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the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  

Peter Halley
by Michael Lavine

Larry Gagosian

"Sex Acts" at Tilton

Y.Z. Kami at Deitch Projects

Kami at Deitch

Shahzia Sikander
Apparatus of Power
1995, in the Whitney 1997 Biennial

Jeffrey Deitch

Alex Katz
Study for Peony #1
Est. $6,000-$8,000
Bought in at Christie's New York, May 4, 1994

Katz at Blum

Alex and Ada
by Alex Katz

Gaskell via Hogrefe


Lyndon Johnson

David Zwirner

Keaton flogs MoMA

Brooks in New York
   Now, he's got a woman at home,
He's got another woman down the hall
He seems to want me anyway
"Why'd you have to get so drunk
And lead me on that way?"
.... He picks up my scent on his fingers,
while he's watching the waitress' legs!

        -- Joni Mitchell, Coyote

Spotted at an uptown eatery -- bitter enemies Peter Halley and his ex-dealer Larry Gagosian, chatting more than amicably.

The subject: Whether Gogo should buy Bruno Bischofberger's Swiss operation.

Bruno, who represents Halley now, has long desired to retire to the beach.

Straining to hear at a nearby table, ex-artist-of-the-moment Janine Antoni.

Big surprise on Greene Street Saturday night where the hot hot Feature gallery packed 'em in in the thousands for a group show, outdrawing Jack Tilton's skanky sex show down the street, which also had long lines.

Typical cheapo Tilton only provided an old mattress on the floor for the naked sex stars Olympics.

Tilton's moneymaker Fred Tomaselli told us, "It's pathetic, it's a disgrace." And Tilton's artists should feel diminished by this stunt.

Everything that's been fresh and innovative about Deitch Projects is tres apparent in Y.Z. Kami's stunningly beautiful exhibition, currently open on Grand Street.

A subdued Jeffrey Deitch, cognizant of ArtNet's report that Sotheby's might force him to divest both of his downtown project spaces and concentrate on directing the suddenly powerful Emmerich venue, implicitly confirmed the move by telling your scribe, "We've been committed to younger artists, and now we're switching to classic shows."

And Y.Z. Kami's optically charmed white cube of poignant portraits certainly qualifies as an instant classic.

Basing his imagery on the Egyptian tomb paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, which have entranced New Yorkers for decades with their breathless mortal beauty, Kami brilliantly appropriates a sleight blur from the Adam Fuss/Uta Barth fadeout school -- he employs it as a device to make you focus on the portraits all the more.

If you stare at something for a few seconds, it shifts out of focus. Kami has enacted this phenomenon in reverse!

There's a lot of grumbling from other dealers about Deitch's profligacy, connections and showmanship.

I would rather have Mr. Deitch funding the brilliance of Shahzia Sikander, Chen Zhen and Kami, bringing a new global esthetic into reality, than throw dollars at the shenanigans of Tom Krens or David "Frisco" Ross or any half dozen Chelsea dealers....

"The troopers alleged that Hillary Clinton allowed Vince Foster to paw her breasts, while he purred like a pussycat. Who would believe that?"
        -- Clinton defender Gene Lyons of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, on NBC's Meet the Press

In 1994, the publicist for Marlborough Gallery called me up, "Could you please help Alex? He's not selling anything. If he doesn't sell anything in this show, they're going to dump him."

We were happy to oblige, but it turned out that Alex Katz hardly needed our help, because he's been riding the high curve ever since, at a vigorous, athletic age 71. Katz's resurrection, the counter-punching of a grizzled, streetwise New Yorker, is a textbook example for late career artists.

Two savvy moves boosted Alex:

1. At the depth of his market, Katz gave a substantial and generous contribution of major Katz paintings, plus cash for a campus museum, to Colby College in Maine.
2. Katz produced optically ambiguous landscapes at the same time as Klaus Kertess' conservative, painting-is-back 1995 Whitney Biennial, giving the critics a new opening to reconsider Katz' entire career.

One surprise benefit of such synergy: Out of nowhere, Katz became hip with young art students on both coasts, diversifying his exhibition schedule with well-received solo shows at Peter Blum and Greene Naftali.

Katz's physical presence, skinny and fit in Comme des Garcons, helped, of course -- yet, in reality, he's a taciturn S.O.B., verbally intimidating one-on-one.

With so much action stateside, it's amazing to find a total tabula rasa for Katz's work in London, where Alex, a complete unknown, is having his first solo show, at Charles Saatchi's emporium (Saatchi took a major position in Katz's work last year).

"Very few, even among keen followers of art, as much as knew Katz's name, before Charles Saatchi decided to organize this exhibition," writes critic Martin Gayford in The Spectator.

"It is a decision that deserves thanks, although in many ways, Katz is a puzzling, not to say downright disconcerting artist."

Like Venus on the half shell, Gayford cannot shake the ambiguous discontinuity that is Alex Katz:

"The combination of heroic scale with the inconsequentiality of Katz's subject matter and the blandness of his style is distinctly odd -- so odd that it's interesting."

Still puzzled, Gayford focuses on three paintings of Ada Katz, beatific queen of Katz's night: The Blue Umbrella, The Red Band and The Red Coat.

"Three really successful pictures of women's heads, apparently all of the same woman. There might be here an understated emotional undercurrent of erotic obsession."


Conflict of interest, logrolling, mutual favors, jobs at Yale, vacations in the Berkshires: these are the alleged crimes and misdemeanors of art criticism's Keebler Elves, Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith, according to an exceptional ad hominem attack by Jeffrey Hogrefe in his New York Observer column.

It seems that Roberta and Jerry promoted Anna Gaskell's career out of all proportion because she and Yale photog professor Gregory Crewdson publicly date with Jerry and Roberta.

Three reviews by Jerry in Time Out, repeat reviews by Roberta in the Times, introductions to the Guggenheim's Young Collectors Council, all allegedly used by Smith and Saltz to load themselves up with the perks of the art-world good life.

Hogrefe's article characterizes Smith's supportive role as particularly "ambiguous" while quoting Salz dismissing the charges as "Academy Award stuff."

We barfed when we saw Gaskell's stupid derivative "Alice in Wonderland" series, bought at a deep discount by the Gugg from Casey Kaplan.

According to Hogrefe, Crewdson got Laurie Simmons a job at Yale, Simmons put Gaskell in a show at Kaplan's, Roberta and Jerry allegedly brought around the collectors and the press coverage, then they all spent their summers in the Berkshires together just like in a Woody Allen flick.

At Feature, Jerry Saltz told us, "I've never reviewed Crewdson, Roberta never reviewed Crewdson. He was discovered by Gary Indiana. Let them take potshots at us. It's good for the art world when critics are attacked. I've never met Jeffrey Hogrefe, couldn't tell you even what he looks like and have no idea what his motive is." And now we hear that Anna has dumped Crewdson!

"George Stephanopolous is on a fast train to darkness."
        -- White House consigliere Rahm Emmanuel, on Meet the Press

"I call it the Ellen von Romentsch strategy. She was the East German spy who slept with JFK. When the Republicans threatened to expose it, Bobby Kennedy said, 'We're taking you down with us.' That's the Clinton strategy -- everybody goes down."

        -- George Stephanopolous on ABC's This Week show

And while George rides his abyss-bound toboggan, maybe he can bring the following down with him:

The Midwestern Republican senator who spent the summer of 1988 living in a motel as a woman.

The actor/playwright with the blonde wife who has just one problem -- his penis is one inch, erect!

The '80s-era presidential candidate whose specialty was picking up the skankiest whores in airports.

The sci-fi genius who had a dozen male hustlers gangbang him for his birthday.

The giant of Impressionist scholarship who always ordered two at that high class prep-girl bordello on 57th Street.

The ex-Senate star, now out of the firmament, whose cold demeanor was caused by a major cocaine habit.

The New York Times columnist who allegedly likes watching another guy screw his girlfriend.

The president, universally thought to have no libido to speak of, whose tastes ran to Asian women and Cuban men.

That gossipy lady author, and her distinguished cabinet sidekick, who started out by orally comforting senators on Lyndon Johnson's notorious 1964 campaign train.

The ex-TV phenom and current movie hunk, who's called The Vacuum, because he sucks semen off the carpet.

The presidential candidate whose specialty was grabbing stray tits on the receiving line.

The football star, fingered as an adulterer, whose real preference is anal sex with men.

The Hollywood megahunk who likes to take some fellas on the film crew out for pizza, then discreetly feel out which guy will go home with him.

The actor, married to that sultry blonde bombshell, who used to get serial blowjobs from boys at that Ivy League fraternity.

Happy guessing, fellow flushers!!

Spring has come early for 66-year-old Jim Dine. We hear that he has allegedy left his wife for some young thing at Pace.

"Sing for your supper, and you'll get breakfast."         -- Lorenz Hart, The Boys from Syracuse

Two or three years behind the curve per usual, the Sunday New York Times ran two big features on video art. (This is the same paper that used to champion CD-ROMS!)

Of course, if you actually read the text, you learn that video art is so popular, that, when David Zwirner tried to sell a couple of hundred artist's videos at $20-$100, he had no takers!

Video artiste Michel Auder told the Times that, when he couldn't sell his videos, "I raised the price to $1,200!" -- typical New York art-world economics.

One August celluloid body was not fooled by art-video hype: the film department of the Museum of Modern Art.

When videoiste Steve McQueen did a rip of a classic Buster Keaton stunt, in which a house collapses around him, for his show in the MoMA Projects room, the department produced a Keaton promo postcard, as if to say, "If you want the real thing come to us."

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