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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hit and Miss on 57th Street

Sometimes I can be a real dolt. (No, that’s not intended as an opportunity for the chorus to shout out an “Uh-huh!”) Like today, for instance.

I decided to take the time, finally, to slip out during lunch to see the Adolph Gottlieb Pictograph show at Pace Wildenstein. When Pace does a historical exhibition (think last year’s outstanding Mark Rothko: A Painter’s Progress, The Year 1949), it’s worth making time to see it.

Well, I trucked up Fifth Avenue, made the turn onto 57th, jumped into the elevator at the building, and took my notebook out of my coat pocket so I would be ready to go when the doors opened. Wasn’t I surprised, then, when I was greeted by an empty gallery on the second floor. The show closed last week. D’oh.

The trip wasn’t a loss, though. I rode up to Pace Prints on the third floor where I saw a couple new editions they have available.

James Siena is out with a delightful group of four small wood engravings in an edition of 60. (One of the pieces from the series is at the left.) They exhibit his visual language well, and the wood engraving process gives these very intimate pieces a nice presence and surface that his other prints don’t always have. If I were in the market for prints right now, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick these up. Priced at $600 each or $2000 for the set of four, they are a bargain that won’t last too long, I’m guessing.

I also got a look at Tara Donovan’s recent group of etchings. Larger (and more expensive) than Siena’s recent edition, these prints made an impression on me as well. Done in an edition of 23, these five pieces are available individually or as a group. This set wouldn’t be a bad buy either.

Neither series is either artist’s very best work, but both are situated in a favorable position on the price/quality curve. If you’re a Wall Street biggie, have year-end bonus money burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to begin collecting art, this might be a good place to start. If you can’t afford a historically important Gottlieb, that is.

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