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by Walter Robinson
|Rain makes plants grow -- or so my mother always claimed! It makes colors look brighter, too, or so it seemed on Saturday, when the New York art world went out in the rain.
First up in this regard is Otto Zitko at Cheim & Read in Chelsea. His large oilstick scribbles on aluminum panel -- one lipstick red, one bright blue, one all green, one gold -- looked good after the gray fog outside. The young (b. 1959) Viennese painter, for his first U.S. show, has filled the entire front gallery with a sprawling wall drawing (done in black). Essays in the two catalogues from European shows of this series (he's been at it since 1990) speak of "space," but to me they're about the triumph of whimsy over Capital.
Next is the show "Andy Warhol & Cecil Beaton: Drawing & Draftsmanship" at Susan Sheehan Gallery. Despite its title, the show pairs two groups of works that both use bright watercolor washes. The Warhols are examples of his commercial work from the 1950s, and they've never looked better. Female Head with Flowers (ca. 1955-60) is a drawing of a girl with pink lipstick and robin's egg blue eyeshadow, surrounded by a field of pretty flowers. It's $15,000. A simpler but equally pretty tondo of hands with pale yellow and green flowers is $4,500. One particularly colorful group of acrobats is $9,500.
The Beaton drawings are less artful, but more historically interesting. Priced at $1,500 to $4,000 are drawings for costumes for Balanchine's 1951 Swan Lake and the 1952 ballet Picnic at Tintzingel, among others. The star item is a 1956 drawing for My Fair Lady, complete with fabric swatches. It's $5,000.
The rain didn't inhibit the hip Chelsea art lovers from mobbing the opening for "Corvette," Rita Ackermann's show at Andrea Rosen. Ackermann has been living in Texas, and the new paintings are rich in adolescent, comic-book, redneck imagery -- longneck beer bottles, tattoos, pinups, cowboy boots, drum kits and fast cars. One image that's repeated twice is a screaming girl holding out a heart pierced with a pen and brush like some devilish Masonic symbol. Ackermann seems ingenuous in her efforts to activate a "visual language" that is new and sophisticated. The smaller paintings are $10,000; the larger go for $15,000.
At Marlborough Chelsea are new forged metal sculpture by Alain Kirili, pairs of tall, thin rectangles, notched and scarred. You can tell that this New York-based French artist, who's working on curating an installation of modern sculpture in the Tuilleries in Paris, has recently also been to Mali. The sculptures are priced at $35,000 to $85,000.
At Gracie Mansion Gallery on Saint Mark's Place are wacky works by Santa Monica artist Doug Edge that are part photo, part, um, bas-relief? While walking the dog, Edge gathers tree thorns, then casts them in colorful plastic, makes a mini-mountainous landscape, peoples it with small-gauge model figures, and then makes a close-up photo and exhibits landscape and picture as a diptych. They're $5,000. Edge used to teach plastic sculpture at Cal Arts. Hey, is that a portrait of Tipper and Al? Among those at the opening were underground cartoonist supreme David Sandlin with his baby Jake.
At Edwynn Houk Gallery on Fifth Avenue is a show of vintage prints by famed Biker photog Danny Lyon that he made in 1968 in several Texas prisons, priced $4,500-$12,000. The collection of black-and-white photos of men hanging on the bars of their cells and naked in showers, of guards and work details, strip searches and tattoos are a strong reminder of the role carcerial imagery seems to play in socialization.
At Julie Saul Gallery at 560 Broadway, new photos by Orit Raff that show lots of white. Small ca. 9 x 12 photos of open lined notebooks with staples; a larger photo of a white wall, marked by shadowy stains and nail holes. Also, eight photos of wooden desktops carved with student graffiti.
At ACA Galleries on 57th Street, modest genre paintings by Philadelphia realist Sidney Goodman. Goodman mixes set pieces from everyday life -- a grandmother and child, a woman in an outdoor shower -- with images that have a spiritual or surreal cast, like Angel Legs and Wounded Head. At the center of the installation is a pair of small horizontal pictures that emphasize the charm of everyday life. Winged Boy (2000) shows a kid with his t-shirt pulled up over his arms like wings, and Maria with Headress (1999) is a portrait of a cute little girl with red, gold and white fabric piled up on her head.
And finally, at Forum Gallery, a show of still lives, landscapes, portraits and nudes by Stephen Brown done in an impeccable, Old Master technique. It makes you wonder, how did the classic art subjects become so...elemental? There's the still life, that's food. Then landscapes are hearth and home, portraits are family and friends. And then there's the naked women...
Critic and curator Brian Wallis, appointed director of exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, is beginning to shake the place up. He plans a show of photographs, video and films by Kids lenser Larry Clark, an exhibition of West Coast radical photog Martha Rosler, plus a show on race curated by Coco Fusco, the artist who exhibited herself in a cage in the notorious 1995 Whitney Biennial. Photo critic Carole Kismaric is named curator there, and the ICP also plans a new art-and-AIDs study center with graphic-art archive assembled in the '80s by Simon Watson.
Grand Street publisher Jean Stein announces scheme to "re-invent the literary magazine" as a webzine, launching in late spring. Plans also call for a once-a-year print issue... The beloved Equitable Gallery up on Seventh Avenue and 57th Street changes its named to the AXA Gallery. Some kind of corporate doings. Otherwise, all remains stable, with "Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art" opening there Mar. 22... Teens at "Greater New York," getting boisterous playing with the Arnaldo Morales noise piece, knock over the nearby plastic fungus by Keith Edmier and break it. Calling All-State...