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Artnet News
Oct. 20, 2005 

The dean of New York School realists, Philip Pearlstein, is exhibiting 15 new paintings at Betty Cuningham Gallery -- and Saturday, Oct. 22, 2005, is the last chance to see the exhibition. In the new work, made during the past three years, Pearlstein (b. 1924) continues to focus on compositions combining supple but detached nude models with patterned rugs, bright plastic toys and exotic folk and primitive artworks. But the new paintings are more high-keyed than ever, with the color pumped up a notch, as if to push the scenes even further into the real world.

Pearlstein has become a "covert symbolist" as well as a "formalist provocateur," according to the artist and critic Alexi Worth, writing in the accompanying catalogue. His combinations of model and object are no longer "arbitrary juxtapositions," Worth notes, but "comic tableaux" that acknowledge and even parody "the sexual vulnerability that had always been implicit in Pearlstein’s art." Betty Cuningham Gallery is located at 541 West 25th Street in Manhattan.

Is there any overlap between fans of Vincent van Gogh’s drawings and the 21st-century art of podcasting? Who knows! But if there is, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is ready. Visitors to the museum’s website can download, for free, a 16-minute podcast of excerpts from van Gogh’s fabulous letters, read by actor Kevin Bacon. The audio feature can also be downloaded from iTunes, or heard on the museum’s audio guide, which can be rented for $6.

Add another art fair to the five already planned for Miami in early December. Several dozen top galleries of contemporary and modern design are slated to set up at the new Design.05.Miami fair, Dec. 2-5, 2005, at the Moore Building at 191 NE 40th Street in Miami’s Design District. Participating dealers include Antik (New York), Demisch Danant (New York and Paris), Casati Gallery (Chicago), Contrasts (Shanghai), Barry Friedman Ltd. (New York), David Gill Gallery (London), Cristina Grajales (New York), Philippe Jousse (Paris), Galerie Kreo (Paris), Galerie Francois Laffanour (Paris), Magen H. Gallery (New York), Nilufar (Milan), Galerie Italienne (Paris), R 20th Century (New York) and Galerie Patrick Seguin (Paris).

The fair is organized by Ambra Medda, a curator who is opening a gallery in Miami this winter (and who is a frequent companion of developer Craig Robins, who launched the Design District), and Amy Lau, a curator who founded the interior design studio Forms of Design. As part of the festivities, architect Zaha Hadid is receiving the inaugural "Design.05 Designer of the Year" award, and is crafting a special installation for all four floors of the Moore Building exhibition space.

At the same time, Barry Friedman Ltd. is presenting a site-specific installation by Ron Arad, his first in the U.S., at the Collins Building in the Design District, Dec. 1-10. Titled Paved with Good Intentions, Arad’s work consists of a kind of labyrinth or maze -- the proverbial "road to hell" -- made of 69 unique, organically shaped, mirror-polished, stainless steel table tops that "float" on the floor and up the walls of the gallery. (The tables are for sale, and are expected to be priced in the $30,000-$50,000 range.) The Tel Aviv-born designer made a related installation in 1994 for the inauguration of the Fondation Cartier in Paris. 

Miami’s Wynwood art district just keeps getting hotter. Paris dealer Emmanuel Perrotin has set up shop in the sprawling tropical neighborhood in a 12,000-square-foot, two-story 1959 former O’Brien showroom at 194 NW 30th Street, close to the Rubell Collection, the Tony Goldman Collection and other galleries. Renovated by 34-year-old Miami architect Chad Oppenheim, the space is said to emphasize art’s social dimension, and feature large and comfortable viewing rooms. The gallery debuts with three concurrent shows of works by Martin Oppel, Bernard Frize and Piotr Uklanski, Dec. 1, 2005-Feb. 4, 2006.

Part two of the Perrotin project, also designed by Oppenheim, is the construction of a new, cantilevered three-story building alongside the renovated gallery, designed to serve as a living space for artists and gallery staff, as well as a 50-foot ground-level infinity pool. The new building is slated to open in 2006. 

Museum support for contemporary art can be something of a balancing act, and it looks like the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles may have fallen off the proverbial high wire with Japanese artist Tatsurou Bashi’s wryly titled Kariforunia, a public sculpture installed in front of L.A.’s City Hall as part of MOCA’s current blockbuster, "Ecstasy: In and About Altered States," Oct. 9, 2005-Feb. 20, 2006. Designed to resemble a bedroom perched 60 feet in the air atop a flagpole, the sculpture could be visited by climbing a spiral staircase. Once inside, visitors had a closeup view of the state flag on its flagpole.

Now, however, city officials have taken the work down, presumably because of safety concerns, or perhaps due to a spat involving the "unauthorized switch of the tower’s California flag with a Los Angeles city flag," according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. MOCA is scrambling to get renewed authorization for the work, which was slated to be on view through Nov. 30, 2005.

The Japan Art Association in Tokyo announced the winners of its 17th Praemium Imperiale awards, an honor designed to reward artistic skills not recognized by the Nobel Prize. Robert Ryman was honored for painting and Issey Miyake was honored for sculpture; other winners were dancer Merce Cunningham, pianist Martha Argerich and architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The prizes carry a $135,000 purse.

Madrid’s Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has unveiled its modernistic new expansion, a red and black, $110 million, 904,000 square foot building designed by Jean Nouvel and extending for a full block behind the 18th-century, former hospital that has housed the museum since 1986 [see "Report from Madrid," Apr. 18, 2005].

The Reina Sofía now launches a $38-million renovation of the existing building designed to make room for some 200 more works from its collection, as well as providing new galleries for new media art. Current and future shows at the museum include "The Origin of Conceptual Art in Spain" Oct. 11-Jan. 9, 2006; "Pablo Palazuelo (1995-2005)," Oct. 25-Jan. 9, 2006; and "The Three Dimensions of Don Quixote; Don Quixote and Contemporary Spanish Art," Nov. 9-Feb. 13, 2006. 

The luxury goods manufacturer LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is finally out of the auction business. The company, owned by French high-roller Bernard Arnault, poured millions into the Phillips auction house in 1999 in an energetic attempt to challenge the dominance of the art auction business by Christie’s and Sotheby’s; in 2000 Arnault sold his shares to the company’s employees, led by auctioneer Simon de Pury. Now, the other shoe has dropped, as LVMH has sold its 49.9 percent share in the London-based auction house Bonhams, for an undisclosed sum, back to the company, which has been prospering under the leadership of chairman Robert Brooks.

The Food Bank For New York City and the Lunchbox Fund have come up with an innovative way to raise money to help fight hunger in New York and South Africa -- an eBay auction of more than 100 lunch boxes designed by artists and celebrities. The auction is being conducted in phases, with 25 works offered every ten days, starting Oct. 21, 2005.

Among the participating artists are Ronnie Cutrone, who paints an American flag and red cross on one side of the lunchbox and his signature Felix the Cat image on the other; graffiti pioneer Crash, who puts his tag on the box; and rock photographer Anton Corbijn (whose work is also currently on view at Stellan Holm Gallery in Chelsea), who adorns his box with a photo of U2’s Bono dressed as a mariachi.

Celebrity contributors include comic Mike Myers, who puts a loopy refrigerator magnet poem on the outside of his box and the single word "love" on the inside; "Elf Queen" actor Liv Tyler, who adorns her box with felt and sequin fruit; and political funnyman Al Franken, who makes an optimistic goof on the red state/blue state divide, via a map of the U.S. titled "the way it will be" and showing only Utah in red.

Other participants include As Four, David Bowie, Francesco Clemente, Clint Eastwood, the Iron Chef and Jon Stewart. For details, see

Tonight’s the night for the special ABC No Rio fundraiser at Deitch Projects, a cocktail party and silent art auction of donated works, Oct. 20, 2005, 6-10 pm. Tickets begin at the $40 "cohort" level, and climb to the $5,000 "conspirator" status, which admits eight to the gala and includes a print by Kiki Smith. Now a Lower East Side community center with an active exhibition, print workshop and darkroom program, ABC No Rio was founded in 1980 by members of Collaborative Projects and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The auction includes works by some 90 artists, including a runny ink-on-linen note from Carl Andre, a signed "Imagine Peace" poster by Yoko Ono and a photograph of men installing a "dying slave" statue by Hans Haacke. For details, see

PaceWildenstein, perhaps the epitome of a 57th Street gallery, is opening a second gallery space in New York’s Chelsea art neighborhood. Located at 545 West 22nd Street, the new gallery premieres with a show of recent sculpture by John Chamberlain, Oct. 21-Dec. 3, 2005. The exhibition features work made at Chamberlain’s Shelter Island studio, and marks the debut of Neptune's Cap, a dense cube of interlocking metal pieces originally conceived for artist pal Donald Judd's Marfa pool.

Chelsea is about to get yet another new gallery at 542 W. 22nd St., this one dedicated to decorative arts. A joint venture of Suzanne Demisch and her Paris-based partner Stephane Danant, Demisch Danant specializes in 1960s and ‘70s European artist-designers including Gabriella Crespi, Pierre Paulin, Francois-Xavier & Claude Lalanne and L’Atelier A. The opening show at the new space is "Utopia and Reality: French Furniture 1965-1979, including Maria Pergay," focusing on French designers who challenged the Modernist orthodoxy of "form follows function."

Could the Bowery be the next Manhattan art destination? The new New Museum of Contemporary Art thinks so, and now Thrust Projects has opened at 114 Bowery, between Grand and Hester Streets. The space is captained by Jane Kim, former director of the Paris-based Galerie Xippas, and gets off the ground with "Nothing Stops a New Yorker," Oct. 27-Dec. 20, 2005, featuring political sculpture by Malachi Farrell. For details, contact Thrust Projects at (212) 431-4802 or

Marc-Olivier Wahler has been named as director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. For the last five years, Wahler has been creative director of the Swiss Institute in Manhattan, where he organized the exhibitions ""OK/Okay" (2005) and "Five Billion Years" (2003), among other shows.

-- contact wrobinson @