Panic in Detroit Lures Shutterbugs But How Much Ruin Porn Can We Take?

View of Detroit's East Side. Photo by Julia Reyes Taubman

Here are some insights the national media has had about Detroit: “At first glance, Detroit looks more like Pompeii”; “Once you get out of the stadium/casino sector, downtown is a grisly, apocalyptic sight”; “A much heralded emblem of industrial decline”; “Eminem’s slick Super Bowl commercial showcased the inner strength of the Motor City.” The idealism is as ridiculous as the fetishizing of Detroit’s troubles (“decline” is a popular word that’s been tossed around for the past six decades or so). Flashy commercials aside, Mayor Dave Bing, touted as a possible savior after the disgrace of Kwame Kilpatrick—who, to make a very long story short, was forced to leave office in 2008 after committing perjury—still says the city will be broke by April if its finances are not given a major overhaul. Read More


Original Prankster: Francis Picabia at Michael Werner Gallery

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Francis Picabia, Printemps, 1942-1943

The French artist Francis Picabia made art critics apoplectic. “There cannot be anyone alive who does not think that at one or more points in his career Picabia produced some awful work,” John Russell proposed in The New York Times in 1979.

It is Picabia’s late work that has always rankled most deeply. Here is critic Hilton Kramer on the occasion of the Guggenheim’s 1970 retrospective: “The last three decades of Picabia’s production are among the saddest of modern times.” Mr. Kramer added, in another piece, “Many of the late works in the show are positively embarrassing.” And Vicki Goldberg in 2003: “Too much of the late work is every bit as boring as it looks.” Read More


It’s a Draw: Esther Kläs at Peter Blum Gallery and ‘Cory Arcangel vs. Pierre Bismuth’ at Team Gallery

Installation view of Esther Kläs, "Nobody Home," at Peter Blum

It’s theology that looks like a math problem: Is it possible for a wall to have only one side? In her first solo show in New York, at Peter Blum Gallery, the sculptor Esther Kläs’s answer is yes. Using sheets of two-inch Styrofoam to build up monolithic forms, and Aqua Resin dyed in a postwar German palette of cement grays and morbid dark grays, she molds the mysterious, axiomatically impenetrable outsides of things. Read More


An Influential Citizen: ‘The Bearden Project’ at the Studio Museum in Harlem

Romare Bearden, "Prelude to Farewell," 1981 (©Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York)

It is fitting that Romare Bearden is best known for his work in collage; the omnivorous artist wrote hit jazz songs, painted, drew, and made tapestries, quilts, book jackets, and album and magazine covers. It is difficult to reduce his penchant for quoting Paul Valéry and his close friendship with Hanna Arendt, his stint as a baseball player and his study under Georg Grosz to the label “black artist,” unless, as Bearden himself did, you see blackness as a part of the American identity—an identity that has always been a pastiche. Read More

Gallerist Column

Fair Game: London’s Frieze Fair Arrives in May, Challenging Armory Show’s Supremacy

Randall's Island, the future home of Frieze New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

March or May or both?

That is the key question facing galleries that want to participate in art fairs in New York next year, as a breathtaking—some might say absurd—number of art fairs vie for the attention of collectors and art dealers.

Frieze New York Comes Out Swinging

After 10 years in London, the Frieze Art Fair announced earlier this year that it was planning to start a New York edition in May 2012 on Randall’s Island—the square-mile piece of land across the East River from Spanish Harlem, which was once the headquarters of Robert Moses. Read More


Occupy Art Basel Miami Beach, Now!

Art Basel Miami Beach.

I’m not going to Art Basel Miami Beach this year. I’m through with it, basta. It’s become a bit embarrassing, in fact, because why should I be seen rubbing elbows with all those phonies and scenesters, people who don’t even pretend they are remotely interested in art?

And so, here it is, in print, just so no one has to ask me again. Here are all the things I’m absolutely not going to: Tuesday it’s a lunch with Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezomolo (nice name!), then there are cocktails for artist Teresita Fernandez (I like her, she’s pretty, she’s Cuban and she won a MacArthur fellowship), then there’s my friend Lapo Elkann’s Ferrari party, which I’ll have to leave to make the dinner Delphine Arnault is having (she’s the daughter of the owner of LVMH, no less) for Berlin-based artist Anselm Reyle. He’s just designed a line of bags for Christian Dior, he’s very handsome and smooth, his work is rather out of favor now but I think he’s on his way back (though it may take a while). Then I’ll probably have late-night drinks at Maria Baibakova’s, because she’s young and cool, she’s Russian and she has a great apartment in Miami, and, oops, I forgot my promise to show up at the Rubell Collection opening party sponsored by US Trust. Read More


Things We Learned from the New Yorker’s Carl Andre Profile

Mr. Andre in 1978. Courtesy NY Times.

Calvin Tomkins’ long-awaited profile of sculptor Carl Andre was published in this week’s New Yorker. It is really something. First there’s the jarring opening picture of the rarely-photographed Mr. Andre and his wife, the artist Melissa Kretschmer, (the last photograph we had seen of the artist was from the late ’70s, when he had a Karl Marx beard and was rail-thin). Standing in what looks like a very modest apartment, he is completely bald, wearing the overalls he’s sported for several decades now, and an over-sized cardigan on top of that. We weren’t expecting him to be clean shaven. Here are some other details that took us by surprise. Read More

Look at This!

Chair-a-Palooza in Miami

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Rob Pruitt

Here’s something for all you chair fans out there: this Thursday, designer couple Robert and Cortney Novogratz will unveil “The Chair Project” in Miami, a collaboration with Debra Singer and Tim Griffin of The Kitchen. Read More