On View

‘Paul McCarthy: WS’ at the Park Avenue Armory

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It’s a strange, strange world where Paul McCarthy has enough money to do whatever he wants. Before 2013, Mr. McCarthy, Los Angeles cult artist and, more recently, auction-house favorite, had not exhibited much in New York—just an obscene animatronic sculpture here, a scatological Pinocchio video there. Now, thanks to Armory artistic director Alex Poots, Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, CCS Bard executive director Tom Eccles and, of course, the invisible hand of the marketplace, we are not just getting the 68-year-old Mr. McCarthy’s biggest ever installation, at the Park Avenue Armory, but also two simultaneous gallery shows at Hauser & Wirth’s uptown and downtown spaces. As one contemporary artist quipped to me, “It’s Paul-a-palooza.” Read More


Naked Ambition: Paul McCarthy Takes the Park Avenue Armory

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If you harbor childhood memories of Snow White and would prefer their innocence remains intact, avoid the Park Avenue Armory this summer. A few minutes inside “WS,” artist Paul McCarthy’s staggering new project, which opened there earlier today, will be enough to make you never look at Dopey the same way again.

If, however, the prospect of spelunking through the weirdest corners of Mr. McCarthy’s subconscious—a Boschian realm that lays bare the sinister side of fairy tales, subverts American domesticity with unhinged humor, and involves enough debauched sexuality to send any mental-health professional screaming from the room—appeals, get to the Drill Hall. Read More


Ground Control to Karlheinz Stockhausen: ‘Oktophonie’ Alights at Park Avenue Armory

'Oktophonie.' Visuals by Tiravanija, sound projection by Kathinka Pasveer, sound design by Igor Kavulek and 
lighting design by Brian Scoot. (©Stephanie Berger/Park Avenue Armory)

Karlheinz Stockhausen’s sound work Oktophonie (1990/91) is 70 minutes of unsettling drones and occasional violent bursts recorded by the German composer almost entirely with electronic equipment. Stockhausen, who died in 2007, intended for it to be played on eight speakers arrayed in a cube around the audience as part of his opera Dienstag (Tuesday) from his 29-hour series Licht. At the moment, it’s playing at the Park Avenue Armory through March 27. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Stockhausen reportedly felt that the ideal location for it was outer space. Read More

Art Fairs

New Dealers Add Modernism to Winter Antiques Show Mix

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New exhibitor Glass Past

Wandering through the annual Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory is about as close to time travel as one can get. The elaborate booths often resemble the rooms of a cross-sectioned dollhouse, complete with wallpaper and flooring to better complement the art, furniture and artifacts on view. The show, which will run through Feb. 3, features 73 dealers, including eight new ones that are participating in the fair for the first time this edition. Of the new additions, three are presenting pieces from the more recent past that enliven the exposition by broadening its range. Read More


Major Tom: An Artist’s Quest for Interplanetary Travel

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Tom Sachs’s “Space Program” lifts off at the Park Avenue Armory on Tuesday. Technically, it is an art exhibition. But know this: Tom Sachs is going to Mars.

The Observer was introduced to the project on a visit to the artist’s Chinatown studio last November; our entry required that we be photographed at the door and issued with a facsimile NASA pass. Members of Mr. Sachs’s core team of 17 who were on hand included Mary Eannarino, a 23-year-old from South Carolina who most recently worked at an art gallery in Moscow, and who is to be one of Armory show’s two astronauts. “Mary’s in on this meeting because she represents the face of our space program,” Mr. Sachs said. Read More


Party of Twelve: Philip Glass Celebrates His 75th at the Armory

Philip Glass. Photo by James Ewing. Courtesy Park Avenue Armory.

Music in Twelve Parts is, along with the opera Einstein on the Beach, the most famous of Philip Glass’s compositions, but he began it with modest intentions. In 1971, he composed Part I, which was originally meant as its own stand-alone work. Roughly 20 minutes’ worth of layered ostinati comprising 12 polyphonic lines, it is one of the most expressive—and surprisingly slow—pieces of music in Mr. Glass’s repertoire.

“I played it for a friend of mine,” he recalled in the liner notes to his 1993 Nonesuch recording of Music in Twelve Parts, “and, when it was through, she said, ‘That’s very beautiful; what are the other eleven parts going to be like?’” He liked the misunderstanding and took it as a challenge. Read More


My Beautiful 19th-Century Gothic Revival Fantasy

Wade Thompson Drill Hall. Photo by Elliot Kaufman. Courtesy Park Avenue Armory.

Rebecca Robertson, president of the Park Avenue Armory, was sitting in one of that massive building’s newly renovated rooms, which used to be the locker room of the Seventh Regiment’s Company E, when a booming bass reverberated from the Armory’s drill hall, sounding a little paradoxical in the room’s gaudy late-Victorian interior. Tommy Hilfiger was having his Fashion Week runway show there. A crew was busy building a catwalk and testing the sound. Ms. Robertson said what she liked about fashion crowds taking over the drill hall was that they were “fantasy people and we’re all about fantasies here.” Read More


After The End Of Merce

Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Last Thursday, on the first night of the last performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the Park Avenue Armory, an overzealous staffer sounded more like a ringmaster as he handed out programs.

“We have three stages! Six balconies for you to go on! You can walk around! It’s a very interactive show!” Read More