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Ozzie Sweet
Roger Maris
1961








Ozzie Sweet
Sandy Koufax with Cap
1961







the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  
 
Legendary Sport magazine baseball photographer Ozzie Sweet, looking Hemingwayesque at 78 in a commodore's cap and duck hunter's pants, drove all the way from New Hampshire with his hot girlfriend for the opening of his first- ever gallery show at Maxwell Davidson, 41 East 57th Street, June 4-July 12, 1997.

Among the Sweets: A brooding, red backlit portrait of Joe Dimaggio that captures the Yankee Clipper's dark side. Ozzie's first Sport cover, a mid-1940s shot of San Diego native Ted Williams grinnin' broadly contrasted with a somber shot of Roberto Clemente holding his Pittsburgh Pirates hat over his heart.

"I took that photo three months before Roberto died," Sweet remembered. "His natural dignity caught my eye." The brave Clemente crashed while bringing a planeload of supplies to survivors of the 1972 Nicaraguan earthquake. Clemente is second only to the late Mickey Mantle in the Baseball collectibles market.

The Davidson show includes poignant prints of the market's number three dude, Willie Mays, who's still with us. One luxurious scene depicts the Say Hey Kid lounging in an elegant robe with his beautiful wife, in a plush 1950s bedroom right out of the Casbah.

Sweet has a sociological eye as well, catching Jackie Robinson in a flower-like arrangement with his white Dodger teammates. Said dealer Davidson about another photo, "I first saw that picture of Ralph Kiner surrounded by delirious autograph seekers in Sport 40 years ago. Now it's above my desk."

Thanks for the memories, Oz!

. . . .

Philip Taaffe has left the Gagosian Gallery for good. The Taaffster had split temporarily in December, then abruptly returned for his current one-man at L.A. Gogo. Word is that phantasy Phil blames Larry for introducing him to Gianni Versace, who then "borrowed" Taaffe's designs for one of his fashion collections, without attribution.

Philipo plans to represent himself, with a solo show at SoHo's respected Peter Blum gallery in the works.

. . . .

"I consider myself a designer. I consider golf course design art work." -- Jack "Golden Bear" Nicklaus on WBISTV

. . . .

"I couldn't exist in the auction world without a ring," said our source, who specializes in classic Surrealism. "Nobody has enough money to compete in an open market. You have to know who wants what in advance."

Deep Gavel spoke to us at the New York-Paris bash put on at Fifth Avenue's French Cultural Center by dealers Sandra Gering and Jennifer Flay. Looking as if butter wouldn't melt on their smiles were Sotheby's Dede Brooks in a brocade flower vest and ubërdealer Richard Feigen. The front page of the following morning's New York Times announced that the justice department had subpoenaed records from Sotheby's, Christie's, Feigen, Acquavella, Colnaghi and other blue-chip art institutions, with an eye on possible auction rings.

In a ring, players interested in a work of art agree not to bid in public, keeping the price down, then hold a private auction later, splitting the price differential among themselves. Thus, ring members profit on objects they're not interested in. "In the past," continued Deep Gavel, "the auction houses got screwed out of their rightful commissions, of course. But in this case, I have reason to believe that the rings have kicked back commissions under the table, meaning that only the sellers get rooked."

The big question: which top-drawer consigner, with political pull in the Clinton justice department, screamed "Foul"?

. . . .

It's Jeffrey Deitch to the rescue for Mary Boone's fading star -- he's opening this fall with a big Barbara Kruger installation at his Grand Street space "in cooperation with the Mary Boone Gallery."

. . . .

The most controversial installation at the entire Basel Art Fair is Andrea Rosen's walk-in tribute to the late Felix Gonzalez- Torres, which my spies tell me consists of nothing but his beaded curtains. That's the whole booth....

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