Category Archives: Dealer Galleries

Three Great Things in NYC

In New York it goes without saying that you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to all things art related. Here are three of my top art experiences from my time away.

1. Ragnar Kjartansson Me, My Mother, My Father and I at the New Museum

Ragnar Kjartansson, 'Take me here by the dishwasher'

Ragnar Kjartansson, ‘Take me here by the dishwasher’ 2011/2014, installation view

Ten handsome young male troubadours milled about a dimly lit exhibition space, sitting on squabs, leaning against the wall, pulling beers out of a fridge.  They were singing the same song, in a heartstring pulling minor key, over and over again.  Initially it was all too schmaltzy, too earnest, but it didn’t take long to be sucked in.  This same group of singers occupied the exhibition space 6 days a week, eight hours a day, for FOUR MONTHS.  So there was a significant feat of endurance at play that cut through the frat boy prettiness.  On one of the gallery walls was a large video projection on a loop.  Shot in soft 70s hues, it featured a housewife and plumber arguing in a kitchen, before falling into an awkward embrace.  This was in fact the artist’s actor parents, starring in Iceland’s first feature film, Morðsaga (1977) and family legend has it that Kjartansson was conceived the night after the shoot.  Deciphering the lyrics to the troubadours’ song, which included the title of the work; Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage (2011/2014), added an element of humour that initially made me feel embarrassed about my indulgence in the sheer beauty of the thing.  And this is what makes Kjartansson’s work so great – he attempts to convey genuine emotion through melodrama, seeking sincerity within stereotypes.  This was one of the best works I have ever experienced.

2. Stephen Lichty at Foxy Production

Stephen Lichty, 'Untitled', 2014

Stephen Lichty, ‘Untitled’, 2014

LOL was surprised to discover that the commercial galleries in Chelsea were largely filled with big, bad paintings.  Lichty’s show, his first commercial solo, was a welcome antidote.  Containing only four works, each sculpture and installation was a refined study in the interplay of two corresponding materials –  a small square of basalt sat upon an identically sized block of steel, two strands of black Japanese silk knotted in the middle stretched floor to ceiling, Fred Sandback style.  In the back room, two bronze troughs filled to the brim with water bubbled ever so slightly as the water was pumped gently from one end to the other, emulating the basic functions of the human body, and oxidising the base of each object in the process.  These three works were foils to the show’s centrepiece, a single piece of naturally shaped basalt topped by a taxidermied cat.  Lichty worked closely with the taxidermist to ensure that the resting shape of the creature closely followed the form of the rock, the top of which he had polished by hand.  Speaking with the artist, Lichty mentioned that his hands were all over this show, an interesting observation given the slick and minimal result. Despite this, the work has real warmth – it’s distinctly human.  Lichty is one to watch.

3. Maria Lassnig Retrospective at MOMA PS1

Maria Lassnig, 'Lady with a Brain', 200

Maria Lassnig, ‘Lady with a Brain’, 1990

Lassnig was wild.  The Austrian painter’s tightly curated retrospective was presented chronologically, charting the artist’s progression from graphic abstraction to figural representation, when she began painting according to ‘body awareness’ – aiming to represent the way her body felt from the inside, rather than superficially.  Reveling in abjection and the monstrous feminine, her portraiture battled conventions of female beauty head on.  We’re presented with images of the artist naked, hairless, with her brains spilling out of the back of her head, or, iconically, toting two guns – one pointed at us, the other at herself.  This gritty, confrontational subject matter is matched by the most exquisite, fresh palette (helpfully amplified by the blonded wooden gallery floors). Lassnig was a brilliant colourist   Many works in the show that she made in the 70s look as if they could have been painted today, her singular aesthetic is resoundingly contemporary.  The Austrian painter began showing in New York in 2002 so the exhibition was timely.  Sadly Lassnig died in May this year aged 94.

(You can watch a video walk through of the show here).


Sherman on Franco

Detail from James Franco's New Untitled Film Still 21 (2013); detail from Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still 21 (1978)

Detail from James Franco’s ‘New Untitled Film Still 21′ 2013 (left) and detail from Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled Film Still 21′ 1978 (right)

Art world darling (and certified creep) James Franco recently launched a new and appallingly bad photo series at Pace Gallery, New York, that riffs on Cindy Sherman’s iconic film stills. “Cindy is an artist who used cinema as a source for her work; she ‘played’ at being an actress” says Franco. “I am an actor who inserts himself into his work. I am fully embedded in Hollywood, but these photos allow me to take a step to the side, look back, and refashion the work I do in Hollywood. I am at the same time actor, critic, artist, and character.” Hmm. When asked about Franco’s appropriations last week, Sherman said: “I was flattered, I can only be flattered. I don’t know that I can say it’s art, but I think it’s weirder that Pace would show them than that he would make them.” Not exactly a glowing endorsement then…


Looking Forward – Martin Thompson


Picasso, Baby.

Jay Z faces off with Marina at Pace Gallery

Jay Z faces off with Marina at Pace Gallery

Jay Z’s taken his art wank to the next level this week with a 6-hour ‘endurance performance’ at Pace Gallery in New York.  The rapper performed his new single ‘Picasso Baby’ over and over to an audience filled with fans and art-world heavyweights alike.  Attendants included Girls producer Judd Apatow, art critic Jerry Saltz (who had this to say about the performance) and artists including Marilyn Minter, Laurie Simmons, Marina Abramovic and Laurence Weiner.  According to crowd member and artist Adam Pendleton however “It was a little unclear when Lawrence Weiner came out if Jay-Z had any idea who he was.”  Awkward.

Footage gleaned from the performance will eventually be edited into a music video to accompany the single.  While photographs and tweets were allegedly not permitted within the space, this hasn’t stopped them cropping up all over social media and Gothamist has some good snippets of pirated footage.  The whole thing’s created quite a buzz, but LOL wonders if the result is anything more than a cleverly crafted situation where name dropping artists becomes another hollow signifier of status…

Haunch of Venison set to close

Haunch of Venison's New York space

Haunch of Venison’s New York space

Haunch of Venison, the commercial gallery established by Harry Blain and Graham Southern in 2002 and controversially acquired by Christies in 2007 is shutting its doors.  The New York space will close at the end of its current exhibition ‘How to Tell the Future from the Past’ and the London branch will be converted into a Christies sales and exhibition space.  The auction house is streamlining the business to focus on secondary sales exclusively, meaning that they’ll also no longer be working with the 40 artists in the Haunch of Venison stable.  Ouch.

Artists Ditch Gagosian

Larry Gagosian and Damien Hirst have parted company

Larry Gagosian & Damien Hirst have parted ways

Larry Gagosian is facing the loss of two of his most well known artists.  Last week Damien Hirst’s company Science Limited announced; “Larry Gagosian and Damien have reached an amicable decision to part company.”  It was only in January that Gagosian committed to showing the artist’s complete suite of spot paintings at all Gagosian galleries worldwide.  The dealer has represented Hirst for 17 years.

Hirst’s departure was followed a day later by that of Yayoi Kusama, who has shown with Gagosian since 2009.  (Another Gagosian artist – Jeff Koons – is still ostensibly in the stable, but has lined up a solo show at rival gallery David Zwirner in the New Year).  In the mean time, Hirst and Kusama continue to be represented by White Cube and Victoria Miro/Ota Fine Arts respectively.

Murakami, Boesky & the Cosmos

Murakami in front of his psychedelic wallpaper, ‘Cosmos’

Takashi Murakami is suing New York dealer Marianne Boesky over her allegedly unauthorised loan of the artist’s limited edition wallpaper, ‘Cosmos’ to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Murakami claims that Boesky reproduced the wallpaper without his permission and supplied it to The Met for inclusion in their current Andy Warhol exhibition, ‘Regarding Warhol’.  Defending her position, Boesky’s lawyers claim that Murakami agreed to the arrangement ‘verbally’.

In 2003 Murakami gave Boesky permission to sell limited edition sets (each containing 20 sheets) of ‘Cosmos’ to fifteen collectors.  Artist control of the product was so stringent that collectors who wanted to move the wallpaper could only buy new rolls if the originals were returned to Boesky to be destroyed.  Surprising then that Boesky thought she could, according to court papers, create unlimited rolls of paper, ‘apparently forever’ and that she had kept the digital file to do just that, even after she stopped representing Murakami over six years ago.

The artist is seeking compensation and the immediate return of the digital file.