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December 30, 2005

All Over but the Binge Drinking

I'm off for some merrymaking and general art nerdery in NYC and so will have to maintain the ritual silence that has overtaken this place through the dawn of '06.

In the spirit of the season, though, a classic portrait of the artist as a dancing fool from back in August:

Groomsmen With Low Self-Esteem

Have a happy one.

"All Over but the Binge Drinking"
Posted by Dan at 04:35 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (3)

December 14, 2005

Image Breakers Abound

Klein Gallery: 'Destroyed'

Just as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is witnessed in the process of destroying its own artwork to make room for its new addition, I just received a bizarre email from the University of Pennsylvania's Esther M. Klein Art Gallery:

The current group show at the University Of Pennsylvania's Esther M. Klein Gallery was destroyed during the night of December 12th, and the gallery has been closed until further notice. Philadelphia artist Albo Jeavons has sent a statement to the gallery claiming that the vandalism was carried out by an "Autonomous Intelligent Artwork" under his control. We are updating our Website with information about this terrible situation as it becomes available.

The culprit has a website, if you even care to look. (Jeavons has gotten past mentions at Fallon and Rosof's artblog, as well, here and here.)

More, from the Klein Gallery's press release on the matter:

"We have included Albo's artwork in past exhibits but he was not in this show" said co-curator Amy Addams "he sent us a statement the night of the destruction claiming responsibility and explaining why he did it, but we're still kind of in shock over the whole thing" The statement from Jeavons explains how an "Autonomous Intelligent Artwork" called "The Corporation" was left in the gallery during business hours, waiting til after midnight to begin it's destructive spree. "The artwork in question is a semi-autonomous machine pseudo-intelligence, programmed to evaluate individual artworks and determine the least-noisy, most efficient way to eliminate them. Future versions of the work will be completely autonomous; once released they will continue to work until destroyed or decommissioned, and ideally will be fueled by the materials in the artworks that they are eliminating"

"The artwork that Albo showed here last month touched on some of the same themes, but we had no idea he was seriously contemplating this kind of action" says Addams. The communique from Jeavons goes on to explain that "We live in a world ruled by market forces, and artists need to get with the program and learn to compete on a levelled playing field. I want to succeed in the competitive Art World and that means eliminating the competition. I can't physically eliminate other artists, but I can eliminate art work that competes with mine. "The Corporation" is loose is in the world and I have only limited control over it's future actions. It will continue to search out and destroy work by other artists for as long as it can." Addams and Schimell acknowledge that no trace of "The Corporation" was found in the gallery.

The question of whether and when artists can "go too far" was the topic of a recent discussion on Chicago's Other Group listserv (a discussion someone has recently tried to revive). If this all proves true, I think we have a bona fide contender right here.

I mean, does this thing sound like physical computing art's first malignant virus/trojan or what?

Or does it just sound like an elaborate put-on? (The thought has most certainly crossed my mind. The theme for the destroyed show—"The Faux Show"—was "simulation," after all.)

Update 6:28 pm... Of course, upon further reflection, I'm now thoroughly reassured that it's all just a conceptual hoax—though not until I went back and reread a few telling lines in the above that my eyes managed to skip over the first time through. To wit:

"The Corporation" is loose is in the world and I have only limited control over it's future actions. It will continue to search out and destroy work by other artists for as long as it can." Addams and Schimell acknowledge that no trace of "The Corporation" was found in the gallery.

Not only that but, where the press release has the date of destruction as December 12th, the gallery's website has it all happening on the 1st. Something someone missed in the final revision before going live?

What can I say? There's a sucker blogging every minute. This sure would have been one hell of a feat of engineering, though:

The artwork in question is a semi-autonomous machine pseudo-intelligence, programmed to evaluate individual artworks and determine the least-noisy, most efficient way to eliminate them.

I should say that I do hope the gallery is committed fully to this and does "leave the remains of the old work in place for the remainder of the show" without further tipping their hands.

"Image Breakers Abound"
Posted by Dan at 03:42 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (1)


A cheerful holiday welcome to Artkrush readers.

As is no doubt apparent from the date stamps below, the already ordinarily slow-drip posting style around here has crawled along even slower than usual as of late. I've been hoping to get one or two substantial posts up before the holidays proper hit, but I'm also pretty realistic in realizing that the pressures of the season may well keep me in near-total internet hibernation for a few weeks more.

In the meantime, the links at the right are always worth your perusal. In particular, I should highlight other Chicagoans in the fold:

Erik Wenzel's Art or Idiocy?
Richard Holland and Duncan MacKenzie's Bad at Sports Podcast
Rowley Kennerk et alia's Folding Chair
Cynthia King's Fresh Paint
Jason Foumberg's Houndstooth
Brian Ulrich's Notifbutwhen #2

Posted by Dan at 12:09 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

December 7, 2005

You really can't parody the gawkers at Scene and Herd...

Or maybe you can...

Tyler Green tried his hand at just that just this morning:

Just after I landed back in Washington, the capital of the free world, not to mention Eli Broad and Steven Cohen's least favorite place to be during the fall auctions (sorry Weschler's!), Larry Gagosian emailed me to say that I should have skipped Marty Margulies' party in honor of Kota Ezawa and Mike Kelley (I didn't even know they were dating!) in Miami's swinging-but-slummy fashion district and instead gone to Donatella Versace's dinner for Wolfgang Tillmans, Bruce Weber and Helmut Newton over at Gloria Estefan's Luis Pons-designed manse, where some new, unrepresented Leipzig painters were said to be frolicking in the hot tub. I didn't have the heart to put GoGo on hold so that I could phone Donatella to tell her that Helmut was dead (the things you miss while in rehab—I know Dona, I know), so I played along.

"But Larry, Yvonne Force said she wanted to me to see Todd Purdum light Graydon Carter's cigarettes all night long because Todd has this totally fabulous butane torch that he received as a gift from Muccia when he visted Milan after having dinner with Jeff Koons in Venice in the summer," I said. "So I followed Yvonne—she looked so fabulous in that orange Guicci number how could you not follow her—and we bumped into Julian Schnabel and Lisa Dennison. And after we left Marty's we traipsed over to see the new Jasper Johns paintings at Jason Rubell's house."

Nice, but there's just no beating the real deal...

Trân Dúc Vân:

Next was Jeffrey Deitch. Cordial in khaki, he greeted me and my date for the evening with a friendly handshake and an "Oh," which I guess meant he wasn't expecting us. As if sensitive to our busy schedules, he offered the scoop in precis form: On the left is the best American street artist (Swoon), on the right the best of Brazil (Os Gemeos), and upstairs it's the Live Through This artists. As we walked away, my date whispered, "What are the Live Through This artists?" I explained that Live Through This was Jeffrey's latest festive concoction, a book that, as near as I could tell, chronicles something like spring break for the freebasing set, but that it also involved art. Fearing that the crowds on the stairwell had made me unfairly brisk, I added, "ask David Rimanelli." David "understands" these artists, and he's also a potentially useful mediator as his vocabulary includes tons of words with more syllables than dude.

Linda Yablonsky:

I turned to face Martin Eder, Nate Lowman, Barnaby Furnas, Dan Colen, Lorna Simpson, and a table of Brits including Sarah Lucas, grouped there with Dalrymple, Sadie Coles, and Gavin Brown, none of whom seemed very interested in anyone who wasn't British. Didn't matter. Over dinner, I got to hear Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn try to stir up Lorna Simpson and Thelma Golden over the Annie Leibovitz "Wizard of Oz" shoot in Vogue. "I'd really like to have heard the conversation that convinced Jasper Johns to be the Cowardly Lion," she said. What about Kara Walker as Glinda? "I don't think I would have done it," Simpson said, leaving the door open a crack.

Force had a white fur wrap thrown over her glittery Dolce & Gabbana dress, and may have been the only person clothed appropriately for the suddenly chilly weather. I spent part of the post-dinner conversation huddled around a heat lamp with Amanda Sharp, listening to her compare Art Basel Miami Beach to her own co-creation, the Frieze Art Fair. Not surprisingly, she liked Frieze better. "I think the character of these things depends entirely on their context," she said. Did she mean Miami was too tawdry for art? "You answered your own question," came the reply.

Then it was back to the same old same old: go upstairs to the Penthouse party that hotelier André Balazs and Nadine Johnson were giving for Bruce Weber and Sofia Coppola? Or retire so I could get to the breakfast at Dennis Scholl's art-crammed Dilido Island home before the Debra Singer-led tour of it ended and the Art Basel Conversations "Philanthropy" panel began? There, a thoroughly media-trained Rockefeller, Broad, Cisneros, and Rachofsky had to respond to moderator Richard Flood's observation that "You can live well and still afford to give."

The standing-room-only crowd hung on every ho-hum word, the only surprise arriving with the realization that the first person to walk out was none other than Alain Robbe-Grillet. (Who even knew the salt-and-pepper-bearded nouvelle vague author was still with us?) Apparently he had come to town to speak at the Rauschenberg tribute the night before. Perhaps he knew in advance that the patrons-to-be would queue up to have the star "venture philanthropist" panelists autograph their programs and wanted to beat the front of the line—unless he too had to race back downtown for the opening of Ella Cisneros's new art space, CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation).

Michael Wang

I beat the mass exodus from the beach and dashed to the new, hyper-chic Setai Hotel, where Taschen was hosting a launch party for David LaChapelle's book Artists and Prostitutes. Caught in the inevitable crush at the door, I ran up against a burly bouncer growling at a pushy, black-leather-Yankees-cap-and-gold-chain-wearing youth to "stay back." "I'm David's personal assistant," the would-be entrant piped, "and if I'm going to leave I will be escorted off. I need to get in right now to deal with the slide show." I slipped through along with Isaac Julien, his boyfriend Mark Nash, his onscreen star Vanessa Myrie, and his assistant Kelly. Inside, we immediately spotted LaChapelle's muse, robosexual tranny Amanda Lepore, who was perched—nude of course—inside an illuminated plexiglass structure in the middle of the pool and leafing through a copy of LaChapelle's vapid tome. (Even Lepore couldn't be bothered to look through the volume, replete with her own image—she tossed her hair, crossed and uncrossed her legs that "cost as much as a house," and cast absent Botox stares at the guests.) Grinning, Julien appraised the spectacle: "Perfect."

New York photographer/drag queen/nightlife personality Greg "G-Spot" Siebel was at the poolside turntables, spinning pop hits—from "Genius of Love" to "Slim Shady"—to the delight of revelers dancing atop the bouncy outdoor cushions. Clearly the king of his own party, LaChapelle stripped down to his undershorts and leapt into the pool, splaying himself Severin-style before Lepore's transparent cage and eliciting coy admonishments from his delighted gaggle of twinky admirers ("Daaaaavid!") before luring the lemmings in after him. Beaming and attentive, LaChapelle's female PR attachés swooped in, emitting cute noises usually reserved for especially endearing infants and promising extra sets of towels, while the wait staff lowered platters of hors d'oeuvres to within the reach of wet fingers.

And those were just from three of the last four posts.

So, while it was a valiant effort, Tyler, these folks are teh pro.

"You really can't parody the gawkers at Scene and Herd..."
Posted by Dan at 11:01 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

December 2, 2005

Ringing the Register

Stuart Davis: Still Life with Flowers (1930)Results are in from yesterday's auction of Very Important American Art at Christie's...

And my old school's Stuart Davis painting sold within the general ballpark of its $2–3 million estimate, reaching a purchase price of $3,152,000 (and a hammer price of $2.8 million before buyer's premium).

Deducting a seller's commission of 2%, District 203 will be raking in some $2,744,000 on the deal (before any applicable taxes), which is pretty well over a four million percent appreciation (in under 60 years) on the original purchase price of $62.50, just beating out inflation.

And so, of course, the rich just get richer, even as they continue to hang on to their Ivan Albright, among other holdings (but, then, the man was an alumnus).

Now a proverbial mule with a spinning wheel, the school has set up a separate fund for their auction proceeds and will convene a committee to determine just what they're going to do with their little windfall. The only word so far (per both the Trib and the Pioneer Press) is that there's a chance it'll be art-related, which makes a certain amount of sense.

Certainly one of the prime departments and areas of emphasis one would think might be something in the art area. We didn't specify anything in particular, but that certainly was one thing we talked about. It truly is open and yet to be determined, but we're very excited on behalf of New Trier students and school district programs.

Update: Some District 203 Board of Education minutes related to the Stuart Davis (both PDF)...

From the July 6 meeting at which a special committee recommended consignment to Christie's:

The committee charged with analyzing this issue and interviewing representatives of the two predominant, national auction houses unanimously recommended that the Stuart Davis painting be consigned to Christie's... Never before has an auction house been as aggressive or enthusiastic about the sale of the Stuart Davis.

From the July 18 meeting at which the board discussed and approved the recommendation of consignment. The only vote against was from John Graettinger, who had earlier suggested that "the funds be shared somehow to benefit high school children of Chicago Public Schools and their education."

* * *

Mary Cassatt: Mother and Two Children (1906)Also on the block yesterday were the Harvard University Art Museums' quietly deaccessioned Mary Cassatt (estimate $3–5 million), which fetched a purchase price of $4,272,000 (hammering at $3.8 million), and a late Marsden Hartley, "Red Flowers and Sailboat," that just undershot its $1.2–1.8 estimate at $1,136,000 ($1 million hammer).

Marsden Hartley: Red Flowers and Sailboat (c. 1935–36)If it's still up, give a listen to the auction house's audio commentary on the Hartley (linked here), in which Eric Widing, head of the Christie's American Paintings Department, informs us that "the genre of still-life painting proved to be one of the most significant subjects in Marsden Hartley's errrv."

As in "hors d'oeuvres" (American style)... or maybe even "Favre" (Northwoods style). Lord, how the French must hate us.

Georgia O'Keefe: Corn No. III (1924)Of the three deaccessioned MoMA works on offer, both Georgia O'Keefes sold, while the Milton Avery, "Morning Dunes," apparently didn't hit its reserve (let alone its estimate of $400,000–600,000) and so wound up bought-in.

O'Keefe's "Corn No. III" went for a high $1,360,000 ($1.2 million hammer, $800,000–1.2 million estimate), while her "Cedar and Red Maple, Lake George" missed its low estimate of $400,000, going for $352,000 ($300,000 hammer).

Update: Artnet has the results, with images

"Ringing the Register"
Posted by Dan at 01:51 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (1)