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|Strange Times in Deitchland
by Charlie Finch
|Continuing its march to a different drummer, Deitch Projects mailed out a frantic press release last March, advertising a spring schedule that's "busier than ever."
And there was Jeffery Deitch himself, at the Whitney Biennial, passing out invitations to one and all for a big grubfest at an empty Park Avenue bank branch, a happening Deitch repeated two nights later, reportedly bankrolled by bigtime L.A. collector Kent Logan.
Ingrid Calamé's ethereal tracings (apparently so hands-on and really fabricated by a student crew of seven) opened at Deitch Projects on April Fool's Day to the applause of many Japanese collectors present, while Deitch restocked his cash-and-carry outlet across Grand Street with inventory by Liza Lou, Jeff Koons, Teresita Fernandez and Vanessa Beecroft.
Upcoming spring shows include Zang Huan's Nude-In featuring all buff members of the Seattle art community and the aforementioned Beecroft's installation at the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier Museum.
For a guy who agonized for ten years before opening a gallery in the mid-'90s, Deitch appears to blanket Gotham like Batman, mysterious, omnipresent and maybe a little nuts.
Never popular with his fellow art dealers, to say the least, Jeffrey remains the target of wild speculation among them. What exactly is his relationship with Sotheby's, anyway?
Is he putting his space at 18 Wooster up for sale? Is Deitch trolling the leases on his two Grand Street spaces to fashion boutiques, looking for a profitable buyout?
Deitch told us two weeks ago, "Every time I drive by an empty space I want to open a gallery there." He confirmed that he plans to open a new space on West 29th Street this fall, while also operating a private exhibition space in Brooklyn and his three SoHo spaces.
The last dealer to operate as many spaces simultaneously was the late Julian Pretto in the early '90s.
One worm in the Deitch apple is an alleged abusive relationship between one of Deitch's major stars and a lover this surprisingly unstable artist met on the Internet.
Friends of this hot artist describe the relationship as sado-masochistic, including alleged sex at knifepoint and frequent beatings by the inamorated.
A senior Deitch staffer told us, "I avoid the lover," who's "no good, violent." A source close to the artist even told us that Deitch himself has allegedly been threatened by the interloper during planning for an upcoming exhibition.
Nevertheless, the art star and the "lover" plan to be married this summer, according to concerned friends.
We gave Jeffrey Deitch a chance to respond to these allegations, on the record, at Calamé's opening.
A visibly nervous Deitch at first told us, "I don't get into the personal lives of my artists."
When asked about reports that he himself had been physically threatened, Deitch didn't deny them, but said, "Overall, I'm not worried."
Apparently, feeling he had acknowledged too much, Deitch ended, "You know, Charlie, when someone becomes a big art star, you hear stories everywhere," a crock of frothing B.S. we're not buying for a minute.
The Deitch operation has evolved into an all night, non-stop party managed Romanesqually for the inscrutable delectations of its four-eyed emperor.
It remains to be seen whether the apple is rotten at its core.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks, Five Years of Coagula (1998).