Sometimes the rush to be first has you stumbling over your own feet. So it was for the New York Times, which previewed the show of the Robert and Ethel Scull collection at Acquavella Galleries, sending legions of its readers to the gallery on a sunny Saturday, only to be turned away by a hard-working gallery guard. The exhibition actually opens to the public on Tuesday, Apr. 13, 2010.
With L&M Arts closed for the installation of "Yves Tanguy and Alexander Calder: Between Surrealism and Abstraction," Apr. 21-June 12, 2010, and the doors locked for the weekend at Van de Weghe Fine Art’s Keith Haring show, it was beginning to seem like we could retire immediately to the 3 Guys Restaurant for lunch.
I’d already seen the Eva Hesse exhibition at Hauser & Wirth -- nine formed-paper and muslin shapes on a table, as slight as a collection of eggshells, made in 1969 and priced at $350,000-$450,000 -- and the exhibition of paintings of women by Félix Vallotton at Michael Werner Gallery, previously reviewed in these pages. And we’ve also had a few things to say about the Ed Paschke paintings at Gagosian Gallery, which are as gloriously horrific as Ed wanted them to be.
But next door to Acquavella is the comfortable Skarstedt Fine Art, in the old Salander-O’Reilly Galleries building (remember them?). On view downstairs are three new paintings by George Condo, large (6 x 9 ft.) expressionistic portraits of babes and goons done in his signature cartoon Cubism, framed and covered with glass to protect their charcoal and pastel surfaces. They’re not unlike Les Demoiselles. All three are sold at ca. $225,000-$325,000.
Upstairs is a group of works by the German conceptualist Rosemarie Trockel, whose gnomic drawings and sculptures are over my head. Her large knit abstractions from the late ‘80s are brilliant, though -- it was such a perfect idea to make man-sized paintings with a garment-industry method, female but hardly lady-like. One giant diptych combines the masculine Playboy emblem with the feminine "woolmark" logo, as the gallery press release explains. Another 13-foot-wide one has gray waves like a Bridget Riley, and another work from 1990 combines two rows of death’s heads with three rows of black and yellow plaid. What could it mean? Death is a decorative motif? A few of them are available, for about $450,000 each.
Down the street at the new Stellan Holm Gallery uptown digs at 1018 Madison Avenue is a show of largish photo-works by the Los Angeles artist Paul Rusconi, whose layered portraits -- made with big ben-day dots rendered with fingernail polish -- depict the heads of skateboard stars surrounded by coronas as if they were latter-day saints. Stevie Williams, Corey Duffel, Rick Howard, know them? The works are $25,000 each.
It was the last day of the show at Tilton Gallery of Sudarshan Shetty’s metaphysical objects, many involving moving parts and carved and polished wood, dubbed, "The more I die, the lighter I get." A white animal skeleton, propped up on stilts and with a trophy plaque holding ox horns where its skull should have been, looked rather like Death trying to be scarier than it is.
More metaphysics awaited viewers at Gagosian’s fifth-floor gallery -- he now has spaces on three floors of 980 Madison, as well as a street-level store -- where is housed the first New York show of the Paris-based artist Tatiana Trouvé, who is popular enough to make the cover of Art in America, which devoted many pages in its March issue to an interview. Her installations at Gagosian include CAD-CAM-style architectural drawings on the walls with sculptural installations that bring to mind the Post-Minimalist art of the ‘70s called "Anti-Form," if anyone remembers that.
On the next floor down is a wealth of paintings by Alberto di Fabio, acrylic works that look to be done with stencils and splatters, giving patterns of rays of light, or in larger works cosmic webs or mandalas, sort of like Richard Pousette-Dart. Di Fabio is a great friend of Cy Twombly, and has shown with Gagosian in London before.
Adam Baumgold Gallery at 60 East 66th Street has a selection of works by Saul Steinberg, which are always worth seeing, he was so imaginative. The exhibition includes a drawing of a Dancing Couple from 1965, in which a man tangos with what I take to be his childhood visage of his mother. The drawing was included in Steinberg’s 1978 retrospective at the Whitney Museum, and also illustrated one of the first texts I wrote as a freelancer for Art in America.
Upstairs from Baumgold is a new gallery, opened by David Janis, a third-generation art dealer (son of Carroll and grandson of Sidney), who had been dealing privately and is now looking forward to the additional possibilities (not to say additional work) offered by having a public space. On view is a group of works by Tom Wesselmann, including the painterly Curled Up Blue Nude from 2001, which is $950,000.
I didn’t make it to the final stop on my tour, the new uptown space of Marianne Boesky Gallery at 118 East 64th Street, though I’m told that the townhouse is an especially beautiful one, complete with ornamental plaster and elegant woodwork. Currently on view is a show of works by Lucio Fontana and some gem-like collaborative drawings -- are these tattoos? -- done in gunpowder and graphite by Robert Beck & Donald Moffett.
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.