armory week 2014

At the Armory Show, the Old Masters of Contemporary Art

L.H.O.O.Q. (1916/1964) by Marcel Duchamp, at Sean Kelly

So focused is the Armory Show on the art of our times—not so long ago, it was devoted entirely to works by living artists—that the artworks that end up being talked about here often tend to be the older ones, rather than the wet-paint ones.  One piece that had people talking at the Wednesday VIP preview was Marcel Duchamp’s famous L.H.O.O.Q.—a reproduction of the Mona Lisa with a drawn-on mustache—dated 1916/1964, and on view at the booth of Sean Kelly Gallery. Mr. Kelly placed the small Duchamp, one of an edition of 35, next to a piece by Joseph Kosuth, which in turn was next to a two-sided joke drawing by Richard Prince. His point? “That L.H.O.O.Q. is the original joke painting,” Mr. Kelly’s daughter Lauren, a director at the gallery, told us. Mr. Kelly, who had helpfully placed QR codes on all of his artwork labels, was having a busy day. He’d already parted with that Prince, for $70,000, and had sold a Leandro Ehrlich and a number of other works by midday. “The fair feels solid and strong,” he said. Read More

human resources

Mariko Mori Joins Roster at Sean Kelly

Mariko Mori "Rebirth" At The Royal Academy Of Arts

Mariko Mori, the Japanese multimedia artist best known for her flamboyant riffs on contemporary Japanese culture and technology, is now represented by Sean Kelly Gallery. She had previously worked for many years in New York with Deitch Projects, which closed in 2010, when Jeffrey Deitch moved to Los Angeles to helm its Museum of Contemporary Art.

A former fashion model, Ms. Mori often appears in her photography and video work, adopting different identities that range from space-age school girl to floating Heian deity to intergalactic blue-haired heroine. In these projects and in her more recent minimalist sculptures, Ms. Mori has explored subjects such as media representations of women, consumerism, fantasy, traditional Japanese iconography, ancient cultures, science and spirituality. Read More


Supersize Chelsea!: In New York’s Main Art District, It’s Go Big or Go Home


“Be careful where you step,” shouted Maureen Bray over a percussion of power tools as she maneuvered past the electricians, sheetrockers and HVAC crew members who have two months to transform a 22,000-square-foot construction zone into the new home of Sean Kelly Gallery, which is about to triple in size. “Obviously this giant hole won’t be here,” said Ms. Bray, a director at the gallery, pointing to what will become a stairwell leading to a black-box theater—just one of three exhibition spaces, alongside expanded offices, a “canyon”-sized library and two private viewing rooms (“back where those toilets are now”).

In the early 1990s, most real-estate-seeking New Yorkers overlooked the gray smudge on Manhattan’s West Side known as Chelsea, then still a wasteland of deserted freight tracks, turpentine fumes and auto-body garages. But for the throngs of art galleries being swiftly priced out of Soho by fashion boutiques and Dean & Delucas, it offered cavernous, column-free architecture at bargain-basement prices.

Matthew Marks pioneered the migration on an abandoned stretch of West 22nd Street. Soon after, Barbara Gladstone, Metro Pictures, Sean Kelly and hundreds of other galleries followed, and a “new Soho” was born in Chelsea.

Twenty years, two Gagosian Galleries and a Comme des Garçons later, Chelsea art dealers are fretting that the legacy of Soho has come back to haunt them. About a third of the neighborhood’s galleries have been shuttered in the last five years as High Line-inflated real estate prices and an influx of deep-pocketed fashion and design firms have forced out many of the smaller dealers. At its height, Chelsea was home to more than 350 galleries; today only 204 remain, according to Rice & Associates real estate adviser Earl Bateman.

But it would be premature to pronounce the world’s premier gallery district dead. Read More


Sean Kelly Will Move to 22,000-Square-Foot Space North of Chelsea

Sean Kelly. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan Company)

Chelsea gallerist Sean Kelly has added a whopping six artists over the past 18 months, including big names like Kehinde Wiley, Alec Soth and Terence Koh. To show his burgeoning roster, he’s moving in the fall to a two-story, 22,000-square-foot gallery at 36th Street and 10th Avenue, the current home of nonprofit Exit Art, which is closing after 30 years. It’s three times larger than Mr. Kelly’s current space. “The minute we saw it we knew it was the right one,” Mr. Kelly told The Observer. He’d been looking for a year. Read More

Armory Week 2012

‘If You Don’t Do This Fair, You’re Stupid': With Sales and High Spirits, the Armory Show Gets Off to a Rollicking Start

Sean Kelly's bustling booth, with a new painting by Kehinde Wiley

The greatest threat to the Armory Show was a no-show on its opening day. No, we’re not talking about the looming Frieze Art Fair, which launches its first New York edition in May—Frieze was present in corporeal form, in the person of co-director Amanda Sharp, who was spotted amongst the Armory’s booths and in virtual form, in the press release that went out this morning, just as the Armory was opening its doors, announcing Frieze’s New York’s architectural plans. Read More


Sculptor Nathan Mabry to Sean Kelly

"It Is What It Is (Tongue-Tied)" (2007) by Nathan Mabry. (Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery)

Sean Kelly Gallery announced today that it will represent the young Los Angeles artist Nathan Mabry, whose work combines Minimalist hallmarks–he often uses sculptures resembling Judd and Artschwager pieces as pedestals–with forms from Native American and African art. 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 is the best way to sell something to someone else online, the Platonic ideal of website retail. Imagine a version of 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 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