The Upper East Side
At a time when just about any exhibition or art fair, anywhere in the world, is just a click away, it’s easy to forget that art-making is still an intensely local affair, that individual scenes and real-world interactions between artists still matter, perhaps now more than ever. This fittingly hot summer, we’re welcoming Los Angeles here in New York. Its luminaries fill our museums—Robert Irwin at the Whitney Museum, James Turrell at the Guggenheim, Ken Price at the Met and the Drawing Center, Llyn Foulkes at the New Museum—and this two-venue show brings in its youth, many with slim or nonexistent New York exhibition histories, alongside a few of the city’s still-underrated elders, like William Leavitt, Jim Isermann and Allen Ruppersberg.
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.
THE UPPER EAST SIDE ART SCENE sure is getting wild. Long the preserve of the staid and genteel (old masters, modern masters and the like), the neighborhood has recently been seeing more adventurous fare. Three gallery shows that exemplify the trend—and a fourth farther uptown—are of work by artists who share elements of the same profile: the bad-boy avant-gardist with machismo to spare, rebelling against aesthetic conventions, social norms or both.
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It’s about 7 p.m. in New York, and though you may not know it, you have an important choice to make. You can head back home, maybe have a quiet evening at your apartment—have some dinner, read a book, that sort of thing. Or you can head up to the Venus Over Manhattan gallery at 980 Madison (that’s between East 76th and 77th Street), which tonight is playing host to a relatively rare performance of Jack Goldstein’s Two Fencers (1976) piece. (Full disclosure: VoM is owned by Adam Lindemann, who contributes to The Observer.)
The second show at the new Upper East Side gallery Venus Over Manhattan is filled with bulletin boards. (Disclosure: Venus Over Manhattan is owned by Observer contributor Adam Lindemann.) The West Village alternative space White Columns, which has been home to a bulletin-board exhibition space for a number of years, gave bulletin boards to more than 20 artists and art types and asked them to present something with it.
After its dark, moody debut exhibition “À Rebours,” which channeled the feel of a late-19th-century aristocrat’s private chambers, the Venus Over Manhattan gallery is going in a comparatively contemporary and light-hearted direction for its sophomore effort. This outing is titled “Bulletin Boards,” and it’s being organized by West Village alternative space White Columns. (Full disclosure: VoM is owned by Observer contributor Adam Lindemann.)
For the show, Matthew Higgs, the director and chief curator of White Columns, has asked more than 20 artists and art types, including Rita Ackermann, Darren Bader, Gavin Brown, Margaret Lee and Michele Abeles, Bjarne Melgaard, Virginia Overton, Daniel Turner and B. Wurtz, to present work using a bulletin board. The show opens July 19.
Over the past year, a remarkable number of exhibitions at contemporary art galleries have paired new art with fin-de-siècle French painting. Among them were Algus Greenspon’s wonderfully eccentric hang of Odilon Redon and Dan Colen, Julia Margaret Cameron and Kai Altoff in “Invitation to the Voyage” last fall, Andrew Kreps’s smart take on Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard in January’s “Interiors,” the kitschy, Playboy-sponsored “Giverny” by E.V. Day and Kembra Pfahler at the Hole, and “À Rebours,” the Symbolist-macho premiere of Observer contributor Adam Lindemann’s new Venus on Manhattan gallery.
NBC News is reporting that a small Salvador Dalí work titled Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio, with an estimated value of $150,000, was stolen on Tuesday from Venus Over Manhattan, the Upper East Side gallery recently started at 980 Madison by Adam Lindemann, an art collector and writer who pens a column for The Observer. A gallery rep reached by Gallerist declined to comment.
This is the latest of a number of thefts to hit New York galleries recently. Last year, a $30,000 Steven Parrino drawing was taken from the Marc Jancou gallery in Chelsea, and in March a thief made off with a number of Ellen Harvey paintings from Rivington Street’s Dodge Gallery, but was stopped when proprietor Kristen Dodge chased the person down and retrieved the works.
VOM’s current show, “À Rebours,” is dimly lit, channeling the decadent interior of the Duc des Esseintes, who stars in J. K. Huysman’s book of the same name, presumably making a Dodge-style apprehension quite a bit more difficult.
They’re both interested in 19th-century writer J.K. Huysmans!
We stopped by our columnist Adam Lindemann’s new gallery yesterday while he was installing his first exhibition called “À Rebours,” an attempt to sort of reimagine the world of the Duke Des Esseintes from the famous 19th-century Huysmans novel of the same name, using pieces by Redon and Moreau (the fictional duke’s favorites) as well as contemporary art and a hodgepodge of other things. (n.b.: This is not a review. We stopped by. We checked it out. We edit Adam Lindemann; we don’t always agree with him.)
The gallery is on the third floor of 980 Madison. On our way up, the elevator doors opened briefly on the second floor to reveal signage for something called the Exhale day spa. We almost got out there, reader, we almost got out there.