Back to the future
The 21st century is looming, but in the spirit of the avant-garde the Gotham Dispatch is already living in the year 2000. Premiering in Cooper Union's Great Hall on Feb. 26 is The Anita Pallenberg Story, a video satire by Laura Cottingham and Leslie Singer recreating the Rolling Stones' 1968 New York tour. Postmasters Gallery plans to mount an exhibition of 24 stills from the shoot and hold regular screenings throughout Feb. and March.
The dramedy features buxom Cologne-based artist Cosima von Bonin as super groupie Anita Pallenberg, muse and lover to Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones. Nicole Eisenman plays Keith while Cottingham herself takes on the dual roles of Mick and Brian. Her gender-bending p.o.v. on the rock lifestyle promises to be a rousing polemic on the commodification of the art star. She has a point, as most artists would sell their souls to Hollywood.
A rough cut of the video, specially screened for the Dispatch, revealed that art-world personalities don't necessarily make for professional actors but are on occasion genuinely funny. Colin de Land is his deadpan self as mad-hatted art dealer Robert Fraser, photog Lucas Michael pulls off Francois de Menil with method accuracy and the leading men, er, ladies, er, whatever, are outrageously costumed and garishly made up drag-queen style.
With appropriated footage from films by Werner Fassbinder and Jean-Luc Godard, as well as sections inspired by contemporary artists Robert Frank and Sam Samore, The Anita Pallenberg Story takes cinema verite and nonlinear art-video techniques to new heights.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our present millennial run picks up steam as the art dealers get in gear, the museums rake in the cash and the alternatives thrive. The fall season has a distinct numerological symmetry, with many openings slated for the auspicious date of 9.9.99.
One highlight on Sept. 9 is at the Swiss Institute in the New Era building on Broadway, where "I Said I Love" opens with a wish and a promise. The survey of television and video work by Jean-Luc Godard, ranging from his first broadcast commission, Le Gai Savoir (1968), to work from the late '80s, is curated by Gareth James and Annette Schindler and installed in collaboration with Florian Zeyfang. The schedule features two rarely seen television series from the 1970s, and promises to be a hot ticket.
Who is it that roams, in the pillow of night, in search of frescoes? Why, none other than Francesco Clemente. The celebrity Neo-Expressionist's show of fresco paintings opens Sept. 18 at Peter Blum on Wooster Street. Most works date from the '80s, with one made in 1994. The gallery exhibition parallels a massive retrospective of over 200 works opening at the Guggenheim Museum on October 8, 1999.
Paris installation artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot is having his first U.S. solo show at Paula Cooper Gallery, Sept. 10-Oct. 16. You may remember how last spring he filled a room at P.S. 1 with 40 finches and grassy plants (wittily titled "From Here to Ear"), constructing a naturalist sound composition that related to minimalist music masters such as Morton Feldman and John Cage. In this new work, cups, saucers and bowls float in kiddie pools, producing random chimes as they're gently activated by electronic pumps and amplified by subaquatic microphones. An acoustic orchestration emerges unifying sight and sound.
At Feigen Contemporary, Sept. 9-Oct. 16, Giles Lyon returns with his ebullient techno-Rorschach paintings that turn the Ab-Ex spatter into a kitschy cartoon. The new works -- including a 14-foot-long painting that is bigger than a parking space -- maintain their bombastic vibrancy. A gung-ho karate-chopping maniac in the studio, Lyon glorifies in the masculinity of his process and the grittiness of his rough-hewn canvases, which are made on the floor and strewn with debris and dust that imbeds into the surface.
At Leibman Magnan in Chelsea, Sept. 9-Oct. 16, artist David Shapiro casts heads of lovers in extra firm tofu and floats them in shallow water in plastic tubs, their inevitable decomposition a race against time. As part of the Downtown Arts Festival, the gallery invites visitors to dine on the tofu-cast body parts of prominent international artists at 5 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 11. Who said breaking up is hard to do?
Also on Sept. 9, Jan Van der Donk rare books (located on the 12th floor of the humongous Starrett Lehigh building at 11th Ave. and 26th St.) presents "The Futurist Performance," an exhibition of photographs documenting Marinetti and all the major figures of the Italian Futurist Movement. Images of Il Duce and D'Annunzio are included, as are of course those rousing Futurist pamphlets….
The "canonball" run
As the clock ticks on towards the "Biennial 2000," the Whitney Museum gears up for part two of "The American Century," the culmination of curator Lisa Phillips' long association with the institution. Part one, though much maligned, attracted large crowds, upwards of 13,000 people a week. Part two should do even better, what with the many recognizable contemporary artists featured -- or maybe it's the saturation ad campaign in the subway and on billboards. If this show don't bring 'em in, nuttin' will!
Part II begins chronologically in 1950 with Jackson Pollock's Number 27 hanging in the top floor gallery along with a painting by wife Lee Krasner and some plum works by Mark Rothko and Franz Kline. The New American Cinema is represented with avant-garde films by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas and Robert Frank.
The stars of Pop art are abundant on the fourth floor with Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist and Roy Lichtenstein, along with the seminal Claes Oldenburg work Bedroom Ensemble (1963). Minimalists Robert Morris, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin are contrasted to Postminimalists Richard Serra, Eva Hesse and Bruce Nauman. Robert Smithson's 1970 film Spiral Jetty is on the third floor, shifting the mood to Conceptual art with classics by John Baldessari and Vito Acconci.
The feminist movement is highlighted by Nancy Spero and Hannah Wilke. The pluralism of the '70s resuscitates the dead art of painting in two waves, starting with Elizabeth Murray, Neil Jenney and Susan Rothenberg and then moving to the '80s Neo-Expressionists Julian Schnabel and David Salle.
Visitors should be sure to go to the second floor gallery for perhaps a hint at what may be in the upcoming Biennial, which is rumored to focus on the 1990s. But the "American Century" already features all the boffo box office draws of the art scene -- from Jenny Holzer's signature LED installation, Laments (1989) to all the usual supects -- Barbara Kruger, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman and Sherrie Levine, plus Allan McCollum. Also Robert Gober, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker and Kiki Smith along with Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 7 (1993) and with videos by Tony Oursler and Diana Thater.
For the most part, the show looks to be a textbook encapsualtion offering an abundance of academically sanctioned careers, a dose of hits and misses, and some truly remarkable art. Looks like the real test will be how the stuff is installed in Breuer's Brutalist torture box!
Say it ain't so! Stefano Basilico is closing his cutting-edge SoHo gallery, Basilico Fine Arts. One of the more astute players in the business -- at least intellectually -- the gallery recently lost two of its stars, painter Matthew Ritchie (now with Andrea Rosen) and conceptual sculptor Brian Tolle. And Toland Grinnell, who launched his career at the gallery, had also departed to work on high-end Las Vegas commissions! Other artists represented at Basilico are Matthew Antezzo, Tony Matelli and Laurie Stein. The sad development further cements the demise of SoHo as a stop on the art-world itinerary.