Calvin Tomkins on Tate Director Nicholas Serota, Peter Doig on the ‘Guston Rash’

Nicolas Serota. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan)

In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, Calvin Tomkins gives Nicholas Serota, the Tate Gallery’s director for the past 24 years, the profile treatment, on the occasion of Tate Modern’s plans to open a new exhibition space next month. Early on, Mr. Tomkins delivers a grand quotation from Larry Gagosian that pretty much sums up the arc of his subject’s career: “Nick ­really­ caught ­the ­wave….He ­saw­ the ­possibilities, ­the ­wealth ­coming ­in, ­and ­he ­kind ­of­ harnessed­ that.” (Which sounds a bit like Mr. Gagosian himself.) Read More


The Yard Man: Meet Madison Square Park’s Secret Weapon

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Martin Friedman, model for George Segal's Hot Dog Stand. Ca. 1978

On May 31, the Madison Square Park Conservancy will assemble 300 art world luminaries to toast a man who prides himself on having recently been called “boneheaded.” Two months ago, the park named a curatorial post, its first, in honor of this same man.

“I will treasure forever being described as a bonehead,” said Martin Friedman, who is in his late 80s, and who served as director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for 26 years before retiring in 1989 and, eventually, becoming an advisor to the park. He was sitting in his art-filled apartment (Claes Oldenburg sketches and sculptures, Sol LeWitt wall drawings) on the 12th floor of a building in Greenwich Village last week, reminiscing about the incident that earned him his epithet. When the park displayed life-size sculptures of naked, standing men by Antony Gormley on rooftops two years ago, The New York Post fretted about their being mistaken for potential suicides in an article bearing the headline “Jump Dummy Jump,” that referred to the exhibition’s “boneheaded organizers.” Read More


Filling the Hole: Deitch Protégé Kathy Grayson Brings Monet’s Garden Into Her Gallery

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E.V. Day and Kembra Pfahler, Untitled 7

Earlier this month, the 31-year-old art dealer Kathy Grayson was in her gallery, the Hole, speaking over a saw buzzing in the background. She was awaiting the arrival of 100 bags of pea gravel, 2,500 square feet of synthetic turf, four types of pond grasses, six cherry blossom trees, three willow trees, five dozen water lilies, dozens of tulips and stalks of bamboo, and a Japanese bridge to stretch over a pond. At the behest of the artists Kembra Pfahler and E.V. Day, she was transforming the Hole, for a month, into a recreation of Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, where the painter spent the final years of his life and painted his famous Water Lilies. Once the garden was complete, she would hang in it 12 photographs Ms. Day took, on an artist residency at Giverny, of Ms. Pfahler posing in the gardens in her role as lead singer of glam-punk band the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black: naked, save for thigh-high boots, head-to-toe body paint and a black wig teased into a two-foot-high rat’s nest. Read More


Things We Learned from the New Yorker’s Carl Andre Profile

Mr. Andre in 1978. Courtesy NY Times.

Calvin Tomkins’ long-awaited profile of sculptor Carl Andre was published in this week’s New Yorker. It is really something. First there’s the jarring opening picture of the rarely-photographed Mr. Andre and his wife, the artist Melissa Kretschmer, (the last photograph we had seen of the artist was from the late ’70s, when he had a Karl Marx beard and was rail-thin). Standing in what looks like a very modest apartment, he is completely bald, wearing the overalls he’s sported for several decades now, and an over-sized cardigan on top of that. We weren’t expecting him to be clean shaven. Here are some other details that took us by surprise. Read More