art by the sea

Klaus Biesenbach’s Beach Party: Patti Smith, James Franco…The Gang’s All Here at Fort Tilden!

Patti Smith at Fort Tilden. (Courtesy MoMA PS1)

Klaus Biesenbach stood in the middle of the crowded chapel at Fort Tilden on Sunday, and when chatter threatened to drown out the angelic sounds of The Forty Part Quartet, an installation from 2001 by Janet Cardiff, he raised his hands like a preacher, swung them down and let out a great loud “SHHHHH!”

The talking stopped at once, and the only sound was that of the 40 voices from 40 speakers, and the rolling waves from the beach in the background. Read More


Kool Thing: Raymond Pettibon and Kim Gordon at the Strand

(Courtesy: Strand)

Raymond Pettibon’s hands trembled during the half-hour he spoke at the Strand on Wednesday night. Kim Gordon was more relaxed. (Holding a microphone isn’t so foreign to her.) One strained to hear Mr. Pettibon as he spoke into his mic as he talked with Ms. Gordon about To Wit, a catalogue of his drawings from the eponymous show he had at David Zwirner last fall. The fact that the rare-books room was packed—latecomers spilled well into the back—likely didn’t ease his stage fright.

“Do you worry, when you put your own persona in your work…do you wonder how people are going to take that?” Ms. Gordon asked. She wore a tight black dress with a silver zipper at the bust. Read More


In Search of New Time: David Horvitz at the New Museum

David Horvitz

Last Saturday afternoon at precisely 12:57 p.m., 20 people exited the New Museum toting bronze bells the size of pill bottles and scattered out along the Bowery, ringing them as they passed pedestrians. I was among them, and wandered down to Delancey Street. Only a few people turned to look. Though it resembled some sort of a religious ritual (there Read More

Koons Kountdown 2014

The Koons Konundrum

Jeff Koons, 'Made in Heaven,' 1989. (©Jeff Koons)

I don’t know how to write about Jeff Koons. His retrospective at the Whitney, which lopes quickly around the whole of the soon-to-be-lamented Marcel Breuer building, begins with an acrylic, vinyl, and fluorescent lightbox sign titled The New, on which heavy black sans serif letters, set against a blood-red background and climbing jauntily uphill, spell out “THE NEW.”This was also the title of Mr. Koons’s first major appearance, a show at the New Museum in 1980 that included readymade vacuum cleaners in vitrines, smaller appliances set against white fluorescent tubes, and inflatable toys posed on or against mirrors. There’s an interesting paradox at the heart of novelty: The less purchase a piece takes on what came before it, the more distinctly it carries an aftertaste of having been seen before. Read More

Koons Kountdown 2014

Watch the Throne

Jeff Koons, 'New! New Too!,' 1983. (©Jeff Koons)

Jeff Koons has won. He has ruthlessly outperformed rivals, made sacrifices few would have dared to consider, and gone all-in on risky bets, aesthetic and financial (not that they’re always distinguishable), that have paid out gargantuan returns. Now 59, he is both the reigning artist-king of our time and, thanks to his strategic self-deprecation, which sugarcoats even his most sinister works, its proud court jester. The Whitney has given Mr. Koons his palace, and its retrospective, which opens Friday, has all the precise pomp of a coronation ceremony. It affords a rare chance to bask in Mr. Koons’s benevolent, terrifying, goofy and always-immaculate aura, and, of course, to bow down, the response that he prizes above all others. Read More

Koons Kountdown 2014

Not a Koons Person

Jeff Koons, 'Aqui Bacardi,' 1986. (©Jeff  Koons)

This summer, we can divide ourselves into two camps: the Koons people and those who do not care for Koons. I’m not a Koons person. Walking through his retrospective at the Whitney, which spans four decades of his career in New York and occupies the entire museum, the work did not raise my pulse. The show is handsomely curated, to be sure. The lower floor is thick with the early appropriation and readymade works. One level up are Mr. Koons’ mid-career sculptures, while the top floor is a vast temple of gigantic kitsch toys and gleaming sculpture. This stuff is, you may have heard, expensive. Yet I walked through the vast monographic show without getting that tug of acquisitiveness that sometimes plucks me in front of, say, a Goya, or a Schwitters. Read More