The last time I complimented my longtime buddy, Feigen Gallery director Frances Beatty Adler, on her mature pulchritude, I got into trouble for writing that she looks gorgeous in couture, so I gingerly approached her at the gallery’s opening last Wednesday, saying, "I guess I can’t tell you how beautiful you are anymore, Frances?"
"Yes you can, Charlie," Frances purred, "yes you can." Besides, the new group show at Feigen is called "Eros" and it has a rather elegiac quality, as the veteran rake Mr. Feigen was absent at his opening and has put up a large Turner canvas for "estate purposes" with Sotheby’s. Nevertheless, "Eros" postulates that there’s some juice in the old boy left, as he and Frances have dropped a John Currin spreadshot with erect penis (labeled "Not for Sale") in a room full of Dutch and Italian melanges of babes and satyrs frolicking in the woods.
The curatorial method at Feigen’s uptown townhouse is to glean consignments and inventory for an overarching theme down the centuries, pour the wine and pass the nuts (munchable ones, not just the eccentric regulars who always show up, like Otto Naumann and Timothy Baum), and let the duds and dreams sort themselves out.
Not wanting to alienate the beloved Frances, I’ll concentrate on the gems, starting with an assortment of Hans Bellmer "Poupees" and a rare spindly orgy from Andre Masson. There’s an exceptionally honest Dali of a man with an average erection contemplating some sexy witches.
Two Ray Johnson Cupids are perhaps not his best work, though the one featuring a puffy-faced Jackie Curtis as a certain bent charm. The Wangechi Mutu is one of her best, absent her irritating cut-and-paste distortions: it looks like Michelle Obama channeling Lena Horne.
But the "piece de resistance" (and there is always at least one at Feigen, something you didn’t know existed), is a late pink and beige silhouette by Jess of two dandies masturbating each other, each of whom is as lithe and desirable as Richard Feigen in his prime.
So I don’t get into further trouble with Madame Adler, please wander over to 69th Street and buy it. It’s a steal at $150,000.
"Eros: Love, Lust and its Consequences," Oct. 30, 2008-Jan. 9, 2009, at Richard L. Feigen & Co., 34 East 69th Street, New York, N.Y. 10065
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).