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
"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
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
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
-- 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
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.