Diary

Coming Up Rosen

Left: Dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, artist Laurie Simmons, and Jewish Museum deputy director Jens Hoffmann. Right: Dealers Andrea Rosen and Shaun Caley Regen. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)

OH, INDEPENDENT! Whither thou goest?

To Brussels, that’s where, in April 2016. Meanwhile, the 2015 edition of New York’s coolest fair opened last Thursday with a snowstorm and ended Sunday on the cusp of spring—a fitting farewell to Center 548, soon to be yet another soulless condo. Formerly the Dia Center in Manhattan, the building’s airy, unheated floors and impossibly narrow, Flavin-lit stairwells must hold more collective memories of unique art experiences than any other spot in Chelsea. With Moran’s already gone and La Luncheonette about to join it in art-world heaven, conviviality in the neighborhood is disappearing fast.

Then again, as the song goes, tomorrow is only a day away. “We’re getting close,” said Elizabeth Dee, Independent cofounder with Darren Flook, of the pair’s hunt for their next home base. It was a few minutes into the proceedings. Despite the snow, all three floors were filling with happy customers. “It’s been really nice,” said collector Anita Zabludowicz of the week thus far. “And the dinners have been really fun.”

Ironically, this was the year that everyone involved at last had sorted out the best places to put up walls and the most efficacious ways to install the goods. Gavin Brown cornered the market on gray monochromes by Silke Otto-Knapp and Fergus McCaffrey took to a closet to fill Hitoshi Nomura’s glass flasks with liquid oxygen. “This is the art object dematerializing before your eyes,” he explained. The Modern Institute’s Andrew Hamilton could hardly keep up with the demand for paintings by Nicolas Party. Dealer Johann König and art adviser Patricia Marshall competed for the same one. (They tossed a coin.) “What’s the artist’s name again?” Marshall asked.

Left: Art adviser Diane Ackerman and dealer Anke Kempkes. Right: Dealer Fergus McCaffrey.

“Let me tell you,” collector Marty Eisenberg said of Mike Cloud’s suspended paper paintings at Thomas Erben. “These are fabulous.” Micky Schubert did New Museum triennial artist Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili proud, and Broadway 1602’s Anke Kempkes set her stand apart with a three-dimensional 1960s canvas by Pop artist Marjorie Strider. “It’s my only painting with a breast size,” Kempkes noted. BQ put up an almost irresistible display of Dirk Bell paintings turned back-to-front on shelves. Even dealer Maureen Paley snagged one. “We’re having an amazing day,” she said of her own sales. And the Box’s Mara McCarthy furnished her stand with vintage vitrines of objects by Barbara T. Smith, whom Andrew Kreps happened to be showing right across the street.

It’s an unwritten rule of art-fair weeks that after hours, to cement good relations with artists and clients and draw clear lines of community and power, everyone must be entertained at all times. That evening, Barbara Gladstone threw open her West Twenty-Fourth Street doors to new portraits by Victor Man, named that day as one of six Gladstone artists whom Okwui Enwezor selected for “All the World’s Futures,” his show for the upcoming Venice Biennale. A few doors down, Andrea Rosen let curator Alison Gingeras loose to organize a show of paintings by Julian Schnabel, Martin Barré, David Ostrowski, and Reena Spaulings that somehow looked like a genealogy of the same family. “I’ve never seen that Martin Barré,” Jeffrey Deitch said. “I want it.”

Bob Nickas did the honors for Anton Kern with “The Painter of Modern Life,” a sweeping show that attracted a good crowd for the gallery’s party at Fig 18 on the Lower East Side, while Anicka Yi raised the flag for feminism in “You Can Call Me F” at the Kitchen. At the same time, Eva Presenhuber invited lots of Swiss people to join gallery artists like Joe Bradley, Wyatt Kahn, Valentin Carron, and Liam Gillick to her Armory Arts Week dinner in the penthouse of the Standard’s East Village hotel, high above the still-frozen city. “It’s nice up here, isn’t it?” Presenhuber said. It was.

Back on earth the following evening, more dealers reminded everyone that New York is first of all a gallery town, no matter how many art fairs are around. Friedrich Petzel inaugurated his new project space on East Sixty-Seventh Street with early-1990s paintings by Charline von Heyl, Keith Boadwee did a splishy-splashy at Shoot the Lobster on the Lower East Side, Matthew Higgs opened White Columns in the West Village with five new exhibitions, and Still House Group staged one of their collective openings in Soho.

Left: Dealer Andrew Hamilton with curator Clarissa Dalrymple and artist Adam McEwen. Right: Dealer Elizabeth Dee.

Even a surge-priced Uber couldn’t keep up with this byzantine geography, so I had only just enough time to catch writer Lynne Tillman’s launch of her first spoken-word vinyl at Printed Matter, and Michele Maccarone’s closing party for her Jack Pierson and Danny McDonald shows. The reception gravitated to her office, where Carol Bove, Ryan Sullivan, Beth Swofford, and Shaun Caley Regen joined Ellen Langan for drinks before a much bigger party with the artists at Maccarone’s Chinatown loft.

That was like a quiet night at home with a good book compared to Saturday. After a day of fair- and gallerygoing, Artists Space held an opening for a resplendent exhibition of Hito Steyerl’s films, and Gavin Brown hosted his first show with visual wordsmith Karl Holmqvist, attended by video outtakes of the artist reading from a film portrait by Rirkrit Tiravanija. The walls of one room were covered, Warhol Factory style, with aluminum foil, and there were words and words, critical words, poetic words, scatological words, scrawled on them in Holmqvist’s homage to the punk spirit under the coat of the bourgeois blanketing our culture like the endless snow, which had finally started melting.

And so, with winter receding, a few hundred artsters—collectors, dealers, artists, writers, museum curators—boarded three chartered buses and an untold number of private cars for a field trip to Coney Island, a resort well known for its freak shows. It was there, at Romanoff, a Russian nightclub flooded with red light, that Andrea Rosen staged a full-tilt blowout to celebrate her gallery’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

Left: Artist/dealers John Kelsey and Emily Sundblad. Right: Dealer Emma Fernberger and artist Jordan Wolfson.

“This is like an old-fashioned burlesque house,” said Deitch, as arriving guests—including visiting dealers Regen, Jake Miller, and Stuart Shave, and artists no longer represented by the gallery like John Currin, Sean Landers, and Rita Ackermann—helped themselves to heaps of caviar and champagne. Deitch had that about right, but once the evening took shape, the place began to feel more like a Russian-themed La Cage aux Folles.

A band of five costumed singers and one suited guy on a laptop appeared to perform nonstop throughout the dinner, during which just about everyone hit the dance floor, the collecting couples (the Levines, the Horts, the Eisenbergs, the Cohens, the Lees, Mera Rubell sans Don, Andy Stillpass, Frank Moore), the colleagues (Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Stefania Bortolami), the curators (Donna De Salvo, Ian Alteveer, Massimiliano Gioni, Cecilia Alemani) and the art world’s “it” couple of the moment, Jordan Wolfson and Emma Fernberger.

In tributes to the dealer, at least three gallery artists, led by Matthew Ritchie, toasted Rosen’s lingerie. “When I first met Andrea,” Ritchie said, “Andrea was in a bikini and being gently flogged.” Katy Moran, after revealing that Rosen had given her underwear from Agent Provocateur, allowed that “it wasn’t long before I was pregnant again.” In an attempt to inject a more serious tone, which didn’t last, Josiah McElheny recalled: “Andrea told me that ideas were a matter of life and death, and that the job of an artist is to make those ideas visible.” Rosen seconded that in her own toast to everyone in the room, who included the family of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. “Mommy, my daughter said, art is not the world and the world is not art. But that is my world. The gallery would be nothing without artists. There is nothing without artists.”

Left: Dealer Stuart Shave and collector Mera Rubell. Right: Collectors Dianne Wallace, Susan Hort, and Michael Hort.

And the evening itself was nothing without the unforgettable, elaborate, Vegas-style floor show. It had can-can dancers, Cossack dancers, acrobats on trapeze and ring—really, everything but sword swallowers and snake charmers—and so many costume and wig changes that it seemed as if there were forty performers instead of ten. When they were done, out came the band of vocalists again to lead the remaining guests onto the floor with Abba’s “Dancing Queen,” the ultimate last dance.

What is a party without a gift bag? Rosen’s tote was an entire library—twenty-five volumes chronicling select group shows in the gallery over the twenty-five years and an additional index of all the exhibitions. Yet even this was not quite enough. A few blocks away was a Carvel ice cream shop, where Michael and Eileen Cohen, De Salvo, and I, having danced more than we’d dined, relived our childhood with Brown Bonnet nightcaps to take us back to Manhattan, where the clocks had sprung an hour forward.

Sunday is never a day of rest during a fair week. With the fairs winding down, it was open house for galleries on the Lower East Side, while Mexico City’s Labor gallery (an Independent participant) held a screening at Neuehouse for a new film by Jan Peter Hammer. This was a kind of documentary detailing how mad some scientists really are, especially when it comes to interspecies communication (including sex with dolphins) and killer whales.

Left: Dealer Cheryl Haines. Right: Artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian and Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Up Park Avenue at the Harold Pratt House, a mansion I never knew existed, San Francisco dealer Cheryl Haines was launching a lovely new book of drawings by the Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, whose show at the Guggenheim just opened. The book includes an interview with the omnivorous Hans Ulrich Obrist. This may not mean much to anyone who arrived in New York after 1980, but I was astonished to learn that the nonagenarian Monir, who is known for her mirror paintings but was a fashion illustrator early in her career, was the person who designed the lilac logo for Bonwit Teller, and also gave Andy Warhol his first job drawing shoes for the same store. Historic!

I had one more fair to hit that day. “It’s not a fair!” protested artist Mikel Glass, an organizer of un(SCENE). “It’s a show!” Er, I guess it was, though it resembled an art flea market—refreshing! Spread over two vacant garages on West Fifty-Second Street, in the shadow of the Armory Show, the work of ninety artists was on view. It included Old Master paintings, cyborg art, graffiti art, kinetic sculpture, and some recognizably gifted talents. One canvas that caught my eye turned out to be a 1991 painting by Chris Ofili. Another wall piece was a massive, sleight-of-hand assemblage of plastic doll parts and other found objects by Thomas Deininger. Seen from a distance, the many parts magically composed themselves into a florid human face. Freaky.

By Monday, with out-of-town dealers returning home or heading off to Hong Kong, the eyes that were upon us were not just glazed over but painted on at the revivified Jewish Museum in “How We See,” an imposing show of new photographs by Laurie Simmons that ratcheted up her quest for the real-not-real a few more notches. It opened with “Repetition and Difference,” a group show curated by the museum’s deputy director, Jens Hoffmann, that juxtaposes multiples of Judaica and contemporary artworks in serial, and quite ingenious, fashion. (My favorite: the skullcaps on sticks.)

Which means that now things are back to normal.

Left: Jacob Schillinger and artist Karl Holmqvist. Right: Artists Leo Villareal, Rachel Feinstein, and John Currin.

Left: Simril Achenbach, dealer Andrea Rosen, and artist Mika Rottenberg Right: Matthew Ritchie and Garland Ritchie

Left: Bard CCS director Tom Eccles and dealer Ash L'Ange. Right: Dealer David Kordansky.

Left: Dealer Brendan Dugan and New Museum curator Gary Carrion-Murayari. Right: Artists Victor Man and Andro Wekua.

Left: Dealer Hannah Hoffman. Right: Dealer Alex Hertling.

Left: Dealer Jeffrey Deitch. Right: Dealer Francesca Kaufmann.

Left: Dealer Johann König and art advisor Patricia Marshall. Right: Dealer Jose Kuri.

Left: Dealer Kerry Schuss. Right: Dealer Mara McCarthy.

Left: New Museum deputy director Massimiliano Gioni and High Line Art curator Cecilia Alemani. Right: NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale director Bonnie Clearwater and curator Alison Gingeras.

Left: Dealer Margaret Murray. Right: Dealer Felipe Dmab.

Left: Dealer Tomasso Corvi-Mora. Right: Dealer Peter Freeman.

Left: Collector Andy Stillpass. Right: Collector Susanne van Gagen and dealer Thor Shannon.

Left: Dealer James Fuentes and New Yorker art editor Andrea Scott. Right: Dealer Mickey Schubert.

Left: Dealer Fernando Mesta and artist Kembra Pfahler. Right: Author Lynne Tillman.

Left: Art Production Fund cofounders Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen. Right: Artist Jan Peter Hammer.

Left: Artist Mikel Glass and dealer Gary Krimershmoys. Right: Collectors Rebecca Eisenberg Jack Eisenberg and Marty Eisenberg.

Left: Artist Nicole Eisnenmann and curator Abaseh Mirvali. Right: Artists Joe Bradley and Wyatt Kahn.

Left: Artist Sharon Hayes. Right: Collector Beth Swofford and artist Ryan Sullivan.

Left: Dealer Beat Raeber. Right: Dealer Joe Sheftel.

Left: Dealers Joel Mesler and Zach Feuer. Right: Dealer Lucy Chadwick.

Left: Gagosian artist liaison Louise Neri and artist Francesco Clemente. Right: Collector Dr. Frank Moore.

Left: Collector Maurice Marciano and dealer Jose Martos. Right: Dealers Pamela Echeverria and Rodrigo Feliz Garcia.

Left: Serralves Foundation director Suzanne Cotter. Right: Dealer Janine Foeller.

Left: Swiss Institute director Simon Castets. Right: White Columns director Matthew Higgs.

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