Coffee Kvetch

New York

Left: Penelope, Susan, and Andy Hort. Right: Carol Greene, Mary Heilmann, and Mari Spirito.

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,” he bellowed, “You’re a legend!” “I can’t hear you,” I said demurely, nearing the bagels, “would you mind repeating that?”

Lurking near the coffee urns, Nicolai Wallner of Copenhagen said he was excited that Yoko Ono had visited his booth. “She was nice,” he reported, beaming. Sorry, I couldn’t get any more detail. Charlie Finch, on the other hand, filled my ear with every speck of art world “dirt” I’d missed since I’d last run into him ten years ago. But alas, I’m not crazy enough to repeat it. Here. The Horts are big patrons of emerging artists: Two floors of their dwelling are set up like white-walled galleries, with labels, even (which I appreciated). It’s like they’re museum directors living in their own ICA.

“They buy a lot and they buy cheap,” said a veteran artist (not in their collection) who prefers to remain anonymous, “And throw a big party for themselves. ‘Hurray for me! Look what I can do!’ I guess I’ll go back (to the Armory) and sniff around my work. . .” She has a piece in a rather good booth. “See if anybody dropped some change on it and proselytize! These Belgian collectors are coming over later. . . .Better buy something tonight. I’m gonna do the Warhol technique: I’m gonna get them drunk and not get drunk. The only problem: It’s really hard to bear them when you’re not drunk. I know how these people are. They’re desperate for human contact and approval.” She was totally cracking herself up at this point.

Left: Alexander Berscheid, Andrew Ong, and Scott Lorinsky. Middle: Fernanda Arruda. Right: Jennifer, Kevin, and Ginger McCoy.

“It used to be a system of patronage,” she continued, kvetching about the art world in general, “It used to be about the artist. Now it’s about them.” The collectors, the buyers. “There’s no connection between them and the art. It’s projection on their part. They’re projecting that there’s some kind of linkage between the work and them.” I told her the collector that morning had said he loved to hang out with the artists. “Do you know how much that stresses me out?,” she exclaimed, “I want them to buy something! It’s like a john that goes to a prostitute, ‘This week I’d like a redhead. Next week I’d like a blonde. Oh look, there’s a Chinese artist!’“ She cackled, ”And I haven’t had my decaf yet!”

The last day was a real bust. “Aggie” Gund decided no press (thankfully before I'd schlepped up to Park Avenue) and big-name drawing collector Werner Kramarsky’s was as dead as I was by the time I got there. Just a few collector-lady stragglers and moi wandered amongst the fine specimens of Minimalism in his SoHo offices. There were some beautiful Eva Hesse drawings, but it was basically a gallery visit. By the time my editor showed up, they'd already closed, a little earlier than expected. No sense staying too long at the fair.