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Malerie Marder's At Rest, installed at Jeannie Greenberg Rohatyn's Salon 94.


Malerie Marder
Victor and Laura
both 2003



Erika
2003



Still from At Rest.
2003



Still from At Rest.
2003



A work from Katy Grannan's 1999 "Poughkeepsie Series," at Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
Life Gets Harder Says Malerie Marder
by Charlie Finch


Malerie Marder greeted us effusively at her exceptional opening at Jeannie Greenberg and Nicolas Rohatyn's Salon 94 on a recent Sunday.

Hooray for the Rohatyns -- they are giving rich uptown art patrons an excellent reputation again, for the first time since the '60s, by inviting the world to view Ms. Marder's debut DVD At Rest and a suite of extraordinary complementary photographs.

At Rest is the first Renaissance DVD, encapsulating the age of anxiety in images of narcoleptic bliss -- for two years Malerie filmed her friends young and old in fitful sleep. The resulting 12-minute piece reminds us that our best moments nowadays lie in the Land of Nod, but the tense soundtrack, of dreaming breathing (really Malerie and Matthew Barney soundman Jonathan Bepler exhaling ominously through tubes for two hours) says that even sleep is no escape. One never avoids a frisson of fear.

The accompanying suite of eight C-prints on Plexiglas, featuring Malerie's subjects on the DVD, recall Julia Margaret Cameron, as much as the film At Rest brings Mantegna's Christ and David's Marat to mind.

For the first time, Malerie has commingled color headshots of her subjects against black-and-white backgrounds that look transparent through the Plexiglas mounts.

The effect is miraculously transforming. Like Dorian Gray, one subject, Elaine, ages 50 years as you move from a distance of 10 feet to close up.

We especially liked Erika, anecdotally a legendary young demimondaine in her 20s, and the price, $2,400 in an edition of five, was a snap bargain -- so we bought it. The whole suite of eight C-prints was priced at nothing, $16,000.

In tribute to Ms. Marder and Ms. Rohatyn, the art-world elite was present to meet, greet, eat and be sweet: Bjork, Julien LaVerdiere, John Currin, Rachel Feinstein, Andrew Kreps. You know the drill. Jeannie Greenberg Rohatyn has personally restored our youth, when Pop lived above 57th Street. God bless her always!

Personally, we were privileged to give Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oscar-worthy star of Secretary, a tour of Jeannie's collection, especially spectacular pieces by Ellen Gallagher, David Hammons and Chris Ofili.

Then, in our giddiness, we sat down for a long talk with the fantastic Katy Grannan, about her new body of work, figures in the landscape of her childhood environs in suburban Massachusetts.

"I come from a big family," said Katy, "but very Puritan."

"A kind of inertia sets in," we replied.

"Yes, things change very slowly, but my subjects were surprisingly warm and understanding."

Ms. Grannan's pieces open at Artemis Greenberg Van Doren next April. Like so many others in our world, Katy is a brand new mother, and her fecundity becomes her.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: this is the greatest period in western art since the Renaissance, largely because women have only become a major factor since 1995.

For that we have people like Malerie Marder, Jeannie Greenberg Rohatyn and Katy Grannan to thank.

May Providence bless them all in the perilous days ahead.


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).



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