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Marina Abramovic
Balkan Baroque

Sean Kelly

Juliao Sarmento
Photo Edward Smith

Art Club 2000

Cristina Igesias
Untitled, 1997

summer 1997

Flavin installation
in SoHo

Haring on Park

CIndy Sherman
Untitled Film Stills

the royal flush

by Charlie Finch  
SoHo dealer Sean Kelly was the big foot at the Venice Biennale.

First, Kelly's top artist, Marina Abramovic, who had been kicked out of the Serbian pavilion, won top prize for work included in Germano Celant's curation.

Then, another Kelly artist, Juliao Sarmento, tossed a boffo party for the Portuguese contingent, where Kelly got to jawbone for a while with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

The Art Newspaper's new New York columnist Jonathan Napack squired hot Hong Kong dealer Johnson Chang to a Leo Castelli tribute bash.

"Who was that man? He's so intelligent!" queried Betsy Baker of Art in America re the dapper Chang, featured in June's Vanity Fair.

Deitch Projects continued opening up new frontiers in transgression -- Oleg Kulik's Deep Inside Russia featured photos of the artist doing a cow, doggy style as it were.

Paris Kulture King Jack Lang and SF MOMA's Garry Garrels wore matching Brooks Brothers ensembles to Anselm Kiefer's do, but the nutty Venetians shut the doors promptly at 7:30 p.m., leaving Biennale chief Celant out in the street!

While New York art-world big shots were spelunking from fair to fair in Europe, a refreshingly young, multicultural, attractive gay/straight/lesbian crowd convened at American Fine Arts Co. in SoHo for Art Club 2000's tribute to the year 1970.

Only-celeb-in-attendance John Waters acted as camp counselor (yuck yuck), while art clubbers Daniel, Craig and Patterson served psychedelic Jell-O and a mysterious blue drink to Asian and Af-Am hardbodies like Mariko Mori and AC2K member Gillian Haratani.

The routine for male same-sexers seemed to be "arrive in a cab with a fella, but split alone."

Gramercy satyr Tom Delavan took this route, while former Artforum boy toy Chivas Clem (who's now in the Whitney Independent Study Program) entered with a beefy red-haired chubster.

Highlight of the show: a hilarious Nam June Paik take-off, a wall of ancient black-and-white televisions, playing new videotapes of interviews with artists like Vito Acconci and Carolee Schneemann remembering 1970.

Uptown, the Guggenheim opened two summer shows with yawns all around. "From Dürer to Rauschenberg: A Quintessence of Drawing, Masterworks from the Albertina and the Guggenheim" (to Aug. 24) is a bizarre twist on one of those Old Master loan shows we never thought we'd see in Wright's Modernist castle. Guess what, the Albertina is closed for renovations.

The Goog's other summer entry is the first museum survey of work by Basque Postminimalist Cristina Iglesias (to Sept. 7). It is so exciting that neither the artist nor curator Carmen Giménez bothered to show up.

Loose tongues: Art + Auction duke Bruce Wolmer leering at a photo of Estée Lauder sexpot Elizabeth Hurley bending over. "What she needs is a good caning!" .... New Frick Museum czar Samuel Sachs on his previous job as head of the Detroit Institute of Arts: "It was worse than Bosnia" .... And Downtown Arts Festival satrap Simon Watson on Artforum: "They'll never adapt, they'll never change, they'll stay the same, until one day, poof! They'll disappear".

To prove that he's still functioning rationally, Jeff Koons is pictured with an army of artist wage-slaves in the summer Artforum. Whistlin' while they work!

Not-so-Jazzy Jeff advertised for his drones in The Village Voice, a practice for which Mark Kostabi was vilified 10 years ago. Koons vows that his new stuff (allegedly opening in 1998 at Goog Bilbao, four years late and 3,000 miles away) will be "Alzheimer's Art" pieces that inspire no sentient thought whatsoever.

We're happy to report that he's succeeded....

The non-issue of fabrication arises in three current and forthcoming public installations right here on Manhattan Island. The Republican attack on rent control adds poignancy to Rachel Whiteread's water tower project, opening in SoHo this fall under the auspices of the Public Art Fund.

Whiteread's plans for a signature mold under a Grand Street water tower echo the insecurities of thousands of SoHo tenants who would be forced out in Republican dreamland. Meanwhile, the family of Whiteread progenitor Donald Judd has quietly curated a stunning brace of Dan Flavin neon crosses in the picture-window space of the humble Judd manse at 101 Spring Street.

This is a must see -- combine it with a taxi ride to the Dia Center on West 22nd Street, where an exegesis of Flavin's first early '60s experiments is fascinatingly on view.

Lastly, with the blubbery syncophancy of Ingrid "Keith Haring" Sischy bubbling in our ears (see July's Vanity Fair), there are the Haring sculptures on Park Avenue, which impress for two seconds and then really, really suck upon closer inspection.

For the third time, after Botero and Barry Flanagan, the Public Kitsch Fund has destroyed Park Avenue for unwilling New Yorkers....

In publishing card-sized reproductions of Cindy Sherman's "Complete Movie Stills" (opening at MoMA June 26) in its summer issue, Artforum has done the impossible and diminished the individual visual power of these allegedly seminal pieces.

The collective impression is surprisingly flat, and the range of Shermanesque expressions appears repetitive and very narrow.

A piece like Hitchhiker, so powerful on its own, is reduced to an episodic blah in Artforum's pages by editor Jack the mediocre Bankowsky....

Hottest artist for 1998? Definitely Mona Hatoum, the new, improved Rrose Sélavy.

Not even the New Museum in its forthcoming exhibition will be able to bollix Hatoum's crisply cunning objects, which inspire unyielding lust in collectors like Eileen and Peter Norton. There will be a companion show at Alexander and Bonin's new West Side space next to La Luncheonette on 10th Ave., where the real money will go down....

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