In an art world of $60 million estate lawsuits and jet-set dealers, it’s hard to remember a time when anyone would mispronounce Jean-Michel Basquiat’s graffiti tag “SAMO,” but in 1979 Glenn O’Brien did. He even did it in the presence of the superstar artist, who was on his black-and-white public access show TV Party, sporting a Mohawk, just before he hit it big.
The 43rd edition of Art Basel has come and gone, and summer has officially arrived in the art world. Happily, two art luminaries who attended the fair—Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles Director Jeffrey Deitch and writer and priest Glenn O’Brien—have left us with some advice to mull during the downtime.
Quality restaurant art is nothing new, especially in New York. When it opened in the late ’50s, the Four Seasons Restaurant, in the iconic Seagrams Building, had art by Picasso, Miró and Jackson Pollock on the walls. (The dining room was meant to get a series by Mark Rothko, but he pulled out of the project, and the paintings now hang in three museums.) The food/art nexus may have culminated with the freewheeling 1970s, when Gordon Matta-Clark had his restaurant, Food, in Soho—compared with that, most restaurant offerings seem pretty staid. These days, you can go to Casa Lever, in the architecturally groovy Lever House, and gaze at myriad Warhol prints of celebrities—Hitchcock, Sly Stallone—while you’re eating your $52 “Costata” T-bone steak. And if you’re looking for something a bit more classical, there’s always Maxfield Parrish’s monumental mural, Old King Cole, which hangs elegantly above the bar in the St. Regis Hotel. But a new joint set to open by the end of the year is bringing New York restaurant art to a whole new level of downtown hipness.
When Joseph Nahmad was in his teens his father told him to take up gambling. The 21-year-old member of one of the world’s most prolific art-dealing families is soft-spoken, perspicacious and not the type you’d expect to have a past that includes high-stakes cards, but by age 16 he was hitting the poker tables of Monte Carlo.