Linda Yablonsky

  • diary October 17, 2015

    Jump Start

    NILSSON’S “JUMP INTO THE FIRE” plays in my head from the start. Over four days in London, the racing pulse of that Goodfellas song underscores the pace of events detonated by the thirteenth edition of Frieze.

    Monday the twelfth is breakneck joy in the trenches of art. It begins at the ICA with the headbanging launch of Zhang Ding’s “Enter the Dragon” (pace Bruce Lee). The black-box theater of this normally sedate institution is alive with the immersive sound of acid punk and electronica—played simultaneously—by Bo Ningen and Powell under flashing strobes and from behind curtains of revolving

  • diary October 14, 2015

    Ante Frieze

    PERHAPS UNDERSTATEMENT comes naturally to the British. Last Friday night in London, for example, Delfina Foundation director Aaron Cezar happily observed the many early birds at his fund-raising exhibition, “Then for Now,” noting that “Frieze starts earlier every year!” It was a full five days before the opening of the fair.

    The truth is that those attending his opening were homies, and that Frieze needs London, and its healthy concentration of wealth, artists, galleries, institutions, and oddments.

    Take the octogenarian art patron Delfina Entrecanales, whose twenty-five-year-old international

  • diary October 11, 2015

    Magic Mushrooms

    TAKE ONE HAUNTED HOUSE, a bowl of magic, and a brace of hand puppets. Mix with poisonous mushrooms and an intrepid crew of Polish, Italian, British, and American artists. What have you got? A recipe for chaos!

    Chaos, in this case, is the wellspring of unconscious desire that fed the second edition of Mycorial Theater, the mycelium of a symposium and retreat organized last week in Rabka, Poland by artist Paulina Olowska and Fiorucci Art Trust curator Milovan Farronato.

    Rabka is a provincial spa town in the Gorce Mountains. It’s about an hour’s drive from Krakow and a few miles from Auschwitz.

  • diary September 14, 2015

    New to You

    EVERY SEASON PROMISES the discovery of what’s new. But what can be new in art today? We seem to be in a holding pattern. The new bubbles up from what we missed before, or it introduces the unfamiliar. Both were visible in New York last week, when the fall season opened in a sweat.

    That was partly due to an unseasonable heat wave. The calendar made a contribution too, when Labor Day arrived a week later than usual. Instead of a gradual climb to peak form, well over a hundred galleries opened at the same time as Fashion Week, in the middle of the US Open. As if this convergence weren’t feverish

  • diary July 01, 2015

    Pride of Place

    LAST WEEK—Pride Week in the nation—brought milestones to the New York art world too. The first came on Tuesday, when the New Museum unveiled a scintillating sampler of the late Sarah Charlesworth’s dazzling photographs of perfection. The exhibition was every bit as beautiful and bracing as the so-called Pictures Generation artist was in life. For those of us who saw her through many subjects and over the bumpy roads of love, her first museum show in New York was, as Cindy Sherman put it, bittersweet.

    “It’s hard to know whether to feel good about this or cry,” said New Museum director Lisa Phillips

  • diary June 20, 2015

    Rite of Way

    ART BASEL is code for ritual behavior: nightly revels in the bars of the Kuntshalle and Trois Rois, daily treks to the Schaulager and the Beyeler, deliberate runs for the Messeplatz or an ATM. In between, meetings, meetings, meetings. Lunches. Dinners. Drinks. It’s seductive, and necessary. Almost pagan.

    Last Monday, returning pilgrims arrived in the rainy Swiss city for Art Unlimited, the kickoff for the mighty fair’s forty-sixth edition. Just inside the entrance, the bearded German artist Julius von Bismarck sat at a school desk on a giant, speedily revolving concave dish of concrete, reading

  • diary June 16, 2015

    Paradise Garage

    ONCE KAZIMIR MALEVICH painted his first Black Square—one hundred years ago—art was never the same again. That’s particularly true in postrevolutionary Russia, where any form of revolutionary art either died or went underground once Stalin came in.

    Last Wednesday night in Moscow, it resurfaced—hopefully for good—when the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art opened its permanent home in Gorky Park. Founded, and mostly funded, by collectors Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich, it too could change the future of art in Russia. It may also alter the way we think about museums in general.

    In a city where a

  • diary May 12, 2015

    Back to the Futures

    ONCE THE CURTAIN opens on a Venice Biennale, the tourists have to move over to make way for the art gang. The world’s oldest and most important international exhibition attracts an unstoppable force. It takes over restaurants and palazzos for private parties, books every available water taxi, and storms the gates of the Giardini in packs so swift and so vociferously divided in opinion that they would be the envy of barbarians anywhere.

    The upside of opening week at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale was the breathtaking quantity and variety of art going on view at a single moment. The downside was

  • diary May 08, 2015

    Future Past

    ANY GHOSTS FLOATING AROUND contemporary art have a fabulous new piece of real estate to spook. Dubbed the Haunted House by its owners, who sheathed its five stories in twenty-four-karat gold leaf, it’s one of ten buildings on the grounds of a former distillery in Milan that now make up the Prada Foundation. (A new nine-story tower that will house a restaurant and eight floors of exhibition space is still under construction.)

    As the first institution dedicated to contemporary art in the city of La Scala and The Last Supper, it’s a game changer. As the fruit of designer-collector Miuccia Prada’s

  • diary April 23, 2015

    American Beauty

    IT’S UP. IT’S AMAZING. And it’s never coming down. So said its architect at an exclusive, black-tie dinner this past Monday night, when Whitney Museum director Adam Weinberg “delivered” Renzo Piano’s new 28,000-ton baby to the people who paid $422 million for it.

    With a select group of artists in the museum’s collection—think Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg, Cindy Sherman, Zoe Leonard, Roni Horn, Wade Guyton—and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, they had already seen for themselves what the rest of the world will know on May 1: that the Whitney has put its money where its heart

  • diary March 11, 2015

    Coming Up Rosen

    OH, INDEPENDENT! Whither thou goest?

    To Brussels, that’s where, in April 2016. Meanwhile, the 2015 edition of New York’s coolest fair opened last Thursday with a snowstorm and ended Sunday on the cusp of spring—a fitting farewell to Center 548, soon to be yet another soulless condo. Formerly the Dia Center in Manhattan, the building’s airy, unheated floors and impossibly narrow, Flavin-lit stairwells must hold more collective memories of unique art experiences than any other spot in Chelsea. With Moran’s already gone and La Luncheonette about to join it in art-world heaven, conviviality in the

  • diary March 06, 2015

    Spring Forward

    WE HAD SOHO. We had the East Village. We have Chelsea and Williamsburg, Bushwick and Red Hook. What will become New York’s next art neighborhood?

    “I guess all of these artists live in the Bronx?” the actor Alan Alda surmised on Monday, during the cocktail hour for the Bronx Museum of Art’s annual benefit gala. We were far south of that borough, on the outer planet of the Conrad Hotel in Battery Park City. Some of the artist-donors to the impressive silent auction, at least, were from the Bronx, as reported by Alan’s wife, Arlene Alda, an honoree and the author of an oral history, Just Kids from

  • diary February 15, 2015

    Material World

    A FUNNY THING HAPPENS at art fairs. What you remember is seldom the art. That’s probably because the only context such random displays can give it is social. Thinking back, what comes first to mind is people you met, events you attended, and the city where all of it happened.

    Zona MACO has the good fortune to be in Mexico City. That’s its main attraction. No matter which galleries show up to offer works by what artists, what ultimately resonates are the long lunches at Contramar and warmth of every personal exchange, the museums, the cantinas, the architecture, and the incredible snarl of evening

  • diary January 14, 2015

    Worlds Upon Worlds

    ALL NEW YEARS FEEL LIKE GOOD YEARS. For a few days 2015 certainly did. Even with the party of self-interest taking control of the United (ha!) States Congress, it arrived full of promise. Then came the Homeland-like January 7 massacre of ten Charlie Hebdo staffers and two cops in Paris. It was a shocking wake-up call to remember that we live in an age of terrorism, that bigotry remains widespread, and that thousands of raised pencils can make as powerful an image as the sight of raised fists.

    That night in New York, where large public gatherings tend to take place chiefly on the Internet, one of

  • diary December 10, 2014

    Islands in the Stream

    LAST WEEK, Miami Beach inspired murder. The killers were the many thousands in town for Miami Art Week—up to 100,000 of them, if you please. Their primary victim was time. Sleep ran a close second. Weapons of choice were beaches, superhigh heels, dinners for everyone you have ever heard of, cocktail parties to promote the self or luxury products to rub into the faces of have-nots, brunches to do the same, invitation-only concerts, dives like Sandbar and Twist, public conversations that breathed hot air into weighty-sounding subjects, and millions of dollars worth of art.

    All of this was obvious

  • diary November 18, 2014

    Gallows Humorism

    THE OTHER DAY I heard an artist call November one of the two “big months” for art in New York. The autumn air is crisp, the moon is high, and the prices achieved at auction jump over it. Blue-chip dealers compete by opening big-ticket solo shows aimed at massing collectors, and nonprofits dive into the money pool with fall benefit galas.

    This year, November brought the Independent Projects art fair to a groaning table that literally gave way during “Paradiso,” Performa’s chaotic, November 4 fund-raiser. Despite the serene presence of Kickstarter cofounder Perry Chen among the performance biennial’s

  • diary November 06, 2014

    Dancing with the Stars

    WHAT HAPPENED TO ART in the twentieth century was film. It gave fine artists a new medium and storytellers a visual language. Today, artists like Steve McQueen make movies, but established moviemakers rarely make art. Not in Hollywood, anyway, where these days the art and film worlds each operate in a separate and unequal universe.

    The seams were plainly showing last Saturday night, when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held its fourth annual Art + Film Gala. Gucci sponsored the evening, which honored Barbara Kruger and Quentin Tarantino. Both marry words to pictures. As Tarantino would tell

  • diary October 31, 2014

    Bright Prospects

    THERE’S ALWAYS A GOOD REASON to be in New Orleans. Last weekend, the draw was “Prospect 3: Notes for Now,” or P.3, the resonant third edition of the international biennial that Dan Cameron created in 2007, two years after Hurricane Katrina doused city and spirit. Under artistic director Franklin Sirmans, P.3 opened with work by fifty-eight artists from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East planted in eighteen venues around town. On Thursday, October 23, a few visiting dealers and collectors joined a veritable congress of American museum curators to track them down.

    During a press

  • diary October 17, 2014

    Live and Let Live

    BECAUSE ART FAIRS are truly the context of no context, the best part of Frieze London is what isn’t there. Over the last week, the fair’s greatest by-product has been the surfeit of exhibitions in the city’s galleries and museums. For fairgoers on the prowl, it’s been all about dressing up with everywhere to go.

    With Frieze opening to VIPs on Tuesday, a day earlier than usual, the week began on Monday afternoon with a chops-whetting dash across London from the ICA (for a complex show by Neïl Beloufa), north to the Zabludowicz Collection’s new installation of Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s

  • diary October 13, 2014

    First Wave

    FORGET RADICAL THINKING. To be avant-garde today means being first out of the gate. Last Friday in London, for example, the Sadie Coles, David Zwirner, and Herald Street galleries threw the switch on Frieze Week three days early. Absent the nattering crowds and competitive pressures of the art fair, all three openings—for shows by Matthew Barney, Kerry James Marshall, and Ida Ekblad, respectively—were actually fun, and definitely put best feet forward.

    Marshall’s emblematic debut with Zwirner at the dealer’s Grafton Street townhouse made the art of figurative painting seem vital again, even