A Family Affair: New York University and the Acton Saga

Villa La Pietra.

The opening is a knockout, no question.  It’s a sweltering June morning in 2003, and Dialta Alliata, just 50 and exuberantly posh in the high Italian manner, and her two sisters are walking toward the Cimitero degli Allori, the venerable resting place of the British colony in Florence, when five blue sedans hurtle past, raising dust. Dark suits wait among the graves. “I pick out a trustee of Harold Acton standing with an attorney for New York University,” Ms. Alliata writes in her newly published memoir, My Mother. My Father and His Wife Hortense: The True Story of Villa La Pietra. “Although no one looks relaxed, it is possible that the trustee is the unhappiest member of the gathering. He has tried for almost a decade to prevent what is about to take place, but he has lost,” she writes in the memoir. Read More


Kanye West on Le Corbusier, the Louvre

West and Kim Kardashian at the 2013 Costume Institute Gala at the Met. (Getty Images)

Next Tuesday, Kanye West, arguably the greatest artist of the present era, will release his sixth album, Yeezus. As Mr. West was finishing work on it, New York Times music writer Jon Caramanica visited him in Malibu, Calif., at Shangri-La Studio, which Bob Dylan and the Band had built in 1970 and is now owned by Read More


A New Dimension: Thomas Ruff Embraces 3D


Could it be an art world trend occasioned by the special effects of films like Avatar and The Avengers? A few months ago, rising star Trisha Baga had visitors at Greene Naftali don 3D glasses to better experience her complex installations and slide projections. Last fall, Christie’s made the somewhat tenuous claim that Warhol’s 1962 “3D painting” of the Statue of Liberty was meant to be viewed through 3D glasses, and it dutifully doled them out to prospective buyers and looky-loos alike. Now, at David Zwirner, 3D glasses are provided for viewing superstar German photographer Thomas Ruff’s recent “ma.r.s.” series. Grab a pair from the box near the entrance and enjoy the aerial views of the red planet, originally captured by NASA. In 3D-ma.r.s. 10 (2013), the planet’s carbuncular surface seems to pop right into the gallery. Move around it and the irregular bumps shift and stretch, appearing to follow you. Put the glasses on backward to reverse what recedes and what protrudes—the enormous crater dominating 3D-ma.r.s.09 (2013) will stick out like a Bundt cake. Read More


Kicked Out of 1993

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Robinson and Paul H-O in the offices of Art in America

“NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star” opens at the New Museum on Feb. 13 and runs through May 26.

I remember 1973 well enough. I had graduated college the year before and moved downtown into a Tribeca loft ($220 a month) and, along with two pals, had started my own art magazine, using after hours the facilities of my day job, which was doing paste-up for The Jewish Week. I earned $6 an hour and had more money than I knew what to do with.

I remember 1983, because that was the time of the East Village, when I lived on Ludlow Street (rent $150), was art editor of the East Village Eye, and showed, at Metro Pictures gallery in Soho, paintings of people kissing.

And I remember 2003, though I don’t really have to, since by then Artnet Magazine was up and running; pretty much everything I had going on is archived online. Read More


On Art’s To-Do List: Climate Change

Fend harvesting algae in New Zealand. (Courtesy the artist and Peanut Underground)

Before Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen sent his version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream to the auction block at Sotheby’s New York in May, where it sold for $120 million, he spoke to the press about what he thought the work meant. At the time, Mr. Olsen’s pronouncements sounded, at least to me, a little bit off. The Scream, we’re all taught, is about existential angst, the individual crying out, alone in the universe, but Mr. Olsen, who’d lived with the work his entire life, had a more expansive view. Read More


The Season Begins: Scrappy Expansion, Autopilot Art and a New Avant-Garde

Kiki Kogelnik, 'Outer Space,' 1964. (Courtesy the Kiki Kogelnik Foundation and Simone Subal Gallery)

As hard as it is to believe—weren’t we just on Randall’s Island for Frieze?—the New York art season has officially begun. The first real event came last Tuesday with the premiere of Olaf Breuning’s film Home 3, a gloriously unhinged panegyric to the city, at Soho’s Swiss Institute. It was drizzling, so PR reps were outfitted in Jabba the Hutt ponchos, welcoming everyone back together after their time away, their trips to Basel, Kassel, Genk, Amagansett.

But things really began in earnest on Thursday evening in Chelsea with the first opening receptions of the year. Throngs took to the Chelsea streets. (Doesn’t it feel a little bit more crowded every year?) Hope always springs eternal among the city’s art types in September, but people seemed especially ebullient this go-’round. Read More


Do Gallery Exhibitions Still Matter? Readers Respond

Press Preview Of Hayward Gallery's Invisible: Art About The Unseen Exhibition

Last week, following Margo Leavin Gallery’s announcement that it plans to close after more than 40 years in Los Angeles, we asked readers to respond to Leavin director Wendy Brandow’s assertion that the public’s interest in gallery exhibitions has declined. She told the Los Angeles Times:

“People are approaching art differently today. They’re not seeking out the thoughtful, complete statement that artists make when they create gallery exhibitions. … The exhibitions have been such an important part of what we do, and they are no longer valued as much by the public.”

Readers delivered a wide variety of takes on the subject. Read More


Who Is Henry Codax? And Other Tales of Secret Art

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Installation view of "Henry Codax" at Carriage Trade, summer 2011

This week, the 13th edition of Documenta, the art festival that arrives every five years in the small German city of Kassel, opens to the public, and over the course of its 100-day run it is expected to attract more than 750,000 visitors. One of the international art world’s most serious, intellectual affairs, it used to attract a fraction of that number—art insiders on the pilgrimage route. But the audience for avant-garde art has expanded. Once a rarefied, remote realm of culture, contemporary art is now dead center; for proof, consider that George Condo had his New Museum retrospective after doing a Kanye West record cover. Read More


Karen Kilimnik’s Teenage Dream

Karen Kilimnik Opening at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center - [ EXCLUSIVE CONTENT ]

I’ve always favored  macho art, art that packs a solid dose of testosterone. My art collecting alter ego, whom I’ve dubbed Duc Jean des Esseintes, and who has curated the inaugural exhibition at my new gallery, Venus Over Manhattan, also preferred big, bold statements—large outdoor sculptures, super-sized paintings, almost anything oversized and impractical. Des Esseintes’s exhibition, called “À Rebours,” is named for and based on a 19th-century novel that describes Des Esseintes’s strange life of art collecting and indulgence, as well as his obsessions with poetry, absinthe and decadence. In his/my show, artworks by French 19th-century symbolist masters are intermingled with those of contemporary artists young and old, in ways both tasteful and tasteless. Read More


One of Wim Delvoye’s Excrement-Making Sculptures Is on View in Australia

Wim Delvoye's "Cloaca Professional" 2010. (Courtesy the artist)

It’s been just about exactly 10 years since Belgian artist Wim Delvoye presented his Cloaca—a giant installation that turned food into feces—at the New Museum. He has been a somewhat scarce presence in New York recently: he’s appeared in a handful of group shows here, but his last major gallery show in the city was in 2005, at Sperone Westwater. Nevertheless, he has been busy. Read More