On View

‘Sigmar Polke: Early Works on Paper’ at Michael Werner

'Untitled (Girl in Dirndl in Munich),' ca. 1963. (Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery)

While the Museum of Modern Art’s current retrospective is a rambling tour through Sigmar Polke’s career and prodigious output in a dizzying array of mediums, this show at his longtime New York gallery, Michael Werner, is a sustained meditation on one period: Polke’s formative years in 1960s West Germany. The economy was roaring, giving rise to American-style consumerism, and Polke spent the decade sending up the status quo. Judging by the 100 works on paper here, he was positively giddy, as effervescent as the towering glass of bubbly he sketched around 1963. It sits on a table before two grinning balloon heads, a bunny and this note: “Sekt für alle” (“Champagne for all”). Read More

On View

‘A.R. Penck: Felt Works 1972–1995′ at Michael Werner

'Transformer' (1987) by Penck. (Courtesy the artist and Michael Werner)

Ralf Winkler, the German artist who rose to fame in the 1970s with his caterwauling, violent, humorous, rigorously flat paintings of stick figures, animals and monsters that he signed with the pseudonym A. R. Penck (the better to elude unsympathetic East German officials, at least for a while), has periodically made stuffed felt sculptures. Michael Werner is now showing six of them, and they are thoroughly charming oddities. 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


Boone, Werner Unite for Three-Venue Ernst Wilhelm Nay Show

Ernst Wilhelm Nay, 'Blauflut,' 1960. (Courtesy Museum Ludwig)

The start of the September gallery season is now just about a month away, and it’s shaping up to be a wild one. A letter from the Mary Boone Gallery just landed on our desk stating that it will join forces with Michael Werner Gallery to host a three-gallery blowout show of work by German abstract painter Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902–68). It opens Sept. 7. Read More


Notorious VIP: After a Stumble, an Online Art Fair Embraces Its Tech Side

A screen capture from VIP 1.0.

Let’s assume for a moment that Amazon.com is the best way to sell something to someone else online, the Platonic ideal of website retail. Imagine a version of Amazon.com that exists for just one week a year and requires you to have a little instant message conversation with a salesman as the first step to any transaction. If he likes you, or you’re known to him, he might take you to a “private room,” identical to any other inventory page, but where they keep the really good thriller novels. Fair warning! This version of Amazon.com has a reputation for being a little quirky technically as well. The chat function isn’t reliable, and the whole site once had to be taken offline for several hours, during that week of its existence. Read More