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by Charlie Finch
Rogue legend Willoughby Sharp sat in austere silence watching Tacita Dean’s stunning video of a landscape taken through the lens of a lighthouse, a postmodern rotorelief. John Baldessari lounged behind the front desk. Lawrence Weiner, in funny black clown shoes, animatedly waved a glass of brandy at amazon publicist Nadine Johnson. Next to the bar Jackie McAllister of the Fisher Landau Center was drawing the firths of his beloved Scotland in the air with his fingers, entrancing my wife.

It could only be Part 1 of Marian Goodman’s 30th anniversary celebration, curated by Benjamin Buchloh.

Society scribe Christopher Mason stepped onto the fire escape for a cigarette, furiously scribbling in his notebook, while Mera and Donald Rubell, retaining their title as world’s healthiest-looking collectors, worked the crowd. Dan Graham, whose bisected glass piece is a sculptural counterpoint to Tacita Dean’s video, animatedly told jokes in what appeared to be pink pajamas. A deeply tanned Lisa Phillips basked in all the new New Museum prebuzz.

The mix at Marian Goodman is, as we all know, top drawer artists in the conceptual style, a European knowingness, dashes of New York bravado, a staff that anticipates everything, and, on this night, copious cases of Veuve Clicquot. Its kinda like what everyone imagines Eleanor Ward, Martha Jackson and Betty Parsons were like, with a lot more money and without the neuroses.

The Goodman space is classic uptown, where arties can bump each other in a narrow corridor or slip into a closet to watch Dara Birnbaum’s disco video of Hollywood Squares, an arch high / low take on the grid, doncha know. For knowingness is all at Marian Goodman’s, where cynicism evaporates in the vapor of rarefied culture. I miss American Fine Arts, don’t you?

"30/40, A Selection of Forty Artists from Thirty Years at Marian Goodman Gallery, Part One," Sept. 10-Oct. 13, 2007, at Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10019. "Part Two" goes on view Oct. 23-Nov. 24, 2007.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).