COLUMNS

  • Significant Others

    THE AUTUMN BREEZE hit in the last days of September, filling Timișoara with a chill blowing in from its eastern European neighbors. I walked by the flaking ornate façades lining the serpentine streets of Romania’s third-largest city. A particular kick about biennials in smaller cities, besides getting to drink hot chocolate with the mayor (in this case, the newly elected, thirty-seven-year-old Dominic Samuel Fritz), is the invitation to creep into nooks and crannies that would otherwise go unnoticed.

    Luckily, the malleable premise of the fourth Art Encounters biennial—an exploration of “the act

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  • Bosom Buddies

    “LET'S JUST SAY that the Italian Ambassador is a great friend,” said Isa Lorenzo, owner of Manila’s Silverlens Gallery, from her Art Basel Features booth, when asked how she managed to get into Switzerland from Asia. “We self-quarantined for a week on the Amalfi coast. Luckily, we can sell art from the beach.”

    With so many borders closed, many knew that this edition of Art Basel would be less international, perhaps even a return to the early demographics of the fifty-one-year-old fair. “In the 1970s, there were hundreds of people in the art world,” said Francis Outred, a London-based art consultant,

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  • Moveable Feasts

    INDEPENDENT’S ABILITY TO CHOOSE locations that have private members clubs is unmatched. This year it had left Spring Studios, where someone told me it was outbid by Fashion Week, for the Battery Maritime Building, where a Cipriani recently moved in and bolted a gaudy nameplate to the facade, insisting it be called Casa Cipriani, which no one did. It’s an absurd place, but also a fitting expression of New Yorkers’ recent yen for dining in traffic and pretending they’re in the Veneto. People enjoyed six dollar Diet Cokes and plastic bowls of pasta on the terrace, which has spectacular views

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  • Planet Hollywood

    A BLUE 1969 CADILLAC COUPE DEVILLE is parked on North Orange Drive across the street from Jeffrey Deitch’s LA gallery, a flying saucer affixed to the roof. License plate: UNARIUS. The sidewalk is swarming for the opening of “The Emerald Tablet,” a group show organized by and starring local painter Ariana Papademetropoulos. The crowd stews in the hot sun, phones waiting to be deployed as two men slowly toil around the car; what exactly everyone is waiting for remains enigmatic, at least to me. Eventually it becomes clear we are watching thirty-three white doves being laboriously stuffed into the

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  • Neue Normal

    WINDSWEPT AND SOAKING WET, I took a seat on a Barcelona chair. Around me wall text was still emerging from behind sheets of protective plastic, and a bright red crane extended to fix a light in the ceiling. I’d been circling the expansive terrace of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie for a while, searching for a way into Mies van der Rohe’s immense glass box, which is finally reopening after a six-year overhaul led by David Chipperfield architects. Amid the rainstorm, the building’s inhuman proportions and impossibly clean lines seemed alienating and defiant. A huge, newly polished Henry Moore

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  • A Bigger Splash

    AMONG THE MANY PROBLEMS the United States finds itself confronting in the summer of 2021 is a shortage of chlorine for its swimming pools. This shortage is not, as you might guess, because of ongoing hygiene theater or because you can cure Covid by injecting yourself with bleach. Rather it results from the (accidental) detonation one year ago of a chemical plant in Louisiana that produces half the US supply of chlorine tablets. Despite some workarounds, the explosion put a crimp in the sanitizing pipeline.

    Los Angeles is a town smitten with swimming pools, absolutely nuts for them. During the

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  • Island Cure

    UP TILL NOW, Menorca has kept a relaxed profile compared to its Balearic sisters: Majorca, which has long managed to be both aristocratic and touristy, and Ibiza, mecca of die-hard partygoers and a somehow dubious and certainly ostentatious jet-set syndicate. Menorca’s natural heritage remains intact (not a highway to be found), attracting a particular breed of enlightened cosmopolitans not often seen in re-afters (that truly great Ibizan contribution to contemporary culture). Think Hockney rather than Guetta or Beckham when someone nonchalantly mentions having just seen David.

    Hauser & Wirth

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  • Starry Nights

    SHE WANTED IT to be a lighthouse for the Mediterranean and an archipelago of activities. Maja Hoffmann, the Swiss pharmaceutical heiress and art patron, achieved as much with the Luma Foundation’s Parc des Ateliers in Arles, which after thirteen years of development and construction was unveiled to the public at the end of June. For many of us, this was the first major opening after lockdown, with nearly everybody fully vaccinated and ready to start the season in the south of France.

    I arrived the day before the press opening and headed first to “Laura Owens & Vincent van Gogh,” cocurated by Bice

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  • Stolen Moments

    IN ONLY A MATTER OF YEARS, decolonization has leapt from the radical imagination, to the seminar room, to the personalized mugs and bumper stickers of Etsy. An unruly cousin of the placated “postcolonial,” decolonization has temporarily displaced the Anthropocene as the discerning institution’s lost cause of choice, launching a thousand Zoom panels in the process, but rarely does it actually breach the inner sancta of the art institution (i.e., the collections and the boards).

    There are glimmers of hope, though. While France has led the charge on repatriation for a few years now, in April, Germany

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  • Montauk Cowboy

    “I WAS LAYING STONE this morning with the guys, so it’s been a dogfight,” Max Levai said on Saturday afternoon in Montauk at the debut of The Ranch, his next act following some ugly business and back-and-forth litigiousness that saw him and Levai père Pierre part ways with Marlborough Gallery. Anyway, all that seemed to be in the past, or under gag order. The oysters were on ice and the mignonette was glistening. Levai picked up the property last summer and had been renovating until about an hour before guests arrived. Save for some exposed wiring, it was mostly ready. “It was, as you know, a

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  • Greek Revival

    THE MAD FLURRY of art openings in the wake of Greece’s six-month lockdown began with a showdown: an exhibition of sculptures by Blind Adam (Thanos Kyriakidis) in the catacombs of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity was shut down at the last minute by the head priest, Father Synesius Victoratos. “I do not know much about art, but all the works are black and look like pagan talismans,” he reasoned. “We apologize for the inconvenience, but our patrons are conservative.” Funded by the NEON Organization, the show, titled “The End. After Before,” had already wended through a rigorous

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  • Open Season

    THE HARDEST PART of the first-ever London Gallery Weekend wasn’t attempting to visit the 130 official galleries, plus dozens of unlisted events, in a city about twice the area of Berlin or New York. The real challenge was recognizing people you’d not seen in a year only from their eyes, peering above face masks. Resocializing after a year spent cocooned in one’s tiny domestic bubble—relearning to chat with humans unable to finish your every sentence, for example—proved a newfound struggle. And is it safe to hug hello? Or must we perform that weird elbow rub, with its masonic secret-handshake

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