The Upper East Side
Art Book Pick
It’s possible that the Upper East Side changed the night last September when the fire department broke up the disco party at 980 Madison. The building houses, among other businesses, a luxury spa and Gagosian Gallery. Soon it will have a Gagosian-owned “neighborhood restaurant,” as Larry Gagosian described it in a recent interview with Peter Brant. There will be chili. And waffles.
On the third floor of 980 Madison is Venus Over Manhattan, an art space opened last year by Adam Lindemann, a contributor to this paper and the disco party’s host. The crowd had gathered to celebrate a show by the artist Peter Coffin. Young women carried trays of tequila shots. Around 8 p.m., the festivities moved down the hall to a room dimly lit with red lights. From the street, you could hear DJ Harvey playing records. Professional roller skaters skated around on glowing LED wheels. A cluster of young men and women nonchalantly smoked near the entrance.
When the fire trucks came, part of the crowd decamped across Madison Avenue to Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle, where a pianist played selections from the Great American Songbook and the martinis cost $21.
It’s been a full three years since Swedish artist-poet Karl Holmqvist last presented work in New York, but the drought is finally over.
At the Museum of Modern Art, Mr. Holmqvist has lined the walls of a gallery in Laura Hoptman’s “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language” with papers bearing his inimitable texts, long stretches of oddly ordered repetitions of language—carefully conceived poetry, pure sound, the ramblings of a madman—laid out in crisp black capital letters. Occasionally they transform into calligrams—piping hot coffee cups, for instance, with steam rising as snakelike streams of letters.
Right now, there are two burritos sitting on a windowsill in a gallery at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City. About once a week, fresh burritos are brought in by a museum employee, and the old ones are discarded. Sometimes they are placed one on top of the other, and sometimes they are side by side. This is done in the name of art; chicken burrito, beef burrito is a sculpture by Darren Bader, part of his “Images” exhibition, which runs through May 14.
Though it sounds like a one-off prank, Mr. Bader’s burritos exemplify today’s most thrilling sculpture, which at the moment can be seen all over town, standing in stark contrast to the muscular, macho, hard-won objects of a John Chamberlain (whose Guggenheim retrospective is up through May 13). The new sculpture is deliriously playful, unstable (it changes over time: living, decomposing, collapsing, or threatening to) and frequently renewable. The readymade has returned in 21st-century rococo clothes, Duchamp’s legacy used for sinister, hallucinogenic and comical ends.