Monday, April April 13, 2009
The economic downturn is taking its toll on Soho. Empty storefronts are popping up left and right and fewer shoppers schlepping fancy boutique bags. On a recent stroll along Greene Street new tags reflect the swing with hero-bashing replacing hero-worship. The latest Supreme/Lou Reed poster campaign shot by Terry Richardson and plastered all over downtown is being tagged to death by various hands crucifying the legendary wordsmith with all sorts of nasty jabs. Kate Moss for TopShop is taking a beating too and Haculla appears to be having a field day de-facing Dan Smith, the original guitar-hero.
Artist and filmmaker Carter presented his latest film, Erased James Franco (2008) at MOMA last night. The 65-minute color film made at Yvon Lambert Paris in July 2008 (Lambert also produced the film) stars the actor James Franco in a solo performance. Erased James Franco reenacts if you will the intellectual antic of Robert Rauschenberg’s legendary 1953 drawing Erased de Kooning. The program notes describe the film as a study of the craft of acting and of the fracturing—and reconstitution—of narrative and identify. In preparing the film, Carter approached Franco (who collects Carter’s work) about reenacting scenes from previous films he’s appeared in but to replay the scenes with restraint. Carter directs Franco to withhold his natural ability to act, persuading the actor to give 10%, 50% max, to each scene so not to delve too deeply into any one character. Truly an actor’s actor, Franco pulls it off with great style and wit. It’s kind of a masterpiece.
This past Thursday, the west side of Lafayette Street between Houston and Prince was heaving with hardcore street skaters, downtown hipsters, and quite a few art world insiders, some who got on line early in the morning and waited until Supreme threw it’s gate up at 11 to unveil their limited edition Damien Hirst skateboard decks laminated with his classic Spin paintings. The coveted yellow deck was the first to sell out and the entire edition was gone before happy hour. Supreme held strong to the one-to-a-customer policy and wouldn’t confirm the size of the edition. The decks retailed for $88+tax. If you missed the boat on Thursday some are already flipping on eBay from upwards of $600. www.supremenewyork.com
February ended in New York with a major cold snap and some kick-ass shows. ADAA: The Art Show opened with a gala benefiting the Henry Street Settlement at the Park Avenue Armory on February 18th. It was a very dressy affair with some very dressed-up booths containing choice modern and contemporary artworks. A fresh new work by Laura Owens at GBE was a showstopper as was Peter Freeman’s booth kitted out with new blue Blah paintings by Mel Bochner.
The following evening Susan Rothenberg opened a solo show at Sperone Westwater of paintings composed of dismembered body forms, a departure for Rothenberg whose work usually deals with her natural surroundings in the New Mexico desert.
A few blocks away on 19th Street throngs of people pushed into the David Zwirner Gallery to view some 10 new paintings by Lisa Yuskavage, mostly large-scale oils. Like Rothenberg her work contains the human form though not dismembered but anatomically distorted. http://www.davidzwirner.com/exhibitions/179/selected_works.htm
Across the street at The Kitchen two-time Bessie winner Jodi Melnick presented two new works. Fanfare in collaboration with video-artist Burt Barr with a stunning cameo by former Merce Cunningham dancer, Dennis O’Connor and sound design by Joel Mellin. The second piece SuedeHead, a diaristic meander through Melnick’s recent bouts with romance and tragedy. Supported by downtown dance favorites Vicky Shick and Juliette Mapp, the work had a measured velocity that evoked passion, humor, love, fear and grief. A heart-wrenching work of art, Melnick poured out her soul to an audience that included many of her peers--some of the dance world’s finest: Elizabeth Streb, Ralph Lemon, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Trisha Brown, and Joseph Lennon. Claudia LaRocco’s stellar review in the New York Times summed it up best.
On Friday night we L-trained it to Williamsburg to catch new-comer, the Danish artist Thomas Ovlisen’s solo exhibition at Klaus Gallery. A mix of artists, fashion designers, and culture-vultures (and Ovlisen’s four young children) heaped the right dose of Friday night energy onto the space. Ovlisen showed six new works, some wall mounted and others freestanding. They were all composed of autolacquer and enamel on polystyrene and had a hip industrial vibe.
And the vibe was art world local at Rental Gallery on the Lower East Side Saturday night where Mesler&Hug + Cardenas Bellanger presented new work by LA-artist Henry Taylor. Big figurative oil paintings done in a naïve style dominated the space and a stack piece largely made-up of branded beer and liquor boxes represented hierarchy in the hood. The works are happening to quote the press release.
New exhibitions open in the regions leaving a trail emblazoned with icons.
It was all about Marilyn at Moore College of Art & Design in Philly where New York artist, Devon Dikeou unveiled a multi-media installation: Marilyn Monroe Wanted to be Buried in Pucci at Moore’s Gallery on Race. A whole host of students and Philly’s Center City art crowd turned up for the preview to feel the magic, trying on a diamond Eternity band Tiffany & Co resurrected from their archive that passed as the original Joe DiMaggio gave to Marilyn on their marriage.
Further North in the Bay State, a ruckus kicked up at the super-swank Diller & Scofido-desgined ICA on Boston’s waterfront. A rush of skateboarders, artists, critics, DJs and VIPs waived their invitation cards crossing the velvet ropes to celebrate Shepard Fairey: Supply & Demand, a 20-year survey guest curated by San Diego transplant Pedro Alonzo. An open bar jammed in the lobby while upstairs, guards controlled the crowds letting small groups in at a time to check out the show, a retrospective of Fairey’s work organized thematically throughout the galleries.
Propaganda, Portraiture and Hierarchies in Power explore Fairy’s critical thinking into advertising, symbols of wealth, and heroes that surround our daily life. Warhol, Hendrix, and Fairey’s beloved Punk Rock legends: Joe Strummer; Sid Vicious, and Joey Ramone dress up the pristine white walls in rooms labeled Music and Stylized, exploring the mash-up of popular culture, music and fine art. A perfect example of Fairey’s flair for image-sampling and wordplay is Marilyn Warhol, 2000 a portrait of Andre the Giant (Fairey’s signature icon) in drag as Shot Orange Marilyn, 1964 the famous Warhol silkscreen portrait of Marilyn Monroe that suffered a bullet hole in 1968 from shots fired by Valerie Solanas at Andy Warhol in the Warhol Factory.
Later in the evening, it was standing room only in the ICA’s theater where Alonzo took the stage with Fairey for what was an informal chat about Fairey’s career as a street artist. Watch out Charlie Rose, Alonzo’s cool West Coast style captivated the audience when he connected with Fairey about how it all started 20 years ago as a student in nearby Rhode Island at RISD.
On the flight from Boston to The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh it seemed apropos that JetBlue was running Times on Air Screen Tests (i.e. The New York Times). Vaguely interesting documentary-styled profiles on movie stars like Tom Cruise and Roger Moore.
Hardly a primer to the crowd-pleasing performance that was in full swing at The Andy Warhol Museum where Warhol living legend, Brigid Berlin, reclined on a sofa and held court in the center gallery on the 3d floor with newly-appointed curator, Eric Shiner, reminiscing the good old days at The Factory and her Cockbooks that are on view now at the Museum in an exhibition called Breaking News! Brigid Berlin, A Retrospective. The show also includes Berlin’s needlepoint pillows of New York Post headlines. Talk about icons—the one titled Well Hung, 2008 is a meticulously stitched Post-like headline that reads: WELL HUNG Unveiled: Bubba’s hip new portrait.
In the upper galleries, Shiner’s ambitious debut, the warhol: THE END has more than 100 works by Warhol, his contemporaries and emerging international artists that analyzes art in our troubled times. Given the current economic plight it brings home the Warhol notion that art is commerce and commerce is an art. http://www.warhol.org/
Save the best for last, a pilgrimage to Warhol’s grave in St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, PA, just outside of Pittsburgh. It’s monumental Warhol.