new-york

“The Fantastic Tavern”

Casey Kaplan

This summer’s “Fantastic Tavern: The Tbilisi Avant-Garde” made the case for Tbilisi to be known as one of the principal enclaves of the early-twentieth-century avant-garde. It focused on the cultural energy of Georgia’s capital city in its independent, postrevolutionary, pre-Bolshevik period (1918–21), though it spanned from documentary photographs of the city at the beginning of the twentieth century to set designs and films made there in the 1920s and ’30s.

You’d imagine finding this kind of exhibition at an artist-run space like its curator Daniel Baumann’s own New Jerseyy in Basel, if not at a government-funded institution (e.g., the Austrian Cultural Forum), but it was instead staged in the forthrightly commercial Casey Kaplan gallery. With its poured concrete floor, whitewashed drywall, and fluorescent tube lighting, the setting couldn’t have been farther from the bars and back rooms

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