Linda Yablonsky

  • diary September 17, 2016

    After Earth

    ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, more than a hundred galleries in New York held opening receptions all at once. By comparison, the season kickoff in Los Angeles that day was a picnic—literally.

    At sunset, three generations of hometown artists in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art gathered for a rare, possibly historic, communal meal. And what a pretty picture these seventy-five personages made! The mere sight of David Hockney and John Baldessari having a tête-à-tête with Frank Gehry was enough to send younger artists like Glenn Kaino, Alex Israel, and Liz Glynn over the rising moon.

  • diary September 03, 2016

    Passage to Marseille

    STEFAN KALMÁR AND MARTA FONTOLAN wish people in Marseille would listen. The Artists Space director and Gavin Brown Enterprise dealer both sit on a seven-person committee of “artistic” advisers for Art-O-Rama, a pocket-size fair that just celebrated its tenth anniversary in the French port city. “You can see the potential,” Kalmár said, when I arrived the day before the fair’s August 25th VIP opening. Indeed, I would.

    I’d needed persuading. An art fair on the last weekend in August? Give us a break. Then again, it’s in Marseille, where Walter Benjamin became a convert to hashish, Le Corbusier

  • diary June 30, 2016

    Crab Walk

    AFTER ART BASEL, but before Brexit, there was Greece.

    In this ancient and modern land, root of a glorious past and home to a beleaguered present, collector Dakis Joannou ushered in summer with his annual Deste Foundation weekend (June 19-20) in Athens and on the island of Hydra.

    It was hot.

    On the 18th, temperatures in the capital stuck to a hundred, but it was a dry heat. Tolerable. Thanks to a national holiday that sent residents to island beaches, the city of the Acropolis was a ghost town.

    Radio Athènes founder Helena Papadopoulos easily snared tables for sixteen of us—Greek, American, and French

  • diary June 20, 2016

    Best in Show

    LIKE THE MOMENT before any big storm, Sunday the 12th of June in Basel was quiet. Of course, this is Switzerland, where the atmosphere is so placid that feathers ruffle only at their own risk.

    Yet risk is the name of the game in the art business, or it used to be, before big money sent it in the direction of safe bets. Take the work that the New York Times anointed as the most talked-about in all of Art Basel—Hans Op de Beeck’s fictional collector’s home at Art Unlimited. Funny thing about that. Of the several hundred people I spoke with during a rain-soaked week at the forty-seventh edition of

  • diary June 14, 2016

    Split Decisions

    THIS WEEK THE PROFESSIONAL ART WORLD is a house divided—again. The decision is entirely social: whether to leave Art Basel midweek and be among the first to see the new Switch House at Tate Modern, or come to Basel afterward. For collectors and dealers, each choice has consequences.

    I stopped in London before Basel and got more than I bargained for, beginning with a June 8 benefit dinner celebrating the Institute of Contemporary Art’s seventy years on the Mall.

    Talk about a house divided. Having adopted an “East/West” theme, dinner was in two rooms, upscale and down, separated by a salon where a

  • diary June 01, 2016

    Tooth or Consequences

    FUND-RAISING SEASON never really ends for nonprofit institutions, but last week the Frick Collection brought a modicum of relief by offering its patrons a nosegay instead of a self-addressed envelope. The gift was the museum’s annual spring garden party, the first I’ve attended. That’s why I didn’t know that three generations of the Town & Country set treat this occasion as an opportunity to wear their West Egg best so New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham will take their picture. “You’re not Bill!” one huffed.

    The dress code was white and gold, so tropical suits dominated, along with frilly

  • diary May 17, 2016

    Land’s End

    THE LAST PLACE I expected to see art by Tony Cragg and Jenny Holzer was in downtown Las Vegas. What was I thinking? The whole town is a global city of art—or, rather, artifice. Here’s the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. There’s the Roman Forum, the Doges Palace, a castle for a latter-day King Arthur who gives you easy odds.

    “I think the worst crime you can commit in Las Vegas is irony,” observed artist Jessica Craig-Martin. We were there to document a project by Ugo Rondinone for the Art Production Fund—but first things first. We set to work doing what everyone in Vegas does—kill time.

  • diary May 11, 2016

    When It Rains It Pours

    THE FIFTH EDITION of Frieze New York arrived last week in a frenzy of the best gallery exhibitions in years. Gerhard Richter? Whoa. Anish Kapoor? Okay, wow. Richard Serra? Gotta say. Josh Kline, Jordan Wolfson, Alicja Kwade, and more. Way more. Way!

    The air was ten degrees cooler than it should have been on Wednesday, May 4, when Frieze opened for VIP previews, raining as usual. Everyone complained. No one stayed home.

    Getting through Midtown gridlock to the East Ninetieth Street ferry for Randall’s Island took an hour. On the ferry, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine it was Venice.

    That didn’t

  • diary May 06, 2016

    Frieze Burn

    LET’S FACE IT. When Frieze New York comes to town, everything else happens. It’s not that we can’t find openings, parties, performances, sex, politics, bad manners, and good art—even great art—around here at all times. Only that when this week began, more paths crossed in more ways than they ever do when it’s just us folks, and more often than not they were artists.

    Artists Space, in fact, set the tone last Saturday, when it introduced the dapper Lukas Duwenhögger to the scene with “Undoolay,” a fetching retrospective for the German-born, Istanbul-based artist, but his first show in New York.

  • diary April 23, 2016

    On the Ball

    THE KEY WORD for the sixth Brooklyn Artists Ball was vanilla.

    It’s not that Wednesday’s annual gala at the Brooklyn Museum was a white-bread affair. Diversity, if not parity, distinguished the 750 collectors and artist guests. I am referring to the evening’s dress code: WHITE HOT.

    “You’ll see why when we go in for dinner,” said Anne Pasternak of her first gala since becoming the museum’s director. After twenty-five years’ experience heading up fundraisers for Creative Time, Pasternak was accustomed to the rigors of New York social life. But Brooklyn’s requires some getting used to.

    “It’s too early

  • diary April 20, 2016

    Seventh Heaven

    NO VIP TOUR. You picked up your map and your program on your own time and devised your own hunt for treasure among the ninety exhibitions and events taking place in the seventh Glasgow International.

    In her second outing as director, former Frieze Projects curator Sarah McCrory worked with a staff of six to construct a bootstrapping, urban exposition in seventy-five sites around this hilly, Charles Rennie Mackintosh–appointed city on the River Clyde. No frills. No usual suspects.

    The biennial revealed itself slowly—not just in art spaces like the Common Guild and the Kelvingrove or Hunterian

  • diary April 04, 2016

    A Moment Like This

    “IS LA REALLY ON FIRE?” a friend asked the other day. It definitely felt that way a couple of weeks ago, when planeloads of art players joined their counterparts in Los Angeles for a two-day romp through an art scene that seemed to expand with every breath.

    Yet, the new Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel gallery’s inaugural VIP dinner was so exclusive that even a local legend like John Baldessari could not get in. The flummoxed artist stood outside the gallery with Keith Sonnier and Doug Aitken, other rejects, commiserating with his plus-two too many, artist Meg Cranston and print dealer Joni Weyl. “Joni

  • diary March 12, 2016

    Back to Basics

    ARMORY WEEK IS BEHIND US. Art Dubai and Art Basel Hong Kong just ahead. So is MiArt, Art Brussels, and Art Cologne.

    Forget the inner drummer. We now march to the circadian rhythm of fairs, even though a certain homogeneity has settled over them like a net. We know what we’re going to get before we see it. Places may change; faces hardly ever. Can fairs satisfy a longing for the sublime or do they only serve the needs of people who don’t have the time or inclination to see art parked anywhere but in their portfolios? Does art benefit from merchandising or suffer?

    Consider the Independent, whose

  • diary March 07, 2016

    Rites of Spring

    ARMORY ARTS WEEK got the jump on Easter this year by arriving on the first of March with its own Second Coming. On that day, the gods pulled back the curtain of winter to reveal, in all of its freshly sandblasted glory, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new modern and contemporary art sibling: the Met Breuer.

    Excuse me. I meant to say, THE MET Breuer, the museum’s rebranding of the Brutalist jewel box on Madison Avenue that Marcel Breuer designed in 1966 for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Though THE MET has only an eight-year lease, it has taken possession of the born-again building as if

  • diary February 13, 2016

    Rush Hour

    THIRTEEN MUST BE A LUCKY NUMBER for Zona Maco. Or maybe it took twelve years for Mexico City’s primary art fair to graduate from an undisciplined, provincial tradeshow to the worldly, sophisticated bazaar that it was last week. I don’t know what sold between February 3 and 7, but the layout made it possible to have a focused experience of art, despite the airport-concourse environment of the Centro Banamex.

    Maco founder Zelika Garcia’s new artistic director, Daniel Garza-Usabiaga, must be at least partly responsible for the uptick in quality throughout. (Newcomers included the mighty Gagosian,

  • diary February 08, 2016

    Road to MECA

    SO YOU WANT TO RELIEVE contemporary art of the market’s polluting influence?

    Come to Aguascalientes!

    You want to develop a critical language anchored by history but not shackled to its weight?

    Come to Aguascalientes!

    You want to open one of the world’s biggest art museums in the middle of nowhere?

    Aguascalientes is where you must go.

    That’s where a bunch of odd bedfellows—art historians, curators, and politicians—made their way on January 30, when Carlos Lozano de la Torre, governor of Aguascalientes, joined other high-ranking Mexican officials in the state capital, also called Aguascalientes, to cut

  • diary January 12, 2016

    Early Daze

    AT MIDNIGHT ON DECEMBER 31 the ball dropped in Times Square as usual. Last week, the New York art world met 2016 by waiting for the other foot to do likewise.

    Despite performances to kick up a little fairy dust, the mood was anxious, almost becalmed. Galleries opened shows in what felt like a holding pattern, as if they were planes circling an airport until a threatening storm has passed.

    That would be the real world, which has now surpassed the art world for madness and danger. That’s one reason why we take refuge in art and ideas. The question is whether the market-ready material that is so

  • diary November 20, 2015

    Family Portrait

    THE FIRST PERSON I met in Washington, DC, last Sunday night was Eric Holder, former attorney general of the United States. He had just arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, where he would present Aretha Franklin with one of five Portrait of a Nation prizes during the museum’s first American Portrait Gala. The event, which raised a healthy $1.74 million for the museum’s exhibition program, also attracted Holder’s replacement, Loretta Lynch, as well as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

    “No posting!” Justice Sotomayor warned, after posing for my camera. Presumably, she had to

  • diary November 13, 2015

    Supporting Characters

    PEOPLE WHO THINK movie stars and models bring glamour to the art scene have it backwards. The art world is seductive enough without calling in air support.

    Witness the weeklong start of the fall gala season in New York. On Sunday, November 1, Francesco Vezzoli kicked off Performa 15 as this year’s Anita Ekberg. Recall that in 2009, the late Italian screen goddess was a silent, sometimes somnolent, witness to Vezzoli’s Pirandellian opener for the performance biennial’s third season.

    This time out, the artist followed a gala dinner at the Four Seasons by appearing in the pulpit of Saint Bartholomew’s

  • diary October 25, 2015

    Meat and Greet

    PARISIANS LOVE THEIR MEAT. Starting with the sliders and champagne served during last Sunday’s lunchtime preview of “Sterling Ruby: Paris,” in the Gagosian Gallery hangar at Le Bourget, some form of animal fat was on the menu at every meal related to the forty-second edition of FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain).

    Paris is not for the cholesterol-averse. Then again, who goes to an art fair to slim down? The whole idea is to enrich one’s holdings and experience of art and its associations, be they educational, financial, or social. Though shrouded by a chilly gloom throughout the week,