Friday, March 15, 2013

NY Art Fair Roundup

Patrick Tschudi at Galleria Lucia de La Puente   Lima, Peru
Kehinde Wiley
Craig Kaufman
Jules Olitski at Hackett Mill
Simon Linke at Mireille Mosler
Morris Louis at ADA
Kiki Smith ADA Show
Wayne Thiebaud ADA Show
Patrick Wilson at Suzanne Vielmetter
This year's Armory Show at Piers 92 and 94 was once again divided among Modern and Contemporary.  There was more good stuff in the Modern section but this year both piers seemed less crowded and hectic than in year's past.  I saw some great pieces by Craig Kaufman, Tadaaki Kuwayama, and the recently deceased Jules Olitski.  The Olitski was a big, beautiful spray painting from 1965 at  San Francisco's  Hackett Mill gallery booth.  The gallery had a lot of museum quality work from the Bay Area school and is planning a fall exhibition of Olitski's Spray paintings.  These paintings represent a high point for late Modernism--and along with Louis' Unfurleds and Stripes and Noland's Circle Paintings and Chevrons--Olitski's Spray Paintings prove that Greenberg was not all wrong about his own Post-Pollock/Newman canon.  The Spray Paintings are among the most original abstract paintings ever painted.  The fact that they are ravishing has always been held against them.

The Olitski was selling for $280,000 which is chump change in today's art world of hedge fund robber barons. A comparable Louis at the ADA  was selling for $950,000 thus illustrating Olitski's fallen stock in the art world.  I'm pretty certain that the vicissitudes of fashion will fall favorably on Olistki's reputation and he will command millions for the Spray Paintings in the next 10 years.

It was wonderful to see Simon Linke's brilliant paintings of  Artforum ads from the 1980s.  These have always intrigued me for both the subject matter and how they are painted.  There were more recent small ones that private dealer Mosher was featuring in her booth. 

A Peruvian artist named Patrick Tschudi had some interesting animations of contemporary life and stills from same in the Gallery Lucia De La Puente from Lima.  These representations featured a world inhabited solely by black people and were fascinating to look at.  Patrick Wilson's abstract paintings from California were selling out at Suzanne Vielmetter's booth.  I first saw his work several years ago on a trip to California and he is doing some wonderful things with surface. They are a study in virtuosity.  The formats recall classic and contemporary abstraction from Diebenkorn to Halley but they way they are painted are quite unique. They seem manufactured in an auto body shop but instead of high gloss they have a magical matte finish.  They are good paintings and far better than almost anything else I saw all weekend, but I'm not yet convinced they are major works.

For the first time in years, I ventured to the American Art Dealers (ADA) Show at the 67th Street Armory.  Now I remember why I stopped going.  Nothing too inspiring besides spotting a spry 80 year-old Yoko Ono.  Mary Corse, Wayne Theibaud looked great but Kiki Smith's awful and embarrassing dog and butterfly wall bronzes at Pace made more than one dealer wince.  Everyone hated them.  With these works, Kiki Smith sets a new low for HORRIBLE and WRETCHED art.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall

East Village, Tomkins Square Park, Dec. 2012
Westside, facing 42nd St., April 2012
Los Cabos, Baja Sur Mexico 2012
Riverside Park, 119th St. NYC Nov. 2012

Saturday, March 2, 2013

In the Studio With Craig Watson

The last we saw of the art of Craig Watson was way back in 2001 with his solo exhibition, Craig Wats,  at Momenta in Williamsburg.  That show featured his enigmatic unspecific objects most prominently his large European Work Bench.  Watson's work requires the kind of viewer which seems in short supply these days--cognizant of history and unseduced by the banalities of the spectacle. 

I remember visiting his studio years ago when it was on Metropolitan Avenue in the heart of the then burgeoning Williamsburg scene.  He lived there for over a decade until his landlord, a prominent New York abstract painter, decided that he wanted an even more obscene profit on his building (one of several he owned in the area).  Watson picked up and moved east--not East Williamsburg or Bushwick but  settled instead in the quiet corner of Ridgewood, Queens--a slice of Eastern Europe right off the M train.

His studio looked much like his previous one--another basement enterprise--and it was filled with some fascinating new work.  The first work that stood out were his hanging sculptures that recalled modernist skyscrapers and a kind of dystopic pall around them.  They are made up of metal (both painted and unpainted), wire and some colored blobby forms meant to recall public sculpture.  This work holds much promise not only for the way it is made and  looks but also because embedded in it is much of the current discourse around the unsustainability of current systems of capital.  The fact that these sculptures are hanging make them even more poignant.   

Also on view was his Double Happiness a new sculpture made of carved wood and painted black that resembles a kind of generic gas pump.  It features a decorative lattice evoking Chinese architectural motifs and here again the formal is subtly expanded to comment on bigger, larger concerns.  

Another work that struck me was a lovely hanging lamp that is made from galvanized electrical boxes that have been painted a luscious powder coated white. This work will be available in an edition directly from the artist's studio in the near future.