COLUMNS

  • Girl Talk

    Is Feminism undead like vampires? Mythical like Bigfoot? Or more like porn: You know it when you see it? Moderated by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith for the paper’s fifth annual “Arts and Leisure Weekend” this past Saturday, artists Joan Snyder, Barbara Kruger, Collier Schorr, and Tamy Ben-Tor offered a bouquet of symptoms triggered by the f-word: “Feminisms” plural, Smith clarified (at Kruger’s suggestion).

    “Did you have to be a Jew to be on the panel?” wondered my gentile, veteran artist pal as we grabbed our coats afterward. “What was with all the Holocaust references?” “It’s a hotline

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  • Family Values

    The crowd at the tumbledown space on the Williamsburg rim that houses Cinders—storefront gallery, one-stop shop for every variety of DIY geegaw, and social hub for Brooklyn artists—was in high spirits on Friday night. In fact, good cheer was a stated aim of “The Family Room,” a two-part group show of twenty-seven artists from around the country. Small works were hung densely in the eponymous room, a lavish if largely two-dimensional simulacrum of domestic leisure with a clumsy crackling trompe l’oeil fireplace, trinket mantle, and overstuffed love seat. The show’s celebration of home

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  • Team Spirit

    Now I know why people go to openings of shows by artists they’ve never met. No, not just because they’re looking for dates. It’s because openings can be fun! At least, that’s how it was at Mary Boone’s Fifth Avenue gallery last Thursday, when the legendary dealer got the winter season off to a rousing start by turning both of her galleries over to outside curators. Neville Wakefield’s “Hiding in the Light” opens at her Chelsea location later this week, while the future-forward head of Team Gallery, Jose Freire, is already rocking out at Fifty-seventh Street with “View 9: I Love My Scene,” set

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  • Bones of Contention

    I’ve long been a fan of cadaver gags—medical students mailing organs and body parts with cards reading “Have a heart” or “Thought you needed a hand,” or posing undissected corpses on campus benches in rakish postures, leaving them to leer at passersby. Hence I was surprised to find little gallows humor in “Bodies . . . The Exhibition,” a pricey, formaldehyde-for-the-whole-family show of jaunty, expressive stiffs and their constituent parts. Strained playfulness, yes—several specimens are pressed into everyman roles as basketball players, symphony conductors, sprinters, even Rodin’s

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  • Cop and Robert

    “Mr. Rauschenberg hasn’t arrived yet,” the press officer informed me brightly as I signed in for the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Robert Rauschenberg: Combines,” “but, ah, Mr. Bennett has.” Sure enough, hot on my heels was none other than Tony Bennett, legendary Queens-born crooner and, not incidentally, committed figurative painter. As Bennett and his companion checked their coats, I made my way up the main stairs and towards the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, where the exhibition of sixty-seven works made between 1954 and 1964 is on view. Fifteen minutes after the

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  • Mau and Then

    Listening to a graphic designer lecture would seem to be like recording the mating song of a peacock: informative, but compromised by a lack of visuals. Yet Bruce Mau, the activist graphic designer most celebrated for his work on S, M, L, XL, the 1376-page Rem Koolhaas monograph that’s been required reading for architects for the past decade, wants us to appreciate what we don't see. He was in town last Thursday for a conversation with Parsons The New School for Design Dean and New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger—part of a series featuring the likes of Michael Graves, Donna Karan,

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  • Miss Mosh

    Clad in jean jacket and leather boots, Jack Pierson matched the press-release descriptions of an antihero “guy” circa films like Midnight Cowboy or Scorpio Rising. Almost to prove the point, he didn’t even lose his cool when a puffy-jacketed woman stumbled over Psycho Killer, his floor piece of piled electric signage. My first stop out during a hectic schedule of Thursday-night openings, Pierson's “Early Works and Beyond,” an exhibition at Daniel Reich Gallery arranged with the cooperation of Cheim and Read, offered an idiosyncratic look at the Boston School bad boy’s oeuvre. Behind a plywood

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  • Piazza Party

    On Saturday night I was chauffeured by gallery owner Mimmo Scognamiglio to the opening of the second floor of the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina (MADRE), the second contemporary art museum to open in Naples this year. Scognamiglio had just hosted his own opening, for Roman artist Adrian Tranquilli’s exhibition “Age of Chance,” the night before, and he was still in high spirits. After braving the chaotic traffic, we were ecstatic to find a parking space nearby despite the crowds of Christmas shoppers. When I visited the museum a month ago, the street was torn up and littered with rubble,

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  • Voodoo Lounge

    It's hard to find a good séance these days, so I schlepped to Jack the Pelican Presents in Williamsburg Thursday night where “world renowned psychic medium” Jackie Barrett conducted a voodoo ceremony to conjure the spirit of German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Why him? Well, Don Carroll, who runs the space, kinda likes the guy, though he also considered Henry Fuseli, who’s “very cool too.” The gallery's current group show is a multimedia mélange in which mutants, introverts, and tweens echo the nineteenth century nature-mystic's gloomy vision. Friedrich didn’t seem particularly

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  • Houses Proud

    The upside of my early night Thursday was an early start Friday. The weather was perfect—I guess it always is in Miami—but the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, my first stop, was awfully good too. Celebrating new digs on North Miami Avenue, the foundation opened a pair of shows: “Indeterminate States,” curated by Michael Rush and devoted to video, and “Beyond Delirious,” organized by Christopher Phillips and featuring photographs of architecture. This was sophisticated programming (everyone from Thomas Struth to Kutlug Ataman), and the work was intelligently installed. We departed

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  • Planet Mirth

    Each November (has it been four seasons already?) the international art clan roots about in its closets for garments not black and makes the journey south. The art world doesn’t do Miami all that well; it’s bad for the pallor. In public we love to love it—bring on the neon and the thongs!—but in private we whine. Notice the vendors in their booths: All but besieged, stoically smiling, they stick up like beanpoles among the Versace-clad undergrowth. “All these new people,” they sniff. Did I mention that no one is turning down the money?

    Disembarking at Miami International on Thursday

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  • Cabana Fever

    The wonder of Art Basel Miami Beach this year was not that in a mere four days 36,000 people could exchange untold millions of dollars and still remain friendly. Or that tiny, ant-infested, beachfront hotel rooms with thin walls, bare floors, and misanthropic help cost nearly $500 a night. Or that cab drivers have no idea how to get, well, anywhere. It was that we could go to any number of competing parties and performances extending from no less than five different art fairs and still suspect that we were missing something. And we would be right.

    Each evening between Tuesday and Saturday brought

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