IN THE PAST DECADE, there have been no fewer than three major exhibitions of Edouard Vuillard, starting with the Musée d’Orsay in 2003. France’s eccentric painter of wallpaper, his mother and fin-de-siècle interiors has, it seems, been making something of a comeback recently, and not just in museums; in January, Chelsea gallerist Andrew Kreps included a Vuillard painting in a four-person show, alongside pieces by Marc Camille Chaimowicz and William Copley. Now it’s the Jewish Museum’s turn, with an exhibition devoted to Vuillard and his patrons.
In terms of raw ambition, the only show on the Lower East Side currently eclipsing Ramiken Crucible’s Bjarne Melgaard-helmed, tiger-filled affair is Merlin Carpenter’s “Tate Café” exhibition at Reena Spaulings, which features a none-too-shabby reproduction of the Tate Modern’s café.
This month’s Artforum is pleasantly plump, filled with ads for Frieze New York and strong May shows.
Alex Israel is a youngish L.A. artist whose pastel-color panel paintings look like the sets of ’80s porn flicks; they’ve been selling like hotcakes at chic galleries in Paris and Berlin. I tried to see his recent one-man show at the übercool and cutting-edge Lower East Side gallery Reena Spaulings Fine Art, but the gallery is so übercool and cutting edge that, on the Friday afternoon I chose for my visit, it wasn’t even open. In fact, the two times I have ventured to this gallery in an attempt to see an exhibition, during regular gallery hours, they have managed to have the doors locked and the lights turned off. I’d given up on writing about Mr. Israel’s work, when I realized that I could simply review his new TV show, As It LAys, the one he’s recently uploaded to You Tube and for which he created a website: www.asitlays.com. This interview show, with Mr. Israel as host, reminds me of Andy Warhol’s famous “Screen Tests”: both projects are, in superficially different but actually very similar ways, forms of video portraiture.
The Christmas season is, of course, long gone, and Gallerist said a sad goodbye to our celebratory tree many weeks ago. It was a pleasure, then, to visit the second-floor Reena Spaulings gallery this past rainy Sunday to find a full forest of evergreens installed, courtesy of Swedish artist Klara Lidén. It smells like heaven up there in the former brothel.