Recently, I publicly lamented my inability to navigate current exhibits in the Chelsea Gallery District. With the added precautions needed when going out during the Covid Life, and the fact that my former gallery-hopping companion has relocated to the west coast, I am too distracted and overwhelmed with minutiae to research which new exhibits will appeal to my unique visual aesthetic. It is cause for great joy then that I have discovered New York Gallery Tours — which does the hard work of figuring out where to go for you! Founded in 2002 by Rafael Risemberg — a former college professor with a Ph.D. in arts education — New York Gallery Tours hosts meticulously-curated two-hour adventures in Contemporary Art featuring the very best of what’s happening at the Chelsea Galleries (and other arts neighborhoods as well). Tour groups are kept super small (one to five people) so that there’s room to socially distance and more time for Rafael to explain the art, and encourage lively conversation. On a recent Saturday afternoon, my art-loving neighbors Leslie and Kat and I met up for a tour with Rafael, and we were able to hit up nine different galleries across ten blocks, because that is how we roll.
Do you enjoy looking at the paintings of contemporary pop artist Mark Kostabi? I sure do. There are a few reasons why I never miss an opening reception for an exhibit of Mark’s work: not only is there a ton of great art to look at and talk about with other cool, art-loving people, but it is always a good party and a chance to, as it is sometimes referred to in the vernacular, “make the scene.” And I enjoy making the scene.
Although he painted in both realist and abstract styles during his career, Dutch painter Piet Mondrian is best known for his grid paintings of vertical and horizontal black lines with the three primary colors. Composition in Oval With Color Planes I (1914) follows a grid pattern but is somewhat unique in that Mondrian used a pastel color palette.
According to experts, “the geometry of this composition, made two years after Mondrian moved from Holland to Paris, is directly based on sketches of partially demolished buildings, with exposed floors, chimneys and patches of wallpaper. Mondrian believed that horizontal and vertical lines, such as those he used here, expressed an underlying, universal order.”
This piece was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection in 1950.
Jim Joe (real name and identity unknown) is a NYC tagger/street artist who writes his name, and an occasional saying, on buildings around the various NYC boroughs and, The Hole Gallery would have us believe, apparently wants to be taken seriously as an artist. OK, whatever. I like to keep an open mind about what constitutes “Art” in a contemporary sense, but this exhibit takes even the James Franco School of The Emperors New Clothes Phenomena to a new level of bullshit.
Opening on New Year’s Day, 2014 and running through the month of January, the January 2014 show will expand daily as The Hole adds to the exhibit each day with new works by Jim Joe. We dropped in on Saturday, January 4th to find the works you see in this post on display and constituting the exhibit in its entirety to-date. Yawn City.
There were two other pieces that I declined to photograph: one that looked like a sheet of newsprint and a black, half-loop-squiggle spray-painted directly onto the gallery wall. Trust me, you’re not missing anything.
I found this little Santa Claus plush toy discarded in one corner of the gallery floor. It is unclear whether this is meant to be part of January 2104, perhaps as a found object commentary on the Commercialism of the Holiday Season. Who Knows.
We do have more than three full weeks left in the month of January, so this exhibit could take a turn for the better, say, in the next week or so. But from what I saw not it’s not worth the bother of checking out unless you want to see for yourself how much of a joke it is. Or, you could also see Adam Green & Friends Hot Chicks group show, which runs concurrently in The Hole’s rear gallery.
It’s crap like this that gives Contemporary Art a bad name. Color me not impressed.
Fans of Japanese Anime, Manga and the Superflat school of Pop Art founded by Takashi Murakami won’t want to miss Jessica Lichtenstein’s latest collection, Afterglow, on exhibit now at Gallery nine5 in Soho. Afterglow is the third solo exhibit by the artist at the gallery.
It’s worth noting that when I first saw photos of Jessica’s work, I assumed I was looking at Asian Landscapes depicting flowering trees. But it only took a cursory look once we were in the gallery to notice that the abundant “blossoms” clustered around the tree branches are actually tiny naked ladies!
Known for her large acrylic word sculptures that serve as a playground for frolicking female figures, Lichtenstein juxtaposes these works with new sculptures that present a contemplative environment for her signature, lascivious heroines. While still examining facets of femininity and fetishism, Afterglow offers an emotional lens through which to examine relationships. According to the show’s press release, the current exhibit at nine5, “manifests sexuality in a delicate and sensitive way and thus invites the viewer to bask in the ‘afterglow’ of desire.” I would agree with that sentiment, as the show seems more sensual than sexual, and it is also full of humor and playfulness.
Afterglow features four circular sculptures of the Seasons series that are inspired by nature as a metaphor for the cycle of relationships – pink blossoms bursting from the trees in Spring, or the iced over world of Winter (both pictured above). These works also highlight the tension between the individual vs. the collective. Each girl is poised in a different position and is reacting to the environment, however together the figures unite in a singular image of a tree and its leaves, thus describing the collective strength of women regardless of differences in emotions and reactions.
Alongside the Seasons are Lichtenstein’s word sculptures, which, again in text taken from the Press Release, “toy with the pornographic world of Japanese-inspired comic books. Creating her own imagined fantastical landscapes infused with a highly sexualized environment, Lichtenstein places appropriated heroines in scenes that are reminiscent of Renoir’s, Cezanne’s or Picasso’s “nude bathers”; scenes that harken back to a time of “female as muse.” The works, layered behind a thick buffer of acrylic, take a critical distance from their own content and in fact, beg the viewer to do the same.
Through this intermediary, the viewer is asked to engage with and question whether Lichtenstein’s characters are depicted solely to satisfy an insatiable male-dominated gaze, or if such a theory is too narrow, neglecting to address the complex nature of women and their agency in terms of sexuality and desirability. To me, it seems much less complicated. I just think her artwork is lovely and fun.
Ultimately, you can interpret Jessica Lichtenstein’s works as having a deep socio-sexual resonance, or you can appreciate them as gorgeous, lighthearted and colorful works of Contemporary / Pop Art that also challenge you to think while you look at them.
Afterglow by Jessica Lichtenstein will be on Exhibit through December 15, 2013 at Gallery nine5, Located at 24 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012.
It’s been a decade since the art of Jeff Koons – one of the contemporary art world’s wealthiest, most celebrated and undeniably wildly polarizing figures – has been the focus of a solo exhibit here in Manhattan. This week, he has two: a series of new works at David Zwirner and a retrospective (opening this evening) at the Gagosian Gallery.
The David Zwirner Gallery-hosted Gazing Ball opened last night and, even though the doors opened exactly one hour behind schedule, it was well worth waiting for.
For Gazing Ball, Koons has filled two conjoined spaces of the Gallery (located at adjacent addresses) with more than a dozen Las Vegas-style reproductions of ancient Roman statuary, each adorned with a strategically placed, royal blue stainless steel sphere flaunting the mirror-finish surface that has become so identifiable with Koons’ sculptures.
In each piece, the juxtaposition between the classic and the kitsch, to me, is conceptually fantastic and very visually appealing. But of course there are fans and then there are people live to talk smack about Jeff Koons, which I find puzzling.
It’s been said in Other reviews, and I tend to agree, that people who dump on Jeff Koons’ art must be suffering from some kind of misplaced envy or inferiority complex. If you don’t like Jeff Koons, and no one says you must, you are free to stay away from his art shows, but don’t come to a Koons’ exhibit and talk loudly about how much the art sucks, because it just makes you look pathetic and desperate to seem cool.
Jeff Koons’ Gazing Ball will be on exhibit through June 29th, 2013 at David Zwirner, Located at 525 West 19th Street, In the Chelsea Gallery District. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 AM – 6:00 PM.