Scene & Herd

  • Sea Change

    SAN JUAN, DESPITE ITS RECENT BILLING as one of the art cities of the future, has none of the splashy hallmarks of a twenty-first-century art hub. That is, there are no grandiose private museums, no sterile government-funded arts districts, no starchitecture vanities.

    The city’s art scene, instead, exists in a strange symbiosis with a long-simmering financial crisis, concentrated in the neighborhood of Santurce, where unused commercial buildings beget studios, artist-run galleries, and sprawling murals. (And real-estate boons: Klaus Biesenbach and Alanna Heiss both own homes on the island.) The

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  • Foster Home

    LIKE MANY MARRIED MEN, Norman Foster takes enormous pride in his garage. His is brand new, an immaculate structure made of German glass and polished Japanese mirror, built behind a petite 1902 palace in Madrid that has been refurbished to house the Norman Foster Foundation, an archive and research center inaugurated on June 1, the illustrious British architect’s eighty-second birthday. The day before, itching to show the place off, Foster had some friends over.

    “Jony!” said Norman, greeting Jonathan Ive, the T-shirt wearing chief creative officer of Apple. The two tanned designers brought it in

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  • Down the Loophole

    ON A RECENT SUNNY WEDNESDAY, I walked by the skateboarders riding in front of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and descended to the dark auditorium just in time to hear director Ferran Barenblit introduce Video Data Bank’s Abina Manning. Manning had selected works by women artists—Hermine Freed, Lynda Benglis, Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Suzanne Lacy, Linda Mary Montano, and Susan Mogul, all pioneers of video art in the 1970s—who had taken advantage of the emergence of Sony’s Portapak camera. The grainy, poignant experimental films made a couple of people flee, but mostly they

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  • Lisbon Rendezvous

    “WE THOUGHT ABOUT EXPANDING TO LATIN AMERICA, but it was more complicated. So we decided to open a gallery here,” Pedro Maisterra said at the inauguration of his and Belén Valbuena’s new gallery branch in Lisbon’s Alvalade barrio. “Spain and Portugal don’t usually look at each other, which is crazy when you think about it! But it’s ripe with great energy.”

    The Portuguese art scene was lush indeed, as lush as the blue jacaranda blossoming across the city. The patio in front of the new space was already lively when we arrived, straight from the opening of Carlos Garaicoa’s massive installation

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  • A Plus

    IT MIGHT NOT HAVE the kind of blockbuster billing that lured Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid into lending their names to the Fyre Festival, but the A-listers actually arrived at this year’s Brussels Art Week, which felt particularly front-loaded thanks to an ambitious Tuesday night served up by Mendes Wood DM and Clearing, both of which were opening new spaces in the “secondary city.”

    The Brazilians (Mendes Wood DM and company) toasted their outpost, a generous townhouse, with a rambling group show titled “Neither,” curated by São Paulo–based curator and founder of Pivô, Fernanda Brenner. Brenner

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  • Doctored Octopus

    “I LOVE AND I HATE ATHENS. I know it by heart, and it’s hard to leave,” said Greek artist Angelo Plessas on the patio of Ama Laxei under eaves heavy with vines and a table heaving with wine at an informal dinner organized by curator Myriam Ben Salah for the various friends, artists, curators, and dealers around for the twenty-second edition of Art Athina.

    Documenta’s recent occupation of Athens invited posters and graffiti all over the city announcing “Crapumenta” and “Fuck Documenta14,” but the quinquennial has certainly telescoped international interest onto the city’s art scene. Art Athina,

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  • Harmonic Discord

    THE LATE JOHN BERGER once declared that “the opposite of love is not to hate but to separate. If love and hate have something in common it is because, in both cases, their energy is that of bringing and holding together—the lover with the loved, the one who hates with the hated. Both passions are tested by separation.”

    Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen invoked Berger’s words last Wednesday at the inaugural convening of the weekend-long opening for “How to Live Together,” a sprawling group exhibition bringing and holding together artists including Bas Jan Ader, Kader Attia, Goshka

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  • Guest of a GUESS

    IT HAPPENED IN LA’S AFTERLIFE, last Saturday. After the opening of the Broad, after Sprüth Magers and Hauser & Wirth, and even after some kickback to the fantasy of Los Angeles as art paradise (in small waves of transplanted New Yorkers and others returning east), another seismic contemporary art institution touched down on a heretofore native stretch of Wilshire Boulevard just below the tony flats of Hancock Park.

    Following a three-year renovation, the Marciano Art Foundation opened its doors in the former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, designed by Millard Sheets, to immediately become one of

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  • Berlin Blitz

    AT THE START OF Gallery Weekend Berlin late last month, I found myself sprinting through the streets of Neukölln. This might come as no surprise—after all, we’re in the middle of 2017’s art marathon. But this was different, and having run three blocks to try to catch the man who had just stolen my wallet, kind strangers joining my chase along the way, we cornered him in the toilet of a kneipe (a German bar) and I was reunited with my booty. A good beginning.

    There was no time to celebrate, though, as I headed to the other side of town for the launch of “Robert Motherwell Masterprints” at Kunsthalle

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  • Get Me to the Church on Time

    FOR FIFTY YEARS, the Poetry Project—long housed at Saint Mark’s Church in the East Village—has, as Allen Ginsberg put it, “burned like red hot coal in New York’s snow.” In more prosaic terms, it has been one of the epicenters of American poetry and literature, where nearly every major poet (and an artist here or there) has kept the coals burning with a twenty-minute set on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday evening. A thrifty institution from the start, the Project, as it’s known, has been a site of alliances, contention, protest, and antics: Allen van Newkirk staged a fake-shooting of Kenneth Koch

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  • Peter’s Farm

    FARM ANIMALS NEED A VACATION SOMETIMES, especially when they’re trapped inside the Orwellian nightmare of American politics. That was the pun Sadie Laska turned to while assembling this massive thirty-four-person exhibition, titled after an Amazon ad for George Orwell’s 1945 novel that kept popping up in Laska’s feed when the book hit the best-seller list after the 2016 presidential election. That’s so Big Brother.

    “Peter Brant invited me to propose an idea the day after I attended the Women’s March,” the artist told me. Suddenly, the dystopian reference offered a perfect satire to contrast with

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  • Politics by Other Means

    IN AN UNTITLED FILM shot in Mosul on October 31, 2016, Francis Alÿs trains his lens on a desert landscape suspended in the pink haze of a sandstorm. A tank slowly careens in the distance, armed soldiers milling about in its path. In the foreground, one of the artist’s hands holds up a small white canvas, while the other applies paint, mostly in sand tones with a daub of crimson to match the flag of the Peshmerga—the Kurdish army—flying atop the tank. Using the canvas as both picture and palette, the artist dashes out a composition in situ. “I was originally drawing with pencil on one side and

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