GET READY FOR THE BRUCENNIAL
Those five wild and crazy (anonymous) guys who are the Bruce High Quality Foundation are on fire, what with their recent "intervention" in the "1969" exhibition at P.S.1 and their free-wheeling "university" at Recess at 41 Grand Street and at 225 West Broadway in Tribeca. Now, Bruce is kicking things up a notch with the Brucennial2010, Feb. 25-Apr. 4, 2010, a parody version of the Whitney Biennial -- or maybe it’s more serious than it lets on -- being presented in a 5,000-square-foot space at 350 West Broadway in SoHo donated by the real-estate mogul and megacollector Aby Rosen.
Titled "Miseducation," the Brucennial supposedly "brings together 420 artists from 911 countries working in 666 discrete disciplines." In a press release, the globetrotting curator Francesco Bonami is quoted at nonsensical length, presumably a pastiche as well, though the announced participation of the young curator Vito Schnabel seems to be on the level. An email asks prospective participants to "either dredge something up or create something new. . . . As fast and loose as you like." The event also promises performances on Feb. 25, 2010, and a literary supplement launching the same day at www.brucennial.com.
STUYVESANT TOWN AND THE ART WORLD
Typically, the art world spends much more time pandering to patrons than worrying about the sources of their wealth. In the recent contretemps over Greek shipping tycoon Dakis Joannou and the New Museum, for instance, the global freight business and Joannou’s role in it played not the smallest part.
Less lucky is superpatron Jerry Speyer, an art collector of considerable importance who is currently chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, and who, with both funds and real-estate savvy, helped guide the museum through its complicated, $900-million expansion. Instead of garnering praise for installing Jeff Koons’ Puppy or Takashi Murakami’s giant balloons in Rockefeller Center (which he owns), Speyer was recently in the headlines for a much less amiable deal.
Tishman Speyer Properties’ failed $5.4-billion takeover of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, a sprawling middle-class apartment complex on Manhattan’s East Side -- the largest real estate deal of its kind in the U.S. and now its biggest bust, according to the New York Times -- was originally predicated on a rather foul-smelling business plan: "pushing middle-class tenants out of their apartments," in the words of one letter writer, and renting the apartments at higher market rates in the real estate boom. "The rents collected did not cover the mortgage payments," the Times DealBook Blog reported blandly, "as the new owners failed in their efforts to increase net income by steadily renovating and deregulating vacant apartments while raising rents substantially."
"The biggest risk the Speyers now face is to their reputation, not their bank account," wrote Times reporter Charles Bagli. Tishman Speyer lost only $112 million of its own money in the deal; a much bigger loss, $500 million, was taken by Calpers, the pension fund for California teachers and public employees, which strangely saw fit to invest in the scheme. Perhaps Speyer can cure his bad press with some more art patronage.
SYDNEY BIENNALE GEARS UP
David Elliott, director of the 17th Biennale of Sydney, May 12-Aug. 1, 2010, has titled his show: "The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age." Scenic Cockatoo Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour is the site of works by 50 artists, including Cai Guo-Qiang, the Tiger Lillies, AES+F, Isaac Julien and Brook Andrew. The biennale takes over the entire Museum of Contemporary Art for the first time, installing 110 larrakitj (memorial poles) made by 41 Yolngu artists from North East Arnhem Land, along with works by John Bock, Louise Bourgeois, Brett Graham and Angela Ellsworth.
The Sydney Opera House hosts an ephemeral work by Jennifer Wen Ma and performances by Finland’s Mieskuoro Huutajat (Shouting Men’s Choir), Pier 2/3 premieres a new installation by Paul McCarthy, and the Royal Botanic Gardens are the site of a new work by Fiona Hall. The Art Gallery of New South Wales is under renovation, but its grand court holds works by Hisashi Tenmyouya, Wang Qingsong and other artists.
MOCA BUYS BIG
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, may have had a quick brush with fiscal death not too long ago, but that clearly didn’t stop its acquisitive ways. According to a recent announcement, the museum added to its collections "more than 50 significant artworks" in 2009. Names now newly on MOCA’s inventory list are David Altmejd, Mark Dion, Máximo González, Mary Kelly, Karen Kilimnik, Lara Schnitger and Andreas Siekmann.
Described as "highlights" are Bruce Nauman’s Setting a Good Corner vid from 1999, a gift of Alan S. Hergott and Curt Shepard; Jennifer Pastor’s Christmas Flood sculpture from 1994, a gift from Eileen and Michael Cohen, and works by Mike Kelley, Lisa Lapinski and Rodney McMillian, donated by Kourosh Larizadeh and Luis Pardo.
New York dealer Per Skarstedt donated Dion’s large-scale installation from 1994, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and dealer Carol Greene gave a series of photo works by Julie Becker. A 1994 installation by Jason Rhoades titled Swedish Erotica & Fiero Parts #2 was given by Gregory Linn and Clayton Press.
JENNIFER ANISTON, ART COLLECTOR?
The current March issue of Architectural Digest features on its cover a portrait of America’s favorite jilted girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston, a newsstand strategy that prompted at least one nonreader to pick up a copy ("now that’s what I call architecture!"). Inside, the mag reports on the decorator details of Anniston’s new home overlooking Beverly Hills, and two notable artworks are visible. One is Robert Motherwell’s A Throw of Dice No. 17 (1963), a landscapey abstraction by the multitalented Abstract-Expressionist (is that Gauloises-blue blob a tree?), while the second is a small drawing of a skeleton of uncertain authorship near her glass-enclosed wine room. The Motherwell sold at Christie’s New York in November 2008 for $1,178,500, with premium. Jennifer, come to New York, lots of handsome artists here!
185TH INVITATIONAL AT NATIONAL ACADEMY
The National Academy Museum opens "The 185th Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art," Feb. 17-June 8, 2010, with a reception on the evening of Feb. 16. Over 400 artists submitted works for the show, which has an admirably populist subtitle: "Chosen by artists, on view for all." According to NAM curator Marshal Price, "The exhibition includes an array of artists and art-making strategies from emerging and veteran abstractionists to representational artists addressing issues of identity and sexuality" -- including Ghada Amer, John Bradford, Petah Coyne, Sam Hernandez, Valerie Jaudon, Chris Martin, Cildo Meireles, Anna Lambrini Moisiadis, Dana Schutz, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Sarah Walker and Nina Yankowitz.
SENIOR & SHOPMAKER UNVEILS NEW DIGS
New York dealers Betsy Senior and Larry Shopmaker inaugurate their new Senior & Shopmaker gallery facility at 210 Eleventh Avenue in the Chelsea art district with an inaugural exhibition of "Works on Paper 1991-2008" by Thomas Nozkowski on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, 2-6 pm. The gallery, a member of both the Art Dealers Association of America and the International Fine Print Dealers Association, was established in 2000 and was formerly located on Madison Square Park. Its neighbors in its new home at 11th Avenue and West 25th Street include Robert Mann Gallery, Sears-Peyton Gallery and Edward Thorp Gallery.
NEW SPACE FOR ALEXANDER GRAY GALLERY
Alexander Gray Gallery unveils its new gallery space on the second floor of 508 West 26th Street with "What’s Left: Artworks Made by a Public," Feb. 19-Mar. 13, 2010. The show presents four works -- by Alison Knowles, Lorraine O’Grady, Karen Finley and Paul Ramirez Jonas -- that are activated by public engagement; Knowles’ seminal Fluxus piece from 1962, #2 Proposition (Make a Salad), is being enacted during the exhibition opening from 6-8 pm on Feb. 19. Gray’s neighbors in the 508 building include Nicole Klagsbrun, Andrea Meislin, BravinLee Programs and Marvelli Gallery.
RED FLAG MAGAZINE DEBUTS SECOND ISSUE
Red Flag Magazine, the webzine launched by Nicole Davis -- a former editor at Artnet Magazine and a frequent contributor to Artnet TV -- has posted its second issue, which takes up the theme of "Children." Red Flag is not an "art" project; rather, it is a nonprofit that seeks to establish an online community to address issues that need immediate attention and action; i.e., "When something is wrong a red flag should go up." The current issue has reports on vaccination, children’s leukemia, child labor in the Philippines, childbirth, the recuperation of Ugandan child soldiers, and more. The current issue features on its cover a lively photo by Mark Cohen; the first issue, on the theme of "water," had a cover illustration by Raymond Pettibon.