Lawrence van Hagen's Pop-Up & What to See in Chelsea

One of the most refreshing exhibitions in Chelsea right now is Whats Up New York the Pop Up three story show at 132 10th Avenue, curated by Lawrence van Hagen. Unfortunately I only learned of it a week before its upcoming closing on Thursday the 25th. Amazing stuff, with work shared between Americans and Europeans, most of the latter group unknown to me previously, but who made me glad to have come. For instance, the Larry Bell painting seen in the photo that includes van Hagen, is mirrored by two works by Martini Basher while the Daniel Turner reflects similarly paint slashes by Johnny Abrahams. There’s a really unusually configured Kenneth Noland and a super small John Chamberlain that appears to be in an argument with a crushed metal work by Ernesto Burgos. All in all, an exhibition worth visiting.

Another amazing show at Friedman Benda, a leading design gallery, combines cleanly carved work by Wendell Castle and wildly inventive furniture by Ron Arad, Humberto & Fernando Campana and a host of other designers that make a trip to this site fanciful fun. And at David Zwirner there is the never ending shock of the late conceptual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres with a huge room bordered by wrapped candies and two small electric clocks as the only display on the opposing wall. At Lisson Gallery paintings by the centenarian Carmen Herrara show work from the last six years and at Matthew Marks the last work by the late Ellsworth Kelly document that he was still engaged in his work until the end.

Saw lots of other not always so interesting shows, but did want to mention Charlie Ahearn at P-P-O-W. Ahearn combines film and wall art, documenting street culture and the rise of hip hop in New York City, with videos like Bongo Barbershop and Dancing industry. There’s life in these works and he makes the most of it creatively. Just one last scene – at Allan Stone Projects there is a one man show of James Havard that is quite amazing. Without describing it I suggest you pay a visit. Havard hasn’t been seen in quite a while and I wonder why now that I’ve seen this exhibition.

There’s a lot going on in Chelsea that you will never see at the big fairs.

Curator of  Whats Up New York , Lawrence van Hagen adjacent to a Larry Bell painting

Curator of Whats Up New York, Lawrence van Hagen adjacent to a Larry Bell painting

Review of "John Cage: The Sight of Silence" at the National Academy Museum

We’re in the art business so we are expected to visit museums and galleries on a regular basis. That’s a given. So we dutifully attend every new exhibition at the Met (there seems to be something opening there every week), MoMA, the Whitney, the Asia Society, the National Academy Museum – not so often the New York Historical Society, the Museum of Natural History or the Bible Museum (this is better than it sounds and has some first-rate shows), and perhaps I’ve overlooked…oh yes, the Neue Gallery on 86th Street. Remind me if I’ve left something really important out.

A few of the galleries have put on exhibitions that rival those found at museums, and not only the mega galleries, but some select small ones. But you have to look – seek and ye shall find. And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday when I went to see an all-woman artist exhibition at the National Academy. On walking down the stairs from the top I noticed a one-level show, not particularly well-publicized, of a rather extraordinary show of work by John Cage, “The Sight of Silence.” Years in advance of now avant-garde (does anyone besides me use that word anymore?) sound art and the general use of computer art, Cage practiced chance art based on a process that incorporated a set of predetermined rules and parameters. Earphones (not all working unfortunately) provided excerpts of Cage created music. The rolls of dice determined in which gallery a work would hang and on which wall they would hang, the exact location of the work on the wall and then the vertical or horizontal position of the work.

All right, you don’t understand what I am writing. I hardly do myself, but after listening at some length to Cage’s video explanation of how he created his paintings it was beginning to become clear. Frankly, I had always wondered. Hours afterwards I got a glimmer and then I thought about it that evening and finally – I got it. Real art is a constant learning process and do not let anyone tell you differently.

John Cage departed the scene in 1992, after 50 years of influencing the culture of this country, and perhaps the world, as the post-World War II influence on music. His most famous piece was probably 1952’s “4’33” in which a complete orchestra sits, holding instruments, and does nothing. The “music” is the sound of the environment. It dawns on me that might have influenced Andy Warhol’s extraordinarily boring endless films in which nothing happens except the day and night passing in silence. Cage limited his non-music to a bit over four minutes and it made sense. He wanted listeners to hear and be aware of “sounds.”

There is a current run on pretentious conceptual art that flings about stuff and calls it, with great seriousness, “The remembrance of my first day in nursery school and six leagues beond.” Or something like that. It is rather satisfying to enter the thinking processes of a creative intellectual who was neither stayed by jeers nor undone by praise. He was that rare avis, the man who thinks for himself.

December 2012 Review

What’s a weekend in New York’s art world like these days?

If we can start with Thursday evening by getting a head start on the three days, there was a panel presentation by Herrick Law Firm on Holocaust Restitution and its current status as regards collectors and museums. In my opinion, nothing new, but apparently the UN has decided that enough is enough as far as pursuing Holocaust claims. We’ll check on exact reading of the statute and report back.

Friday afternoon was spent with a former OTE appraiser who is now Curator of Feminist Art at the BrooklynMuseum where we saw the Mickalene Thomas exhibition of glittery evocations of the world of African-Americans, as well as the fantastical glass sculpture of Othoniel. For those with an eye for the intellectual in the art world there was an extraordinary exhibition of conceptual art from the collection of art critic Lucy Lippard, a show organized by Catherine Morris. We saw it in the company of the widow of the late Dennis Oppenheim, a major figure of this era and those following, giving us insights into the work from a very personal viewpoint. There is no question that the BrooklynMuseum is neglected by Manhattanites. Just get off the #6 train at Nevins and hop across the platform for a train that takes you directly to the site.

The following morning we met with about 30 members of ArtTable at the NewMuseum on the Bowery, where an exhibition of the Cosmos of Rosemarie Trockel, an important German artist, was laid out on three floors. Her myriad works in a great variety of media was clarified in a talk  by co-curator for the exhibition, Lynne Cooke, who had been with the DIA and is now Mellon Research Fellow at the National Gallery in D.C. What was most fascinating was that, included among the works on display, were those by other artists whose work has impacted on that of Trockel. We were particularly drawn to the miniature collaged books by Manuel Montalvo and the hand-wrapped wool pieces by Ousider artist Judith  Scott. We should at least mention the nicely mounted triptych by an the orangutan Tilda, a very serious practitioner with a paint brush.

Because of the location, we decided to do some exploring among the recently minted galleries on the Lower East Side and found Mickalene Thomas again at an offshoot of Lehman Maupin Gallery where all the paintings had been spoken for – small wonder.

Traveling without a compass on the streets of the area led us into any number of quite well done up galleries that echoed the interior spaces of smaller Chelsea galleries and should be taken seriously. Of course it had its derivative examples, but you can also find those in plenty in tonier neighborhoods, even as far as 57th Street and certainly in the 20s. But it’s certainly worth exploring. Just pick up “LesGalleriesNYC” or find it online, check your Google Map and pick a day when the winter wind isn’t having tantrums.

We managed to get in the new Matisse exhibition at the Met, along with the final days of Bernini, and an easily missed mini-exhibition in the African wing of early 20th century artists influenced by African sculpture. There’s always some wonderful shows at the Met that you have to stumble across because they are rarely advertised. We also made it to MOMA where 20th century Japanese artists are newly exhibited, and since we were there we had to peek in at “The Scream” which wasn’t drawing half as many onlookers as “Wintery Night” by van Gogh, a longtime favorite. The more I see “The Scream” in all its variations the more I wonder how it remains such an iconic image. I believe the reproductions, particularly when oversized, do more for the work than seeing it in the flesh, so to speak.

I think I’m missing another stop or two, but that’s all I can recall at the moment. It seems like a lot of art-going, but to be quite honest, I am feeling guilty on Monday morning because I didn’t get around some more. This is the season for the art-serious to be in Manhattan. In between museum and gallery shows the spectacle of commerce at its best – the displays in the windows and glittering on the buildings of the city – is itself a form of popular art.

VIEWPOINT: Conceptual Art

A pyramid of jumbled rags, a multi-colored wool bear sitting on a plastic sheet, a tumbled bed with dirty sheets. All conceptual art, all accepted as art in museums, galleries, private collections, international exhibitions.

The acceptance of the unexceptional subject has been with us so very long that, observing fly-like in a corner, one can note show-goers examine with solemn, even reverential eyes, the concept made manifest and physical. What do they know of its history?

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The above is an excerpt from an article by Elin Lake-Ewald, Ph.D, ASA, RICS.

To read the complete article please click here:

Viewpoint - Conceptual Art