Okay, ready to go shopping? Pretend that Evan Marriott, otherwise known as Joe Millionaire, has returned from his recent visit to the troops in Iraq [see "Baghdad Journal," Sept. 15, 2004] and now wants to spend all his money on art in New York galleries. Hes come to your correspondent for advice. No problem -- we should be able to spend every last dime in way less than 1,500 words!
So lets get started. First off to PaceWildenstein on West 25th Street in Chelsea, where the 77-year-old master figurative painter Alex Katz has a new cycle of works on view -- tall, slim paintings of tall, slim women. Katzs clear-complexioned colors recall the magazine illustration style of his pre-Pop youth, a Protestant time when social ills were kept firmly out of view. Those were the days!
Here, Katzs lovely portraits of artist Kiki Smith and actress Tilda Swinton are marked sold (as is his painting of his longtime wife and muse, Ada), but the one of Mariko Mori is available for a sweet $120,000. There are also portraits of Christy Turlington and Alicia Keys. Everyone wears new fall fashions, in a series conceived for the fashion magazine W, which illustrates the paintings in its new issue. New York School poet Ron Padgett wrote the catalogue essay. What a life!
Next, around the corner to Gagosian Gallery, where are installed six giant-sized sculptures in chain-saw-cut cedar, poplar or limewood by Georg Baselitz. The 60-something artist has no assistants, and works the massive things himself. They really are expressive and poignant, like folk toys for a Brobdingnagian child, daubed with ultramarine blue, pink, black and white oil color.
My New Cap (2003) is more than 10 feet tall, a self portrait of the childlike artist standing in a blue smock and white painters cap, looking out to sea with his hands clasped behind him, holding a skull -- a sign of mortality, like the comical wristwatch painted on one of the arms. Tick, tick, tick! Nearby is Frau Ultramarine (2004), a portrait of the artists wife and, once again, his muse. (These same two figures, like characters in a fairy tale, were presented upside-down in a tondo painting exhibited a few years ago at PaceWildenstein).
Three of the sculptures, including a mother-and-child titled Mother Folklore (1997), are borrowed from museums in Bonn, Chemnitz and Valencia. Three are available for "something like" $1,000,000 each, according to the gallery, and "serious discussions" are underway about their sale. Somehow it seems unlikely that our pal Joe Millionaire, even with his fame and bankroll, can push his way to the top of the waiting list.
The catalogue features an essay by the celebrated art historian Michael Baxandall. Opening at Gagosian uptown on Madison Avenue, by the way, is a restaging of Baselitzs 1971 exhibition in Bonn, where he introduced his signature practice of painting upside-down.
Down the block at Mary Boone Gallery are four new paintings of classic pin-ups posed in candyland settings by Will Cotton. A large (80 x 120 in.) untitled depiction of a reclining brunette in pink lace panties, surrounded by oversized candy canes, lollipops, taffy and other sweets, is $75,000. Cottons fans have one thing to say to him -- more marshmallow crme, please!
Further down the block at Luhring Augustine is a new video installation by Pipilotti Rist titled Saffron Flower or Fall Times Less (2004). It includes four projection DVDs, two sound systems, a wooden house, branch of a maple tree and a table with three chairs (a place to sit, at last). Rist is the art worlds sweetest music-video maker, mixing scenes of nature shot with her trademark "lamour fou" camera, wheeling through space and swooping along the contours of her body -- this year, her red, extended tongue is a persistent motif -- with an audio track of bird songs, violin music and screechy avant-garde singing.
With Rist, the corpus is the cosmos -- its psychedelic Heidi. The large installation is a breeze at $350,000. In the back is a multiple of a white metal medicine cabinet, inset with an LCD monitor and filled, the artist tells us, with various medical and homeopathic remedies, including poetry. Its $25,000 in an edition of 10. And check out the amazing Tombstone for RW (2004) in the corner, a circular video screen set in a carved stone that is surrounded by scattered fall leaves.
Around the corner on West 26th Street is James Cohan Gallery, who represents the sculptor Roxy Paine. Paines giant, stainless-steel tree sculpture was one of the few highlights of the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and a new 50-foot-tall steel tree, titled Placebo, has just been installed at the Saint Louis Art Museum. It turns out that the artist has made a series of eight of these sculptures, a kind of "naturalism run amok," according to dealer Arthur Solway, "a monumental testament to nature that stays the same while the world changes around it." Not to mention their sly relationship to David Smiths epic "Cubi" sculptures that reshaped American modernism.
Museums in Spain and Sweden have acquired trees, as has the Toledo Museum of Art, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and private collectors in Seattle and Los Angeles. One tree is available, the 44-foot-high Defunct (2004), a sculpture of a dead tree that is ghostly and more than a little morbid. The price: $450,000.
Down in SoHo at Deitch Projects are color photographs by the irrepressible Terry Richardson, the tattooed fashion photographer who says he started making porn three years ago, after he stopped taking junk. Priced from $2,000 to $8,000 depending on size (in editions of seven, with discounts for multiple purchases), the photos are deliciously hardcore, with Richardson himself clearly delighted to be right at the center of things.
With his fat-free dopers bod and large salami, the geeky photog actually looks better naked -- especially when hes got his cock in some babes mouth or fist. "Theres nothing about Terrys penis that I dont know," said Paper Magazine editor Carlo McCormick. After reading Richardsons long interview about his work in the New York Observer, its easy to remember the best thing about dirty pictures -- no audio!
Next door in Deitch Projects large garage space is a sprawling, allegorical installation by uptown artist Nari Ward called "St. Peters Odyssey Salon." One attraction is a huge wall tiled with the plastic back parts of television cabinets, almost 300 of them, that the artist said took him about 18 months to collect. Each cabinet has a piece of toilet paper attached to it, which suggests -- what? that the media culture needs to watch its ass?
Want one of those colorful, cartoony paintings of mopey teenagers by West Coast artist Brian Calvin at Anton Kern Gallery? Too bad, you cant have one -- all 12 of them are sold, at prices up to $24,000 each. Calvin shows at Marc Foxx Gallery in L.A. and has developed quite a following. A 4 x 5 ft. painting of two limp-haired girls, who look out at the viewer with expressions of utter blankness (familiar to any parent), is called Fire and Ice (2004). "Its about his two cats," the gallery director said.
The National Academician Gregory Botts recently got a new studio out in Albiquiu, N.M., and is showing some paintings he made of the Western landscape at Salander-OReilly on East 79th Street. He mixes a severe naturalism, with scenes rendered virtuoso-style in blue-gray and black, with sections of simple, stylized forms in airier colors (like pale blue and ocher) in a very contemporary version of Synthetic Cubism. Western Sky #2 (2000-03) is a plum, with its naturalistic and decorative thistles, blue tree-trunk-like vertical bars and white desert light. Its $20,000. Botts also writes, and has published a long poem with Turtle Point Press, Clouds Leaves Waves, A Painters Poem.
Want some abstractions? Of two favorites, the first is by Daniel Lefcourt in "Mystery Achievement," a group show that inaugurates the new 22nd Street quarters of Taxter & Spengemann (they moved across the street). In the back room is a small painting on natural linen in thickly brushed oil of what appears to be a naturalistic image of a very black rock, perhaps a piece of coal. The actual brushstrokes capture the light in a way that ingeniously indicates the form of the rock. Its very neat, and comically nihilistic in a subtle way. A 72 x 96 in. version is $4,500, while a smaller one in the back room is $2,000. A real bargain.
And down the street at Andrew Kreps Gallery is a great freestanding squiggle, made in white neon, by Peter Coffin. "He says its the path of an idea," Kreps said. Also on hand are several color photos and something called the endless beanstalk -- a painted bronze miniature of Brancusis Endless Column that extends to the ceiling and that has sprouted leaves. Take the squiggle; its $7,000.
One more -- a multihued psychedelic finger-painting by the celebrated Outsider artist, the Milwaukee baker Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, can be had at Feigen Contemporary for $11,000. There seem to be a lot of them -- the one illustrated here is oil on board, ca. 26 x 22 in., and dated 8/30/57. In the back room is a selection of Von Bruenchenheins pin-up photographs of his amiable, lumpen wife -- still another artist who married his muse! -- gelatin silver prints from the 1940s and 50s that are priced between $2,500 and $6,000 depending on size.
Want to collect some DVDs? Theres a good one of Matt Mullican in a hypnotic trance, from a performance he did in Geneva. It starts out calmly enough with Mullican reading the paper over his morning coffee, but soon goes over the top and erupts into a primal scream, all via two cameras simultaneously shooting the action from different vantage points. Made in an edition of 16, the untitled work is a bargain at $1,200 at Tracey Williams, Ltd. on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village.
Back up in Chelsea at Postmasters Gallery is a DVD by Wolfgang Staehle of Niagara Falls, a one-hour tape with sound of the roaring falls, shot from the same vantage point as Frederick Edwin Church used for one of his paintings. A mesmerizing image, to be sure; its $10,000 in an edition of three. Other works in the show, which takes up the theme of the American pastoral landscape, include live still feeds via the internet of a view of the New York skyline and the Hudson River Valley, and a webcam video feed of the Grand Tetons from Jackson Hole, Wyo. And you hardly even notice that all this sublime nature is digital.
So lets see, thats $120,000 and $1,000,000 and $350,000 and $450,000 and $75,000 and so on and so on -- a gazillion in all!