Linda Yablonsky

  • diary October 18, 2017

    Dog Days

    IT WAS THE WEEK BEFORE FIAC and tout de Paris was calm. Without much fanfare—but in the presence of the Instagramming French president Emmanuel Macron—the Picasso Museum took the lead by opening “Picasso 1932: An Erotic Year.”

    Imagine Donald Trump showing support for a museum! (Or a museum inviting him to see pictures that he wasn’t in.)

    Macron picked the right show. Though limited to one year, and basically one subject—amour—this has to be the most resonant exhibition on view in Paris. You think you’ve seen enough Picasso?

    Trust me, you haven’t.

    “I’ve never seen a lot of this!”

  • diary October 09, 2017

    Deep Frieze

    THE GREAT GIFT Frieze London bestowed on art aficionados this year was to propel them into galleries and museums.

    Not that Frieze itself didn’t offer benefits. Female artists were notable for their quantity and, in the case of a special section curated by Alison Gingeras, historical impact, as well as in-your-face pro-sex feminism. In the age of Trump the Aggressor, that’s risky business. It may not be entirely profitable business, but it is, at least, desirable.

    The fair also had an especially good program of talks put together by the estimable Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, who

  • diary October 04, 2017

    American Pie

    BREXIT OR NOT, London has thrown open its arms to American artists in what may be their biggest embrace since Pop.

    On the cusp of the current Frieze Week, the Royal Academy featured Jasper Johns, and the Serpentine Gallery had a show by the increasingly captivating Wade Guyton imported from Munich’s Museum Brandhorst. Tate Modern entered the home stretch of “Soul of a Nation,” its deeply satisfying survey of African American art. The Barbican had the spirited and atmospheric “Basquiat: Boom for Real,” while the ICA prepped for Seth Price, and Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery readied a full-on

  • diary July 28, 2017

    Peake Performance

    VESUVIUS WAS OFF-LIMITS.

    Rival factions of the Camorra, the crime syndicate that rules sanitation and trade in the Gulf of Naples, had set waste dumps on the slopes ablaze and the town was heating up, in more ways than one. It wasn’t just the mercury that was sizzling. People were going around naked.

    Cue Volcano Extravaganza 2017.

    Fiorucci Art Trust director Milovan Farronato and founder Nicoletta Fiorucci annually import this summertime bonding-in-art experience from their base in London. The Vinyl Factory returned as producing partner for the Extravaganza’s seventh edition (July 13 to 16), an

  • diary June 29, 2017

    Greek to Me

    IN SOME PLACES, the art bubble can be benevolent—say, in Greece, the birthplace of democratic ideals.

    Remember ideals?

    If the country is in crisis politically, its art world is thriving. Or so it seemed when the plane landed in Athens during a drenching rain, unusual for the middle of June. Perhaps the gods objected to the art horde arriving from Basel for a weekend jaunt. Perhaps they just wanted to wash away the turmoil of the past—the recent past, that is. Ancient history lives in the visible foundations of this city. And what are foundations for if not to build something new?

    There lies Documenta

  • diary June 18, 2017

    Making History

    THE REVIEWS ARE IN.

    “Our most successful ever.”

    “Exceptional.”

    “One of the most upbeat fairs I can remember!”

    That’s pretty much the consensus—from dealers—on the forty-eighth edition of Art Basel.

    Now that it’s over we can say that collectors paid big—hundreds of millions—for the big names and spent more good money on the next tier and the one after that. Even as the world ties itself into sorrier knots every day, the market for modern and contemporary art is booming.

    Is it like anxious eating? “Either that,” one dealer told me, “or it’s a demonstration of faith in art and a willingness to invest in

  • diary May 13, 2017

    World Clique

    THE VENICE ART BIENNALE is never just an assembly of national exhibitions competing for prominence and prizes. It’s a summit meeting marshaling the collective conscience of the art world.

    One could sense it build during the preopening events of the Biennale’s fifty-seventh edition, basically an invitation to mainline art while capitalizing on the social element and pretending business is not involved. Fat chance of that when the planet’s most carnivorous collectors are bending elbows with teams of dealers and advisers, top museum personnel, and deep benches of artists. Many, many artists.

    Indeed,

  • diary May 02, 2017

    Mirror Mirror

    LAST WEEK, the Santa Ana winds came in hot and blustery across Los Angeles just as Jeff Koons hit town. Their convergence cannot have been a coincidence. An artist who staked his career on inflatables would naturally be on equal terms with high winds. Generally, they blow in his direction. And these did.

    On Saturday, the Museum of Contemporary Art was to honor him at its star-studded annual benefit gala. On Thursday, Larry Gagosian—not one to let an opportunity slip by—opened a kind of popup Koons show that his Beverly Hills gallery assembled from three different bodies of work. Suffice it to

  • diary April 24, 2017

    London Bridges

    DOES ANYONE REMEMBER when the social fabric of contemporary art had just a few threads, nearly all sewn in New York? When the same handful of people showed up for every opening at the few galleries worthy of the name? When everyone knew everyone else from the same bars and nightclubs (or beds)?

    Last week, London felt a bit like that. It was just after Easter, before Art Brussels and Gallery Weekend Berlin. People were conserving themselves for the Frieze New York–Venice Biennale–Documenta 14–Skulptur Projekte Münster–Art Basel gauntlet ahead. The city was quiet. Prime tables at popular bistros

  • diary March 16, 2017

    Spread the Love

    DESPITE AN AGGRESSIVE ATTACK on the arts from the current White House, our museums remain sanctuaries of civilization. Wednesday night’s opening of the Whitney Biennial proved that. Unexpectedly, it also unfolded as a model of democracy—and difference.

    After seventy-eight attempts by Whitney Museum curators to survey recent art made in America, this was the first to see its (usually giant) opening postponed by a blizzard. It also marked the first biennial in the museum’s two-year-old Meatpacking District building. And it was the first—maybe ever—to win just about universal approval.

    Traditionally,

  • diary March 03, 2017

    Pier Review

    UNSETTLING TIMES have unsettled the art world. If this year’s Armory Week pointed up any one trend, it was a certain changing of the guard from the top down.

    For the first time since the election of Donald J. Trump, conversation dominated by national politics took a back seat to who-killed-Cock-Robin speculation over Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Campbell’s resignation on Tuesday. That only deepened the mystery of Andrea Rosen’s bombshell letter announcing the closing of her gallery, hard on the heels of Hauser & Wirth’s equally rumor-mongering separation from the gallery’s Los Angeles

  • diary February 21, 2017

    Supermarket Sweep

    AFTER WEEKS OF THE POLITICAL PORN that is now our presidency, what a relief to arrive in Mexico City—even for an art fair. Here was a place that welcomed foreigners, despite (or because of) a 30 percent drop in the peso.

    Well, money isn’t everything. Not in Ciudad de Mexico (now known as CDMX). So what if you can’t take a deep breath without feeling faint? The oldest capital in the Americas is a place of constant wonder and discovery. What’s more, it seems to be generating more invigorating art activity than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

    Art doesn’t just matter here. It’s fun.

    Take the exacting

  • diary January 22, 2017

    Women in Revolt

    FOR ONCE, you didn’t have to be there to know, but if you did join the Women’s March on Washington this past Saturday, you saw firsthand what it meant to move with a civilian army against the extreme radical narcissism of Donald J. Trump.

    It meant business.

    Led by women, and weaponized only with pink knitted hats, hand-painted signs, and our voices, not a shot was fired, no fights broke out, and the freedom to speak and assemble won out.

    Talk about a populist uprising! Unlike the media, the DC police estimated the crowd in the nation’s capital at one million citizens—all ages, ethnicities, and

  • diary December 04, 2016

    Bubble Trouble

    MIAMI IS WHERE THE ART WORLD goes each December to seal its bubble—the one that makes art the center of the universe and keeps real life at bay.

    But three weeks after the election of Donald Trump, the mood was different. Oh, there were plenty of the usual parties with many of the usual faces in the usual product-promoted places, but it wasn’t the same.

    Actually, there was one new place—the Faena Forum. Otherwise, the weather was balmy and art was everywhere. So were Trump-Pence banners. And then there were the people who came to make or spend money and have a good time in the playground swamp of

  • diary November 08, 2016

    The Future Is Female

    PEOPLE IN THE ART WORLD have a way of shielding themselves from reality—mainly by giving themselves to art. Last week in New York, election jitters gave urgency to every event, beginning with the sixth annual Spotlights lunch hosted last Tuesday—one week from Election Day—by the International Center of Photography.

    If art sometimes reflects reality, it went further here by giving a clear sign of what’s to come: women running the show.

    Are you ready, guys?

    Apparently not, judging from the dominant female presence at the lunch. Okay, so the event honors women artists—in this case, Laurie Simmons—but

  • diary October 08, 2016

    Full Circle

    WHAT’S AN ART FAIR GOOD FOR?

    You might be tempted to say, “Art,” but that’s not always the case. The highest purpose of a fair is to generate bonding opportunities for people who make art go.

    When the fair is Frieze and the city is London, they come in great number from across the globe, the trouble spots and the tranquil ones (if such places still exist). Paths cross constantly, whether by intention or chance. The more incestuous the fraternity, the greater its success.

    On Tuesday night, for example, a line formed outside the gallery that Brussels- and Paris-based dealer Almine Rech was opening

  • diary October 05, 2016

    Fish Tank

    FRIEZE WEEK IN LONDON isn’t just about an art fair. It’s a marathon of social rubbernecking fraught with FOMO. One has to ease into it.

    Last Friday afternoon, I had the good luck to find Pablo Bronstein at Tate Britain, admiring the stamina of the three women performing his suave meld of pedestrian and Baroque movement with “Historical Dances in an Antique Setting,” a commissioned show that has been going on continuously for six months. “The more I see these women, the more I love them,” Bronstein said, before I slipped into the 2016 Turner Prize exhibition and found ICA curator Matt Williams

  • Lisa Liebmann

    LISA LIEBMANN was a friend, but I knew her first as a writer. Her thoughts seemed to percolate in a brain that never stopped cooking. When she spoke, words tumbled out in such a fizzy rush that even she would stumble over them in her haste to make room for the next fusillade, adding a sprinkle of French and quick, stuttering gestures of the hand that mirrored the circles she was drawing around your own startled mind. On the page, she was just as nimble, writing in acrobatic language that somersaulted between archaic formality and vernacular prose.

    “No dog is more intelligent or more sociable than

  • diary September 30, 2016

    Man with a Plan

    IF I EVER GO TO EXPO CHICAGO AGAIN, I’ll do it right. I’ll ask Hans Ulrich Obrist to organize my itinerary. The peripatetic Serpentine Gallery curator’s archives reside in the Windy City, and he knows the lay of that flat land. I had an outline of events, but who were the dealers hosting dinners? Where were the open houses and VIP gallery tours? Obrist would know the scoop. Meanwhile, I set out for the fair’s fifth edition alone, save for my skimpy agenda.

    I reached Navy Pier just in time for the September 22nd evening vernissage. Which was hours after many of Chicago’s justifiably vaunted

  • diary September 19, 2016

    Moon Lighting

    NEVER TAKE TOO LIGHTLY the effects of a full moon.

    Last Friday’s lunar action brought a week of art-world milestones to New York. On Tuesday, Zoe Leonard debuted with Hauser & Wirth. Before the eyes of compatriots like Charline von Heyl and Nancy Shaver, she turned the East Sixty-Ninth Street townhouse into a manifesto on photographic image control to defy the age of the photo bomb. And at the Museum of Modern Art, impatient and entitled people who never do lines dutifully queued up for entrance to Kai Althoff’s encampment of a show, “Leave me to the common swifts.”

    Because guards let only a few