Linda Yablonsky

  • diary September 26, 2014

    Chicago Hope

    WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO COME TO CHICAGO? That question, posed by a Windy City dealer last week on the eve of EXPO Chicago, begged a querulous reply. Why choose Chicago when the doors to New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Mexico City, and more exotic places are open? “Chicago is not an international city,” the woman conceded. “It is a great American city.”

    Point taken. We were on the rooftop terrace of the Art Institute of Chicago, at a dinner that followed the opening of “Sarah Charlesworth: Stills,” dwarfed by the mighty skyline lit up around us. We were seated at two long tables with the late

  • diary September 22, 2014

    Second Coming

    PEOPLE IN THE ART WORLD say that the reason openings in Chelsea have become so overcrowded is because people who are not in the art world have heard that they can get free booze there. Whatever the explanation, walking between receptions—and sometimes within a single gallery—now means stepping to the rhythm of a traffic signal: Walk/Don’t Walk, Walk/Don’t Walk. Look/Don’t Look. Walk.

    That’s how it went during the fall season’s second week in action, starting with Tuesday, September 9, when the David Zwirner and Greene Naftali galleries held openings a few blocks and a thousand conceptual miles

  • diary September 10, 2014

    There Goes the Neighborhood

    EVERY YEAR, for the two weeks following Labor Day, the art and fashion worlds own New York. Runway shows overlap with gallery openings and gallerinas keep pace with modelistas. Last Wednesday, September 3, Rachel Feinstein colluded with the Marianne Boesky and Gagosian galleries, Marc Jacobs, Art Production Fund, and Performa to merge the two worlds with a single, season-starting event that painlessly outclassed the art parades of yore.

    Dubbed “The Last Days of Folly,” Feinstein put it together for the closing of Folly, her summer-long exhibition of public sculpture in Madison Square Park. (

  • diary July 01, 2014

    All Dogs Go to Heaven

    TIME AND AGAIN, Jeff Koons has said that his art is all about “transcendence,” that he wants it to help people feel good about themselves. Last Tuesday night, during an exclusive patrons’ preview of “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” at the Whitney Museum, he achieved that goal a few hundred times over, while giving the Whitney the perfect kiss-off to its Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. Whatever could the museum do to top it, except start over somewhere else?

    “Have you been upstairs?” asked the Argentine real estate developer Eduardo Costantini—one of two collectors present who each paid a

  • diary June 28, 2014

    House of Style

    SUMMER CAMP started early this year with a weekend of post-Basel R & R in Greece. Actually, the Swiss fair was still in progress when the first escapees arrived in Athens last Friday. With hardly a stop for breath, artists, collectors, and curators were whisked away to supercollector Dakis Jouannou’s Deste Foundation for the opening of “Macho,” an exhibition of self-portrait photographs by Juergen Teller, curated by Marina Fokidis. This is how art people take the pressure off—by immersing themselves in art that they can’t buy or sell.

    Joannou didn’t go to Basel, because, as he said, he didn’t

  • diary June 22, 2014

    Fun and Fancy Free

    MY WATCH STOPPED last Monday, just as the VIP opening of Art Unlimited got underway. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate way to dive into the vortex of Art Basel, where time stands still and thousands of high-priced objects and images come at you from 285 different directions.

    That’s the number of galleries exhibiting in the fair’s forty-fifth edition. It included Art Unlimited, Design Miami/Basel, and Art Parcours (public art), plus film and talk programs, and—special for this year—“14 Rooms,” a separately ticketed, close encounter with performance art curated by Klaus Biesenbach and

  • diary June 17, 2014

    Time and Time Again

    LIKE OTHER TRIBAL CULTURES, the art world has rituals. One of them is Zurich Art Weekend, foreplay for pilgrims heading to Basel and feeling starved for visual stimulation after a long flight. With Kunsthalle Zürich leading the action, galleries and museums serve up a sophisticated menu of exhibitions, talks, and dinners so people who haven’t seen each other since the last stop, as much as a week ago, can gather for reunions.

    Last Saturday’s art flanks could have been divided between exhibitions in the Löwenbrau complex and those on the soulless Maag Areal plaza. Fortunately, no one had to choose

  • diary June 16, 2014

    Tale of Two Cities

    WHILE IN VENICE, I didn’t hear a single joke about architects. This is a profession that appears to take itself very seriously—no bad behavior while away from home. At least, that’s how it seemed over three preview days at the Fourteenth Venice Biennale of architecture—my first. Experienced people predicted that there would be more artists involved than in any edition before, and probably the best one to break my virginity. The reason, they all said, was “Rem”—Rem Koolhaas, the exhibition’s curator and an architect so widely respected that even those who turn up their noses at his ideas pay them

  • diary June 05, 2014

    Aires Strike

    ON MAY 21, I arrived in Buenos Aires for the opening of arteBA, thinking it Argentina’s first contemporary art fair. I was wrong. It was number twenty-three.

    Where had I been? Certainly not in Palermo, the neighborhood of La Rural, the convention center housing the fair. Just by the by, BA also has a Palermo Hollywood, a Palermo Soho, and a seedy, riverfront district called La Boca that some call “the Bushwick of Buenos Aires.” So this is not the most Latin American of cities. It looks like Paris, for one thing, and nearly everyone I met over five days had a French, German, or Italian name, and

  • diary May 13, 2014

    Sound and Vision

    FRIEZE NEW YORK stirs a pot that already contains a witch’s brew of its own making.

    Two days before the fair’s opening, for example, Fergus McCaffrey inaugurated his nine-thousand-foot duplex on West Twenty-Sixth Street with the work of Natsuyuki Nakanishi, a seventy-nine-year-old Japanese artist of major repute in his country now getting his first solo exhibition in this one. Next door, Alexander Gray ushered guests through the new, ground-floor entrance to his second-story gallery, while Mika Rottenberg drew a grazing Chelsea herd to her kinetic debut with Andrea Rosen, where three ponytails

  • diary May 08, 2014

    Spring Breakers

    “THERE IS A LOT GOING ON,” said one insider at an opening last week. Probably everyone in New York was saying the same thing. There is always too much to do in this town. In spring, when the dogwoods are in bloom and ramps are on the table, there is even more—especially for the art tribe. With the arrival this week of Frieze New York and its satellite fairs, big-gun gallery openings and the coming contemporary auctions foreclosing on the normal transactions of life, artists, dealers and museums really have to pile it on to distract people from talking incessantly about the market, the market,

  • diary April 11, 2014

    Playing Nice

    YOU KNOW IT’S SPRING in New York when the sea of black that describes the art world’s rigorous dress code changes to color. “Red and racy” was the mode d’access last Tuesday night for the New Museum’s annual benefit gala, which appeared to put the institution in the black. All the same, guests approaching Cipriani Wall Street were instantly outclassed by two gleaming red Ferraris sitting nose-to-nose on the sidewalk. (Ferrari was the evening’s corporate sponsor.)

    Loiterers Instagrammed the cars like mad. All of them were men. “Figures,” said Massimiliano Gioni, the museum’s associate director,

  • diary March 31, 2014

    Now and Then

    ON THE EVE of the fifth Marrakech Biennale, I dined with two kings. They are the founding monarchs of Elgaland-Vargaland, an amorphous dominion occupying the border territories between every country in the world—including the virtual. “Every time you travel somewhere,” its website proclaims, “and every time you enter another form, such as the dream state, you visit Elgaland-Vargaland.”

    The kings—Swedish artist-composers Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren— were inaugurating their Moroccan “embassy” that night at the Riad Kantarell, an intimate (no locks) guesthouse located deep within

  • diary March 14, 2014

    Circle of Life

    EVERYONE SAYS the Armory Show is dreadful. Yet, said dealer Monika Sprüth of Cologne and London, “Everyone’s here. All of the important collectors.” As if on cue, Glenn Fuhrman stopped in, casting a furtive eye around the Sprüth Magers booth, where new, LA-based partner Sarah Watson was doing meets and greets, and hoping to settle soon on a left-coast location. “We always do well here,” said Eva Presenhuber of Zurich. An early, pre–laser printer installation by Urs Fischer held the floor, where new, New York–based partner Jay Gorney was flexing his conceptual muscle and loving it.

    It was Wednesday,

  • diary March 07, 2014

    Commercial Flair

    THE COMMERCIAL CONFLAGRATION that is Armory Arts Week always begins with promise. This year—perhaps predictably, given the conservative profile of most art fairs—the nonprofit zone delivered on it first. The appetite whetter was MoMA’s Robert Heinecken retrospective, a revelatory show curated by Eva Respini. It gives overdue, East Coast recognition to the influential Left Coast proto-appropriationist and UCLA photography department founder—an artist’s artist if ever one was.

    The Monday night opening sent paroxysms of pleasure through a photo-centric crowd that included collectors Michael and

  • diary February 16, 2014

    VIP and Vigor

    ANY ART FAIR worthy of the name has a VIP program. It’s supposed to attract collectors, who mustn’t spend a moment idle, lest they start spending money on something other than art. Staged conversations or lectures further sweeten the pot, along with lunches, dinners, and after-hours parties stocked with plenty of tequila and local color to bring the privileged closer to their roots. They’re all pretty much the same. What’s different is the place—and sometimes the people.

    Zona Maco, the Mexico City art fair that recently completed its eleventh edition, has the drill down pat. That may be because

  • diary January 15, 2014

    Winter Wonderland

    SO OFTEN NOW, everything looks and feels like everything else. Yet the New York art world managed to kick off 2014 with something different, namely Jersey City. On Wednesday, January 8, when a polar vortex had the East Coast in its bone-chilling grip, curious art advisers, collectors, and journalists from Manhattan traveled across the Hudson River to preview current exhibitions at Mana Contemporary.

    “It’s a city of art,” said painter Yigal Ozeri, a founder with Mana chief executive Eugene Lemay, who parlayed success in the moving and fine art–storage business into a vast, two-million-square-foot

  • diary December 28, 2013

    Homes for the Holidays

    THE BIG DIFFERENCE between art parties at Christmas and other times is that everyone attending is off duty. Relaxed, fueled by bubbly, anxious at the prospect of separation, and elated by the prospect of same, bedfellows familiar and strange gathered in New York last week for the year’s final revels together.

    Dealer Gordon VeneKlasen brought a personal touch to his holiday cocktail on Tuesday, December 17, by opening his Washington Mews house to inspection by artists, curators, collectors, dealers, and museum directors. With no particular agenda to pursue, most conversations began (and sometimes

  • diary November 25, 2013

    Creative Juices

    MAYBE IT WAS THE ALTITUDE. Or the good weather. Or the exhilarating energy of Mexico City itself. Whatever the reason, the November 16 opening of collector Eugenio López’s Museo Jumex set off a weekend of spirited patronage topped by a drink-all-you-want, dance-till-you-drop blowout. Roll together all the parties at any Miami Basel and it still wouldn’t hold a candle to this one.

    Guests who stopped over in Guadalajara a few days earlier had a taste of the hospitality to come when Silvia Ortiz and Ines López-Quesada opened an outpost for their Travesía Cuatro Gallery in Madrid with a group exhibition

  • diary November 14, 2013

    Moments Like These

    EARLY EACH NOVEMBER, the auction houses start trumpeting their fall sales in New York with predictions of prices best described as insane. But hey, what would contemporary art be if it couldn’t be outrageous? Usually, of course, the provocations come from artists. During preauction week, when everyone comes out to play, primary-market dealers turn up the heat to remind us that there wouldn’t be a secondary market without new art—or any kind of art without artists.

    Last Thursday, to mark her debut with his gallery, David Zwirner gave a press conference with the eighty-four-year-old Yayoi Kusama.