PRINT September 2002


A monthly diary by David Rimanelli

May 3

PASTIS. Booked for simultaneous gallery dinners, Susan Rothenberg at Sperone Westwater and Brice Marden at Matthew Marks. The Rothenberg dinner was fairly sedate, the Marden almost clublike in feeling, albeit a rather glamorous club. Agreeable to take a break in the relative calm of the Rothenberg party before returning to the tumultuous Marden back room. As the Marden dinner was breaking up, posters were distributed. In a moment of dada inspiration provoked by the double dinners, art dealer/impresario Earl McGrath offered to have my Marden poster signed by Bruce Nauman (Nauman is married to Rothenberg.) OK, whatever. I didn’t expect anything to come of his suggestion, so I took another poster and went looking for Brice. As I requested his signature, Earl appeared behind me, unfurling the other poster: “To David Rimanelli, Sincerely, Bruce Nauman.” Mildly embarrassing.

May 10

ELEVATOR AT 535 WEST TWENTY-SECOND STREET. As I made my gallery visits I rode up and down with some guy I did not recognize but who seemed to be casting sidelong glances at me. “Excuse me, are you David Rimanelli?” “Yes.” “Well, I just wanted to tell you that I think your writing is probably the most insensitive, thoughtless, and insulting I’ve ever read.” I extended my hand: “Pleasure to meet you.”

May 11

“Andy Warhol Retrospective.” Installation view, LA MOCA, 2002.

RICHARD PRINCE at Barbara Gladstone. More joke paintings, some of them very large, executed for the most part in a sepia-ish palette. The paintings were very . . . sensitive. An orgy of underpainting, palimpsests, luscious drips. The jokes were his typical Borscht Belt fare. The bigger joke seems to be about all the sensitive painting. You would be hard-pressed to find a more die-hard Prince aficionado than me, but I was underwhelmed. The artist’s book—It’s a free concert from now on—is much better. Photographs of his Albany County environs. Supermodel Stella Tennant posing as a white-trash biker chick. Too bad they weren’t incorporated into the exhibition—more “texture,” as we say.

Dinner at Pastis again. Several toasts. The artist raised his glass to Sid Caesar. I left early. “Congratulations, David!” Colin de Land said as I passed by. “For what, Colin?” “For leaving first.”

May 15

Left to right: Richard Prince, The Model Stella Tennant with a Neighbor’s ’55 Wedding Cake Harley, 1999, color photograph. Richard Prince, Cartoon, 2002, acrylic on canvas, two panels, 12 x 16'.

FISCHERSPOONER. Jeffrey Deitch’s large gallery on Wooster Street tricked up as a multimedia performance space, with multiple stages. A very young crowd, plus a few old folks like me. It didn’t really function as art, but I didn’t think it worked well as pop music either. Then again, my idea of musical fun is Die Götterdammerung. Casey Spooner appeared onstage wearing a sort of Turkish robe, accompanied by a posse of female and/or she-male backup singers and dancers. Campy banter among the performers, “girl this” and “girl that,” you know the drill. Lavish use of smoke-machine effects. Things improved when Spooner ditched his outerwear, although he seems to have put on some weight—maybe the overabundantly heavy-metal rocker of yore schtick is calculated?

May 23

ROSALIND KRAUSS lectures at Dia on Bruce Nauman’s Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage). A packed house—standing room only! Repeated apologies by Krauss for her “meditation” on the work temporarily preempting the work itself (she couldn’t show her slides while the video and audio were running). Very early in the lecture she flashed up an image of the Klein diagram. I had to suppress a giggle. Oh no, not the Klein diagram again! Krauss introduced this model in her 1979 essay “Sculpture in the Expanded Field”; subsequently the diagram appeared in The Optical Unconscious (1993). She exhumed it again for her Twombly lecture at the National Gallery last year. Needless to say, the artists to whom Krauss applies the Klein diagram are rather diverse––perhaps too diverse. I really couldn’t figure out what she meant to say, exactly, about the Nauman piece itself, other than to conscript it for the sort of back-alley “Greenbergian” idea of medium-specificity she has lately advocated. Still, there were a few good moments, e.g., Krauss moving from a slide of some hideous Rebecca Horn thing (Horn “is interested in the monochrome”) to a slide of Jessica Stockholder’s 1995–96 Dia installation . . . “and Jessica Stockholder is obviously interested in painting,” her voice plump with sarcasm. This time I laughed out loud.

June 20

Fischerspooner, performance view, Deitch Projects, New York, 2002.

Los Angeles. Feeling a bit down in New York after having opted out of the Kassel pilgrimage, I decide to visit the other coast. Went to the ANDY WARHOL RETROSPECTIVE at MoCA, the last leg of its tour after the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and Tate Modern in London. Strangely disappointed. Lots of fantastic works, of course, but very few surprises. (An exception: the Johnsian “Silver Coke Bottles,” 1967.) The installation did not appear to be either strictly chronological or thematic; instead, artworks were often grouped together to promote a certain dramatic effect. The hanging displayed a real hard-on for the “Flowers,” which is fine, but there was something irritatingly random about it: Disaster and Flowers, Mao and Flowers, Warhol Self-Portrait and Flowers, etc. If you’re so into the Flowers, then you should put them all in the same room, the way Ileana Sonnabend did when she first exhibited them at her Paris gallery in 1965. Probably the most salutary aspect of the show was the retrospective of forty Warhol films curated by Bruce Hainley—one seldom has a chance to view the early films and certainly not so extensively.

John Currin, Fishermen, 2002, oil on canvas, 50 x 41".

Visited assorted galleries. As I was off to the desert for the weekend, I couldn’t attend the JOHN CURRIN opening at Regen Projects. Shaun Caley welcomed me for an advance look. The pictures fall into the “gay guys” genre we first glimpsed at the 2000 Biennial, where Currin showed a painting depicting a male couple with a pasta machine. At Regen, a picture of two men of dissimilar ages; a sort of neoclassicist painting of naked fishermen at sea; a portrait of what looked like a decorator or a society walker (same difference). Particularly amused by the May-December pair, as I’ve known many gentlemen who’ve enjoyed such a domestic arrangement, not unlike so many straight counterparts of the sort Currin has taken as subjects for earlier paintings.

June 26

Left to right: Jack Goldstein, Two Boxers, 1979/2002, still from a videotaped performance. Jack Goldstein, following his re-creation of Two Boxers (originally staged in 1979), Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts, New York, 2002.

Returning from LA, I missed the re-creation of JACK GOLDSTEIN’s Two Boxers performance. I’d been eager to attend, as I suppose I’ve played my own small part in the recent Goldstein revival, having singled him out as the best thing in Artists Space’s rehang of the 1977 “Pictures” show—the barking German shepherd from his film Shane appeared on the cover of the October Artforum. A few calls the next day yielded the lowdown. The event was very well attended; many luminaries and operatives. Apparently, when the moderator for the postperformance Q&A (this magazine’s editor) gently queried the artist about his decade-plus absence from the scene, Goldstein responded with an impassioned diatribe against the New York art world—which had embraced him as something of a star in the ’80s. Highlights: “I came to New York without any money, and I left New York without any money, and that is the thing I feel good about” and “I’ll never show with a New York dealer again.” Many of this accursed race in the audience: Lawrence Luhring, Clarissa Dalrymple, Carol Greene, Matthew Marks, Nicholas Logsdale, as well as the dealers who have lately taken up his cause (Daniel Buchholz from Cologne, Brian Butler from LA).

Prior to the diatribe, Goldstein answered the what-have-you-been-up-to question with this gnomic statement: reading the classics . . . backward. Many took this to be a veiled reference to the artist’s supposed long descent into druggie abyss. Goldstein himself said that a tell-all autobiography is in the works. Can’t wait.

June 27

Francis Alÿs, The Modern Procession, 2002, performance view, New York, 2002.

Forgoing my usual predilection for press previews, I attend the fun MoMA QNS RECEPTION. After suffering the abuse of a cabbie reluctant to drive me to Queens, I took the 7 train from Grand Central to Queens Plaza and Thirty-third Street in Long Island City, the museum’s temporary quarters for the duration of the midtown base’s architectural expansion. The rickety train was filled with people of the sort who I do not think make Queens their regular abode. As scores of really cute dresses and dude outfits disembarked with me, I was proved right.

Regardless of the deep affection I’ve always had for the Museum of Modern Art, I would have to say that this event was the worst of its kind that I have ever attended. Well, maybe not the worst ever—so many, there have been ever so many worsts—but really, truly way up there. Of course, one can’t blame the museum for the horrendous weather—but one wanted to anyway. Pouring, driving rain the entire time. I initially took shelter in the tent set up for the “reception”—more like a cross between the San Gennaro festival and a really gross, out-of-townish club. Dancing: The DJ seemed very much entranced by Michael Jackson’s Thriller, also Chaka Khan and early-period Madonna. The crush of bodies, the humidity, and the effluvial cooking odors contributed to an insalubrious, miasmal environment. Strolling organ-grinders with costumed monkeys would not have been out of place.

My impulse was simply to run back to the subway and go home, but my companion insisted that, having made the trek to Queens, we should at least see what the museum had thrown up in this somewhat refurbished warehouse, the work of architect Michael Maltzan. BIG MISTAKE: We stood for forty-five minutes—in the rain, the insane, pouring, cold rain—waiting for entry into the QNS precinct. And for what?—some stupid cars, for one thing. An exhibition of contemporary art, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, called “Tempo”—big-think affair, you know, time. Clocks and metronomes and more clocks, some digital. Awful. From here I proceeded to the modest installation of works from the permanent collection. Something inexpressibly strange about seeing paintings that virtually define modernism—Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Matisse’s La Danse, Pollock’s Number 1—in such uncomfortably makeshift surroundings. They looked weird, simulacral, like life-size posters.

It would be unfair to imply that the events utterly lacked for inspiration, viz., the procession from Fifty-third Street, across the Queensboro Bridge, and finally to MoMA QNS organized the Sunday before by artist du jour Francis Alÿs. Replicas of iconic MoMA artworks—Les Demoiselles, Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, Giacometti’s Standing Woman—were carried through the streets as participants scattered rose petals. The ersatz masterpieces were joined by a very real Kiki Smith, resplendent in a sedan chair, looking either regal or slightly nuts. Smith was chosen as “a living icon,” according to an article that appeared in the Times. Hail Kiki, full of, uh, something real special, Issey Miyake is with thee . . .

June 28

Went to see the BARNETT NEWMAN retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before it came down. So relieved to see Vir Heroicus Sublimus here rather than at MoMA QNS. It didn’t look like supergraphics.