Morning Links: White Album Edition

The White Album. (Courtesy FACT gallery)

Studies show that—despite the rapid appreciation in value of works by Lucien Smith, Oscar Muillo, Israel Lund, Alex Israel and others, and the fact that dealers are selling these works months after purchase and barely a year after their creation for up to ten times what they were once worth—the art market is no more Read More

On View

‘Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler From 1950 to 1959′ at Gagosian Gallery

Installation view of 'Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 to 1959' at Gagosian. (All artwork © Estate of Helen Frankenthaler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Photo by Rob McKeever)

More than two dozen canvases from the 1950s, the decade that made Helen Frankenthaler the iconic Color Field pioneer, have been gathered on 21st Street. It’s the first such show in New York since 1960. Most of them are stain paintings, alternately brilliant and facile, titanic and slightly nauseous. Some, like 1953’s Open Wall, a landscape-format metaphysical unfolding of the concept of division in blues and browns, are cool and philosophical, while others, like Trojan Gates or Holocaust, both 1955, are hot and anxious. All of them are—not because of the chromatic effect of garish colors clanging like bells and then fading into unsized, off-white canvas, but because of their compositional organization—like flowers: the elements always grow from the center, even if you can’t quite tell exactly where that center is. But the show’s real jewels come from before the explosion: 1950’s Painted on 21st Street, borrowed from the Smithsonian, and three 1951 canvases, The Jugglers, The Sightseers and one untitled, all borrowed from Ms. Frankenthaler’s estate. Read More

The Upper East Side

Moving on Up: The Avant-Garde Returns to the Upper East Side

(Illustration by Breet Alfrunti)

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. Read More


Richard Serra to Exhibit Major New Sculptures at Gagosian Next Fall, Historical Pieces at Zwirner in Spring

Installation view of 'Junction / Cycle' at Gagosian Gallery in 2011. (Rob McKeever/Gagosian Gallery)

Amidst talk of artists leaving the Gagosian Gallery, news of any artists who show with Gagosian doing exhibitions elsewhere is likely to be closely scrutinized, and potentially misunderstood. Gallerist can reveal that, while Richard Serra, a longtime Gagosian artist, will have an exhibition of historical work at David Zwirner gallery in the spring, the artist’s relationship with Gagosian remains unchanged, and, in fact, he is planning a major exhibition of new sculpture for next fall at Gagosian’s two Chelsea locations.

The exhibition of historical sculptures will take place in Zwirner’s new West 20th Street gallery. According to John Silberman, Mr. Serra’s longtime attorney, Mr. Zwirner approached Mr. Serra about the exhibition, and the artist was enthusiastic about it. Read More


How Many Paintings Can One Man Make Before He Decides to Stick to Music? Bob Dylan Gets a Second Show at Gagosian

Bob Dylan "Playboy Magazine, Sharon Stone," 2011-2012. (Courtesy Gagosian Gallery)

The paintings in Bob Dylan’s first exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, on view last fall, showed scenes of everyday life throughout Asia that the artist purportedly witnessed “first-hand,” according to press materials, during breaks from his touring schedule. The exhibition caused a bit of an uproar—by art-world standards, anyway—when viewers got wise to several paintings’ spot-on resemblance to iconic photographs by the likes of Leon Busy and Henri Cartier-Bresson. To say that Mr. Dylan has reappropriated the work of others in his music is a vast understatement—it’s more like the music’s reason for being, and Mr. Dylan’s primary stylistic trait. As just one example, take “Duquesne Whistle,” the opening song from his 35th album, Tempest, released earlier this year. In it, he takes elements of the melody, chorus and structure of a 1929 Memphis Jug Band song, “K.C. Moan,” and also toys with its lyrics. “I thought I heard that K.C. when she blow/She blow like my woman’s on board,” goes the original. Compare that with Mr. Dylan’s “Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing/Blowing like my woman’s on board.” Then this line is slowly rewritten in a repeating structure over several verses before becoming unrecognizable as a traditional folk song in the penultimate couplet: “The lights of my native land are glowing/I wonder if they’ll know me next time around.” But whatever mastery Mr. Dylan has achieved as an editor of musical traditions, from prewar blues to Mexican ballads, it couldn’t really help his Asian paintings. The line is thin between appropriation and plundering, and even if he didn’t cross it, the work seemed pretty phoned-in. Read More


The Season’s Bounty: Warhol at Eykyn Maclean, Twombly at Gagosian, Serra at Craig F. Starr

Andy Warhol, 'Flowers,' 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 24 x 24 inches/ (©2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

It’s auction time again in New York—between this week and last, around a billion dollars of modern and contemporary art is on offer at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury & Co.—and so it’s tempting to start griping about money’s corrupting influence on culture. But another option is to revel in the sheer number of top-quality artworks on view around the city. The auctions themselves bring out pieces that have been hidden away for years, and in many galleries, particularly those on the Upper East Side, dealers put on museum-style exhibitions, readying themselves for the heavy-hitter international collectors who fly in from around the world. Three shows on view right now comprise a happy art-historical coincidence: all of them are devoted to artists (Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly and Richard Serra, respectively) who helped forge the look and feel of postwar art in America while showing at the Leo Castelli Gallery in the 1960s and ‘70s. Read More