Dealer/blogger and self-created minor art-world phenomenon Ed Winkleman and his comrade-in-arms Murat, known on Winkleman’s blog as "Bambino," visited me in the hills of Westchester last weekend. New Yorker features writer Eric Konigsberg joined us for dinner on Saturday night.
Winkleman is a testament to perseverance for dealers everywhere, with a tendency to solipsism and a low sense of irony about himself -- but also the sweetness of a true art-world believer. His commitment to video in particular is manifest in his Moving Image Art Fair, which travels to London this October and returns to New York’s old Tunnel night club space next March. "I think video will ultimately be marketed in the form of a handheld device, Charlie," Wink remarked, "with a security code that is unique to the collector, enabling the buyer to exhibit his or her video collection in a number of formats at the touch of a button."
Ed and Murat have joined Ogilvy and Mather in-house curator June Lee to create a video project opening Oct. 4, 2011, which will fill the venerable ad agency's office space in New York and will be on view privately, by appointment only. For these video extravaganzas, Ed has reached out to artists and galleries outside of his own stable, while deftly handling the control freaks at the Frieze Art Fair, who, at least, are not trying to crush Wink's determination to hold his fair at the same time as Frieze's London fair.
As a dealer, Winkleman perceives himself as the representative of most second-tier New York galleries. Dana Schutz's move from Zach Fewer to Friedrich Petzel Gallery, which has enjoyed significant new internal capitalization recently, signifies the trouble these galleries have, according to Winkleman, in developing and retaining art stars for their own economic benefit. Indeed, Ed lost startist Kate Gilmore precisely because she mastered the multi-pronged strategy of self-promotion which is Wink's hallmark.
Generally, Winkleman sympathizes with art dealers as a class -- a sentiment that is unusual in a profession filled with jealousy, theft and backbiting. "My hero is Ronald Feldman," Ed observed, "for his tenacity and first-rate curatorial program." An artist he particularly covets is Lesley Vance, a kind of advanced Amy Yoes-style painter, with bits of kitsch flying about her canvasses.
In his own stable, Ed particularly prizes veteran Leslie Thornton, who, in spite of being in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and other prestigious places, only reinvented her practice under Winkleman's gentle guidance. If he has a weakness other than his own considerable self-regard as a guide to art-world etiquette, it is a lack of edge in his stable -- which, in spite of the underappreciated Janet Biggs and the whimsical Jimbo Blachly, lacks a certain esthetic urgency.
Another artist Winkleman wishes he had back is the Finish Fetish artist Chris Dorland, one of the nice guys in our world.
One question is why the charming and brilliant Murat, who could become a kind of Muslim Mary Boone, is not more out front in the Winkleman effort. A weekend in Murat's company reveals a tough, decisive player who could do full battle with the Gavin Browns of the world, were the Wink operation to be refashioned as Murat and Winklmen LLP.
This would allow Winkleman to get off the soapbox (Artinfo is attempting to recruit him to pen an additional, more politically oriented blog) and, with Murat's guidance, make a real play for top-tier status. In the meantime, if you are the next Jeff Koons, Winkleman wants you!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).