Saturday, November 24, 2012

Art News

By Charles Kessler

Sorry for the blogging hiatus — Hurricane Sandy has taken up a lot of my energies both physically and mentally. I’m thankful the storm didn’t affect my property, but friends and neighbors here in Jersey City, being so close to the Hudson River, were terribly impacted — some still have no power. Some have no homes.
Volunteers helping to clean up in Downtown Jersey City
I’ve always felt that the Historic Downtown section of Jersey City, where my wife and I have lived for 30 years, is like a small town in a large city next to a giant metropolis. Well, the small town caring and neighborliness exhibited during and after the hurricane has shown this to be the case in spades. And the volunteer efforts have been awe-inspiring. (Go to if you'd like to volunteer or contribute.)
The Raving Jaynes, Amy Larimer and Jamie Graham, Your Move Modern Dance Festival, Jersey City.
One of the many uplifting events that occured in Jersey City during the worst of all this was Your Move, a modern dance festival that took place at Art House Productions. In spite of the winds, flooding, lack of power, transportation difficulties, and the grand finale, a nor'easter that left 6" of snow, the co-producers Avianna Perez, Morgan Hille Refakis and Meagan Woods (all superb dancers and choreographers themselves) were able to pull off this four-day event. And it was a major event indeed, involving 18 choreographers and about 50 dancers from all over the area, some from as far as Philadelphia. This was the third year of this festival, and not only were the dances as outstanding as  I’ve come to expect, but the festival provided the relief and joy we so desperately needed.

Hurricane Sandy cleanup, 27th Street west of Eleventh Avenue, Chelsea.
The Chelsea Gallery District also suffered heavy damage. Thursday evenings is when Chelsea is usually packed with people going to art openings, but walking around Chelsea last week was a sad, disturbing and surreal experience. Mixed in with a small and somber art crowd were workers in white hazmat suits and respirators cleaning out basement and ground-floor spaces. It was dark because many street lights were still out, and street-level galleries that would ordinarily be lit up were closed or undergoing repairs. Dumpsters and dumpster-sized, noisy generators were everywhere, and debris from flood damage was piled high along the sidewalks.
22nd Street, Chelsea.
It’s difficult to see how the smaller, more marginal (and often the most vital) galleries will be able to recover. At minimum, flooring and drywall will need to be replaced, and in many cases expensive hazardous waste cleanup will need to be done; plus there is the the loss of records (Eyebeam lost most of their archives). Worst of all, a lot of art was damaged, and I suspect most of it was uninsured. And after all that, there's a good chance insurance rates will increase to the point where it will be impossible for small galleries to survive. You can read more about it here and here.

Bushwick wasn't much affected by Hurricane Sandy, and once transportation was restored to the area (surprisingly quickly) it was pretty much business as usual. Several galleries in 56 Bogart happen to be showing particularly handsome art: Momenta Art and Studio10 have striking video installations by Ira Eduardovna and Richard Garet respectively; THEODORE:Art is showing ravishing large drawings by the talented Juliette Losq; and Slag has seductive, tactile wood sculptures by Mark Lawrence. It seems handsome has become the new intimate.

Two new galleries opened in Bushwick. The hyperkinetic and innovative artist/gallerist Peter Hopkins left Bogart Salon and started another gallery, ArtHelix (no website yet). It is currently located at 102 Ingraham Street, a large space across from Brooklyn Fireproof. Over the weekend the poet Barry Duncan created palindromes based on the names of people coming into the gallery.

Ted Hovivian, the owner of 56 Bogart, the building housing the Bogart Salon, announced that the Bogart Salon will remain, but the “focus of the Salon will be redirected, and it will be reformatted” — whatever that means.

Another new gallery I have high hopes for is Auxiliary Projects. It is run by two well-known multidisciplinary artists, Jennifer Dalton (who shows with the Winkleman Gallery) and Jennifer McCoy (who has a show now at Postmasters). They will be working with various artists to offer small, hand-made, unique works that can be sold for under $300 (see photo below for an example), with the worthy aim of reaching out to people that love art but can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars.
James Huang, Gospel of Skills - Camper, 2012, wood, mahogany, basswood, aluminum, 7 blade, 4 x 4 x 1 inches. $225 at Auxilliary Projects.
Their tiny space (about 200 SF) is located at 2 St. Nicholas Avenue on the corner of Jefferson Street, and it’s open Saturday and Sunday from 1pm - 6pm, and by appointment. Until they get their intercom working, call (917) 805-7710 to be let in. It’s worth stopping by just to talk to these smart and enthusiastic women.

According to the blog Getty Iris, SCI-Arc, the southern California architecture school, has put their entire archive online. The easily searchable archive is composed of, among other things, audio and video recordings of interviews, symposia, performances and discussions from as far back as the 1970s. There are videos of Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss and Pritzker Prize winners, including Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas.  Also included are artists such as David Hockney, Robert Irwin, Mike Kelley and Diana Thater; filmmakers; critics; theorists; and cultural historians such as Paul Goldberger, Dave Hickey and Greil Marcus.

The Metropolitan Museum placed 600 of its catalogs and bulletins online, including 368 out-of-print ones. They are free and can be searched by title, keyword, publication type, theme or collection. Click here for the site.

This isn’t a new online resource, but Google Art Project is growing and becoming more useful. They now have high resolution images of more than 32,000 works from 151 museums and arts organizations worldwide. In addition,  Google Indoor Maps now provides floor plans for more than 30 museums in the United States including all the Smithsonian museums, The Art Institute of Chicago, The deYoung Museum and dozens more worldwide.

Jackie Wullschlager has a rare interview with the reclusive artist Frank Auerbach in the Financial Times.
 “This will be the most uncomfortable lunch you’ve ever done” said Auerbach to the interviewer.

"International Art English" by Alix Rule and David Levine in Triple Canopy is an intelligent analysis of international art jargon.

"The State of Political Art After a Year of Protest Movements" by Martha Schwendener in the Village Voice:
"Is contemporary art politically useless? Does it serve only as a bystander, offering smart academic responses—or worse, packaging revolution into edgier-than-average commodities to sell to the very elites that these movements challenged? Does art lay the ground for future insurrections, or merely undergird a whole system of capitalist thought and institutions that have to be changed before anything else can change?"
Kyle Gallup tipped me off to "Pondering ‘Pissarro’s People’" by Dana Gordon in The Jerusalem Post:
"How much was it owing to anti-Semitism that Pissarro was essentially left out of the canonical development of modern art, though he was one of its main progenitors? Was he the Moses of modernism who led his colleagues to the promised land, but was not allowed in?"
The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones, reviewing the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington (until January 13th), asks: “Was Roy Lichtenstein a great modern artist or a one-trick wonder?”

Then there is this article: “10 reasons not to write about the art market” by Sarah Thornton. Thornton, who wrote the perceptive book Seven Days in the Art World, now declares the subject is too corrupt to write about. (The article seems to have disappeared from the web, but I managed to download it before it was pulled.) Here are her section titles for each of her reasons:
1. It gives too much exposure to artists who attain high prices.
2. It enables manipulators to publicize the artists whose prices they spike at auctions.
3. It never seems to lead to regulation.
4. The most interesting stories are libelous.
5. Oligarchs and dictators are not cool.
6. Writing about the art market is painfully repetitive.
7. People send you unbelievably stupid press releases.
8. It implies that money is the most important thing about art.
9. It amplifies the influence of the art market.
10. The pay is appalling.

Wade Guyton at the Whitney (until January 13th).
This show has been getting raves, for example from Roberta Smith at the Times and John Yau in Hyperallegic. And I can understand why — this is clever, imposing and tasteful art. But I have misgivings, and since Guyton’s work plays into one of my pet peeves, I’d like to comment.
Wade Guyton, Untitled, 2010, Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen, 84 × 69 inches. Collection of the artist. © Wade Guyton. Photograph by Lamay Photo.
I HATE it when artists make art that's ostensibly abstract and back it up with some conceptual schpeel or some other shtick. Let the work stand on its own and take responsibility for it. And I find it especially irritating when the work is propped up by ideas as cute, and ultimately as meaningless, as these are. ... There — I feel better!

Here are a couple of exhibitions worth seeing that one could easily over-look. Don't.

Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper from the 1940s, New York Studio School, curated by Karen Wilkin (until  January 5, 2013). The drawings in this exhibition demonstrate Hofmann's inventiveness and range more than any exhibition of his paintings I ever saw; and it strongly makes the case for him as one of the seminal Abstract Expressionists.

To go along with the exhibition, Wilkin organized yet another excellent panel discussion a couple of weeks ago. It was with artists Walter Darby Bannard and Frank Stella, and art historians William Agee and Karen Wilkin. The panel agreed that Hofmann should be more generally acknowledged as one of the great Abstract Expressionists. They speculated that he might be under-appreciated because he was a generation older than the other artists, he didn't hang out and fight with them in bars, and he was basically a cheerful person — not as romantically dramatic and intense as say Pollock and Still.

The New York Studio School has an excellent series of free lectures and panel discussions — check here for details.
Elisa D'Arrigo, Dyad (15), 2012, glazed ceramics, 9 ½ x 12 x 7 inches (Elizabeth Harris Gallery).
Elisa D’Arrigo at Elizabeth Harris (until December 22nd).
I know I’m a sucker for ceramics, but this is an especially good show. The work has the quirky biomorphism, rich resonant color and lush surfaces of Ken Price’s ceramics — no small achievement. But in addition, the sculptures seem simultaneously hard and soft; and there's an uncanny suggestion of raw and inflamed flesh in the cracks and crevasses.


Kyle Gallup said...

Charles, thank you for this comprehensive round-up. There are many links for me to follow and I look forward to reading the full pieces.

Like you, I found the Hofmann show very rewarding. Each drawing/painting on paper explored different ideas about drawing and abstraction. It was also nice that the catalog was affordable at $2.00! Karen Wilkin's curated exhibitions and writing have always been important for me. I continue to read and look at Wilkin's and Lewis Kachur's book, "The Drawings of Stuart Davis--The Amazing Continuity."
I also loved Elisa D'arrigo's show. The contrast between the organic shapes and textures with the variety of playful color was surprising and fun. Her expert manipulation of the clay and glazes was very satisfying.

Charles Kessler said...

You saw them both!! You are too much!

Jeffrey Collins said...

Charles. Wish I knew you were going to be at the Hofmann show. I would have introduced myself.


Charles Kessler said...

So what did you think of the panel discussion? Where you there?