Kaitlin Phillips

  • Poolside at the home of collector Tony Tamer. Photo by author.
    diary December 05, 2022

    Never Enough

    LARRY GAGOSIAN DIDN’T FLY DOWN for the twentieth anniversary of Art Basel Miami Beach. This was described to me by Vanity Fair’s art reporter Nate Freeman as “gossip.” And perhaps, were I an art reporter, it would strike me as such.

    At a cocktail party for the gallery, Derek Blasberg—Gagosian employee and career walker to underweight celebrities—was in his element, padding around Karlie Kloss’s twenty-three-million-dollar mansion barefoot. He joked about accidentally picking up plantar warts from the floor. “Europeans say it in a sexier way: verruca.” (Whether this is suspicious or not, I shan’t

  • Vanessa Beecroft’s “living tableau” at Lot 11. Photo: Vanessa Beecroft.
    diary December 13, 2019

    Inside Job

    A WOMAN IN A RED JACKET, doing her job, walked through the halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center on VIP Preview Day. An older, whiter man in navy blue walked beside her. They paused to look at a John Currin painting. “In the end, visual art is all about light,” said the woman. “Have you ever been to Ohio?” asked the man. He had a point.

    The point of Miami, both Beach and Basel, is that you don’t have to visit to understand it. “I am not here to do drugs,” said a man in a Panama hat, pacing the exhibition floor with a skull-topped cane. “It has nothing to do with drugs. It has to do with my


    Curated by Ruth Erickson and Eva Respini with Ellen Tani

    The twenty artists in “When Home Won’t Let You Stay” were selected as speakers for the dead and downtrodden. Americans make for notoriously poor observers of global suffering; this show serves as a corrective. Not all self-consciously didactic exhibitions mounted for their topical value are bad. I favor the oblique work that makes documentary practice look conceptual: Beruit-born Palestinian Mona Hatoum’s suitcases connected with strands of hair (less achingly affecting, perhaps, than the pillow she once stitched with a map of Palestine

  • View of “Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel,” 2018, New Museum, New York. Wall: Divine, 1991/2018. Floor: This Jaguar’s Going to Heaven, 2018. Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

    Sarah Lucas

    The two most famous works by the most famous women of the Young British Artists (YBAs) use as their springboard low-rent mattresses artfully composed—I mean that—to signify postcoital tristesse: Au Naturel, 1994, by Sarah Lucas, and Tracey Emin’s My Bed, 1998. A lot of art in the 1990s was about being disappointed, but they made malaise look and feel as dynamic and complex as it must have been to them in 1993, when they were two young art-school grads who felt like renting a studio was for wanks, so instead opened “The Shop.” The first T-shirts they sold said I’M SO FUCKY (Lucas’s


    The Rhonda Lieberman Reader, edited by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer. Los Angeles: Pep Talk Press, 2018. 536 pages.

    NOT JUST BECAUSE I—Barnard shiksa from the boonies—was conditioned to envy my more socially savvy Jewish American counterparts for their sunglasses (from Selima), their scarves (not Hermès, actually) knotted the way their mothers taught them, and other birthright privileges awarded young ladies of a certain socioeconomic-religious-cultural demographic, who I imagine learned about Freud from their fathers (this is just a fantasy!), am I fascinated by Rhonda Lieberman. Bred in a NYC

  • Writer Kat Herriman with the RUN Cafe menu. (Photo: Kaitlin Phillips)
    diary September 26, 2017

    Running with Scissors

    ON JUNE SECOND, two weeks before the Summer Solstice, the artist Aurel Schmidt told me she’d been forced to hire a bartender for openings at her gallery Romeo to deter underage beer-stealers. (Nothing like a new crop of thirsty teens.)

    The art world’s part-time fakirs—downtown purists sating themselves with free beer and fresh art, and occasional communal-style meals from the likes of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Agathe Snow— did okay from 6 to 8 PM on Thursday. The last night of the summer! For Susan Cianciolo’s “RUN Prayer, RUN Café, RUN Library” at Bridget Donahue, self-serve lime-and-apple sangria

  • Rob Pruitt, Suicide Painting (Black No. 1), 2015, acrylic on linen, 81 × 81".


    In Andy Warhol’s A, A Novel from 1968, John F. Kennedy dies during church. (Americans heard the word of God and then the news that God did not exist as of 12:30 pm CST.) Warhol made sixteen widowed-Jackie portraits. It’s with the same flat promiscuity that post-Pop artist Rob Pruitt celebrates the five-hundredth anniversary of Ulrich Zwingli’s Reformation in Zurich with “The Church,”“an exhibition cum community space cum church.” Cheeky for the idolator responsible for  2011’s The Andy Monument! While sermons from theological students don’t promise the heavenly high of

  • Ellen Altfest, Leg, 2010, oil on linen, 8 × 11". From “The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men.”

    “The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men”

    In the all-women group show “The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men,” the topic is a great maw into which much (good) art is forked: figurative and gestural painting, photographs, sculpture, and embroidery, all spanning 1927 to 2016. Excellent are the aesthetically pleasing portraits of sweetly somber men, all nudes with trusting eyes: Catherine Opie’s photograph of a shirtless Ryan McGinley, posed against a dramatic dark curtain, as if a school photo for a lover; Sylvia Sleigh’s Paul Rosano in Jacobsen Chair, 1971, a pinkish nude self-conscious of his role as gazee, a fitting companion

  • Left: RE/Search founder V. Vale. (Photo: Kaitlin Phillips) Right: Outside the New York Art Book Fair. (Photo: Matthew Carlson)
    diary September 22, 2016

    Fine Print

    LAST THURSDAY, at the opening night preview of Printed Matter’s NY Book Fair at MoMA PS1, in the popup white dome in the courtyard, at one of the end-to-end merchandise tables, V. Vale (“That’s the name I’m famous under”), founder of RE/Search, complains to a fan that the fair, in its eleventh year, and its host city, have lost their street cred:

    “I never come to New York. Yeah, I never come to New York. I never come to New York,” says Vale, beaming defiantly.

    “Well, New York may have jumped the shark.”

    “I don’t know what that means. Jump the shark.”

    “It means that something has hit its peak, and

  • Karen Kilimnik, the perfumed countryside with perfumed sheep, 2015, collage on paper, 4 1/4 × 5 1/8".

    Karen Kilimnik

    Damien Hirst, a man, claims to make art for “people who haven’t been born yet.” Karen Kilimnik hasn’t bothered to defend herself, probably because she makes art for the true public. Born-again types. The pleasure we derive from her art is that we don’t have to be productive versions of ourselves, but romantics, bovarystes enragées, pleasure seekers, those whom Joan Didion accused in her essay on the women’s movement of having an “astral discontent with actual lives.” Adults who want “eternal love, romance, fun,” but know better than to look in real life. They—I?—love Kilimnik, and were

  • Left: Artist and Pioneer Works founder Dustin Yellin with Liv Tyler. Right: Attendees with VR. (All photos: Sam Deitch/BFA.com)
    diary May 15, 2016

    O Pioneers!

    ON A RECENT SUNDAY—mock hatred of Brooklyn (the boonies of Red Hook), galas (the third annual Village Fete), and bad weather (spitting rain) being fodder for all the talk I’ve heard before—imagine just how pleasing it was to find that the “cultural elite” (those paying anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for seats at the Pioneer Works dinner) and the civilians and noncomped alike (PR Girls, reporters from Artnews) found something real to get riled up about.

    “Three out of eight planets are in retrograde!” said a man seated on one of three white picnic benches around the backyard bonfire that is the

  • Dash Snow, A Means to an End, 2002, mixed media, 37 × 18 1/2 × 20 1/4".

    Dash Snow

    “Confusing signals, the impurity of the signal, gives you verisimilitude,” said Donald Barthelme of juxtaposition in his fiction, which he thought of as collage. “As when you attend a funeral and notice, against your will, that it’s being poorly done.” None of Dash Snow’s art in “Freeze Means Run” confuses or confounds. The signals are clearly drawn: angry or tender, political or familial, appropriated or documented. Snow’s work from 2000–2009—his teenage polaroids are being considered with his “mature” work in multiple mediums—falls squarely on an axis familiar to anyone who’s been