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by Rosetta Stone
|Hello everyone! It was such nice weather this weekend I decided to go out and work while all you were napping on the couch at home. A beautiful day for beautiful sights. Not the art, of course. No one makes beautiful art any more. But the artists, yum!
Like Cindy Sherman, for instance. Metro Pictures was thronged with people who came to see her new work, grainy black-and-white photos of naked, dismembered dolls -- move over Hans Bellmer -- that seem frequently to have had hot pokers stuck through their private plastic parts. Cindy looks lovely but the work seems troubled. "It's just what the culture deserves," said Carolee Scheemann.
They say it's about gender. Me, I was looking for she-males. There's lots in the back pages of the Village Voice, but only one or two in Cindy's show. Mostly the pictures seemed to fall into the torture-small-animals category of psycho-in-training. Girls do that?
When she wasn't surrounded by paparazzi, Cindy was talking to her big brother John Sherman. She's the youngest of five kids, he said. Liked to keep to herself, do her own thing. John's in the computer business. "I offered to teach her computers so she could get a job," he said. "She said no and look at her now."
How much are the photos? I think somebody said they were $17,000, in an edition of 10. Hmmm. Let's see, with 15 photos, times 10 times 17 … gee, that's more than $2.5 million! Now if you're a collector and you buy one of these works and hang it in your home, what are you saying about yourself? Kinky!
Down in SoHo, that handsome Ashley Bickerton was in town from Bali, which is in Indonesia, for a show of his new paintings at Sonnabend Gallery. He brought with him his cute blonde son, who must be about two or three, and his beautiful wife, who's from Brazil. They frequently appear in his paintings, as does Ashley himself -- though morphed in a cosmic surfer way into parallel-universe personality types.
The pictures are technical marvels, fantastic air-brush hyper-realism done on unprimed sheets of birch plywood. Ashley is a surfer who was born in Barbados and grew up in Hawaii -- he said he mostly surfs on weekends now -- and his paintings reflect a wacky surfer sensibility.
They have a cast of characters, of a sort. For instance, there's a cigarette-smoking, diaper-wearing chimpanzee manipulating flash cards in some speech experiment, a nude mediating middle-class Buddha woman and a cigarette-smoking Walkman-listening Gameboy-playing junk-food teen. There's a lot of disembodied grimacing faces -- one frieze-like picture seems to represent all the races, every single one of them looking goofy.
My favorites are the paintings that riff on the nuclear family, metamorphosing Ashley, his wife and boy into primal jungle scenes of cave birth. They're sexy and delirious and … made by someone who could be a little isolated.
Back in the 1980s he was one of the Fantastic Four of commodity sculpture, along with Meyer Vaisman, Haim Steinbach and Jeff Koons. He made these great machine-like, hardware enriched, decal-encrusted wall works that had a lot of attitude and encapsulated a certain high-tech, postmodernist '80s moment. The market enthusiasm may have waned, but Ashley's wall works still come up at auction in the contemporary art day sales, and can sell for $20,000 to $30,000.
The nine pictures in the current show are priced in the $50,000-$75,000 range.
Over at PaceWildenstein is the show of classic plate paintings from 1978-82 by Julian Schnabel. People think the portraits at Pace's uptown branch look especially good -- even Hilton Kramer says so. The downtown ones are mostly broken-pottery-encrusted landscapes. When they first came out, they looked like extravagant art-student experiments -- in other words, not much. To everyone except the collectors, of course, and Peter Schjeldahl.
Now they look vast, powerful and … like Anselm Kiefer. The Raft, for instance, is a silver and brown picture of a schematic mountain, with a bronze leaveless tree jutting out from its peak. It glows and has the power of a mud flat.
Around the corner Philip Taaffe was opening a show of his colorful new pattern paintings at Gagosian Gallery. They continue the "natural history" theme we saw in his show at Peter Blum last year. One topic to each picture -- brightly colored photo-images of feathers, skulls, starfish, pine cones and the like. They seem kind of … sedate. But I guess as natural history they're universal.
There's a catalogue with an essay by Rene Ricard, which should be interesting, but it's not published yet. The pictures range in size from about six-feet square to 100 by 120 inches and are priced in the $125,000-$175,000 range. "The museums want them," said new Gagosian factotum John Good.
Saw Joe Helman venturing into Marianne Boesky Gallery to check out Corner Rock (1985), a little model of a cliff made out of clay and sand and installed in the corner of the gallery by Charles Simonds. It's part of a show called "Down to Earth" and isn't for sale.
Up on 15th Street at Gavin Brown Enterprises, Rirkrit Tiravanija is building a plywood house in the gallery. It's still not finished, though the tv room was playing Gimme Shelter and the curry was cooking in the kitchen and the bedroom was set up. The place had a rather unpleasant low-end crash-pad feel. A girl needs real furniture, at least at my age.
On the other hand, the bar in the front of the space -- called Passerby Stop, I think -- is fab. The floor tiles blink colors like in Saturday Night Fever and the walls are covered with mirrors. A big glass of soda pop costs $2.
Back in Chelsea, everybody was at Liz Larner's opening at 303. Charlie Ray, Charles Long, Anne Chu, Kirby Gookin and Robin Kahn and their new baby Zora. Anne is off to Milan for a show at Monica de Cardenas. Liz showed three pieces of warped, sensitized Minimalism. In the center of the front gallery is Suffering Succotash, a kind of circular web or fence of interlaced plastic loops, colored steel grey and bright red. Up on a shelf in the corner is a cube-shaped irregular pile of little toothpick cubes made of aluminum and colored lime green. It's called Ignis (Fake). In the back is Two or Three or Something, a giant sculpture of pipe configured like the edges of a cube -- but staggering and loopy. It's pale yellow-green, and may be the first Minimalist sculpture colored with watercolor. The price: $30,000.
Over at Kravets/Wehby Gallery on 21st Street are paintings by Manuel Esnoz, a 24-year-old artist from Buenos Aires. They're abstract and figurative in a very postmodernist, post-Polke kind of way, covered with numbered dots. At first their subject is hard to see -- but I'd guess they're pornographic scenes disguised as connect-the-dots. I remember doing those in the doctor's waiting room! Esnoz was a student of Guillermo Kuitca and has showed at Annina Nosei. All the paintings are sold, priced at $1,500-$4,800, and the gallery rented another space on 26th Street to show big, 10-foot-square ones.
The worst thing that happened to me all day is that I never made it to Bill Maynes to see what Mary Carlson has been up to. First thing Tuesday, I promise.
ROSETTA STONE lives and works in New York.