Ted Stamm died in 1984, at the age of 39, a victim of congenital heart disease, which had also killed his father. It would be easy to read the three bumpy black monochromes in the recently closed show at Marianne Boesky, each one composed according to decisions made by the artist’s friends rolling dice, as a series of cheery thumbed noses at fate. But behind that innocent schoolboy Satanism was a fascination with black not as a dialectical term but as a color of its own, a fascination equally informed by minimalist idealism and by the relentlessly forward-moving practicality of aircraft and automotive design. Unlike an automaker, though, Stamm wanted his black unreflective, and he mixed graphite powder into oil paint to get it that way; and unlike a minimalist, he worked not by reduction but by extension: He built canvases in idiosyncratic shapes with direction and speed.
The Upper East Side
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.
home sweet home
Since the middle of August, the Upper East Side outpost of Marianne Boesky Gallery has been home to Nicola Trezzi, the U.S. editor at Flash Art, Alice Tomaselli, a young artist, and Elena Tavecchia, a curator who also manages Rudolf Stingel’s studio. Outside of their day jobs, the three identify themselves as “employees” of Lucie Fontaine, a pseudonymous character created for the purpose of organizing curatorial projects and, if the Lucie Fontaine website is to be believed, cultivating “a concept of self-generated labor similar to the Master-Slave dialectic presented by Hegel in his masterpiece, The Phenomenology of Spirit.” They are all Italian, have apartments and lives of their own, and have been living inside of the townhouse gallery in makeshift bedrooms.
If we ever send out another Voyager probe, and we need a new image that offers up the full range of human experience, with its chaotic complexity of outward expression, its discreet harmonies and its subtle inward pathos plastered directly onto absurdity, an image that can convey to alien eyes the existential truth that we make our own truths here, but don’t quite make them freely, we ought to use Building the Boat While Sailing, the centerpiece of painter Dana Schutz’s show at Friedrich Petzel Gallery.
“The Spirit Level,” curated by Ugo Rondinone into every last corner of Gladstone Gallery’s two large spaces in Chelsea, unfolds like a Rosicrucian initiation ceremony, beginning with genuine awe framed in circus colors and simulated horror; moving on through celestial allusions, sex magic, decorative symbols and heavy-handed numerology; and ending in a series of archetypal busts with their crown-chakras open and ready for divine wisdom to pour in.
Art Basel Miami Beach 2011
Fairgoers and dealers alike seemed largely in good spirits by the end of the day at Art Basel yesterday, as the tenth edition of the fair kicked off, and informal, off-the-record polling of gallerists suggested that business was clipping along comfortably.