Thursday, May 30, 2013

ILevel Interviews the Author of Art on the Block

I'm sharing here a concise – but happily accurate – piece that ILevel Art Placement and Installation posted yesterday.

A nice promotion, for which I thank them, and I'm happy to promote right back!

David Kassel and his professionals at ILevel have taken care of the installation and regular re-hanging of my own art for years. They are responsive, reliable and – given that most of his team are working artists – always bring a good critical eye to installation decisions.

(I should perhaps add that the antler installation that ILevel are rocking at right of their post belongs to a collector more adventuresome than I!)



Ann Fensterstock Shares Her Top Spots for Art in New York

In the art world, Ann Fensterstock’s opinion is a respected one. Among her credentials: She holds an M.A. in contemporary art from NYU, she spent ten years on the acquisitions committee at the Museum of Modern Art, and she currently serves as as a member of the museum’s Contemporary Arts Council. Most recently, she authored the upcoming book “ART ON THE BLOCK: Tracking the New York Art World from SoHo to the Bowery, Bushwick and Beyond,” the purpose of which is to “take the reader on a journey through the neighborhoods that shape, and are shaped by, New York’s ever-evolving art world” and to “explore the genesis, expansion, maturation and ultimate restless migration of the New York art world from one initially undiscovered neighborhood to the next.”
Ann Fensterstock book
So who better to ask about the top spots for art in New York and beyond? We got a chance to talk to Fensterstock (also an ILevel client) about her favorite galleries, museums, artists and the (enviable) collection she has in her own home. Here’s what she had to say.
Ann fen
You’re an authority on art in New York City.
I don’t really consider myself ‘an authority’ or an ‘expert’ as that tends to suggest that contemporary art is a lofty or impenetrable thing. I just go to a lot of museums and galleries and look hard.
What are your favorite:
Places to discover new artists?
The studios of Bushwick, the newer galleries of the Lower East Side and the not-for-profit spaces who can show riskier, groundbreaking work without worrying about its current commercial viability.
Art museums large and small?
I’m very involved with MoMA so I obviously have to wave that flag. The Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue is a gem as are all of the Dia Foundation sites. Smaller regional galleries like the Norton in West Palm Beach or the Ogden in New Orleans push me to look at things beyond the contemporary work we collect. Looking at venetian glass, art deco furniture or early photography keeps your eye sharp and your mind open.”
Too many to mention but writing my book forced me to make choices about which one’s I consider to be the most important and which dealers the most visionary. You’re going to have to read it!
New York City artists?
Well New York City has tens of thousands of artists – natives and from elsewhere – so that really covers every name you see on gallery schedules throughout the city.
What’s hanging  on your walls?
Our library wall is installed with Modern prints from Picasso, Matisse, Dubuffet, Miro, Max Beckman and Emile Nolde but our bedroom is currently all figurative and contemporary portraiture – Chuck Close, Kiki Smith, Elizabeth Peyton, Mickalene Thomes and Lucien Freud. We have been collecting a lot of photography lately. Yossi Milo, Yancey Richardson and Brian Clamp at ClampArt have found us wonderful pieces. We re-hang quite often.
Do you have a favorite piece of art in your personal collection? What is it?
I tend to be a little fickle about loving our latest acquisition. Currently that is an 84 inch wide Michael Waugh drawing of swarming locusts made up of the words from President Obama’s American Jobs Act.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Newly Published Books and a Chelsea Exhibition

• Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas by Eric Fischl

Eric Fischl's memoir  is now available, I'm a good half way through it and enjoying it for its candor and clarity.

Courageously honest about his difficult childhood and the impact it had on his art, Fischl is also clear-eyed and even-handed about his career ups and downs throughout the over-heated art markets of the 1980s. Other art stars of the era such as Julian Schnabel, David Salle and Ross Bleckner – most of whom Fischl locked horns with at various points across the years – contribute passages.

Fischl was picked up and championed by the kingmaker dealer Mary Boone (featured with Fischl below) in 1984 and his work, along with that of Schnabel, Salle and Bleckner, took on trophy like status. Selling out shows before they opened, vetting and screening collectors before she would grant them access to her stable and replacing the discreet red dot with the emblazoned name of the grateful purchaser, Boone revolutionized art marketing tactics in a way that left the art world aghast.

The Gallerist's writer Andrew Russeth did a nice piece on a conversation with Fischl a few weeks before publication –

– and Phoebe Hoban (author of Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art) also published an interview in the Wall Street Journal –

• Scene by Jeannette Montgomery Barron

Jeanette Montgomery Barron's book Scene is now available from powerHouse Books.

Capturing the art world scenes that spawned around such venues as Warhol's Factory and TriBeCa's Odeon restaurant, Montgomery Barron shows us the faces of the fabulous and the famous who swarmed around art stars like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, David Salle, Cindy Sherman and Keith Haring.

I'm delighted to report that powerHouse books, a highly-regarded independent book store and publisher in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, will be hosting a book signing of Art on the Block in September.

NYC c. 1985  at ClampArt Gallery

In conjunction with the publication of Scene, Brian Clamp at Chelsea's ClampArt Gallery is including this 'right time, right place' photographer's portraits of the 1980s downtown demi-monde in a show called NYC c. 1985. Works by Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus's daughter Amy will also be on view.

Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm

Also on my bedside table is this new collections of essays by Janet Malcolm. 

In all probability I'll skim this one, picking out the names that interest me but with Artforum's editor Ingrid Sischy, the German photographer Thomas Struth (who generously granted me permission to use one of his stunning black and white studies of 1970s SoHo in Art on the Block) and – yet again – artist David Salle in her table of contents, it should be worth the purchase price.

Art on the Block's chapter "Decade of Decadence" considers the work of all of these artists, the dealers who vied to market their talents and the places they frequented as SoHo became a fusion of art, money, fashion and power.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Third Great Show and a Second Great Tour

For readers anxious to experience in the flesh as much of what I write about in Art on the Block before the book launches on September 17, a third exciting exhibition is about to open in New York.

From May 9 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, British-born curator Andrew Bolton's "Punk: Chaos to Couture" will explore the evolution of the Punk movement of the mid- to late-1970s and its effects – not just on music, but on fashion, art and attitude.

I recommend the exhibition less for its promise of showing the output of visual artists of the era (this is a Costume Institute affair) but more for capturing the zeitgeist, or spirit, of those turbulent times. The Punk backdrop is very much a part of the broader sociological context in my sections "The Roots of Restlessness", "East of Eden" and "The East Village Scene". Richard Hell, the Ramones, the New York Dolls, Debbie Harry of Blondie and Anya Phillips (below) are all featured in the book as they made and changed history at downtown clubs like CBGB.

For those of you who missed it, there were two, different takes on the upcoming show in the New York Times over the weekend – one from Jon Caramanica and the other from Melena Ryzik. Both help flesh out the origins of Punk and give it context beyond its British origins and garage band music roots:

Don't forget to add the New Museum's 1993 exhibit and MoMA's Claes Oldenburg's The Store and The Street to your itineraries. Details of those two exhibitions are posted below in earlier blogs.

And from Artview –

Due to overwhelming demand, (Artview likes to keep things big enough for a group dynamic but small enough for discussion), a second date has been opened up for the 'SoHo of the 70's' tour.
Wednesday, May 15 is now fully subscribed but we will repeat the tour the following day.

If you would like to join us from 11am until 1pm on Thursday, May 16 for a return to the cradle of the New York contemporary art scene, please connect with Lacy Doyle at or register at the link below: