Rhonda Lieberman

  • Left: A view of the Kiki & Herb performance. Right: The crowd on 25th Street. (Photos: Julian Fleisher)
    diary July 12, 2005

    Witch on Heels

    New York

    Your diarist is wicked hungover but still committed to writing five hundred words about Kiki and Herb’s free concert Thursday night following the opening of “Founders Day,” the Jack Smith-inspired summer show at Grimm/Rosenfeld. (How many words is that?) The charming, disarming, and often alarming pair serenaded their adoring audience from a third-floor fire escape across 25th Street from the gallery. Framed by a spotlight against the brick façade of the gallery building, the mise-en-scène was very West Side Story meets Evita. Every once in a while a truck went by and blocked the talent. The

  • Left: Michael Ashkin and Leslie Brack. (Photo: Ruth Root) Right: Unidentified bearded gallery goer; Cary Leibowitz; Fritz Karch.
    diary May 24, 2005

    Candy's Dandy

    New York

    Cary Leibowitz, the only artist who boasts he was “discovered on 'The Gong Show',” proved that he has survived his respectable gig in Christies’ Print Department with low self-esteem and sense of humor intact. Friends and well wishers flocked to his

    opening last Thursday at Andrew Kreps. An inordinate number of them had large beards. (Don’t ask me why. I pondered most of the evening, “What was up with that?”)

    Foregoing his usual pattern-on-pattern signature style, the artist formerly known as Candy Ass was a classy springtime vision sporting a solid tan suit, canary yellow shirt, blue gingham

  • Left: The crowd outside Sotheby's. Right: The crowd inside.
    diary May 17, 2005

    Thank You, Sir

    New York

    Protesting Sotheby’s new anti-union contractor, picketing maintenance workers booed everyone entering the Contemporary Art evening auction on Tuesday night. I had to walk through the “boo” gauntlet (though the union had my sympathy). As did Tobias Meyer, the auctioneer, who I first spotted emerging from a towncar, in black tie with his maestro-like slicked-back hairdo. A sea of hearty booers parted for him to enter the building, quite fabulously. The scene couldn’t have been set more perfectly—reduced to this crass, classic conflict between Us and Them. Workers and owners. Artists and

  • Left: Left: Members of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC) performing with Harrison Chad (center) as Brundibar. Right: Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak. (All photos: The Jewish Museum/John Aquino)
    diary May 11, 2005

    Oys ‘R’ Us

    New York

    Fresh from a productive (weepy) session on the old analyst’s couch, I schlepped across Central Park to check out “Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak,” at The Jewish Museum, fully braced for even more primal soup to be stirred up. The legendary auteur of characters such as Little Bear and Really Rosie, and the 1963 book Where the Wild Things Are (yes, inspired by his Jewish relatives in Brooklyn) has a hotline to my kishkes. And who knew these kiddie classics were actually generated from post-shtetl Jewish angst? Add a performance of Brundibar (1938), a Holocaust-era children’s opera recently

  • Left: Robert Wilson, Yoko Ono, and Takashi Murakami. (Photo: Patrick McMullan/PMc) Middle: The Japan Society facade. Right: Alexandra Munroe and Robert Rosenkranz. (Photo: Patrick McMullan/PMc)
    diary April 10, 2005

    Rising Sons

    New York

    It fascinates this Jew to see another culture still trying to digest WWII. Brilliantly curated by Takashi Murakami, “Little Boy” is a hi-lo survey of “otaku” (pop-culture fanaticism) and its relationship to the Japanese avant-garde.” Artist/otaku impresario/Vuitton handbag doodler Murakami chose “Little Boy”—the code name for the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima—to locate “these new cultural forms in the trauma and generational aftershock” of the postwar period. It’s a Japanese “loser art” meets Pop meets Shoah moment. Indeed, there is more to Hello Kitty than I thought.

    “We’ve only seen

  • Left: Penelope, Susan, and Andy Hort. Right: Carol Greene, Mary Heilmann, and Mari Spirito.
    diary March 20, 2005

    Coffee Kvetch

    New York

    The Hort’s ginormous annual Armory Show brunch at their ginormous three-floor Tribeca loft was rollicking. As I entered their sprawling kitchen/living area, I noticed Jack Pierson’s funkily unmatched letters spelling out “Being Alone” over the mantle, and half the art world having bagels and coffee and schmoozing away. There was a lot of great work: Nicole Eisenman, Karen Kilimnik, Andrea Zittel, and Marlene Dumas among others; too much to absorb after my megadosage uptown, lest my head explode. Charlie Finch, the yenta from Artnet, was centrally located on a couch: “There’s Rhonda Lieberman,”

  • Left: Todd Eberle, Yvonne Force, and Maria Bell. Right: The crowd at Yvonne Force's loft.
    diary March 18, 2005

    Pad News

    New York

    Dear Artforum diary, my mission this time was to attend several collectors’ open houses, where big art buyers esteemed for their shopping prowess graciously extend their hospitality so that fellow Armory Show VIPs can check out their stuff. What Imelda Marcos is to footwear, these people are to cutting-edge art. It was a weekend-long schlepathon—in heels, though they weren’t required—but also a chance to see big-ticket contemporary art in its intended setting: some of the swellest pads in Manhattan. Alas, I skipped Jeanne Greenberg’s. The uptown dealer’s event was first thing Friday

  • Left: Mother, Inc. performing. Right: Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Leo Villareal, and Ann Tenenbaum. (All photos: Patrick McMullan/PMc)
    diary February 07, 2005

    Hot Commodities

    New York

    The band was bee-oo-tiful, the crowd was bee-oo-tiful . . . It felt like Weimar in Chelsea on Wednesday night at Mother Inc.'s Fendi-sponsored CD “listening party” at Marquee. The cute invite, styled like a Fendi-brand 12-inch, advised a “Luxurious Lounge” dress code. I wore the tight brown Citizen cords I've worn all season: As a chronic skirt-addict, I'm working on accepting myself in pants. “You all look so great,” Yvonne Force-Villareal purred from the stage at her über-glam, über-connected art-world supporters. “I hope I look as good as you do!” The unofficial themes of the evening were

  • Left: Art Spiegelman. Right: Rem Koolhaas. (Photos: Joseph Sinnott, New York Times)
    diary January 12, 2005

    Leisure Class

    New York

    I’d been sick in bed with a cold and was excited to get out of my houseclothes, so I agreed to take the baton from my colleague Peter Plagens and check out two more “TimesTalks”: Art Spiegelman (The Graphic Novel’s Unlikely Hero) was chatted up by former New York Times Book Review editor Charles McGrath; and Rem Koolhaas (The Prophet of a New Modern Architecture) was interviewed, or, rather, prompted by the paper’s architecture critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff. The discussions were set up like Charlie Rose-ish “conversations” in front of “TimesTalks” signage and videotaped with a flower arrangement

  • Richard Prince, Prince Billboard, 1990. Installation view, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1990.

    A Roundtable

    “JEFF KOONS MAKES ME SICK.” The words are Peter Schjeldahl’s, and the occasion was a review in the SoHo weekly 7 Days, back in the ’80s, before Koons was quite the museum-certified star he is today. In the course of the write-up, Schjeldahl would turn his conceit around, explaining how undeniable, unstoppable, finally essential the experience of the artist’s work was for him. What makes Koons’s art simultaneously so toxic and so compelling? And why is it both institutionally embraced and yet seen by many as an art of diminishing returns, a symptom of all that is wrong with culture today? Koons

  • Nathaniel Kahn’s My Architect

    We do not “own” the facts of our lives at all. This ownership passes out of our hands at birth, at the moment we are first observed. —Janet Malcolm

    LOUIS I. KAHN’S NOT-HUGE OEUVRE includes a disproportionate number of masterpieces: the Salk Institute, Yale’s Center for British Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Phillips Exeter Academy library, Bangladesh’s capitol. Modern buildings with the presence of ancient monuments, they exude the timeless, sacred quality that invites you to transcend—not to historicize.

    When Kahn died suddenly in Penn Station in 1974, with illegible ID, the police were unable

  • “Diane Arbus: Revelations”

    What apples were to Cézanne, society’s rejects were to Diane Arbus. For an oeuvre featuring identical New Jersey twins, a Jewish giant in the Bronx, pasty retired nudists, the “developmentally challenged,” and trannies, what most astonishes is that it never seems to exploit its often creepy subjects. The new retrospective of the photographs of Diane Arbus (1923–71) is the first since the Museum of Modern Art’s posthumous full-career survey in 1972. Organized by Elisabeth Sussman (who brought the show to the West Coast after she left the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1998) and Sandra Phillips,