Rhonda Lieberman

  • A view of the room during the “Elizabeth Taylor Collection” sale at Christie’s. (All photos: Andy Guzzonatto)
    diary December 17, 2011

    Taylor Made

    ELIZABETH TAYLOR has been a legend for so long she’s always been undead to anyone alive enough to read this. So the availability of her actual stuff—for mere millions and millions of bucks—is vaguely surreal. This week, I went to the cult of Liz at Christie’s—on Monday, a “museum caliber” viewing of “The Elizabeth Taylor Collection” (looky-loos could get a ticket for thirty dollars), and on Wednesday, the third of six auctions: “The Icon and Her Haute Couture, Evening Sale.”

    I’ve always found Liz fabulous in spite of the ostentation rather than because of it. There’s something nauseating and

  • Elmgreen & Dragset, Happy Days in the Art World, November 1, 2011. Charles Edwards and Joseph Fiennes. (Photo: Paula Court)
    diary November 03, 2011

    Power Play

    TUESDAY NIGHT, Performa 11 launched with the world premiere of Happy Days in the Art World, a play by Nordic performance artistes Elmgreen & Dragset, followed by a gala “live retrospective” (performance installations by the duo) plus cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at Skylight Soho.

    There was a buzz in the air as the stylish-looking crowd of culture vultures settled into their seats at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to await the evening’s first act. Curators, editors, artists, art accumulators, and yentas like moi had ample time to kibitz and gawk at one another. I thought of

  • Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, T.1912, 2011. Performance views, Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 14, 2011. (Photos: Enid Alvarez)
    diary April 18, 2011

    Class Act

    LAST THURSDAY was the ninety-ninth anniversary of the crash of the Titanic. How did you observe it? At the Guggenheim, to commemorate the disaster, artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster staged T.1912, billed in detail as “a site-specific staged audience experience in the museum’s rotunda. Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking of the Titanic will be at the core of the installation, performed by The Wordless Music Orchestra. Boarding closes at 8:40 PM and 10:40 PM.” The wreck-fest nicely links to “The Great Upheaval,” a current exhibition featuring the Titanic-era tableaux of Der Blaue Reiter.

    I attended the “

  • Artist Rob Pruitt. (Photo: Irina Rozovsky)
    diary April 02, 2011

    Father Figure

    SO OFTEN WHEN I STROLL around Union Square, I marvel that I am walking in the steps of the Factory, that it was from here that Andy Warhol changed artmaking forever with the radical notion that to reproduce is to produce and vice versa. This was the fertile void where Andy and his surrogates manufactured “superstars”: where they taped, snapped, hustled, social-climbed, starfucked, painted, “brought home the bacon,” and ordered from Brownie’s (the health food store frequently mentioned in the Andy archive). How fitting to have a monument right here. And how hilarious and slyly apt to commemorate

  • Artist David Salle and psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist. (Photo: Michael J. Palma)
    diary March 11, 2011

    Of Two Minds

    I’M A FAN OF THE RUBIN MUSEUM. The former Barneys flagship in Chelsea has rebirthed itself, Shiva-like, from a temple of high-end schmatas to a sanctuary of Himalayan art. Seekers of retail therapy can now “transcend” by communing with a lavish trove of icons, mandalas, and ceremonial tchotchkes as rare as couture. In keeping with the integrative project of Eastern thought, fab programming animates the collection with contemporary practitioners and mavens. “To reach enlightenment in the Buddhist sense, you need to have total control over your mind,” the charming producer Tim McHenry announced

  • Left: James Franco and Kalup Linzy. Right: Presenter Glenn O'Brien and Rob Pruitt. (Except where noted, all photos: Roger Kisby © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)
    diary December 10, 2010

    Second Best

    “IT’S BACK!” my editor e-mailed me. “Seems it’s going to be an art-world ritual after all. Any interest in going for round two?”

    My first thought? No! I should get an award for covering this award show again. I gave my take on it the first time. If the second piece comes out blah, it’ll be humiliating! Plus, “It’s horrible to see other people validated.” Just kidding! I really couldn’t be more delighted to see people recognized for their work. After all, what is the writer, according to John Gregory Dunne, but the person with “their nose pressed up against the glass”?

    In this case, I was seated

  • Left: The front door of the Uranian Phalanstery. Dorothea Baer Tyler, cofounder of the Uranian Phalanstery, with codirector Mehdi Matin. (Except where noted, all photos: David Velasco)
    diary August 06, 2010

    Stuff of Dreams

    AS HISTORY IS ERASED BY DEVELOPERS, I walk around downtown in a constant state of loss, always wondering about the few pockets of aura that remain. Last week, on a brilliant sunny Friday, I had the chance to enter a bohemian time capsule. Soon packing up, after remaining basically unchanged since 1974, the Uranian Phalanstery on Fourth Street in New York is like the interior of a moldering Joseph Cornell piece the size of two crumbling brownstones. (One has electricity; one has water.) The buildings are crammed with every kind of spiritual icon, art, tchotchkes, toys, esoteric books, personal

  • Left: Dustin Pittman and Taylor Mead. Right: Steven Watson, Bibbe Hansen, John Wilcock, Taylor Mead, Gretchen Berg, and Gerard Malanga. (All photos: Luke Brown)
    diary June 25, 2010

    Our Hustler

    New York

    ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 1971, The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol was a real-time oral history of the Factory compiled by John Wilcock, a cofounder of the Village Voice, publisher of Interview, downtown scribe, and Factory regular himself. (“It’s not an autobiography and there’s no sex in it.”) I remember being a young Pop-obsessed weenie and gobbling up the book in the school library, where I learned to confuse postwar aesthetics with gossip. Quaintly DIY-looking and strangely neglected considering Warhol’s robust afterlife, the groovy period piece was discovered in the early 1990s

  • Left: A guest carves a turkey. Right: Don Rubell and Jennifer Rubell. (Except where noted, all photos courtesy Brooklyn Museum)
    diary April 27, 2010

    All You Can Eat

    New York

    LAST THURSDAY, the Brooklyn Museum’s annual Brooklyn Ball featured Icons, “a once-in-a-lifetime, participatory food journey through the Brooklyn Museum as inspired by some of the greatest icons of contemporary art” devised by “food artist” Jennifer Rubell, daughter of collectors Don and Mera Rubell, who buzzed around the event kvelling like the parents of the bar mitzvah kid. “For Icons”—I continue to quote from the press release, because who could beat this—“Jennifer Rubell will indulge guests with a drink from four Marcel Duchamp inspired champagne fountains, and eight drink paintings in which

  • Left: New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni, artists Hanna Liden and Rob Pruitt, and dealer Gavin Brown. Right: Curator Vito Schnabel (right). (All photos: John Arthur Peetz)
    diary March 02, 2010

    Their Name Is Bruce

    New York

    LAST THURSDAY, as both the Whitney Biennial and a snowstorm descended on New York, I schlepped through the slush to SoHo, where the third annual Brucennial was happening in a former discount-fashion outlet (lent by Aby Rosen, an art collector and real estate developer regularly featured in the New York Social Diary). In case you haven’t heard, the Brucennial is the “Bruce High Quality Foundation’s ‘sort of democratic’ response to the Whitney Biennial,” I was briefed by an art maven, “which is also a bit odd, because they’re in the Whitney Biennial. All the daily critics seem to love them, and

  • Designer Stefan Sagmeister with analyst Patricia Llosa. (Photo: Michael J. Palma, courtesy Rubin Museum of Art)
    diary January 07, 2010

    Jung and the Restless

    New York

    AS IF WALKING INTO A DREAM, I entered the Barneys flagship store of yore on Seventeenth Street, which after a brief incarnation as Loehmann’s (the retail version of bardo?) is now reborn as the Rubin Museum of Art, where Prada trinkets have been displaced by Himalayan deities, Chanel by chakra charts, and pricey wrinkle cream by ancient Tibetan mandalas and cosmologies. All suffused in a gentle amber glow, the vaguely Asiatic stylings of a live violinist added to the Zen Palate ambience. In a corner, for no explicable reason, a black-clad modern dancer struck various yogalike poses, like an

  • John Waters at B. B. King Blues Club & Grill. (Photo: Samuel Roeck)
    diary December 26, 2009

    Christmas Card

    New York

    YULETIDE APPROACHED with its crazy caravan of characters: the reindeer, the elves, the suicidal Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. The pitiful Tiny Tim in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The disappointed Divine in Female Trouble, who hasn’t received her cha-cha heels as requested from her square, long-suffering parents. (“I better get them cha-cha heels!” “Nice girls don’t wear cha-cha heels!” Down comes the tree on top of Dawn Davenport’s mother during the ensuing hissy fit, one of the best Christmas scenes ever—at least, according to this Jew.)

    In this season of glad tidings, last Tuesday,