COLUMNS

  • Party Monster

    “Useless Man,” an exhibition devoted to the late Leigh Bowery— featuring two films by Charles Atlas of the six-foot-six Bowery madly cavorting and numerous photographs by Fergus Greer, capturing his moods, whimsies, and full-body rubber outfits—opens at Perry Rubenstein in Chelsea. Definitely looks like an up-note for the coming season, given the rather staid and predictable offerings in New York lately. Bowery, legendary avant-garde drag queen, club diva, Lucian Freud model, and lead performer in the groovy beyond-underground band Minty, went to his great reward on December 31, 1994;

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  • Union Mike

    Lancashire's greatest auteur took to the stage to meet the public after a screening of his latest, the almost universally praised Vera Drake. His Q-and-A session at the National Film Theatre was ably set in motion by the British Film Institute's Sandra Hebron, who had selected the movie to open her acclaimed London Film Festival last October. In print, Mike Leigh can come across as a grumpy old man, verging, in his invectives against the Hollywoodization of cinema (a disease, in his view), on the sanctimonious. In person—and before an audience of informed and adoring cinephiles—he is

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  • Philadelphia Story

    Located well off the beaten track on a sleepy residential street on Philadelphia’s Main Line, the Barnes Foundation contains dozens of Impressionist and modernist masterpieces that eclipse the proudest holdings of many a big-city museum. It’s remote enough and allows so few visitors (by appointment only) that you need a car and a serious advance plan to get inside, and once there, you'll find it unprofessionally maintained and lacking in amenities. But it's as magical and odd as it is because Albert Barnes, an irascible patent-medicine millionaire, took a page from Isabella Stewart Gardner’s

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  • Professional Grade

    Art Basel Miami Beach déjà vu was inevitable at Columbia University’s MFA Open Studios on Sunday, as a flood of dealers and curators—even collectors—journeyed to the far Upper West Side in search of the next crop of bright young things. The fashionably interdisciplinary program has a who’s-who list of faculty (Kara Walker, Rirkrit Tiravanija) and consistently produces successful artists—this year’s Whitney Biennial, which featured alums David Altmejd, Sue de Beer, Banks Violette, and Barnaby Furnas, was practically a class reunion. So interest in the annual sneak peak runs high, to put it

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  • Shill Bill

    Daring to question the Weinstein brothers of Miramax seems the very definition of leading with one’s chin. Little wonder, then, that when the fearsome moguls of American independent film agreed to be interviewed at MoMA last Thursday night, they chose an interlocutor with chin to spare—the prognathous prince of pulp cinema, Quentin Tarantino. The occasion was the studio’s twenty-fifth anniversary, to be celebrated over the coming months with the screening of fifty Miramax films (including Reservoir Dogs, shown after the discussion), fifteen of which will be donated to MoMA’s film archive.

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  • Wall to Wall

    Barely a week after the closing of Art Basel Miami Beach, where his giant, tangled roadmap of a wall painting in Gavin Brown’s booth was one of the highlights of the fair, Franz Ackermann managed to pack GBE (Modern) on Saturday night with local and international fans still recovering from their Sunshine State sojourns. It was the opening of “Nonstop HHC,” Ackermann’s first show in New York since 2001, and it found him looking bigger and brasher than ever. A sharp black-and-white photograph of an eye—his own—introduces the show, which pulses with colorful wall paintings and new “mental maps,”

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  • Harvard Bard

    “If you’re talking about it, you’re probably not doing it.” Maybe Stephen Prina had this caution in mind when he opted not only to open his exhibition at Harvard’s Carpenter Center with a screening and performance, but to schedule the event at 11:00 PM—a time better suited to action than analysis. Prina is a newly appointed professor and artist/exemplar of the postmedium condition at Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, the exotically titled studio program where undergrads make art and movies as part of a well-rounded liberal education. By way of backstory, you may recall

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  • Blast from the Past

    The crush at the New Museum's opening for “East Village USA” was snarly yet fun, a little like being jammed into one of those unisex bathrooms at the Mudd Club, sans vomit. It was Old Home Week for the art world's Class of ‘81, seemingly a less-reserved bunch than one typically encounters nowadays, with air kisses replaced by cries of, “Shit, Anastasia, I thought you were dead!” The flamboyant mob—two glasses of wine were knocked out of my hands in five minutes—was a veritable who's-left of the era. Stephen Tashjian (Tabboo!) provided me with a running commentary worthy of Joan Rivers

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  • International Style

    On a freezing December evening, we rose from a winter’s nap and, automatonlike, lumbered out to our Twingo and drove up to Le Plateau for the opening of “Ralentir Vite” (Slow Down Fast), the first exhibition curated by the space’s new director, Caroline Bourgeois. A mixture of altruism and curiosity had led us to brave the cold. The two-year-old venue Le Plateau is one of those alternative spaces that one feels obliged to support, and we were hoping that the advent of Bourgeois would lend some spark to what has been, it must be said, a lackluster program. The drive—up the Canal Saint Martin

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  • House Proud

    Terry Riley, MoMA's chief curator of architecture and design, bounced back from the cringe-making Starck shindig in twenty-four hours, celebrating his fiftieth birthday at a jolly fête hosted by Patricia Cisneros (philanthropist-socialite), John Keenen (Riley’s business partner), and John Bennett (his “life partner,” to borrow a quaint phrase). The potentates of architecture and design who had been buzzing around the fair all week—and many who flew in to pay their respects to the man in charge of one of the largest and most important museum design collections in the world—converged

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  • Hip Parade

    One way to tell that the NADA art fair, now in its second year, is officially on the map: Collectors snuck in Tuesday, two days before the official opening, while galleries were still unwrapping works fresh off the trucks. One way to tell that the NADA art fair is still experiencing growing pains: At the press preview just before Thursday’s opening, many of the booths were still in darkness as electricians made last-minute adjustments. (There were audible cheers whenever a booth’s lights unexpectedly switched on.) Inability to see the art didn’t seem to slow down the buying, though: New York

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  • No Comment

    Let's do the time warp—again. On Friday night, a few thousand people turned out for the opening of ICON, a new Miami condo development designed by Philippe Starck and built by developer-slash-collector Jorge Perez. Guests toured the building's lobby, lounge, pool and spa, but, alas, the apartments were not available for inspection. A real estate agent informed me—this is not a joke—that the units come in four conceptual varieties: Culture, Classic, Nature, and Minimal.

    In terms of design, ICON is a pleasant pastiche of Starck’s greatest hits—all perfectly chic, but stale as

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