NYC: September 2009 Archives


This year's NURTUREart benefit will be on October 12th, at Claire Oliver in Chelsea. Barry and I will be there. It's one our favorite non-profits and one of the most fun events of the year (okay, they like us too, and the price is right). It's also a terrific opportunity to acquire some great stuff while at the same time supporting both emerging artists and emerging curators.

Raising money for the arts is obviously tougher than ever this year, but this event offers a precious opportunity to forget for a night that not everyone believes that great art can exist even when it hasn't been bought by the right people.

For the first time ever, all of the works which will be available at the benefit can be viewed on line. Have a sneak preview here, and join us on West 26th Street less on Día de la Raz.

Also, note that tomorrow, Wednesday will be the last day to take advantage of the early bird admission price, so hurry down to your local internet line.

Jeff Koons Ushering in Banality 1988 polychromed wood sculpture

Jeff Koons seems to have said it himself, years ago.*


Many of us have been worrying about the New Museum for some time, including fans who were around at the time of its founding, but I'm not talking about money worries. The institution was founded by Marcia Tucker in 1977, who conceived of it, in a description published on its own web site, as "a place with a scope lying somewhere between grassroots alternative spaces for contemporary art and major museums that show only artists of proven historical value."

The New York Times reports today that in February the zigzag Bowery tower will host a show of work from the collection of Dakis Joannou, one of its own trustees, chosen by Jeff Koons, who is a close friend of the Greek billionnaire. The article tell us that Joannou's collection includes, other than work by Jeff Koons, art by other celebrated artists, and mentions Maurizio Cattelan, Urs Fischer, Robert Gober, Chris Ofili, Charles Ray and Kiki Smith.


Is this even legal? I mean, this is supposedly a non-profit, and aside from the self-serving aspect, it looks a lot like insider-trading; I see lots of money flying around, and I'm wondering why we shouldn't ask, cui bono?

I don't think Marcia would consider a show of work by established artists, curated by one of the country's most-established artists, and selected exclusively from the collection of one of its own wealthiest, and fully-established trustees to fit the dream - or the reality - which once described the New Museum.

The outrage doesn't stop with the Joannou takeover. The same Times piece tells us that the cozy NM/Joannou/Koons project will "inaugurate an exhibition series called 'The Imaginary Museum,' which will showcase the best private collections of contemporary art from around the world that are rarely seen by the public."

Those contemplated museums may be imaginary, but the real institution we used to look to for excitement is fast disappearing, if not already gone.

If the New Museum had to fit something into their calendar at the last minute, why not pick some emerging curators to pick some emerging artists and fill all those floors with excited visitors who won't stop thinking and talking about art. (In fact, the directors should be doing this anyway, with deliberate planning, and not as a desperate solution.) The art they're inviting into Marcia's rooms belongs in the older museums she critiqued for their cowardice, and if big collectors can't yet part with their stashes, but still want a larger public to see it, let them invite that public into their homes, as so many have done for years in Miami, Berlin or elsewhere. If they're afraid the carpets will get messed up, tell them to rent a hall. We'll all come - after touring my fantasy show of emerging art at the New Museum.

ADDENDUM: I had originally wanted to make this a very short post, not trusting my anger, but now I can't resist linking to this publicity piece which appeared in Artforum last summer. I already knew about the Koons-styled Joannou yacht, but it was through seeing this beautiful, satirical flyer/poster piece by Pedro Velez that I was directed to the article which had inspired it. Velez says that we can each use his image as we please, adding: "it's a public piece of art..." Now there's a concept.

It helps to have seen the Artforum images first (if you have the stomach for them), but here's Velez's poster:

poster by Pedro Velez from "Dakis Joannou and the Yacht that Conquers" (2008)

I just had this thought: Maybe it's all a joke, that the whole project could be a way for Koons to have a laugh with us all. If so, I doubt the Museum is in on it.

[top image from joeren's blog; bottom image from the artist]


spotted as I left MoMA yesterday afternoon: the Presidential truck speeding east on 53rd Street with the Obama party securely ensconced, heading back to the Waldorf from the David Letterman taping

At the UN climate summit today, Obama told the General Assembly that the U.S. is "determined to act" on climate change. Last night at home, in an unplanned salute to the summit, Barry and I watched "Save the Green Planet".

Right now I'm thinking that while we were enjoying that film we probably contributed as much toward toward averting the worst fate of the earth as anything promised by our President.

That just doesn't make me feel so good, so I hope I'm wrong.

We've been on a Korean film binge lately, all knockouts, and most by the director Bong Joon-ho. Although we were unprepared for the violence in Joon-Hwan Jang's hybrid comedy/drama/horror/sci-fi/thriller, we ended up watching most of the DVD's long list of extra features and I still have "Jigureul jikyeora!" rolling around inside my head.


I don't know whether I was more struck by the fact that the High Line was almost deserted yesterday (on a Saturday!) or that it was suddenly looking very autumn-ish as we introduced it to some visitors yesterday. Of course it had been raining all day, and it is mid-September.

Dennis Klingensmith of Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, Pa., prepares to haul away a beam that will become part of a memorial. Recipients of the wreckage pay for transporting it. - NYTimes caption

Ludicrous or baleful? The Port Authority is giving away WTC junk (in both senses) more or less in our name.

As the anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, approaches on Friday, pieces of the World Trade Center rubble from that day have never been more accessible. A new campaign is under way to speed up the process and increase the volume of giving away pieces of steel big and small from the debris.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the steel, will invite police and fire departments and mayors and other leaders of cities and towns throughout the country to ask for pieces for memorials.

When I looked at the article on the front page of the NYTimes this morning my first response was, "this is still going on? I'd thought we were over that, especially considering how well our response to 9/11 had gone." I turned to Barry and said, "we're going to have jingoistic shrines made of crushed ambulances and twisted steel columns in every town in the country - in perpetuity", and he added, "to remind us that Saddam Hussein will not get away with it, and that the fight for cheap oil will never end".

[image by Michael Nagle from The New York Times]



This time it wasn't an eruv, for the line enclosed nothing and went nowhere - nowhere, that is, but diagonally across 23rd Street. It started high up the lamppost in front of the Gotham Comedy Club and ended, at that same height, on the one standing outside the Muhlenberg Branch Library. There was a slight downward bow all along the way, but even the tallest trucks managed to avoid it while I was there.

It was only an inch or so wide, but it was a very bright day-glow orange-pink color. I spotted it as soon as I started to cross the street a couple hundred feet west. At first I thought some fool had stung an electrical cord across the street, and then I noticed it was just tape.

I still don't know who did it (or how). I see a part of Sam Bassett's work on the sidewalk shed across the street in the first photo above and there may be some correspondence in the lines of the work he designates on his site as sculpture and the single line of tape linking the two sides of the street, but I've not usually excited by the former and I'm much taken by the latter. I think it's pretty cool, for its extraordinary minimalism, although it occupies and addresses a very large public space. It's also (almost) intrusive and (almost) invisible at the same time. Is it a nod or a bow to community?

While I was looking into the identity of the artist, Vartanian wrote back that for him part of the appeal of the image I showed him is that it is "location conscious".

Elbow-Toe Divine Hammer 2009

I spotted this curious image on my way to the Union Square Greenmarket this afternoon. It appears to be a monkish hare coupling with another (boy?) hare in the middle of some scattered groceries. It's about two feet wide and the medium is that of a tinted b&w sticker attached to the concrete base of a lamp pole at the northwest corner of the square. I know I should recognize the indecorous artist, but I don't.

UPDATE: Hrag Vartanian infoms me the artist is Elbow-Toe, and that the Wooster Collective has a post about the piece here, indicating that its inspiration is Rembrandt's "The Monk in the Cornfield" (with farmer or milkmaid?)

An image of another, more sylvan, installation, this one in Brooklyn, appears on myloveforyou.


Klaus von Nichtssagend is putting on a show tonight, three in fact. Actually the show is being mounted by Ryan McNamara and "his accomplished troupe of actors, singers and dancers", in the gallery's description. They will be describing the story behind the legendary Klaus von Nichtssagend, answering the questions, "Why did he open this space? And why are we all singing?", in "Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical".

But all three performances, at 7, 8 and 9 tonight in Williamsburg, are already sold out (actually, they are free), so unless you've already reserved, you're out of luck. For fans of the growing phenomenon of arts performance, Jacques Vidal and Noel Anderson offer an alternative in Chelsea. Unfortunately it's going to be impossible to make both.

We're definitely in the midst of a period of transition in the visual arts, and it's only partly related to the economy going belly up. Plenty of institutions have survived, and there probably aren't a lot more people creating things this year than the last, but artists aren't waiting for galleries, museums or curators to find them and let them in.

They are creating art which is not just composed of objects - or even mere concepts. I don't know what to call it but it's not just "performance art", because while it owes much to the breakthrough phenomenon associated with the 1960s, it often goes much further. It's definitely not minimal; it loves props; it's virtually a given that recycling of some kind is involved; it will go almost anywhere to put on a show; it sometimes involves large numbers of people who may not be aware of their participation; it doesn't mind leaving behind some objects which, yes, can treated as commodities (product); and it almost always incorporates real humor, even riotous fun. This time around the younger artists are also a much larger genuine community, and they have killer communication tools.

Most lovely for all of us, as in the 60s, this art is free - in every respect.

I love it. I love the energy, the intelligence, the courage, and the infectious wit. I love the community. We may only be passing through a cultural corridor; what will follow is unimaginable to us today, but in the meantime we have these shows - and their enigmatic constructions and relics, the remnants, (and their documentation on gazillions of tiny cameras) to guide us.

[image from Klaus]

This page is an archive of entries in the NYC category from September 2009.

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