Archive for the 'Artists' Category

MADE IN LA 2012: Los Angeles is Everywhere

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Meg Cranston, “California”, Hammer lobby installation, 2011

What do we want from a biennial exhibition or any large survey show?  We want to be blown away!  We want to see something that changes our world view.  Whether we see the sixty artists in “Made in LA” or the two hundred artists now on view at Documenta in Kassel, Germany, we go with excitement and anticipation.  I’m always hoping to discover new talent, even genius. I want to be surprised by artists I know or find reaffirmation of their breadth and contribution; I expect to be challenged and rewarded visually and intellectually.  I will come away with a shortlist of those works that personally move me.



Thursday, May 10th, 2012


Frieze tent exterior

The inaugural Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island in New York, May 4-7, was both a highly anticipated event and a barometer for the viability of another significant art fair, in New York specifically, and on the international art calendar generally. Despite the naysayers and the risks involved, Frieze hit a homerun. Tickets were available in advance and only online. On Sunday the fair was sold-out.



Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The take-away from the Armory Show week in New York in early March was not the art fairs, each merging into the next. The Armory Show at the Piers had a better layout and a tighter mix of exhibitors than in prior years. The Independent made a very worthwhile presentation. However, the truly memorable viewing was at the museums.

Cindy Sherman, "Untitled #90", 1981, at Museum of Modern Art

Cindy Sherman, "Untitled #465", 2008, at the Museum of Modern Art

Among the plethora of pleasures was the Cindy Sherman Retrospective at MOMA. The exhibition is an enthralling chronicle of identity and representation, manifest in 170 photographs over thirty years. The images move from the nostalgic to the grotesque, from the fantasy of youth to the attempt at preserving it in later years. Among various issues, Sherman has spent her career examining gender and the politics therein. As a female, I can project myself into the photograph of a teenage girl staring at the telephone, waiting for it to ring. I can stare at the late photos and recognize a woman of a certain age, staring back. I can look at other women viewing the show and see them having a similar experience. Does a male looking at the photographs have a very different experience? Whatever your gender, it’s a Do Not Miss, through June 11 and then travelling.

Fra Filippo Lippi, "Portrait of a Woman w/a Man at a Casement", at the Metropolitan Museum

There were so many great shows at the Metropolitan Museum, it was a lavish buffet awaiting my consumption.  Following the MOMA show, I resumed the contemplation of portraiture with “The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini”, an astonishing show of rare international loans. For example, the image above is the earliest surviving Italian double portrait in a domestic setting. The show surveys early portraiture, beginning with the first portrayals of specific individuals in Florence in fifteenth-century Italy. It chronicles the development of style and technique. Prior to this period, achievement of artistic likeness in sculpture far exceeded that of painting.  Like Cindy Sherman’s photographs, the paintings depict and communicate the values of their time, the social status of their subjects, the concepts of power and of beauty separately relegated to men and to women. Visual metaphor and understated signifiers abound.

Islamic Galleries, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Parviz Tanavoli, Metropolitan Museum of Art

I then traversed the museum to the Department of Islamic Art where I luxuriated amidst the Art of the Arab Lands (Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and South Asia). These fifteen galleries reopened after an eight-year renovation in November 2011. Here one can momentarily forget the alleged nuclear aspirations of Iran and focus on the glory of the culture that has resided in this part of the world for millenia. The pottery, textiles, calligraphy, jeweled artifacts, carpets and architectural elements, as well as re-created rooms, are superb. Pieces date from the seventh century all the way up to a room of recent painting and sculpture featuring signature work by contemporary luminaries like Monir Farmanfarmaian and Parviz Tanavoli.

I had already seen “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde” at SFMOMA. I wished I had time to see it again. What a fabulous story of the intertwining of life, art, taste, and politics. Another Do Not Miss. I did a quick walkthrough of the newly reconfigured American Wing, now 30,000 square feet offering one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. And I always do the Contemporary collection. Time for a cappuchino!

John Chamberlain, "Divine Ricochet", 1991, at the Guggenheim Museum

The John Chamberlain career survey, “Choices”, spirals around the Guggenheim Museum, celebrating and exploring the artist’s transformation of Abstract Expressionism into three dimensions. Marvelous pieces a few inches tall give way to totemic works on a grand-scale. In addition to the crumpled aluminum works that move from the monochromatic to the florid, there are lesser-known works made from urethane foam, mineral-coated plexiglass, galvanized steel and even treated paper. Chamberlain used a phrase called “articulate wadding” to describe his technique in creating the paper sculptures. That phrase seems to encompass his entire ethos in sculpture – an intention of purpose guided by unpredictable gesture, all put together by a formidable intellect. John Chamberlain passed away on December 11, 2011, so the show functions as a tribute as well as a retrospective.

The Whitney Biennial and the New Museum’s Triennial, “The Ungovernables” are both huge shows with multiple artists of very divergent concerns, materials and methods. I have become disenchanted with most of these sorts of exhibitions. Too many voices, too little context, too demanding to consume amidst the crowds and distraction.  The Whitney exhibition is heavy on performance and video. In that regard, I did admire Wu Tsang’s “Green Room”.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakeye, "The Ungovernables", New Museum

Jon Kessler, "The Blue Period", Salon 94 Bowery

The New Museum show relies heavily on installation work. Since I favor object painting and sculpture, I took note of Julia Dault, who had an echo of Chamberlain. I admired the intense paintings of Lynette Yiadom-Boakeye. The best installation piece for me was actually unrelated and next door to the New Museum at Salon 94 Bowery. There Jon Kessler showcased “The Blue Period”, an encompassing experience of visual intrigue.  Those folks standing are simulations, not real people.

Jesse Fleming, "The Snail and the Razor", Moving Image fair

Jesse Fleming, "The Snail and the Razor", Moving Image fair

For pure video, I enjoyed Moving Image, the art fair devoted exclusively to contemporary video art selected from an international group of galleries and institutions. The showstopper was “The Snail and The Razor” by Jesse Fleming.  As the snail mounts the razor’s edge, slithering over it in a ballet of  exploration and imminent demise, no eyes dared leave the screen.   Unbelievably, the snail completes its’ sojourn unscathed.  The edition of five sold-out, including one copy acquired by the Whitney Museum.

If Armory Week was not on your calendar and you still yearn for the Fairs, the Frieze fair of London is debuting its first New York presentation from May 4-7. NADA will also have its first NYC fair, along with other satellite presentations.

A consultancy in modern and contemporary art, guiding clients with
access and expertise, throughout the international art community.

Please contact us to learn more about the Advisory and how we can be of assistance to you in the acquisition or resale of the best in modern and contemporary art. 


Friday, February 3rd, 2012

People frequently ask me what I am working on. My business by its nature is discreet. Despite this blog and my presence in the social media, I tend to be reserved in describing my activity.  However, as Facebook has proven, the era of sharing reigns. Here is a brief status update.

Robert Mapplethorpe, "Calla Lily", 1984, 9/10, gelatin silver print, 26 x 22"

I’ve just completed a three-year project for a client in which I resold a group of 14 pieces that I had previously acquired for them. Net proceeds to the client exceeded $5 million and represented more than double the initial investment. Works included emerging artists and blue chip favorites such as Gerhard Richter, David Smith and Louise Bourgeois. The iconic photograph above by Robert Mapplethorpe was part of the collection.

Amy Ellingson, "Untitled", (straight/curved yellow, black, orange), 2003, oil & encaustic on canvas, 30 x 132" (detail), acquired for Neiman Marcus, San Francisco.

While my clients are almost exclusively private individuals, I have been a consultant to Neiman Marcus for more than 10 years. Neiman’s art collection features abstract painting from artists in the communities across the country where their 42 stores are located. A new store in Walnut Creek will open next month. For that location, I arranged 4 commissioned artworks including the amazing kinetic sculpture on the exterior of the building by Ned Kahn. In addition to my own blog, I write for NM Daily, Neiman’s blog, which features articles on fashion, food and culture.

Here is the video of “Wind Fins” in action. There are three phases to the video, so watch until the end!

Mark Twain, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", early edition

In December, I had an opportunity to enter into the realm of rare book collecting. A longtime client for whom I acquire paintings and photographs wanted to begin a rare book collection for her young son. As a Christmas gift, we acquired several rare books by Mark Twain, including an illustrated edition of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” from 1910.

"Have Gun-Will Travel" featured Richard Boone as Paladin, a gunslinger for hire who also enjoyed gourmet food and the opera. The show was a top-rated Western series from 1957-1963.

My motto, a la Paladin, is “Have Gun Will Travel”. If a project has integrity and involves high quality art, I’m there.  Speaking of travel, I’m headed to Palm Springs for Modernism Week and a private tour of Sunnylands, the Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage, which opens to the public shortly. March brings the Armory Show and the multiple treasures of New York.  Lastly, in the realm of performance art, don’t miss “Pina” , the academy award nominated dance film in 3D by Wim Wenders.

A consultancy in modern and contemporary art, guiding clients with
access and expertise, throughout the international art community.

Please contact us to learn more about the Advisory and how we can be of assistance to you in the acquisition or resale of the best in modern and contemporary art.