Monday, June 30, 2014

Celebrity Art World

Sooo, I saw the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney this past week and I was going to write about it but then I thought, ‘why write about this when there is so many other people writing about it?’ Also, much of the work on view I had previously seen at his shows in Frankfurt, which to me, was a better incarnation of his work.

Anyways…the Koons hullaballoo has triggered another train of thought in my brain and that is of art and celebrity.  Koons’ work deals a lot with these ideas and he himself is probably the art world’s number one celebrity.  His ‘art world’ celebrity status is so large that he is hedging on being an actual ‘celebrity’ on par with music and movie stars.  The art world is different in its magnitude and creation of celebrity but as the rich get richer the art world has been very quick to pick up the pace and play ball in the celebrity leagues. 

Forever there has been/will be a mix and mingle of the ‘creative’ worlds but these days it seems to be a lot more fluff and strut then generative content and confluence.  Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, Brad Pitt, Legolas guy from Lord of the Rings and many more are buying up “fine art” and being star gazed upon at openings and VIP things which is surely a mark of ‘something’ but to me is a whole lot of ‘are you serious?’ frowny face.  Blah, blah, blah, here I go again about the art money thing but let’s refocus.

Thinking about all this; art, celebrity, stardom, fandom; I started to dream up bio-pics and docu-dramas for artists/art world people, and imagined who would play who.  I enjoyed thinking about this so much that I have complied the below to share with you all.

P.S. This might be the most deranged post I have done to date but hey, one life to live right?! 

Ai Weiwei played by Danny Masterson
A bit of a stretch I know but just think these words while you think about it: Relevance, Belly, Soft Bro, Dude Bro, Meh Bro. 

Ana Mendieta played by Eva Longoria 
I think this could work and it would introduce Ana's life/work for a whole set of young ladies especially Latinas

Andrea Rosen played by Chloe Sevigny
That hair.  Plus they both have this party/dirty/cool/crazy thing going on.  Also, they are very New York. 

Barbara Gladstone played by Catherine Keener
Do you love?! Yes I love. 

Beatrix Ruff played by Isabella Rossellini
Bad ass brainy beauties with boy cuts. 

Blinky Palermo played by Keanu Reeves
Sorta hate to do it to Blinky since Keanu is not what I think the most complex thespian but hey, Blinky didn't give us too much to work with re: his life and Keanu can just keep us staring without stringing sentances. 

Cindy Sherman played by Meryl Streep

Ver-sa-tile, ver-sa-tile, ver-sa-tile.

David Zwirner played by Bill Pullman

As powerful as Zwirner is in the art world, I can't help thinking of him as a sexy dad. Moop. 

Eva Hesse played by Winona Ryder
Dark beauty, sad girl, angst.

Gavin Brown played by Mark Ruffalo

Glenn Ligon played by Idris Elba
Hollywood, like the art world, (like everything else in USA) only has so much room for people of color.  Thank goodness there are a few shining stars in both.

Hans Ulrich Obrist played by Woody Harelson
Because THAT.  Would be amazing.

Jeff Koons played by Martin Short   

Does anyone else think Jeff Koons seems like a total goofball but also maybe cries in a closet sometimes?

Jerry Saltz played by Larry David
Because THAT would be annoying yet funny. 

Kara Walker played by Lupita Nyong'o


Klaus Biesenbach played by evil guy from Aeon Flux 

Larry Gagosian played by Mark Ruffalo
Gavin Brown with a hair cut. (hehe!)  p.s. it was too hard to find an actor with "dead eyes."

Lawrence Weiner played by Ian McKellen playing Gandolf 

Louis Bourgeois played by Frances McDormand
Tough, sassy, could beat you at arm wrestling while smiling.

Marcia Tucker played by Susan Sarandon
Free spirited pioneer ladies.  Also that mussed up but fun hair. 

Marian Goodman played by Emmanuelle Riva
Do not underestimate.

Marina Ambramovic played by Barbara Streisand 
Both a little (a lot) extra and both making the nose a statement. 

Martin Kippenberger played by Jason Issaacs
Sadly had to google "Malfoy's dad" to find Issaacs real name but man, those eyes. 

Mike Kelley played by Bob
Sorry Mike but yup.  Bob.  

Paula Cooper played by Marisa Tomei
Only the best for the best. 

Peggy Guggenheim played by Helen Mirren 
This has to happen!

Peter Schjeldahl played by Joaquin Phoenix as played in Her 
I couldn't stop thinking "Peter Schjeldahl" when I saw Joaquin's character in Her.

Roberta Smith played by Gillian Anderson
Oh My God, Yes! 

Yayoi Kusama played by Lucy Liu 
Asian girl power will one day rule the world.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Yes, No, Maybe So

I had insomnia.  I had a busy weekend.  I partied too hard.  I can’t think and the extent of my thinking elasticity is reserved to ‘yes, no, maybe’ reactions to life.  Below are things that are in my brain zone and what my auto piloted brain is feeling towards it.

YES - Sam Lipp and Luis Miguel Bendaña, “Feeling Languid” at Malraux’s Place – June 23.  These are some of the best bebes from Chicago land and they are doing a show at the uber cool Sebatian Black’s space.  It’s one of those if you don’t go to the opening you probably wont go at all type of things so go if you can even though it is in the commute doom gloom Gowanus/Sunset Park hood.

YES - World Cup: Soccer Players Are Hot. P.S. They Have The Craziest Hair.

NO - Pipeline thing at Jacob Riis: Boo to pipelines and making the ocean a parking lot for energy suckage.

YES – Hot mug shot guy.  If there are going to be memes out there they might as well be of super attractive guys with blue eyes.

NO – Warehouse parties.  Why do I go? Why?

MAYBE – Sigmar Polk at MoMA, saw it but it really was just like…

MAYBE – “Suppedaneum” at Grand Century, June 28 – Big ups to everyone involved in this but I just have to be honest, pretty untantalized by the friends showing friends showing friends sort of shows.

YES – Kkakdui – Cabbage kimchi’s much squarer (literally cubed) radish kimchi.  The best.

YES – Jeff Koons at the Whitney, Duh.

NO – Jeff Koons nekid photo in Vanity Fair. Gross dude.

YES – Summer. Take me, bake me, roll me in the sand.

NO – Large crowds.

MAYBE – BBQs.  They seem fun but are they really? Are THEY really?!

YES – Pedicures. Summer feet, keep it neat.  Love that I see more guys donning hues on their toes.

YES – Basil. Basil, basil, I love you. 

NO – Alcohol, bye-bye darling for a wee bit or longer.  You make me feel like an unproductive slug bug.  

YES – Tennis.  Let’s play rn.

YES – Babies.  They are so cute in their summer gear.

YES – Ice cream walks.  Walking just to get ice cream.

MAYBE – Double dating.  Is that actually fun?

NO – Heavy blankets.  That thing where you have your heavy ass winter blanket on your bed still even though you know it’s going to be hot for the next three months.

NO – Gossip.  Please people, if you’re going to do it, don’t get caught.  And if you get caught, don’t cry about it.

YES – True Detective. Gave me nightmares.

YES – Susan Miller.  I am so clueless about my life path right now that she is like a bible guide to my calendar.  Lord knows what July will bring. 

YES – Short hair.  Loving it.

NO – Sunglasses. I wear them cause the sun is bright  and all up in your face sometimes but just really not into them as an aesthetic projection.

NO – New York.  Love ya but I gotta leave you.  Doing that whole set you free bird returns blah blah blah thing. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Camille Henrot is Hot to Trot

Grosse Fatigue, 2013 still image, Video (color, sound), 13 min

Sometimes this city surprises you.  And when that surprise is in the form of museum shows, it is even more brain sparkly then most.  Currently on view at the New Museum are two very good shows.  The first is Ragnar Kjartansson’s: Me, My Mother, My Father, and I.  If this show was on its own, then I would go into it but alas, it isn’t (please do go see it though).  This show is on floor four.  On floor two is a show by French born, New York based artist Camille Henrot and it made my brain so sparkle filled that I can only think of it at this moment.

Entitled The Restless Earth, and curated by the charmed Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari,  this mini survey  of works by Henrot is my first introduction to her work.  I am not one of those people who value pretending to know everything and this exhibition being my first entry into her work has been exciting and rejuvenating.

Camille Henrot (b. 1978), is a type of artist that has existed before/does exist now but there is something so…contemporary…about her ‘style’ that it was captivating to see.  She makes a lot of things in many mediums but her strongest works (nay most formalized) is her video works.  On view is her video Grosse Fatigue, 2013 (video, color, sound, 13 mins), that compiles source material from the Smithsonian, which she recently had an artist’s research fellowship.  This video is near the beginning of the show and it sets the tone very clearly. 

The video is clever in its editing and compositional formatting.  The desktop screen and the ‘window(s)’ and how it is layered and zoomed create a tool of presentation.  There is a narrative being read in a male voice.  That voice doesn’t sound professional but the quality of the voice seems to legitimize what is being said.  The video is comprised of images, it isn’t a video that has arc, a story per se, but it moves swiftly, with purpose and the accumulation of what you are seeing is like a Rolodex of the universe. 

There is music too.  This is an element that was enjoyable but also a bit compromising (perhaps).  There is a pacing and a quick, coolness of the images that make you think ‘music video’ even though you know that was never the point.  The images are very crisp, super directed and there is little confusion that what you are seeing is exactly what Henrot wants you to see.

There is another video work, The Strife of Love in a Dream, 2011 that rabbit holes into the world of snakes that is not as hypnotic as Grosse Fatigue but still pursues what seems to be Henrot’s motivation to being an artist.  Henrot’s video, and other work reflect the artist as ethnographer, artist as explorer, artist as scientist, artist as theorist, artist as researcher.  This may sound a bit belittling but that’s not what I mean.  I think that an artist can be, should be, any iteration of art-self they see fit to form the work they make.  BUT, I do think that it should be noted that ‘artist as’ is not ‘as, as.’  Does that make any sense?  Henrot is an artist, a damn fine one.  She uses the tools and has created a system of cataloguing, compiling, displaying images and objects to express ideas through the act of making and presenting. 

Other artists do this, have done this, still do this, art as a form of anthropology, sociology, etcetera, etcectra.  This makes for very good art but a lot of the time it feels so damn colonial empire that it wreaks of voyeuristic privilege but somehow Henrot, at least for me, gets a pass.  The reason I think this is, is because she has that contemporary something that makes it not so much about the anthropologizing of things but the visual culture mash up reveal of things.

The idea of art and visual culture being separate but related things has in the past decade, or so, become more and more indistinct.  People are getting shown, getting paid, getting kudos for putting a Nike sweatband on a watermelon or some such god awful thing.   The whole grandchildren/inheritors of Duchamp, Warhol conversation in defense of this form of art is so see through that it is literally the emperor has no clothes shit going on. 

There is a straddle occurring though.  People using the pop, consumer, material residue of today to reflect this ‘now’ is so important and necessary.  To me, Henrot’s success is not about showing the actual things in the way some people do today, but of delving into the why, where, and how of those things.  She is investigating archetypes, evolution, the id, ego, and super ego of symbols, forms, and ritual.  To get to this, she uses an array of sources; flowers, archives, new images, old images, drawings, old and new objects and vintage film and this use through her hand/brain/what have you is splendid.

‘This is what art does!’ you may be screaming at the screen.  Yes and no.  Yes it does but more times then not, especially of late, it skims at the surface of this.  Henrot is not just doing it but doing it well. There are kinks, there are quirks, there is a cool, surfacy feeling to some of her work that seems perhaps unsustainable but more then anything you see, feel this deep, intense and honest fascination in her work.  This is felt in the editing, focus, directorial clarity of tone, and pace and rhythm which works near perfectly in her pieces, and that darlings, is where the magic is.

Henrot is so hot to trot right now, she is being covered, profiled and interview in this that and the other.  She is becoming a darling, an “it” girl, a must know entity and this is fascinating to watch and slightly appealing as god only knows we could use more art lady/art stars out there.

Go, go, go see this show.  It will make you want to read more, see more, think more and to take ikebana classes (I so totally want to).  Dissecting this world to reveal and to possibly revel in it is what Henrot’s kind of art is doing and that makes my brain tingle so much that is makes me very happy. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Darren, Darren, Darren Bader

Darren Bader, Andrew Kreps Gallery, 2014
Darren Bader currently has a show at Andrew Kreps Gallery and the show is a show about three shows.  The press release explains this. The press release is short.  So short I’m going to include it below:

The show is three shows: a show on the walls, Photographs I Like; a show on the floor, To Have and to Hold; and a show on a piece of paper at the front desk.

Darren Bader lives and works in New York. This is his second solo show at the gallery. His work is currently included in the Whitney Biennial, on view until May 25th. Among previous exhibitions: Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013), Images, MoMA PS1, New York (solo), Oh, You Mean Cellophane and all that Crap, The Calder Foundation, New York (2012). Darren Bader is the recipient of the 2013 Calder Foundation's Calder Prize.

The bio section seems a bit insisted by the gallery because in this show the ambiguity of it is the form and in the form of it you get lost in the ambiguity but then with all that ambiguity you get some sort of clarity and in that clarity you see what it is that Bader is doing.  Maybe.  Sort of.  But regardless, back to the show. 

The show is great.  Now that you know what my opinion is, we can proceed. (Or not, your choice.) The show is things on the wall, things on the floor and paper things you can read and take with you.

What are on the walls are photographs, and with the title, Photographs I Like, it is just that very thing.  Photographs that Darren Bader likes on walls.  It is more then that though.  Bader is a writer.  A good writer.  The type of writer where it is form and not just function.  There is a print out that expresses in his own words what a photograph means to him, for example:

“The photographic image is the closest to “pure image” we have short of our in-built optics. Perhaps that’s why the photograph scared the shit out of art when it first showed up. Perhaps that’s why it still scares the shit out of iconoclastic image-makers.” 

There are also larger statements on ‘art’ and the bigger structure of image making.  Reading it before seeing the show had nice effect although it was quickly absorbed and forgotten.

The photographs range from fashion, celebrity, politics, mood genres, and the evolution of that medium.  They are the originals.  What you see is the actual thing.  These are not reproductions.  They possessed that quality even before I asked the question to the gallery.  There is something clever, to the point, meaningful regarding them being originals.  Some are on loan, some you know are very famous and are a part of our, American visual lexi-canonical.  Some are on consignment, thus meaning you can buy it if you want it and you can afford it.  That work is then yours but it is not a ‘Darren Bader’ it is a work you bought by the artist who made it not Bader who arranged them into a room, into a show, into another form of art. 

On the floor is an assortment of objects.  Things you buy online, things you buy at big box stores, things that are fancy, things that you don’t know what exactly it is.  Some things are tiny, throw away, you will probably step on it if you don’t look down a lot.  Some things are large, air sealed chambers, cement domes with eroded holes.  These objects are important.  Of course they are.  Everything is important, everything has meaning, everything is everything here.  There is a pressure in this type of art but there is also a wink-wink of knowing this and it makes you a conceptual scavenger. 

This floor section is called To Have and To Hold, and it also has a piece of paper that expresses the work and what they function as/have the potential to function as.  It is a guidebook, a step-by-step of what to do, think about with these objects on the floor. 


1. Live with the object.

2. After a year or so of living with the it, inquire into its origin. This could mean tracing it back to the source(s) of all its component parts*. This could also mean imagining its source(s) as other than those of the physical aggregate achieved by man or nature.  Either way, a dedicated inquiry is recommend.

7. If you die, the number of collected identical objects should not diminish while dead.  Any bequests should make note of this. If 02 has been chosen, a bequest can reflect this format.

The objects create a maze. A well placed maze.  Like all of Bader’s installations there is a precision to arbitrariness and this folks is what makes this sort of thing work.

The last part of the show is a text or maybe it’s an accumulation of text; this text and the other texts.  This, I will leave unquoted so that it endeavors you to go out and see the show and read it for yourself. 

Darren Bader fits a place in art that seems like an island of sorts.  He has a self-awareness of himself, of art, of the art world that is refreshing and also sad in that awareness.  He is smart, young, male, funny, bright, interesting, rare.  He is not a ‘bad boy,’ but some like to flip him aside as one.  He reminds me of the character of the fool in Shakespeare’s plays, etc.  You know the person who is the jester but actually knows what is really going on and sees the truth of things.  Maybe that’s a stretch but all I know is that after seeing his show I felt clear, grounded, and mildly proud he is of my age. 

What is more telling then just the success of a show, an artist’s idea actualized in space and people having access to that space to actualize this actualization is that it seems people are panging for this sort of art.  Not in exact form but in spirit.  This open, invested, unsure yet confident type of work that accomplishes the thing of making aesthetics but also reflects, mines, and places the visual, cultural, metaphysical, and spiritual with meaning, alignment and concern to humans, an artist, a time. 

To close out, I am going to quote Bader once again.  It’s from a essay he wrote of his show, more like an aside but really nice to read. 

“Let me spin it this way . . . art is commonly intuited as a home for the poetic. There is enough evidence of technical-cum-aesthetic skill in a wide variety of fields to safely say that there are some good “poets” out there. Mediocrity is normal, but good poetry is what matters.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Art Advisory: Who to Buy

I do a lot of things for free.  Things that other people somehow make into viable livings.  The things I do for free are for people that I like and asking for money to do things for people I like is hard for me and also in most instances is not something I would want to exchange money for. 

Bill Cunningham, that lovable blue jacket wearing NYTimes fashion street shooter extraordinaire said in the documentary made on him that he/one should never get paid to do what they loved. (Or something along those lines.)   This is a saying/thought said by many but his saying it made my heart thump because he obviously, truly practices what he preaches. 

In a similar way, I have tried to negotiate myself, my life in certain ways so that I do not mix money and the thing I love.  The thing I love is art. Yes, I work and have worked in the art world in so many capacities that it’s borderline deranged, but the thing of art, the talking, thinking, putting independent energy and funds into it is something I have tried to keep untainted, undetermined, and unreliant on money. 

Art and money are terrible bedfellows but they seem to be constantly, dubiously, and forever drawn towards each other.  There’s nothing more I want to remark on all that (at this moment) but every day that passes, every record breaking auction sale that gavels, every bonafied boy wonder that is flipped this way or that to entertain the cultural vampires makes me sadder, harder, and more inclined to throw my hands in the air and say “fuck it. I’m done.” 

The thing that stops me from moon dancing out of this mess of an art world is the art.  There is still so much good work out there.  There are great ideas being made into aesthetic, object, conceptual form and it makes me say ‘god damn’ in my head many times a day.  The thing I wish for now, more then anything, is time and after time is money.  Money specifically to buy art.  Oh I wish I could buy all the good art in the world.  I have remarked before that the only way to maybe (possibly) balance the grossness of the art market is if more people are actively participating in small sales.  This may be harder to do then ever though because even the upstarts, galleries and artists alike, are playing to win and playing for keeps.  Blood will be shed.

As a dreamscape aside, I would like to share with you artists that at this moment if I had a few ‘k’ to spend I would buy right now.  I will also recommend artists that are probably 99.3% investment winners.  People ask me about young artists, galleries, who’s hot, who I like, what’s good all the time.   I don’t know, there’s too damn much of it to know for sure but below are the ones I want and if I want them maybe you want them too.

Lastly, remember: Art is an investment.  Not in market returns but on your god damn soul. 

Amy Feldman – Safe bet new abstractionist.

Andrew NormanWilson – Art world’s Andy Kaufmann minus the deep anger.

Ann Hirsch – Bebe-be-be.

Ben Schumacher – Already up there. Will continue that way for a long-long time.

Body by Body
– Love em, they will be blowing the F up momentarily. 

Chloe Seibert – So nutty good.

Erin Jane Nelson – Ever evolving. 

Francisco Cordero Oceguera – Next Gen.

Helen Johnson – Never seen irl but wanna see bad.

Ian Cheng – Still one of my top art picks.

Israel Lund – Not really into him but he’s already getting mega big.  He is still a type where a friend of a friend might have a piece by him from college or something and they might not know its value and so you should buy that and then just sit on it like a golden egg.

Jesse Stecklow – Yung baby that has strong long hall potential.

Kevin Champoux – Heart of glass.

Olivia Erlanger– Get her while she is still low price range.  You will thank me later.  Promise.

Orion Shepherd – Want, need, want, need.

Nancy Spero – Old gen but I feel like Spero is about to have a huge comeback.

Sam Falls – Not sure why but his work is like a fine wine that people seem think they need to want.

Stewart Uoo – Not sure what he makes but cool kids and well-positioned curators seem to fawn over him.

Tabor Robak - <3 you. 

Talia Chetrit – You should have all listened to me before.  Look at her prices now! She’s a keeper.