. Manzoni's Doodies, Apparently

1971 Chris Burden Shoot: A documented performance wherein the artist has his friend shoot him in the arm. You know you love it.

1972 Vito Acconci: Seedbed: A performance / installation wherein Mr. Acconci whispers not-so-sweet somethings while jerking off under the floorboards at the Sonnabend Gallery. How do we know he was really pulling it? Well, there are some pix…

vito_acconci_seedbed_1972
Vito Not Barry White

Continue reading “ARTrocities: Timeline of the Bad and the Ugly”

Banksy Banks on Mystery (and fails?)

Noir

I recently posted two stories about Exit Through the Gift Shop , a documentary/comedy by Banksy, which claims to be a true story about a star-struck street art fan with a video camera, who becomes transformed into an “artist” himself through the magic of Banksy.

I laid bare my doubts about the integrity of the storyline in the movie: I speculated that it contained a clever mixture of truth and fiction which could not easily be teased out. I also said that, no matter the degree of fiction, the basic message is that art buyers exit through the gift shop — they buy in to a genre or a new thing or provenance and what they don’t do, is look for quality, take inventory, make critical decisions.

But there is one claim I made that I regret: I stated that anyone who continues to wonder about the degree of fiction, is missing the point.

Since then, I have changed my mind. We are looking for all out artistry, aren’t we? Don’t we want to know just how much of Mr. Brainwash‘s huge LA extravaganza, Life is Beautiful, and his subsequent New York show, ICONS,  were orchestrated by Banksy? And don’t we want to know how much of the Exit Through the Gift Shop story line is true and just how much ingenuity went into making the rest of the story come to life?

Don’t we want to discover a big clever net of contrivances?

Read on: the mystery unravels

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