Saturday, 12 February 2011
When I arrived at West 26th Street to pay for Saturday's gallery tour the guide, Rafael, directed me to the meeting point at the Peter Blum Gallery on West 29th which is showing an exhibit by British born artist John Beech.
Browsing the exhibit I have to say didn't have much hope that the day's tour was going to be a good one if this was anything to go by. Much as I love browsing around the galleries sometimes I feel that artists get away with passing the most amazing shite off as art. I have no knowledge of Mr Beech's other works, so who knows there may be stuff he's done that I'd really like, but dirty old gloves stuffed into a paint splattered square plastic box....hmmmmm!!!!
Rafael bustled in a few minutes later, having collected payments for the tour and, intro chat out of the way, began to hand out the itinerary. "Okay we're starting at the gallery across the street," he told us. Ha he fooled us, this wasn't the first stop on the tour. Phew!!
First up was an exhibit titled "Godchildren of Enantios" by Irish artist Alice Maher at the David Nolan Gallery. I loved it, although since it's animation it's a little difficult to express via a snap from my little point and shoot, but here's a 2minute video I found on YouTube of the artist talking about her work.
Next up was Kenny Scharf who apparently began his career as a graffiti artist. These days his work is shown at the high falutin' Paul Kasmin Gallery. The artist apparently splits his time between New York and Brazil and was working on his latest pieces - a celebration of the flora and fauna of coastal Brazil - when he heard news of the catastrophic BP oil spill and the painting below was directly inspired by those events.
I found there was a Disney-esque quality to his other works exhibited with animals and plants exhibiting human characteristics, the legs on these trees for example, seemingly clad in high heels
The fiber glass sculptures shown in the photo below are models for picnic tables. The canopies of the sculptures are inspired by the gas clouds formed as a result of nuclear bombs!! Cheery!!
Kenny Scharf's pieces sell in the range of $100k to $250k. Rafael indicated that the average price of a painting selling in Chelsea is $40k, so significantly higher than that. His donut paintings in the gallery annex on 27th St are also very cool, they make me want to eat donuts and I don't even like a deep fried doughy treat.
I think my absolute favourite exhibit of this month's gallery tour was Alyson Shotz at the Derek Eller gallery. Alyson created something stunning from what appeared to be relatively inexpensive materials. I walked into the gallery and just thought "wow!!" However I am not sure how well her work comes across in my photos.
This beautiful piece is made from just yarn and nails. Apparently the artist considers the piece to be a drawing with the shadows cast by the piece considered to be part of the art.
I loved it as an example of an artist using inexpensive materials to create something beautiful, much more impressive than the work I saw last month at the Pace Gallery by Tony Feher in my opinion - see the piece below by Tony Feher which uses plastic tubing and food colouring and charges a fortune for the privilege. Meh!!
The following is also by Alyson Shotz and is made from clear plastic strips which change colour based on the reflected light. The piece is just beautiful in person I encourage you to go and see it if you have the opportunity, the exhibit closes on the 19th March.
The next piece by Steven Siegel showing at the Marlborough gallery is impossible to capture in a single photo since it wrapped around two walls of the gallery.
The artist is apparently in his early 50s and lives in upstate NY in Red Hook. Many of the components of the piece are salvaged and up close you can spot bottle caps, computer components, all sorts of discarded parts woven in. The piece took two years to create and apparently the artist gathers the materials and develops the work at the same working from the right side to the left and continues to gather materials as he goes.
Apparently the gallery is not selling this as one piece but in 18inch sections, which completely horrified Rafael. I can understand his point of view though, even though it's a work I appreciate more than like it just won't be as impactful broken up into sections, but apparently the artist consented to the idea - assuming it was the gallery that had the notion - and decided where the cuts will go. It was at the point Rafael was explaining this to the group that a man, who we all assumed was employed by the gallery came up, and demonstrated how the work will be sectioned.
It was very cool to see that it was cleverly sectioned as it made and Rafael thanked the man for showing us and then said "now the gallery won't tell me how much it's selling for, I assume you won't be able to say anything either?"
To which the man responded "well since I made it I can tell you."
Ha, I love the nonchalant way he told us that. Yup, that's the artist in the photo above who just happened to be present at the gallery while we were there.
He chatted to the group briefly, although when pressed by Rafael to tell us about the piece said that he doesn't really talk about his work, because he prefers to observe the emotional reaction people have to it.
"What did you think of what I said" asked Rafael
"You got a good 10 to 15% of it," he replied
Oh and each 18-inch section? That will be $10,000 each please.
Next up was Ben Rubin's exhibit, Vectors, at the Bryce Wolkowitz gallery. Apparently Ben is a bit of a rising star in the art world having had work, in collaboration with statistician Mark Hansen*, commissioned for the lobby of the New York Times building on 8th Avenue and 41st St, per this 26 second video, and also a piece for the lobby of the revamped Public Theater on Lafayette in 2012.
The centerpiece of Vectors is a 24-foot long wall that apparently uses LED technology to project - is project the right word for LED technology? Probably not, but you get my drift - various words picked from recent Wikileaked diplomatic cables.
This typewriter also has text from Wikileaks projected onto the paper rolled into it.
You'd never know from the name, but Stuart Hawkins, showing at the Zach Feuer gallery, is a female artist who lives and works in Nepal and New York. The exhibit, Broken Welcome, is apparently inspired by a failed residential utopia that was planned for the suburbs of Calcutta, but never came to fruition and Ms. Hawkins added objects and photographed people as it was intended to be.
For example, this photo of the man holding the butterfly represents the view you would have had
...And I think this photo below is supposed to depict a domestic scene from the kitchen you would have had.
Last up - and a replacement exhibit, but more on that at the end - was Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli, showing at the Gagosian Gallery, which depicts various supermodels as the weeping Madonna and child. Apparently it's a bit of a comment on the cult of celebrity and the power wielded by the media. I didn't love it.
The Vezzoli exhibit replaced the exhibit Rafael intended us to see by Christian Marclay at the Paula Cooper gallery owing to the long queues of people that had recently appeared to get into the gallery. "You could line up after the tour if you have the time" said Rafael, "but I don't have the time, I have another group coming."
Apparently the art world is going crazy for Mr. Marclay's latest work, the clock, in which the artist has edited together pieces of films that show a snippet of the time to create a minute by minute timeline of a day which is synchronized to the real time each day, so if you go in to see the exhibit at 10.02am then the time shown in the film will be 10.02, at 10.03am all the snippets would depict that time on screen. 4.15pm...that's the time on screen. You get the picture. It's been getting raves from the art world according to this YouTube video of a BBC piece on the exhibit.
I admit the concept seems pretty clever and painstaking work to pull it all together, but I am having a hard time believing it's all that to be honest, but apparently it's fascinating. Anyway if it sounds like your kind of thing then hot foot it down to the Paula Cooper gallery pronto as it closes on the 19th February.
*As a mathematician by training I love the fact that he collaborates with a statistician. I'm a total nerd ;-)