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    Mary Boone's Chelsea Triumph
by Charlie Finch
The unassuming exterior of Mary Boone's new West 24th Street space.
Eric Fischl's new paintings inside.
Damian Loeb's new painting in Boone's back room.
The new Will Cotton on view.
Kiki Seror
Married by Dusk, Killed at Dawn, 1,001 Nights
Karen Davie
In Out In Out
Sold for $5,175 at Christie's New York, Nov. 13, 1998
Mary Boone consults with painter Damian Loeb
Young guns Inka Essenhigh, Will Cotton and Damian Loeb wore ear-to-ear grins as they surveyed Mary Boone's sexy new 24th Street space, built by Richard Gluckman specifically to showcase their rising talents.

Liberated from Boone's uptown tomb, the three stars blissfully sipped sparkling water and champagne under brand new paintings from their studios, hanging above them in Mary's back gallery.

Inka, rumored to be painting nothing but heads since critic David Hunt questioned why she didn't paint them in last month's Flash Art interview, produced a stunning lavender, burgundy and schoolyard green auto-da-fé of whirling scimitars decapitating the picture plain, her most violent meditation yet.

Will Cotton's Candyland entry features limp, ambiguous pink bonbons in the foreground, a piece so minimal for him that collector Simon Cerigo called it "his best yet."

Most intriguing was Damian Loeb's claustrophobic ultramarine Richard Estes-like picture of an airplane interior, the first in a series of non-appropriation paintings necessitated by legal problems related to the source material Loeb has manipulated for years.

Whatever you think of his work, you have to admire Damian's perseverance and public good humor during his creative ordeal.

Loeb was also spotted in Boone's gorgeous main gallery (shaped like an inverted arc), gently ridiculing Eric Fischl's truncated rendition of a woman's pubic mound to Damian's celebrated squeeze, leggy, pert-butted Brit "It Girl," Plum Sykes.

In spite of the $325,000-$375,000 that Hollywood types are reportedly paying for Kingfisch's new doodles, quality is still the problem.

A menstruation-stained MacGuffin, a plush chair, is the central element in a dull fandango of humanoids, drawn more poorly than ever.

Laugh at the "one-armed" Asian man, the red head's cancorous butt, the pussy-sniffing hound poorly traced from a John Singer Sargent.

Now that sassy, contented middle age has robbed him of the frisson that characterized his best '80s work, Fischl has run out of ideas.

Excepting his brilliant portrait of wife April Gornik shown at Boone 18 months ago, Fischl hasn't painted a good painting in a long, long time.

Perhaps his future lies in sculptures resembling his beautiful tribute to Arthur Ashe at the National Tennis Center.

Retreads like Fischl highlight Mary Boone's one major problem as she battles new neighbor Larry Gagosian for Chelsea supremacy.

After Essenhigh, Loeb and Cotton, she has mini-wizard Tom Sachs, who told us at the opening, "I think she still represents me, she just bought me this jacket," a fiery Patagonia number.

After that, Boone's talent pool drops precipitously. She recently visited the chrome atelier of cyberprincess Kiki Seror, trying to remedy the problem.

Boone told Kiki, "It took me five to seven years to really understand David Salle's work -- it will take me the same period to understand yours."

However, soon afterwards, real estate heiress, Whitney boardmember and Boone pal Beth Rudin DeWoody independently visited Seror's studio, snapping up two pieces for $25,000 and telling Kiki, re her searing content, "I like raunchy."

Two days later, another friend of the bubbly Ms. DeWoody also bought two Seror lightbox works. With blue-chip uptown gallery Lawrence Rubin Greenberg Van Doren also showing strong interest in Kiki's output, it's time for Mary Boone to make her move.

Beautiful Surrealist Karen Davie told us at the opening that she's firmly committed to her dealer, Marianne Boesky, but it's no secret that Boone actively courted Karen last season.

Davie's eyes visibly shimmered as she imagined her opulent trompe l'oeils gracing Boone's new venue, at our prompting.

This would also be a logical pickup for Boone's stable.

Whatever the future promises, Mary, who looked unusually elegant in Prada, has already made a major, major impact on the Chelsea scene.

Good luck to her and her fortunate artists.

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