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the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  

Matthew Marks

Alexander + Bonin

Ted Bonin


Willie Cole
Iron Mountain Village

Matthew Benedict
Study: Funeral of a Mason (detail)

SoHo Goog

The catalogue

Stuffed toy dragons in the Gugg giftshop

John Waters

Robert Storr

Betsy Baker

Arthur Danto
   Affirming his recent Royal Flush award for best openings, Chelsea emperor Matthew Marks chatted up John Waters in his elegant 22nd Street space, as champagne bubbles burst around him.

Thanks to El Nino, warm winter breezes enchanted the evening, making last Saturday night everything Chelsea-advocates dream of: a young, chic crowd, plenty of bubbly, a soupcon of celebrities and a general air of satisfaction that wafted over 303 and D'Amelio Terras, as well.

And Matthew was just opening a group exhibition!

Speaking of which, Katharine Fritsch has apparently been unable to sell her charity White Plaster Brains edition at the Dia Center (and we recommend the piece at $500).

Fritsch (or was it Marks' staff?) retrieved 500 of the unsold brains and stacked 'em in an hourglass configuration -- instant readymade!!

Now that Sotheby's and Christie's are doing contemporary gallery shows, Chelsea dealers will have to make a living on what's in their front rooms.
      -- dealer Carolyn Alexander

Sitting across from her own Det. Sipowicz, Ted Bonin, in an NYPD Blue-style office, Carolyn Alexander entertained the Flush in her Tenth Avenue precinct house last Saturday p.m. Carolyn and Teddy Tenth now work on stripped-down metal tables with ancient computers ripped from Brooklyn South.

Across the Avenue's massive truck lot, imaginary snipers peer from the rusted railroad bridge -- your scribe was solicited by three different prostitutes, on a stroll to Alexander + Bonin, from 14th to 18th Streets, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon!

Nevertheless, the duo's claims that they get boffo foot traffic were confirmed, as collector Norman Dubrow, a spry septuagenarian jogger, arrived to pore over Matthew Benedict drawings with Teddy B.

Following Norm, a decrepit-appearing Barbara Schwartz materialized on the steel stairs with gray Pekinese and supportive female friend in tow. "I've just got over bronchitis," Babs announced, as germs bounced off the walls like bubblewrap on a Mona Hatoum. Yet, Ms. Alexander soldiered on, like the MI-5 operative she once was, trying to make the sale.

"There's an uproar in Chelsea over Sotheby's and Christie's moving into retail contemp," she complained. "Where does it stop?"

A world-class globalizer, long before Tom Krens, Carolyn's off to Stockholm, where the refurbished Stockholm Museum of Modern Art will feature an exhibition of A+B artist Willie Cole. Teddy Ten stays behind to keep the wolves at bay.

"The time will doubtless come when MoMA stops collecting contemporary art and concentrates on a period with a beginning and an end."
      -- Mark Stevens, in New York magazine

We've seldom seen a sadder, more corrupt enterprise than the Guggenheim Museum's China 5,000.

Born in the bosom of Morgan Stanley Incorporated, suckled by the Beijing government's envy of last year's Metropolitan Museum Taiwan treasures show, the exhibition consists of dubious selections from rundown provincial Chinese museums.

To quote Asia expert Jonathan Napack, "The locals think it's bad luck to sell these ancient religious artifacts, so there's no mainland market and you can buy them rather cheaply."

In addition, the embarrassing glut of Socialist Realist garbage at the SoHo Goog, complete with party-approved placards glorifying subservient Red Guard hacks whose "art" is the equivalent of Washington Square easel painting, is an unspeakable disgrace, a totem of Tom Krens' careening amorality.

As Holland Cotter rightly pointed out in the New York Times, this junk displaced a planned contemporary Chinese exhibition, obviously shelved to please Stalinist Chinese culture czar Li Peng.

We hear that Guggenheim staffers assisted Mori Building Company in the plans for a new Shanghai Museum -- that Krens plans other dubious mainland ventures, also.

As critic Linda Yablonsky told us at the press preview, "It's a long way from the Guggenheim Foundation's stated artistic mission."

Shanghaied by Krens, as it were.

"There are thousands of Web sites about me. It scares me to death!!"
      -- John Waters at Matthew Marks

As reported by the New York Post and the New York Times, controversial Whitney Museum boss David "Devo" Ross appears to be on his way to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, courtesy of Whit chair Lenny "Spritz" Lauder, who has long chafed at years of Ross pronouncements like his bizarre 1993 letter to President Clinton, comparing the two to "dogs chasing tires, who wonder what to do when the car stops." (That's not a joke, folks!)

Anyway, here's the morning line on Ross' successor, with comments:

Michael Govan3-1Youngblood Dia chief rebounds from 1995 putsch
Kathy Halbreicht4-1Walker Art Center boss would bring in her MoMA contacts
Lisa Phillips10-1Too close to Ross, but Lenny loves her
Robert Storr15-1MoMA man has proper gravitas, but dislikes the money game (he sez)
Richard Flood20-1One dealer told us, "This would be a disaster"
Jeffrey Deitch50-1Close ties to Whitney board make Jeffo a live longshot

Next up for Emmerich curator Francis Naumann: a reconsideration of Duchamp's Brazilian sculptress girlfriend Maria Martins, opening in the Fuller Building on Mar. 19.

As part of Naumann's new synergy with Sotheby's and Jeffrey Deitch, he discovered a late-1940s Martins on a trip to Rio, which he characterizes as a Jackson Pollock in 3-D.

Naumann even believes that Pollock saw this piece before attempting some of his classic drip paintings. But we'll have to wait for the show to open to confirm that.

One more feather in Francis' cap: he's working as personal cuator to David Bowie. Naumann comments, "Bowie makes you feel like you're the star."

"This relationship put the other women in the Oval Office at risk. The dynamics of their jobs were at risk."
      -- moderate Republican Rep. Anne Northrup of Kentucky, talking about L'affaire Lowinsky on NBC's Meet the Press

In 1066, a group of plutocratic nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, establishing the Western tradition that the King cannot rule on a lie.

As long as the Clinton White House insists on stonewalling the media, it behooves us to report what's out there about the real Clinton from reliable sources.

Time magazine correspondent Nina Burleigh, who has just joined New York magazine as a contributing editor, told us these two tidbits:

Former press secretary to Hillary Clinton, and current CBS news exec, Lisa Caputo told Burleight, "I was with Hillary in Arkansas, visiting her mother Dorothy Rodham, when she received a phone call that Vince Foster had died. Hillary stopped breathing!"

And Burleigh also tells us that VH1 veejay Eleanor Mondale, daughter of former vice president Walter Mondale, has allegedly been an ongoing paramour of President Clinton for five years.

The bodacious blonde Minnesotan was formerly married to Chicago Bears Lineman Doug van Horn. And it's no secret that her father and longtime New Yorker political correspondent Elizabeth Drew allegedly had a 20-year capitol dalliance.

Art & Auction reporter Steve Vincent managed to piss off mortal Dada curatorial enemies Francis Naumann and Timothy Baum with his current Man Ray fakes cover story (all of which was reported by ArtNet two months ago). But Vincent doesn't care -- Alexandra Peers has just hired him as her assistant at the Wall Street Journal.

Peers, by the way, who skated competitively in her teens, is in Nagano, covering the figure skating circus for the Journal.

Artist Marcia King opened her studio to a select luncheon group: Art in America's Betsy Baker, who grinned broadly when we sang "Goodbye David Ross," Aggie Gund in an olive brown potato dress, and Arthur Danto, whose Brillo Box theory was again exalted, this time by Louis Menand in last week's New Yorker.

"One problem, Arthur," we commented, "Your theory is wrong -- Andy didn't mean that everything is now art [pace Danto] -- he meant that only the Brillo Box is now art -- the commercial is the cultural."

CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.