Archive for the 'Galleries' Category


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. 

JANUARY 2012: Time to Invest?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Roy Lichtenstein, "I Can See the Whole Room...", top selling lot at Christie's 2011 for $43,202 million; top lot at Sotheby's, Clyfford Still for $61,682 million

As the New Year horns sound, January streaks out of the blocks. PST exhibitions at the museums continue, gallery openings abound and the art fairs jockey for calendar space. The press is full of analysis of last year’s winners and losers in every realm. Art has been declared a winner. The Mei Moses World All Art Index (MMAI) which tracks art sales across several categories, indicates that art returned 10.2% in 2011, trouncing the S&P’s zero growth. Even Time Magazine hosts an article in their Jan 30 issue touting the amazing growth and profitability of the art market. Citing wealth diversification, emerging market participation, particularly China’s, and the bonus of social cache, investing in art is the place to be.

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) total auction sales of $506.7 million in 2011, displacing Picasso as top seller

Art can certainly be a lucrative investment.  However,  acquiring artworks with investment potential requires sophisticated knowledge, due diligence and sometimes privileged access to opportunities, similar to the stock market.  While art risk and return may not correlate with equities, neither guarantees a profitable investment.  Record prices at auction are generally awarded to sanctioned artists of historical significance, for works from the artist’s strongest years of production with favored style or subject matter. These works are of limited availability, in perfect condition and fresh to the market. Because these characteristics are rare, more people with increased wealth are ready to pay bigger prices. The cycle continues upwards. The press sells the story to the public.

Damien Hirst, "Spot Painting", on view at Gagosian Galleries world wide

Financial gain from selling art is wonderful.  I seek it for my clients and on my own behalf.   However, I also lament the absence in headline articles of any mention of the intangible benefits in acquiring and living with art: the intellectual, emotional and spiritual gift inherent in the best work. Investment, branding and global reach are increasingly prized. Art’s commodification is complete. What could be further proof than Damien Hirst’s Spot paintings in all 11 of the Gagosian Galleries?

This brings me to the art fairs here in Los Angeles this January. Art Fairs have proliferated and for many are the preferred and often only venue in which art is viewed for purchase.  Time and convenience are of the essence.  Art Fairs may be enjoyable and functional, but they are a challenging environment in which to hone the eye.

The odds of ferreting out quality and a potentially investment-grade artwork is greatly enhanced by the excellence of the fair’s exhibitors. In fairs like Art Basel Miami or Switzerland, the vendor quality is meticulously vetted and consistently high, so buyers are greatly assisted in their search. However, in a fair like the LA Art Show, it’s a very mixed bag.  The organizers did strong publicity, had significant sponsors and a worthy charity for the gala opening night.  They provided a solid lecture series and filled the convention center space. But where’s the beef? Works of merit were in short supply; the vendor level was exeedingly uneven.

The IFPDA section of the fair is limited in scope, but is of good quality. The Fine Art Show had some pleasing pictures. But the LA Art Show, the primary draw, continues to disappoint. I went in with low expectations so I was less depressed than in years past. Now that the show has been acquired by the organizers of Art Miami, let’s hope it perks up in the future.

DuYanFang photograph at ME Photo Gallery booth, LA Art Show

Among the highlights at the LA Art Show was Jack Rutberg’s booth. It featured works by Patrick Graham and Hans Burkhardt as well as an editioned Jasper Johns flag of note. Jonathan Novak Contemporary presented works by Sam Francis, among others. The Paul Thiebaud Gallery is a reliable source for Wayne Thiebaud paintings and prints.  Among the overseas galleries, ME Photo Art Gallery from Beijing brought some of the new young photographers from China. The Chinese artists have been doing excellent photography for over two decades. While these works have been collected by institutions in the West, it is an undeveloped area of collecting for the Chinese. This is beginning to change slowly inside China and we will undoubtedly be seeing more work on our shores.

Art Los Angeles Contemporary housed many of the best Los Angeles galleries with a smattering of exhibitors from elsewhere. It was a small show with an emphasis on younger, edgier work.  There was no pretense.  It’s a fair where one can look, learn and acquire a potentially rising star at a reasonable price.  As for investment, be sure to also buy what you love…

Gusamo Cesaretti, photograph, at Roberts & Tilton

Regarding highlights around town, I’ll mention just two that illustrate the vast range of offerings. Roberts & Tilton has a fascinating show of vintage photographs by Gusmano Cesaretti. Curated by Aaron Rose, the show includes 24 unique prints that feature the East Los Angeles sub-culture of the 1970’s. The night of the opening, the Klique Car Club had some of their hottest rides parked out front in all of their glory – a great display of passion and pride.

Peder Mork Monsted, Painting of a Nubian, ca 1900, Weisman Museum, Malibu

At the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum at Pepperdine just opened “The Epic and the Exotic: 19th Century Academic Realism from the Dahesh Museum of Art” in New York. These 32 paintings are romantic, skillful, idealized pictures that epitomize the values of their time.  Another kind of fantasy.

Duane Valentine, Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla

Jennifer Steinkamp, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego

Lastly, “Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla and San Diego is arguably the quintessential show of the Pacific Standard Time initiative, among the mainstream offerings.  As indicated by the title, it showcases the unique contribution of Southern California artist’s in the 60’ and 70’s in their exploration of  light and space as manifest  in objects and installation.   Their legacy is powerfully brought forward in the  dazzling room installation by Jennifer Steinkamp that accompanies the show.


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. 


Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Photo Shoot at Art/Public, Collins Park

Amidst the swirl of the art fairs, museum shows, private exhibition spaces, parties and flagrant consumption, the rage of discontent finally hit print. Adam Lindemann shouted a boycott of the fairs in his New York Observer article on November 29. Charles Saatchi decried the hideousness of the art world on Friday, Dec 2. In the Art Newspaper, Swiss-based collector, Bijan Kherzi, claimed the art world “has been hijacked by the very same forces that poisoned the world of finance”. While newbies are awed by the splash of the fairs, the seasoned and sophisticated are swearing it’s the last time for them. And yet, the beat goes on.

Klara Kristalova, ceramic, Galerie Emanuel Perrotin, Paris

The art world as manifest in Miami is a microcosm of the global art world. The game is being played at many different levels of access, knowledge and complexity. At Art Basel, the most prestigious contemporary galleries in the world vie for the wealthiest and most savvy collectors around the globe. The works on offer are spectacular at breathtaking prices. At the satellite fairs, galleries seek recognition for themselves and their artists, with the hope of enough sales to at least cover  their expenses. Amidst the gaiety and sunshine is an underlying tension for everyone to go, look, see and spend. It’s a big shopping trip.

Ai Weiwei, sculpture from found trees, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing- Lucerne

Everyone agrees that Art Basel is a visual feast at the highest level. After that, everyone disagrees as to which other fairs have merit. To some extent it depends on when one arrives, one’s energy level, the layout of the fair, the level of crowding, and how accessible is the food, water and restroom.

Jeremy Thomas, polychromed corten steel, Charlotte Jackson, Santa Fe

After Art Basel, Art Miami has the widest range of established galleries. Although there is a great deal of decorative and unchallenging work, serious work can be found. JGM Galerie from Paris presented works by Tracey Emin, Erwin Wurm and Tony Oursler. Barry Friedman from New York showed extraordinary furniture by artists such as Ingrid Donat, worthy of the Design Miami Fair. Charlotte Jackson of Santa Fe had several polychromed sculptures by Jeremy Thomas.

Gabriel Hartley, Foxy Productions, New York

Nada is my favorite fair for younger work from edgier galleries. Eleven Rivington from the lower east side in New York is a perennial favorite. Foxy Productions, also from NYC, was a discovery two years ago in Basel Switzerland. Once again I found their artist, Gabriel Hartley, to be a standout. This is a fair where you want to arrive first thing for the preview before the crowds become overwhelming or go much later when the crowd has thinned. Of course, by then, you will miss the hot bargains like the terrific gold flags by Andrew Schoultz at Locust Projects.

Shahzia Sikander, detail, Todd Hosfelt, San Francisco-New York

Scope and Pulse are dominated by less sophisticated work. I find much of it gimmicky or trendy. But exceptions can always be found. At Pulse, Todd Hosfelt of San Francisco and New York, offered a seminal work on paper by Shahzia Sikander. Daniel Weinberg of Los Angeles, hosted a booth of small gems by Lee Bontecou, Darby Bannard, and James Siena.

Thomas Houseago, Rudolf Stingel, De La Cruz Collection

Aaron Curry, Albert Ohlen, De La Cruz Collection

Among the private collection spaces open to the public, the most rewarding was the De La Cruz collection located in the Design District. Despite being three floors of institutional-type space, the collection maintains the sense of welcome and personal distinction that was the hallmark of the collection when it was viewable in the De La Cruz residence. From Rudolf Stingel to Gabriel Orozco to Sterling Ruby, there was pleasure in examining many of the individual works.

Beatriz Milhazes, Fondation Cartier

The Design District in Miami has some of the best furniture and design showrooms in the country. The Holly Hunt showroom is always a knockout. Special projects spaces also abound. This year Brazilian favorite, Beatriz Milhazes, was commissioned by the Fondation Cartier to do a special project titled “Aquarium”. It is a dazzling mobile composed of pearls and precious discs reminiscent of her paintings and collages and perfectly attuned to the tenor of Miami and the Fair.

Shepard Fairy, mural, Wynwood Kitchen and Bar

In addition to the surfeit of art, culinary sustenance is abundant around town. My favorite dinner this year was at Ola at the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach. It features spectacular Latin American cuisine. For lunch or anytime, in the center of Miami’s emerging gallery district, is the festive Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. Replete with murals from Shepard Fairey and cohorts such as Kenny Scharf and Ryan McGinness, this is a great spot for small plates, an exotic beer or a sinful Dulce de Leche.

There is so much going on in Miami during the Fair period, it is literally impossible to see everything. Most of us burn the candle at both ends and then crawl onto the return flight home. Until next year…

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.