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  the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  

Diego Rivera with Trotsky and Andre Breton, 1938

Leonard Lauder

Lisa Phillips

The Wall Street Journal
March 27, 1998
The subject is to the painter what the rails are to the locomotive. He cannot do without it. When he refuses to seek or accept a subject, his own plastic methods and his own esthetic theories become his subject instead.

And even if he escapes them, he himself becomes the subject of his work. He becomes nothing but an illustrator of his own state of mind, and in trying to liberate himself he falls into the worst sort of slavery.

That is the cause of all the boredom which emanates from so many of the large exhibitions of modern art, a fact testified to again and again by the most different temperaments.
        -- Diego Rivera

Like a two-headed calf or a train wreck, the art world's attention continues to focus on the Whitney Museum, where the capo di tutti Whitney Leonard Lauder confided his deepest desires to the New York Times.

"I want to be the director," Spritz gushed.

Then Lenny tapped a homoerotic slipstream, pointing out his favorite pictures by Charles Demuth and Joseph Stella, and tweaking legendary Yale Ganymede Kelly Simpson for welshing on a gift.

Either way, Spritz has split our sources right down the middle on the next Whit director's identity -- L.A. MOCA resignée Richard Koshalek looks like a done deal to us, though Jack Lane's partisans say he's a lock.

Meanwhile, David Ross (who?) is taking bosom buddy Lisa Phillips to San Francisco with him, setting off joyful dances on Madison Avenue. Now the two dingdongs can practice their power stares during long, lunch-time strolls on the wharf.

As for Koshalek, he's a fanatic for the five-time Super Bowl champ San Francisco 49ers, often jetting north, donning the scarlet and gold to toss the rock with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice....

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove
the poem must ride on its own melting

        -- Robert Frost

What's the biggest Broadway bust since Paul Simon's The Capeman (which garnered $1 in ticket sales for every thousand words of hype)?

The much ballyhooed weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, of course, font-challenged and impenetrable.

And it's no accident that its worst section is on the very last page, E12, where they pick up the art world poop.

This fractured fairy tale is the tepid stew of Alexandra Peers, Ray Sokolov, Steve Vincent, Eric Gibson and many others too craven to mention. So far, Da Wall Street Culta Crew has produced a snoring roundup of auction collectibles and a bizarrely error-studded tribute to Castelli, Emmerich and Pace galleries as "the new places to buy art."

For example, the piece treats Jeffrey Deitch and Emmerich as separate players, without mentioning that Jeffrey is now Emmerich's director. The article is unaware of Emmerich's change in curatorial priorities, from representing a roster of artists to doing classic shows like Man Ray -- it still treats Emmerich's artists as red hot buys!

Furthermore, there is zero mention of the troubles at Castelli, whose meltdown has been documented in a New York magazine feature, as well as on ArtNet, etc.

Then there's the "gossip" column, stodgily titled "Art + Money." Here's how they get their nonstuff:

Your scribe garrulously offered the news that we'd gotten a call from David Bowie over the weekend, complimenting the Flush, to WSJ vermin Steve Vincent. Instantly, Vincent was all over Bowie like a wet blanket. We're glad Mr. Bowie got some publicity in the Journal for his commendable campaign to slash contemporary art prices, but apologize for the importunings of Vincent the Pest.

After all the gas we heard from Peers in Nagano, Vincent in New York, and every hobo twixt here and the stock exchange, about the Journal's coming Friday kulturkampf, we're glad to crack one of the biggest eggs ever laid.


The New York Observer,
Mar. 30, 1998
Over the same two weeks of Journal Culture Friday's debut, Jeffrey Hogrefe scooped Al Taubman's Sotheby's expansion in the New York Observer. ArtNet multiscooped the Whitney/David Ross sacking story; and the Times' Amei Wallach dissected the war between Marcia Tucker and the New Museum board.

And the Wall Street Journal advises us to buy contemporary art at Emmerich, while praising the prime stability at Castelli!

Memo to Dow Jones chairman Peter Kann: Remember "New Coke"? Can it, Kanny!!


Mary Boone

Klaus Kertess,
by Chuck Close
Man, a hybrid of plant and ghost.
        -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Like Achilles in Xeno's paradox, always striving to keep up with a tortoise constantly ahead of him in time, Mary Boone has now arrived at 1995.

She's invited 1995 Whitney Biennial disaster maven Klaus Kertess to curate "View Three" at Bergdorf Boone, just in time to wave goodbye to two of that Biennial's biggest victims, David Ross and Frisco Phillips.

Kertess has learned zilch from '95, regurgitating his bogus Biennial formula of hothouse flowers like Keith Mayerson and Christian Schumann, passé middle-aged buddies like Peter Saul and Dona Nelson, and never-weres like Mark Schlesinger.

Time was that a never-ending series of group shows was a prelude to a curatorial breakdown --

        Mary, Mary
        Where are you going to?
        And Mary, Mary
        Nobody's going with you!

We had an agreement to avoid the "a" words, adultery and affair.
        -- 33-year friend-of-Bill Dolly Kyle Browning on vetting her Clinton memoir with presidential dogsbody Bruce Lindsey on PBS' One on One.

Update on Armey/Paxson/Hume -- Libertarian Florence King attacked resigned Rep. Bill Paxson in the National Review for using his infant daughter as an excuse. She quoted liberal columnist Chris Matthews describing Paxson's child gambit as "nauseating" -- a trick stolen from Bill Clinton when he used daughter Chelsea as his reason for not running for prez in 1988.

The American Spectator reported that number three House Republican Tom Delay was actively working on Paxson's behalf to topple House majority leader Dick Armey, the day before Paxson's surprise resignation.

Otherwise the conservative take on "Congregate" (blackmail, suicide, resignation) is "omerta."

We've fielded half a dozen calls from journalists across the spectrum, from the New York Observer to the Weekly Standard on this story, often taking a grilling.

One New York-based media reporter told us that Armey had allegedly hired private investigators who were snooping on Paxson and Sandy Hume.

The gay press is apparently pursuing the story -- we should have some of these items next week.


McCracken's "V"

Taking a cue from the X Files, April's Art in America interviews shimmering Minimalist John McCracken for its cover story, who ... well, let him tell it:

"I became convinced that there really are UFOs and aliens around us. Aliens are elusive and hard to pin down because of their other-dimensionality. Their medium of travel is time. I think there are thousands of extraterrestrials flying and running around, looking at us, studying us ... It's amazing that we don't really see what's going on, but I think we're purposefully programmed that way."

Let's see -- we don't see them because they've programmed us not to see them! Conveniently, McCracken sees his own work (now at David Zwirner) as a crack into the other reality, but we think the V-shaped monolith on A in A's cover signifies just one E.T. -- resident spaceman Richard "V-Man" Vine, a 2001 astro to Betsy Baker's Hal!

Excuse me, while I disappear.
        -- Frank Sinatra

Keith Haring's
Untitled, 1985
Two months after censoring heterosexual intercourse in a full-page, full color Jack Tilton Gallery ad for Gloria Heilman-C, Art in America endorses group gay blowjobs in Hell, reprinting one of Keith Haring's most infamous, and anecdotally significant, paintings, Untitled, 1985, along with an article by critic Brooks Adams.

Interesting to see that it's now in the collection of Swiss money yo-yo Asher Edelman -- for once upon a time it resided in the Upper East Side bungalow of the late chicken hawk/bon vivant Malcolm Forbes.

Friends of Malcolm's generation used to ask me, "Malcolm gay? He's got four kids!" And I would reply, "Then why is he tomcatting two young guys simultaneously at this party I'm co-hosting at the Tunnel?"

About that Haring -- a young fellow with a wife, kid and a mortgage in Connecticut arrives at Forbes' lower Fifth Avenue office, for his first day of work. He's not there half a day, but Malcolm, the boss, stops by his desk and invites him to dinner at his 10021 boîte!

What luck -- the guy calls his wife -- he'll be taking the late train instead. Emboldened by his fortune, the guy has to pee. In the John, he encounters another employee.

"Guess what, the boss invited me to dinner -- at his place."

The other guy slowly starts to beat his head against the wall, above the urinal. But Mr. Connecticut barely notices, and at 6 p.m., he arrives at Malcolm's place. Malcolm answers the door in a smoking jacket.

"How ya doin'?" Forbes purrs, "Come into my elevator." The kid is suddenly a little nervous, but doesn't know why. The lift has floor buttons "1" and "2," but Forbes stops it half way between.

And when the door opens, there, above the sofa, in all its friction-filled red raw glory, is the Haring, beloved by Betsy Baker!

The dude beat it out of there!

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