Zooming out to the Hamptons last Friday morning, we passed the construction site for the new Parrish Art Museum and tried, rather unsuccessfully, to take a snapshot. Traffic was so intense that we were afraid to pull over and explore, but the stop-and-go did give us a chance to get a good look.
The Herzog & de Meuron design is pretty much as described: a long (really long) barn-like structure that sits parallel to the road, and that looks both familiar and very strange. The wooden roof beams, golden in the sun, are comforting, while the solid gray concrete walls are scary.
Next stop was Bridgehampton, where the new artMRKT art fair, July 14-17, 2011, was getting under way in a big vinyl tent right on the main road. Standing outside were three dolmen-like bronzes by our old pal Ned Smyth, who once wrote a great reminiscence for us on his friend and mentor Gordon Matta-Clark. The Bridgehampton trio of bronzes, which sit on Brancusi-like bases, is a little Calvary -- suggesting that Bird in Space is a modernist crucifixion. Smyth’s dolmens are priced between $30,000 and $60,000.
Another outdoor work was Billboard (2011) by Alexis Laurent, a huge steel structure that is like a mid-century apartment house for succulents. The artist aptly calls it a billboard “fantasy” whose environmental message is delivered by its array of flowering plants. The thing is nine feet tall and 15 long, courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery. It has sparked a lot of interest, the gallery says, but you can still get it . . . for $90,000.
We hit the fair itself right at its 11 am opening, and inside it was cool, spacious and clean, with dark carpeting and trim white walls. The Meulensteen booth was nicely appointed with bolted-together sheet metal furniture by Tobias Putrih, which debuted at the Chelsea gallery two months ago and is just now arriving in stores ($12,000 per piece).
At the Forum Gallery booth was a sophisticated selection of works by gallery artists, including the veteran Italian idealist-realist Carlo Maria Mariani, who is currently exhibiting in the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, has a new book out from Skira and has his first show scheduled at Forum in November. His 10 x 14 in. painting Water Music is priced at $40,000.
Even though the fair had just opened the night before, the dealers had sold some art -- if art collectors aren’t in the Hamptons in July, where are they? Marisa Sage of Like the Spice gallery in Brooklyn had sold five works at the preview. Her booth boasted a nude “Three Graces” titled Coven ($18,000) by photorealist Jenny Morgan -- she paints for Marilyn Minter -- and Greg Haberny’s Recycled Nation map of the U.S. made from heaps of sparkly glass debris ($8,000).
Our absolute favorite Hamptons dealer, Sara Nightingale, was on hand in her booth, where Barry Underwood’s color photographs ($2,800-$3,500) caught the eye of my lovely wife, Fine Art Restoration director Lisa Rosen. Sara said that a photo we took of her in Miami ten years ago was terrible and haunting her to this day. Sara, hope you like this one better!
On our way out we stopped to chat with our pal Tatyana Okshteyn at the booth of her Black & White Gallery, now back at its original Brooklyn space at 483 Driggs Avenue. She pointed out some works by her husband, the edgy Russian artist Shimon Okshteyn, who once showed a giant oil-on-mirror painting of lines of cocaine at Stux Gallery. Here, he had only a string of pearls done in sad tones of gray, like a contemporary vanitas. Earthly treasure certainly does fade away.
Tatyana was also selling a fantastic, oversized beach towel with an image of her husband’s painting of a bottle of Chanel No. 5 for $120 -- a “benefit” for her project space, she said, and I didn’t know if she was joking or if Black & White is now a nonprofit.
Right down the block is Bridgehampton’s gallery row, and I stopped in to visit Mark Borghi’s show of new charcoals by Willem de Kooning from the Elaine de Kooning estate. One early drawing, from the WPA era, is a portrait of FDR! Borghi was in a good mood -- he said he had sold 16 of the 32 drawings, at prices ranging from $50,000 to $450,000.
Borghi alerted us to a new show coming up at Guild Hall in East Hampton, opening on Aug. 13, 2011, of a 2009 series of collages by Richard Prince called “Covering Pollock.” For these works, Prince has taken classic black-and-white photographs of Jackson Pollock, made by Hans Namuth and other photographers, and covered the face or the artworks of the celebrated art legend with collaged pictures of nudes.
One untitled work, which measures 60 x 40 in., shows Lee Krasner and Pollock walking in a field, no doubt in Springs, with Jackson’s head obscured by a mass of pictures of a nude Kate Moss. Another work, a C-print measuring about 31 x 20 inches, looks like an Irving Penn fashion shoot of a model standing in front of a Pollock drip painting, in which Prince has obscured the model with his now-signature ovals.
The show could be controversial, not least because the works are outrageous. Some of the photographers are known to zealously guard their copyrights, and the works also seem to throw the judge’s decision in Cariou v. Prince, now on appeal, right back in her face.
Friday evening, the Eric Firestone Gallery on Newtown Lane in East Hampton opened “Nose Job,” a show of artworks made from airplane nose cones, organized by Carlo McCormick and featuring a lot of a-list artists, including Jane Dickson, Ryan McGinness, Tara McPherson, Lee Quinones, Raymond Pettibon, Kenny Scharf, Swoon and Aaron Young (most of whom didn’t make the opening).
In the window is Dan Colen’s six-foot-tall cone, covered with lipstick kisses, with visitors to the gallery invited to add more smoochery. Inside is Richard Prince’s cone, which is plastered with black-and-white Xerox images of the band Kiss and slathered with white paint.
The art dealers seemed most interested in the Colen and the Prince, though neither is for sale. But several others did sell at the opening, probably covering the energetic Firestone’s considerable costs of sending McCormick out to the Arizona airplane graveyard to secure the cones, and then shipping them around the country to the artists, and then to the gallery.
Shepard Fairey fashioned his nose cone into a megaphone, which brought $45,000, word had it. Futura customized not just a nose cone but the entire front part of some kind of jet, painting it with a camouflage pattern of ghetto bricks. It was parked in a yard down the road, where Firestone hosted an afterparty with a lavish outdoor spread (including mac & cheese), and seemed to be everyone’s favorite.
So much more is going on out in the Hamptons art scene. The Parrish Art Museum in Southampton has a full-on, blow-out, top-drawer retrospective of Minimalist process-art pioneer Dorothea Rockburne, including several works from the late 1960s and ‘70s, notably Scalar, an earthy 1971 wall construction of chipboard and crude oil that is now in the Museum of Modern Art collection. My favorites, I confess, are the spacey splatter paintings from the 1990s that suggest cosmic waves.
Before we headed back to Manhattan, we stuck our heads into the Southampton branch of Keszler Gallery, which was having an opening just that evening of new works by the irrepressible British neo-Pop artist Russell Young. The gallery was filled with paintings that feature some of Andy Warhol’s favorite subjects -- Elvis, Jackie, Ali -- done in gritty black-and-white and sprinkled with diamond dust.
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.