Art Startups

Will Alexandra Chemla’s iPad App Change the Art Dealing Business?

Alexandra Chemla (Photo by Aaron Adler for The New York Observer)

Last June, at a dinner following a talk between Matthew Barney and Tina Brown at Kunstmuseum Basel, during that city’s annual art fair, Alexandra Chemla found herself seated with several fellow graduates of her alma mater Brown University.

“My rugby team at Harvard used to go down to the Brown campus to meet girls,” said Marc Glimcher, the president of Pace Gallery, one of the few members of the table who did not matriculate at Providence (the Observer was another). “I could sell my whole booth and it wouldn’t be as good as winning a rugby game.”

As small talk ensued, conversation centered on ArtBinder, Ms. Chemla’s startup that she founded as a 24-year-old gallery assistant at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, after years of slaving over massive physical binders full of printouts of art. Read More


The Paradox of Martin Creed: The Artist on His Biggest Gallery Exhibition Ever

Martin Creed at Tate Britain in Nov. 2011.

Lanky Martin Creed was standing on the first floor of Hauser & Wirth gallery on the Upper East Side, dressed in lightly paint-splattered, black pants that rose up just above the ankles and an ever-so-slightly mismatched navy shirt, his frizzy gray hair pulled into a ponytail and his face covered by glasses so large they looked like protective eyewear. He was laughing enormously about—something. With apologies to our brothers and sisters across the pond, his giggles were punctuated with bursts of indecipherable Scottish twang, made all the more difficult to discern by the presence of his parents, making use of their own heavy slurs. This was somehow appropriate, though, because “what is he trying to say” is a frequent starting point for the uninitiated in conversations about Mr. Creed.

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Social media

The Gallery, Unfiltered: On the Art World’s Instagram Obsession


On March 29, the Instagram user dickrichter posted an image of a 2010 work by the artist Ryan Sullivan with the comment, “R.S. 2010.” By following up with Dick Richter via email, you could discover that the work was for sale for $120,000.

“Dick Richter Gallery” is a contemporary art gallery working the secondary market solely through an iPhone. It even has a motto: “Here @DR everything is available. We don’t represent artists just a quality of life. Thank you.”

“Its [sic] democracy for the artworld,” “Dick Richter” wrote in an email. He would only speak of his Instagram activities on the condition that we withhold his identity. “Its [sic] an all access pass in a world where some people think you still have to pay to be a vip.” Read More


Sprits Dampened, Gavin Brown Stays Spooky

Rob Pruitt (L), Jonathan Horowitz (R), at a costume-less event. (Courtesy PatrickMcMullan)

It wouldn’t be fair to say that Gavin Brown’s Halloween party last night in Harlem was a swinging, raucous affair. Chelsea, the center of the New York art world, had just taken a major blow from Hurricane Sandy and it was all anyone could talk about. They questioned each other about what it could mean. If New York’s big industries are media, finance and art, why had God chosen to level four-foot waves at the one that probably does the least amount of harm to anybody? Read More

Armory Week 2012

Bearly There: Rob Pruitt at Karma Bookstore

Mr. Pruitt. (Photo by Sarah Douglas)

Last Saturday afternoon, the artist Rob Pruitt, who is known for his glittery paintings of panda bears and his tongue-in-cheek, Golden Globes-style “Art Awards,” was signing books, naked, in the Karma bookstore, in the West Village. He sat at the head of a table arrayed with copies of his 2010 volume Pattern and Degradation, each with a custom cover. One was composed of multiple books of matches. One came with a pair of handcuffs. One was sandwiched between copies of the New York Yellow Pages. As a fig leaf he employed a stuffed animal panda bear. Read More

Armory Week 2012

‘All My Friends Are Here': Competing With Collectors for Face Time at Independent 2012

5 Photos

Work by Oscar Murillo at Stuart Shave.

Independent, the 44-gallery art fair that opened for a VIP preview at noon today and that calls itself a “temporary exhibition forum” is located just 30 blocks south down the West Side Highway from the Armory Show’s Piers 92 and 94, but feels like a different world altogether. Started three years ago by art dealers Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook at the former Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea, it is smaller and more welcoming than most art fairs happening in New York this week. There are, for instance, windows that let actual light into the exhibition space, not to mention an accessible roof, which is about as rare at one of these things as free alcohol. Independent lived up to its tagline, feeling more like a large, convivial group show than a standard trade show. Read More


Bed Piece: Visiting Urs Fischer’s New York Studio

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1. Sculpture

“I believe you start the day when you go to bed, not when you wake up,” said Urs Fischer. It was an unseasonably warm early February day, and the 39-year-old Swiss-born artist was in his studio in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, wearing jeans and a pale blue sweater that mostly covered the tattoos that blanket his arms; around his neck he’d knotted, apparently for aesthetic effect, a silk scarf bearing a yellow and blue pattern. “I brush my teeth, I shave, I put clothes out, ready for the next day, I take a shower and I go to bed.”

Our conversation had turned to beds, because Mr. Fischer—who has made art in many different modes, from digging holes in floors to manufacturing reflective metal boxes with photographs of objects adhered to them to sculpting a tongue that, with the help of a motion detector, sticks out of the wall at viewers—had been making life-size sculptures of beds or, perhaps to put it better, sculptures based on beds, or based on things that, in some imagined world, happen to beds. One of these bed sculptures sat in the center of his studio. In its case, a bed appeared to have buckled under the weight of a load of concrete in which boot prints were visible. The piece, which he referred to as Kratz, wasn’t quite finished, he hastened to add as we stood over it. The concrete would need to look “more liquidy,” he said, running his hands through his hair briskly—a gesture he made often that afternoon, as though it helped him to think—and directing at the piece an expression of vague consternation. He likes, he said, “the perversion of something that looks soft.” Read More