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Artnet News
Feb. 24, 2010 

Last year, Artnet Magazine’s Charlie Finch predicted that the High Line would lead to rising rents, sounding the death knell for the Chelsea gallery scene. While this has not yet happened, the well-liked aerial greenway is arguably having an antiseptic effect on the arts neighborhood, with Exhibit A being the recent destruction of a storied graffiti mural on West 23rd Street, in keeping with a city program to spiff up the buildings around the successful park. The prominent "REVS/COST" mural, featuring the names of the two graffiti artists in enormous white letters, was removed with chemicals over the weekend, according to the Vanishing New York blog (which has photos).

While the giant white letters may not have much significance to those who are not graffiti fans, they hold an important place in the history of New York street art, arising out of the retrenching of that scene after mayor Rudolf Giuliani’s crackdown in the early ‘90s. The exploits of Revs have been featured on This American Life, and profiled in the New York Times, with Randy Kennedy saying in 2005 that his work "upended many traditional notions of graffiti and helped inspire a new generation of so-called street artists."

A 1994 Artforum interview by critic Glenn O’Brien gives the background of the artists, describing them as two "White Kids" in their 20s. In a notable bit of tongue-in-cheek color, O’Brien recounts his quest to contact them, and being put in touch with their mentor, the Grandma of Graff, an anonymous "wise old lady" who "goes back to when Kilroy was around." The Chelsea mural developed from a series of poster works that they did, each featuring their names and modifiers, for example, "Specimen REVS. COST was here," or "Turkish REVS. COST fucked Madonna." Their works served as a kind of transition between early tagging and more Dada-ish street art.

Asked about their motivations, Cost replied, "We're trying to do something positive. We're trying to change philosophies a bit. Change everyday life. We want to open people's eyes up when they walk outside their house, let them see something a little different." So far graffiti enthusiasts have been relatively silent about the destruction of the Chelsea mural. However, as Gothamist pointed out in its post on the affair, Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin had previously stated when the graffiti clean-up around the High Line began that "if they touch the Revs/Cost Mural. . . it's war."

The hell with the art in the Whitney Biennial -- so far dubbed the "recession biennial," the "retrenchment biennial" and the "boring biennial" -- let’s check out the new restaurant! The Whitney Museum of American Art has signed up super-chef Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to provide food in a temporary "pop-up" cafe in the museum’s lower-level restaurant space during "2010," Feb. 25-May 30, 2010. Some specially commissioned offerings available at "Sandwiched," as the new cafe is called, include chicken schnitzel from Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm; a ham and sharp cheddar sandwich from Gramercy Tavern chef Michael Anthony; an applewood-smoked turkey and gouda sandwich from Blue Smoke chef Kenny Callaghan; a S’more from Hudson Yards pastry chef Sunchar Raymond; and a fluffernutter from Blue Smoke pastry chef Jennifer Giblin. Pop Art has clearly entered the kitchen.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s historic settlement in 2006 of its long-running dispute with Italy over the Euphronios Krater, the Morgantina Hoard of Hellenistic silver, and other plundered works of art is currently bearing fruit, for New York visitors to the museum, at least. The recently excavated Moregine Treasure, a Roman dining set consisting of 20 silver objects from Pompeii, is now installed in the Met’s galleries for Greek and Roman art, a loan from the Republic of Italy. The display of the treasure -- hidden in a wicker basket in a basement back in AD 79, only to be buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius -- is the first outside Italy. Also included in the loan is a terracotta kylix from Sparta, dating from 575-560 BC and showing two wind gods punishing predatory harpies.

The 6th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, June 11-Aug. 8, 2010, organized by the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, once again spreads across various sites in the city, in a show organized by freelance curator Kathrin Rhomberg, former director of the Kölnischer Kunstverein. One special -- and unusual -- contribution is a show of works by Adolf Menzel (1815–1905) organized by legendary U.S. art historian Michael Fried, designed to "contextualize" the show. The exhibition’s line-up has not yet been made final, but multitalented photographer Michael Schmidt (b. 1945) has been tapped to provide the show’s official identity (which on the website consists of varying images of a female nude).

The legendary psychedelic jam-band the Grateful Dead gets major art-museum treatment next month when the New-York Historical Society unveils "The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society," Mar. 5-July 4, 2010. Organized by N-YHS curators Debra Schmidt Bach and Nina Nazionale, the show is the first large-scale presentation of materials from the Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California Santa Cruz. Highlights include the life-sized skeleton props used in the band’s "Touch of Grey" video as well as instruments, album art, photographs, platinum records, posters, the band’s first record contract, backstage guest lists and t-shirts and other merchandise.

Jeff Koons is not the only contemporary artist dabbling in the curatorial game (overseeing forthcoming shows of the Dakis Joannou Collection at the New Museum and the late Chicago painter Ed Paschke at Gagosian Gallery in New York). Now, painters David Salle and Richard Phillips have teamed up to present "Your History Is Not Our History," Mar. 5-May 1, 2010, at Haunch of Venison in New York. The show is billed as a rethinking of the oppositional approach to 1980s art, which often pitted "regressive" "Neo-Expressionist" painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ross Bleckner and Julian Schnabel against "critical" "Post-Modernist" photographers like Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince.

Instead, the curators say, all this ‘80s art was uniformly characterized by a "mistrust of authority" and a spirit of experimentation that took "forms, ideas and content to their extremes." Furthermore, the two curators note that attention to the lessons of the 1980s "can help us build the new artistic infrastructures that will carry us into the decades ahead." An illustrated catalogue is being published to accompany the show.

In London, they throw artworks into a giant trash bin. In Mexico, they toss them into the sea. Mexico’s Marine National Park near Cancun, whose underwater coral reefs teeming with life draw 750,000 tourists each year (who spend $36 million), is expected to become home to as many as 400 concrete sculptures -- designed to accommodate marine life, lure snorkelers and protect the fragile reefs. To date, sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor has sunk several sculptures on the site, including Man on Fire, a standing figure adorned with underwater growth; Vicissitudes, a group of 26 figures standing in a circle holding hands; and our favorite, The Lost Correspondent, a writer sitting at a typewriter at a desk. Park director Jaime Gonzalez estimates that nearly 250 works should be in place underwater by next April.

Lovers of figurative art find limited succor in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, but never fear. The Dahesh Museum of Art is presenting "Becoming an Artist: The Academy in 19th-Century France," Feb. 26-Apr. 29, 2010, at the Palitz Gallery, Lubin House at 11 East 61st Street in New York City. The exhibition presents 28 paintings, sculptures and drawings from the homeless Dahesh Museum holdings, including works by William Adolphe Bouguereau, Théodule-Augustin Ribot, Henri Fantin-Latour and Jean-Léon Gérôme, in a show organized by museum assistant curator Alia Nour. The show is the third organized in conjunction with Syracuse University, which runs the Palin Gallery.

The Center for Cuban Studies at 231 West 29th Street in Manhattan is mounting a show of 100 revolutionary Cuban posters made during the last 50 years -- graphic artworks meant to instill revolutionary consciousness, call people together for important events, express solidarity with revolutionary movements and revile foreign enemies (like Richard Nixon). The show, simply called "Cuban Posters and Prints," goes on view Mar. 11-Apr. 30, 2010. For more info, see

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