Last Tuesday afternoon, I put on my Yale tie and headed up to the Knickerbocker Club for the memorial to Patsy Pulitzer Preston. I had some time to kill, so I stopped by the Jason McCoy Gallery to see its new "Jackson Pollock & Family" show and got a tour from its curator, the enchanting Stephanie Simmons and my pal Jason, Jackson Pollock's nephew.
This not-to-be-missed exhibition has everything: a stamped letter from Thomas Hart Benton to Charles Pollock, after Jackson's demise, telling Charles that he, "the biggest talent in the family," had gone way too silent; an extraordinary African head/self-portrait sculpture in black clay, by Jackson, which Jason had redone in bronze, a few years back, and sold, very dearly, in an edition of eight. There's an endearing Guernica pastiche by Jackson on board and a great Charles Pollock portrait of their Dad (right out of Benton), even a pic of the boy Jackson in a dress. Sometimes, ephemera is the best palliative, as this show demonstrates.
So I ruined the vibe by going to the Harvey Quaytman retro at McKee and visiting Mary Boone across the hall. Try as I might, I can never get comfortable with Quaytman's quadrisecting crosses on canvas (and I'm a Christian!). I try to parse them like Mondrians, no sale. Then I rationalize that the Quaytmans are just early Reinhardts and they still look awful. I tried to relax in front of a large 1987 Halloween (orange and black) Halley in Mary's office, but she, who is looking more and more like her good buddy Terence Koh every day (for reasons that you can intuit), lectured her staff, for the umpteenth time, "don't believe anything Charlie says or writes" (sigh). We are the same age.
I drifted over to Edwynn Houk's space for a rest in its plush leather chairs. Here, there was a truly horrible fashion photo show of classicist no-talent Erwin Blumenfeld, in an outrageous and unjustifiable "$35,000-40,000" price range, plus, in the back room, the very kitschiest Vik Muniz I have yet beheld. It's called Study of Adam after Michelangelo (from the 2011 "Junk" series, i.e. "made from"), priced at $85,000 and not worth, in my view, 85 cents.
Time for the Knick, the Rockefellers' pet private club. The de la Rentas were there (Oscar and Annette) and I ogled Liz Rohatyn's septuagenarian legs, which could really talk to those of her daughter-in-law, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Eighty-year-old journalist Robert MacNeil flirted with his admirers, while I chatted up his wife Donna, who may be on a walker, but has had two more spouses than me.
And I was still together enough to write this column afterwards. Lucky you!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).