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Monday, February 28, 2005

Change Is Good

There have been some major changes around From the Floor's home base in the last week.

Since life as I know it is being upended anyway, I decided to make a change on the blog front as well. I've moved the blog email account over to Gmail. The new address is listed at the right. Feel free to use it, unless you're writing from Senegal or Nigeria with an opportunity for me to make an easy couple million by helping you move a large sum of money out of your country.

I've also got a number of Gmail invites to give away if any readers want them. Ask, and you shall receive.

Greater New York Lineup, Not So Secret Anymore

So MoMA and P.S.1 are still officially being coy about the lineup for Greater New York, scheduled to open on March 13. Obviously, though, there's been some strategic leaking of the show's checklist.

This week's New York Magazine contains a short feature on ten artists included in the show who are, according to the title of the piece, "on the verge of a breakthrough." Funny. I thought most of them already had done their breaking through.

And because it wouldn't be New York if it didn't tell you where people cooler than you are hanging out, the same issue also lets the hoi polloi in on where all these hip young artists are living, working, and drinking.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Perfect Viewing Location for The Gates

On this snowy, overcast day, I just happened to find the perfect location for viewing The Gates: Mount Sinai Hospital.

The upside: located at 99th St. and Fifth Avenue, across the street from Central Park, the second-story windows of the labor and delivery floor are just high enough off the ground to give an impressive view of The Gates as it sweeps around the North Meadow. A quick walk across the street puts you in the middle of a nice section of the piece (photo at right).

The downside: the price for a day-long view here is twenty-one years of worry and the cost of a college education.

No posting for the rest of the week as I get acquainted with the six pound, thirteen ounce ticket that got me in the door there late last night.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Eating Crow over Glitter

Last week I took a gratuitous poke at glue-n-glitter. The crack was made in the act of skewering Artforum's Scene & Herd. Based on what I've seen there this week, I don't feel at all bad about the broader intent of that post. But I do have to retract what I said about glitter.

A couple days after the post went up I made a realization that caused my heart to skip a beat. I own glitter.

Really. A favorite piece in my small collection has glitter as a material. It's not in-your-face shiny like other things I've seen. But still, there is glitter there. Making that realization, though, wasn't all. I felt doubly bad about the crack last Saturday when I stopped by DCKT Contemporary to see their current show, several pieces by Kim Krans. I liked the work overall, and (you guessed it) there's glitter there too.

So with that, I officially withdraw the glue-n-glitter crack. Glitter, I have to admit, isn't all bad. That's my new position on the issue, and I'm going to stick with it--even if Artforum does agree with me.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Somerville Gates

Hoping to cash in on the recent boom in art tourism, a Massachusetts town has just installed its own version of New York's Christo cash cow: The Somerville Gates.

Chelsea Picks II

“Dating Data” at Josée Bienvenu. One of the most interesting group shows to be mounted this year, “Dating Data” presents works on paper by 18 artists who struggle to turn data into information. Including pieces by Mark Lombardi, Danica Phelps, Beth Campbell (detail from gallery website at right), and Type A, this exhibition presents interesting takes on what is probably the major, yet most unquestioned, task that humans perform in their daily lives today.

Nicholas Di Genova at Fredericks Freiser Gallery. Simultaneously graphic, surreal, and narrative, Di Genova’s drawings on multiple layers of Mylar merge the mythological Minotaur with the World War I Canadian battleship HMS Minotaur to create threatening battle robot figures that appear to have unique personalities. The complexity of these pieces should repay multiple viewings over time.

Günter Brus, “Dirty Embellishments” at Mike Weiss Gallery. So much of what gets shown in Chelsea has a slightly provisional feel, as if the artists are testing new ideas. This exhibition of works by the established Viennese Actionist displays none of that tentativeness. These performance photographs and drawings show a strength of conviction and maturity of practice that are more typically seen in major museum retrospectives than in gallery environments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Daily Show on The Gates: Piles of Sheet

In what could be the best critical analysis of The Gates I've seen this week, The Daily Show's Senior Conceptual Art Correspondent Stephen Colbert claims that this project "may finally put New York on the cultural map." He goes on to explain why The Gates is a great work of art:
Because, like all great art, it challenges what we thought we knew about the world. For instance, I used to think that $21 million could be used to achieve something noble, like build a hospital. But The Gates has forced me to recontectualize my notion of what $21 million can be used for. In this case, to redecorate a bike path.
Link and quote courtesy of The Artful Manager.

The Gates, eBay, and the NY Times

Gosh, this piece from today's NY Times Metro section looks familiar. Really familiar. Photo-and-all familiar.

Chelsea Picks I

I spent a couple hours in Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. Today and tomorrow I'll highlight a few shows of note.

Rudolf Stingel at Paula Cooper Gallery. Stingel, in the spotlight recently for carpeting the floor of Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, has turned Cooper’s cavernous gallery space into a shrine to his dealer’s ego. Covering the gallery’s floor with white particle board, Stingel has enhanced the power of the pristine white cube and uses the space to display a 118 inch square painting of Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1984 glam shot of Cooper. (Installation view at right.)

Amy Morken, “what’s this? a viking song …” at Caren Golden Fine Art. I previewed this show a couple weeks ago, and I’m glad to say that the work looks even better framed and hung than it did in the back room. On view through February 19, the exhibition isn’t sold out yet. It should be.

Jeffrey Aaronson, “Transparencity” at Kashya Hildebrand Gallery. An intriguing combination of op art and street photography, Aaronson’s work uses the reflective surfaces of street-level windows and highly amped color to create an effective “wow” moment for viewers. The show is a good visual palette cleanser for a long day of looking at art.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bootleg Gates Gifts

What better way to say I [Heart] NY and I [Heart] You to that special someone on the day after Valentine's Day than with the gift of bootlegged material from the installation of The Gates?

Because it's New York, there are plenty of sellers. (This is the city, remember, where a couple decades ago people were ripping apart the Brooklyn Bridge and selling the pieces off as scrap metal.) And because its official policy is not to know the definition of "gray market," eBay is the place to buy.

For your shopping convenience, From the Floor has cherry picked some of the better items from the 100+ listings available. Related: Greg does the MBA thing to develop an independent estimate of the actual cost of the project. Satellite image of The Gates.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Once in a While, Nice Is Enough

Yesterday Mrs. FtF and I met a couple of friends from New Jersey at 72nd and Central Park West for a stroll through the park before brunch.

The afternoon was beautiful--one of those bright New York winter days with a low sun shining in a clear blue sky.

The park drives were closed to traffic, and the walkways were packed with people out to enjoy the day and see The Gates.

I haven't been enthusiastic about the project, and experiencing it didn't change my opinion. But, you know, it's not a bad thing.

The day was lovely, everyone was in a good mood, and New Yorkers and tourists alike were enjoying themselves. No matter what you say about the project, it makes people happy. It's nice that way.

And sometimes, especially on a gorgeous mid-February Sunday afternoon like yesterday, nice can be good enough for a few hours.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Which One Is It, Exactly?

Because he knows that if he can't convince them that it's art, the tourists won't come.

Related: New York Times piece. The City's official Gates site.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

This Week's Art News from New York

Scads of items covering New York visual arts events have popped up in print and around the blogosphere in the last few days. Here are links to several:

On an unrelated note, not to be outdone by its rival down the street, Bergdorf Goodman is also using contemporary art to hawk high-end fashion from its Fifth Avenue windows. Bergdorf has enlarged reproductions of works from the Whitney's current Cy Twombly show for use as backdrops for the mannequins. (Sorry, no camera with me today, so no photos. Update: A couple snapshots of the windows just showed up in my inbox.)

Unlike Saks, though, Bergdorf now knows enough to credit its source, which it fully does. Thanks, Greg.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Gigantic New York Public Art Installation Opens

The New York art work has been abuzz lately about a gigantic installation that's scheduled to open later this week. And no, in case you're wondering, I'm not talking about those gates things.

The Tim Hawkinson show, opening at the Whitney this Friday, includes his monumental Überorgan--a work so large that the Whitney couldn't display it in house. Instead, the work has taken over the public atrium at 590 Madison Ave. (between 56th and 57th Streets). Although the show isn't officially open yet, Überorgan (below) is already installed and functioning.

Designed for an exhibition at MASS MoCA in 2000, the piece has been well modified to take advantage of its current space. The work is accessible between 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM with daily soundings scheduled for 9:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 6:00 PM.

(Update: The performance schedule has been increased. For the time being, Überorgan will play every hour on the hour and at 12:30 PM. This schedule, though, may be adjusted again at a future point during the run.)

Related: Hawkinson on Überorgan at Art:21.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Giving the Kids Their Due, Finally

Sometimes I can be a little dim, but usually the light bulb will go on if I give it enough time. I had one of those moments of illumination today while chatting with a couple people about the most recent Artforum Diary. ("I wore the tight brown Citizen cords I've worn all season: As a chronic skirt-addict, I'm working on accepting myself in pants.")

Here's my breakthrough: With Scene & Herd, Artforum has given us a new way of writing for our post-millennium age, a content and stylistic package that mirrors current trends in artistic production. Scene & Herd (are you ready for this?) is intended to be the prose equivalent of the scattertrash installation and the glue-n-glitter painting! All sorts of random stuff (some of it shiny, some of it dirty) just kind of thrown together to see if it coheres or sticks. If it doesn't, no big deal. It's just process, man.

Props to the kids at Artforum for making the breakthrough, for blazing a daring trail into this uncharted area of arts journalism/criticism/society writing. Now that I get it, I can relax and enjoy it for what it is.

Or not.

Related (especially for Artforum's copy editors): "Using Colons and Semi-Colons."

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Michael Heizer Speaks, Art World Worries about His Sanity

Famously reclusive Michael Heizer only talks to media outlets with a certain circulation, but perhaps he should rethink that policy. If fewer people read what he has to say, fewer people will be tempted to write him off as a crackpot whose mind has been addled by too many years of desert sun and wind.

Earlier this year Heizer wouldn’t talk on the record to a journalist from the Las Vegas Mercury who was reporting on a railroad line being built on the outskirts of City. This reticence caused the tweaked writer to call him out on the issue. “Heizer and his team have been working on it for more than three decades, although they rarely talk about it (and NEVER with mere Nevada media.)”

Michael Kimmelman with his New York Times readership, though, was able to open Heizer up for a cover story in today’s Magazine. This is Kimmelman’s second major piece on Heizer and City (image of one section at right) in recent memory. An archived copy of his 1999 article is available here.

Today’s feature almost makes one wish that (for his own sake) Heizer would spurn all media. Here are a few of the more select Heizer quotes that made it into print. It doesn’t take a graduate degree in clinical psychology to see that this is a man whose dump truck is several cubic feet short of a full load.

Regarding his involvement in lobbying against the government’s decision to run the new Yucca Mountain railroad line next to his land: “You just don't get it, do you? This is a czarist nation, a fascist state. They control everything. They tap my phone. They'll do anything to stop me. We’re the front lines, man, fleas fighting a giant.” “I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent out a hit squad to kill me!”

On himself: “I thought I was eternal. I still do.” “I’m self-entertaining. My dialogue is with myself.”

On Double Negative: “It was a moment of genius and unprecedented.” It was “the most incredible sculpture I’ve ever seen or done. When I finished it I laughed. I knew I’d done it. There was no precedent in the history of mankind.”

On Robert Smithson: He “just copied my M.O., did a complete heavy borrowing, an identity theft.”

On the only American artists he’ll speak of positively, the monomaniacal sculptor of Mount Rushmore Gutzon Borglum and the Western artists Charles Russell and Frederic Remington: “I love these artists because they’re so precise and faithful.”

On what makes him nervous about New York: “You don’t control your own destiny in New York. It’s fine if you trust the system and agree to move along the street in an orderly fashion. But you can’t carry a weapon to protect yourself, even though it’s more dangerous there than here. I find it castrating.”

And, according to Kimmelman (not a direct quote attributed to Heizer), what Heizer promises to do to unauthorized visitors to City: they will be arrested for trespassing or shot at.

But don’t let a little threat of violence stop you. Nick Tarasen makes City’s exact location available on his Heizer fan site. Have a GPS receiver? It’s at 38°01'48" N, 115°26'10" W. That’s 156 miles from Las Vegas.

Related: Michael Kimmelman’s audio slide show accompanying the on-line version of today’s piece.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Swimming in Chemical Waters

The Art Newspaper is out this week with an interesting piece on conservation issues associated with the Damian Hirst shark, currently on its way to MoMA.

Formaldehyde, it turns out, isn't the optimal preservative for an object of this size. Hirst, supposedly, was aware of this but decided to use it anyway.

The article quotes a 1996 interview with the artist saying, “I did an interview about conservation and they told me formaldehyde is not a perfect form of preservation.... They actually thought I was using formaldehyde to preserve an artwork for posterity, when in reality I use it to communicate an idea.”

But what happens when an object proceeds so far down the path of decay that it is threatened with becoming pure idea? Compare the picture on the left (which I assume was taken over a decade ago) with the more recent picture on the right.

It will be quite interesting to see what MoMA's conservation department decides to do with the piece once they get their hands on it.

Also of note, The Art Newspaper names the purchaser of the piece--hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Flavin on Fifth Avenue

Ever wonder what happens to major museum retrospectives in the period between their closing at one venue and their opening at another? They go shopping, of course.

“Dan Flavin: A Retrospective” closed its run at the National Gallery in Washington on January 9. It’s scheduled to open at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on February 25. Although this exhibition isn’t formally scheduled to be shown in New York, right now Manhattanites are able to see highlights from the show (ahem!) at a prominent midtown venue.

No, I’m not talking about MoMA here. I’m talking about the windows at Saks where these snapshots were taken today.

Last year saw minimalism break out all over the museum scene. This year it’s breaking out as backdrop to the couture du jour.

Note to window designers: there's a difference between taking inspiration from a source and plagiarizing it. Guess on which side of the line this display falls.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

New York Subway Art, Identified

Sure, you know enough to look smart in front of your friends by telling them that those strange little people and big alligators living in the 8th Ave. - 14th St. subway station were made by a pretty well known artist named Tom Otterness. (Whether or not you want to critique the work with adjectives such as "cute" and "sell-out" is up to you.)

But what about those ambiguous but cool image and text mosaics at the Metropolitan Avenue station on the G line in Brooklyn? And what's up, anyway, with those wacky red frames strewn around the Union Square station?

The MTA has made it easy for you to become a bona fide subway art know-it-all.

They have a section on their website that documents and provides some pedagogical material on all art in the subways (as well as in other MTA venues). Some entries are better than others, but if you've ever wondered where Jacob Lawrence's posthumously realized mosaic depicting life in the New York City subway is, this site is worth exploring.

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