COLUMNS

  • NADA Surf

    Despite canyonlike corridors that can be discombobulating, not every gallery fits into the Miami Beach Convention Center—or wants to. Hence the continuing vitality of the alternative fairs, mutant events with zippy names and varying degrees of professionalism that spring up around the Miami area for the week. There were at least five this year, from NADA (eighty-four participants) down to Frisbee (a modest six, along with eight noncommercial installations). On Thursday afternoon I went to opening day of newbie Aqua Art Miami, which took place in the simple cabana-style rooms surrounding

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  • Miami Price

    Tuesday morning I encountered a Miami-bound artist on the New York subway, then joined a line of bicoastal collectors on the jetway leading to my plane. On the plane itself, I spotted more soon-to-be shoppers, PaceWildenstein's Marc and Andrea Glimcher, indie auteur (and new collector) Sofia Coppola, and David Johansen of the New York Dolls. Are tumbleweeds rolling through Chelsea?

    Before you can see any art in Miami—this year Art Basel Miami Beach security seems to have enforced its no-collectors-posing-as-installers rule—you have to attend a few parties. Braving streets flooded by

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  • Crowd City

    Wednesday evening on Miami Beach kicked off with the revived New York Dolls playing their unmistakable brand of proto-punk on the beach behind twenty shipping containers that had been converted into exhibition spaces by galleries showing young artists. The veteran band still looked the part: David Johansen in a studded kilt, his belly bared; Sylvain Sylvain in red jeans and cap; and newbie Steve Conte in an outsized pirate hat. Finishing up their tidy set with the crowd-pleasing “Personality Crisis,” Johansen struck a few classic poses, skinny arms in the air, and shouted, “If you don’t know

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  • Uncertainty Principle

    Few of us have had occasion to visit Oslo before, but a Saturday seminar organized by Daniel Birnbaum, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Gunnar B. Kvaran—the three curators of the show “Uncertain States of America” at the Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst—brought a boatload of American artists and three European journalists into Viking territory. After two weeks of pale-gray German skies that faded to black at half past four in the afternoon, traveling even further north to witness the spectacle seemed like a perverse crash-course in surviving the Prussian winter.

    My plane from Berlin was

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  • Dinner Reservations

    Just how elite can you get? The invitation for a pre-press conference dinner from the 4th Berlin Biennale (BB4) promised the company of a “small, exclusive circle” of guests and curators Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni, and Ali Subotnick. The rarefied group that assembled last week at Kunst-Werke's Dan Graham-designed Café Bravo turned out to be the usual suspects from Berlin's critical establishment—from Süddeutsche Zeitung arts editor Holger Liebs to Frieze scribe Kirsty Bell. As we “lucky few” listened to welcoming speeches by our hosts—Gioni, along with Hortensia Völckers, the

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  • Butter Balls

    The toughest decision facing visitors to Vienna-based collective Gelitin’s “Tantamounter 24/7”—a weeklong performance and exhibition featuring a homemade “duplication machine” that was presented recently at Chelsea gallery Leo Koenig, Inc.—was what to bring. After casting about my apartment at midnight Tuesday for something suitable for reproduction, I settled upon a cork bulletin board covered with sentimental relics. Stuffing it in to the back seat of a cab, I was smugly confident that the lateness of my visit would mean a smaller crowd, but soon discovered that others—artists

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  • Pardner My French

    “Man, that Whitney museum sounds good!” actor/poet Jim Fletcher drawled into the microphone between sets at an evening of Cajun country music hosted by Richard Maxwell and the Reena Spaulings Fine Art posse. This installment in the institution's series of Friday night gigs was also affiliated with the French Embassy and Association Française d'Action Artistique's “Act French,” a citywide series of performances celebrating Franco-American cultural exchange. Performed by a revolving quintet of vocalists, including Fletcher, Maxwell, and Reena Spaulings's spritelike founder Emily Sundblad, the

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  • Richter Scale

    I hate to travel. Still, a tempting triple bill (and a “yes” from a favorite New York date) persuaded me to undertake the crossing from London, my habitual stomping ground, as some of you may know. Reviewing our admittedly rigorous schedule, my escort not so sportingly opted out of all but the glamorous main event, a dinner at the Four Seasons hosted by gallerist Marian Goodman to celebrate the star of her starry stable, Gerhard Richter. On my own, and all but stalled in a snarl of Village traffic (the 6PM start-time of my first engagement ticking past), I was beginning to fear my fickle pal

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  • Fantastic Voyage

    Paris is awash with visions of melancholy and esoteric variants of romanticism this autumn, both of which tend to put me in a very good mood. There's “Mélancolie” and “Vienne 1900” at the Grand Palais; the first retrospective of the neglected Girodet at the Louvre; and now a contemporary group show devoted to new manifestations of Symbolism in the work of young artists (mostly based in London and Paris) at Espace EDF Electra. (The cultural exchange between the two cities is also an amuse-gueule to the roughly twenty exhibitions of French contemporary art to be held simultaneously in London next

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  • Truffle Shuffle

    “T1,” yet another large-scale international periodical exhibition, opened in Turin last week in conjunction with the ARTissima fair. Organized by two accomplished curators (Castello di Rivoli's Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Francesco Bonami from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago), staged at three museums and four additional venues, and involving ten “international correspondents” (consultants who offered suggestions to the curators) and seventy-five more-or-less young artists, the show provoked great expectations. Besides, foodies will know that it's truffle season, reason enough for

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  • Night of 1,000 Dealers

    “If you're coming to the opening, plan on bringing a machete,” Gagosian director Ealan Wingate told a curator friend of mine who had come by the gallery earlier in the day for an informal preview of the much-anticipated Mike Kelley show, “Day Is Done.” He wasn't kidding. When I arrive on Thursday night, there is a queue stretching down 24th Street, with a long velvet rope and several hefty bouncers on hand to keep the throng in check. This sight is unnerving, but luckily I spy a Gagosian operative hovering near the door and she graciously lets me in immediately. I couldn't help but recall my

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  • Northern Renaissance

    If at least one prominent critic carped that “Freestyle,” the Studio Museum in Harlem's 2001 survey of art by young black Americans, fizzled a bit when it came to the works of a few participants who appeared to believe in drab conceptual gravitas for its own sake, the Wednesday night opening of “Frequency” (not “Freestyle II” as the SMH website chides!) brooked no such reservations. It was as effervescent and bright a show as could be hoped for. On my arrival I was immediately crushed in the museum's vestibule with one of the show's lenders, and it was so tightly packed inside that we (as well

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