Linda Yablonsky

  • diary October 22, 2013

    More to Love

    IF EVER A PERSON were to overdose on art, London during Frieze Week would be the place and time to do it. From the VIP opening of Frieze Masters last Tuesday afternoon to Sunday’s close of Frieze proper, the city’s galleries, museums, and fairmongers majorly turned it out, offering abundant opportunities for overindulgence in every quarter.

    Off the Regent’s Park campus, the big news was Pablo Flack and David Waddington’s Hoi Polloi. At two weeks old, this serene bistrotheque in the Ace Hotel Shoreditch is already the best art clubhouse since 1980s Odeon in New York, or ’60s Max’s, though it’s

  • diary October 16, 2013

    Happy Monday

    FRIEZE LONDON (as opposed to Frieze Masters and Frieze New York) isn’t just an art fair with a split personality. It also has the UK capital itself, splendid museums, and galleries hither and yon. In some ways they are really the hosts of Frieze Week (or the “Frizzes,” as one cab driver put it). On Monday, October 14—ostensibly the week’s “quiet night”—a bunch of them threw out the welcome mat with a round of openings and dinners that brought out the special pleasures and anxieties of living simultaneously in past and present.

    Historically minded visitors with VIP cards could dip into Whistler

  • diary September 25, 2013

    Family Circus

    HOW MUCH FUN is the New York art world? Lots and lots. You can thrill to spending oodles of cash money on art that will be forgotten by the time your children start wondering why you didn’t spend it on them—or you can partake of the real thing at any given moment and have a ball doing it with your friends.

    Take last week, when the new season didn’t just bring more of the same old. It had new faces, new places, and a new sense of brio that gave this shiny, densely populated town of wealth and ambition a fresh spark of wit and taste, both vulgar and refined, sometimes both at once.

    “Sheep Station”

  • diary September 23, 2013

    The Neverending Story

    THE FRENCH PRIZE DISCRETION so much that they keep excitement to a minimum. The opening week of the Twelfth Biennale de Lyon, at least, was exceedingly decorous, despite the presence of some seventy artists whose work leans more toward the edgy. A telltale sign was a 2002 photograph by Roe Ethridge that gave the whole enterprise a big black eye.

    This image of the artist, who is sporting a bloody shiner, is the most ubiquitous of two by Ethridge that curator Gunnar B. Kvaran chose to brand his international exhibition, “Meanwhile… Suddenly, and Then.” (The biennial also has two regional platforms.)

  • diary September 05, 2013

    Volcano Lovers

    ART NEVER TAKES A VACATION. It just goes to summer camp. For the past three years, the London-based Fiorucci Art Trust has retreated to Stromboli, the Aeolian island off the coast of Sicily—the one with the active volcano. Every quarter-hour or so, it sends up plumes of fire and smoke. “You can almost set your watch by it,” Trust director Milovan Farronato told me the night I arrived for the closing ceremonies of Volcano Extravaganza 2013, a series of presentations he organized with the Glaswegian, Brussels-based artist Lucy McKenzie.

    Each weekend, from July 29 to August 24, rotating groups of

  • diary June 17, 2013

    Way Out West

    AT THE JUNE 10 VIP OPENING of Unlimited, it was clear from the jump that this was going to be the biggest Art Basel ever. During the Monday afternoon previews for Unlimited and Design/Miami Basel, people massed on the Messe between the new, stacked, Herzog & de Meuron–designed convention halls, semiprotected from stormy weather by a ballooning aluminum canopy with an oculus to the sky. “We’re calling it the bum-hole,” said Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner. That was no joke. It was an accurate image—and a neat metaphor—for the immersive experience ahead.

    “It’s like a trip without leaving the

  • diary June 12, 2013

    Pool Party

    WOULD THE AMERICANS who went home after Venice return to Europe for Art Basel? That was the elephant in the room among dealers shuttling to Zurich last Saturday for the exhibition openings, symposia, and dinners that made up this year’s Contemporary Art Weekend, the amuse-bouche of the selling feast to come. Yet anyone in Zurich who wasn’t British, Swiss, or German appeared to be from New York, Los Angeles, or Dallas.

    John Baldessari, for example, was celebrating his eightieth birthday with a show of tasty new paintings at Mai 36 Galerie. Fresh from opening their current show at Sean Kelly, Los

  • diary June 07, 2013

    Something for Everyone

    IF MASSIMILIANO GIONI’S “Encyclopedic Palace” for the Fifty-Fifth Venice Biennale was anchored by “a desire to see and know everything,” the lunch that Metro Pictures and Pinocateca Agnelli threw for Cindy Sherman on soggy May 30 signified a desire to see and know everyone.

    Held at the Byzantine-era Palazzo Malipiero—ground zero for a randy eighteenth-century teen named Giacomo Casanova—the buffet attracted enough boldface personalities to do any tenacious aristocrat proud. Yet the palazzo’s current owner, a stiffly coiffed blonde with narrow eyes, was unimpressed by the presence of Gioni and

  • diary June 02, 2013

    Worlds Away

    THE ONLY WAY to negotiate a city built on water is to go with the flow. That was the lesson of Tuesday, May 28—arrival day for the VIPs and art professionals invited to preview the Fifty-Fifth Venice Biennale for three days before its June 1 opening. First on the agenda: “The Encyclopedic Palace,” the central exhibition organized by Massimiliano Gioni, whose previous shows as chief curator of the New Museum in New York and the Trussardi Foundation in Milan gave many of us reason to expect the best, or at least the most acceptably compromised, Biennale ever.

    Expectations are never a good thing to

  • diary May 28, 2013

    All That Glitters

    ONE WAY TO THE VENICE BIENNALE is through Rome. A healthy swath of the art tribe took that option last Sunday, when MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, hosted the gala premiere of “Galleria Vezzoli.” It was the first installment of a three-part, multinational career retrospective for Francesco Vezzoli, the Italian artist that many Americans love to hate.

    “Why is that?” asked the dealer Almine Rech, who attended with her husband Bernard Picasso and other longtime Vezzoli supporters in Europe, such as the erstwhile Italian supermodel Mirella Haggiag, the designer and collector Miuccia

  • diary May 16, 2013

    Keeping It Real

    I SOMETIMES WONDER how the guest list for an art event would look if the host did the inviting instead of a publicist. Striking examples of each approach emerged last week during an abundantly social six days in the Frieze New York universe that saw many of the same people crossing paths every day, sometimes more than once. Their overlapping trajectories created the impression of a global high school that had suddenly shrunk to the size of a boot-strapping, high-heeled island obsessed with aesthetics and freighted by money, saved from madness by the appearance of integrity now and then.


  • diary May 12, 2013

    FOOD and Drink

    FRIEZE NEW YORK began this year in a downpour. During its early hours on May 9, it rained art, it rained people, and it just plain rained on Randall’s Island Park, soaking Paul McCarthy’s ginormous balloon dog on the northern side of the slinky white tent. It put a bit of a damper on Matthew Day Jackson’s premier outing as a guest chef for FOOD, Frieze Projects curator Cecilia Alemani’s re-creation of the legendary artist-owned restaurant that galvanized SoHo in 1971. Inside, however, it was clear from the jump that the second American edition of Frieze was in no kind of sophomore slump.


  • diary May 08, 2013

    Ante Frieze

    THE NEW YORK ART WORLD IS ON FIRE. It’s got spring, it’s got Frieze, it’s got the contemporary auctions. It’s got galleries and artists, and exhibitions opening for seemingly all of them. The only thing it doesn’t have is a night off.

    The match was lit on Thursday, May 2. That evening, Tracey Emin, Philip Taaffe, Jannis Kounellis, Sara VanDerBeek, Tim Hawkinson, Spencer Finch, Anthony Pearson, Carl Palazzolo, Zak Smith, and Alexi Worth all withstood a thousand air-kisses in Chelsea alone.

    At Lehmann Maupin, Emin showed white bronze boxes topped by appealing white bronze animals with sweet nothings

  • diary April 19, 2013

    Tequila Sunrise

    NO MATTER WHAT THE HOUR or how gridlocked the traffic, there is always time for everything in Mexico City. During Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo, the art fair with the Aztecan skull logo, four-hour lunches and late-night dinners blend yesterday into today and tomorrow while somehow imparting a sense of progress.

    Tuesday, April 9 began this year’s push to festivity with the annual gallery hop through the Polanco, Roma, Condesa, and San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhoods. Due to a late arrival from New York, I missed much of the tour, but caught up with what Dallas collector Christen Wilson

  • diary March 26, 2013

    Danh Patrol

    THE INVITATION CAME on White House stationery. It was the menu for a three-course dinner, cast in slightly outré terms. On arrival at Marian Goodman’s gallery for the March 20 opening of “Mother Tongue,” Danh Vo’s much anticipated New York debut, there were no tables in evidence, no white-gloved waitstaff, no food. A closer look at the menu, one of several odd artifacts displayed in lighted cases, showed it to be dated November 25, 1963. That was three days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The dinner had never been served.

    An air of melancholy settled in, centering on the battered

  • diary March 09, 2013

    Steppin’ Up

    MARK TUESDAY, MARCH 5, AS A RARE ONE. On that evening, the gala preview of the Art Dealers Association of America’s fiftieth anniversary Art Show achieved a heretofore unimagined peak by delighting everyone present, be they one of the Tisches, Lauders, Rockefellers, Mugrabis, or DeWoodys swarming the Park Avenue Armory; a museum personage (Glenn Lowry, Adam Weinberg, Richard Armstrong, Arnold Lehman); or an actual artist (Kiki Smith, Jannis Kounellis, John Newman, Pat Steir).

    Not one of the seventy-two intimate booths was a dud. From the Mitchell-Innes & Nash display of museum-worthy Jean Arp

  • diary March 05, 2013

    Crown Jewels

    BECAUSE THE PRINCELY FIGURES in the art world are easy to identify, no one ever asks, “Who wears the crown?” Yet that was the tag line for the Jewish Museum’s February 27 Purim Ball at the Park Avenue Armory. The answer was just as clear: None needed, when the power (and the fun) is shared.

    Guests were asked to wear masks, tiaras, or crowns, but most of the nearly nine hundred who paid for tickets simply let down their hair to don festive dress and jewels. “I think we’re the only ones who followed the instructions,” said artist Izhar Patkin, whose royal headgear was vintage Vivienne Westwood.

  • diary February 27, 2013

    deFINE Success

    SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, MAY BE BEST KNOWN as a crime scene—and what environment could be more hospitable to art? The society murder that inspired Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil took place in just one of this port city’s historic homes. The Savannah College of Art and Design has gone the book and film several times better by absorbing and restoring almost eighty buildings, each with a story of its own.

    Several came into focus last week during SCAD’s fourth annual deFINE ART, a supremely well-organized festival of exhibitions, performances, and talks. The most impressive venue was the school’s

  • diary February 11, 2013

    The Big Chill

    WINTER IS SLEEPYTIME IN NEW YORK. It’s cold. People hibernate. They’re saving themselves for Armory Week. Whatever the explanation, over the past couple of weeks, the art activity meter dipped as low as the biting temperatures. “What’s going on?” people asked, wondering at the general malaise blanketing the scene. Luckily, cabin fever also set in, bringing the loyal and the hardy with light social calendars and heavy overcoats to the isolated events on tap.

    Take the odd assortment of collectors, artists, fashion writers, and sports car enthusiasts attending the January 29th dinner that The

  • diary January 14, 2013

    Fits and Starts

    WHEN THE 2013 NEW YORK ART SEASON began last weekend, anyone seeking more bang for the buck must have felt shortchanged. Oh, the art was nice, the people were nice, and so were the parties. But it made the future look like a rolled napkin at an empty seat at the table.

    Here was the art world that money has wrought: polished without any spit. Was 2012 so oppressive that few among us are interested in taking a leap? Following the shock of Hurricane Sandy, it may be only natural to resist throwing caution to the winds. Some dealers were happy just to reopen their doors. Others may have been attempting