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Marina Abramović, Portrait with Scorpion (Open Eyes), 2005 (detail)

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Art in New York
March 8-21, 2006

Always a central player in the contemporary art scene, New York City outdoes itself this week with a doubleheader — the Armory Show and the Whitney Biennial. Covering both bases in this issue, we anticipate the highlights of the Armory, and get the Biennial backstory in an interview with co-curator Philippe Vergne. Celebrating other New York gems, we profile mixed-media artist Jeff Sonhouse, whose work is on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and examine the newly released tome on P.S.1's Greater New York exhibition. If you'll be in town, delve even deeper with additional arts coverage in this week's issue of flavorpill NYC. Of course, NYC isn't the only city hosting groundbreaking exhibitions, and we venture farther afield to review shows by a packrat sculptor from Japan, a cheeky Welshman, and a daydreaming Dutch duo.

  A dynamic new collaboration between Budweiser Select and Flavorpill, Select Flavor harnesses the talents of up-and-coming artists and designers to interpret Select — a premier hand-crafted beer — and its iconic crown through original artwork. Expect a new kind of creativity. Expect everything.

Picasso Stolen During Rio's Carnival
(Sunday Times, February 26)
Four grenade-wielding gunmen took advantage of Rio de Janeiro's carnival crowds to make off with four paintings that have a combined estimated value of $50 million. As revelers danced to a samba band playing outside the Chácara do Céu museum, the thieves managed to abscond with works by Picasso, Dalí, Matisse, and Monet. Picasso's The Dance was damaged when a guard tried to wrestle it from one of the thieves. Days later, the stolen Matisse painting turned up for sale on a Russian website.

Judd Sculptures up for Auction
(New York Times, February 27)
Thirty-five sculptures by Donald Judd will be auctioned at Christie's in New York on May 9 in the hopes of raising $20 million to support the artist's permanent installations in New York and Marfa, Texas. The decision has spurred divisions within the Judd Foundation, and director and lifetime trustee Marianne Stockebrand recently resigned over the sale. Stockebrand, who remains director of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, wanted the works sold one at a time and carefully placed in collections.

Building a Newer New Orleans
(Spiegel, February 24)
A new exhibition at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam displays a number of inspired proposals by Dutch and American architects for rebuilding the Katrina-ravaged Crescent City. Among the submissions, Pritzker Prize-winner Thom Mayne contributed a design for New Orleans' city center, MVRDV created a futuristic school, and West 8 rethought the devastated City Park. The show will travel to American cities later in the year.

Tate Triennial Kicks Off
(Guardian, February 26)
Panned before the first crowds had a chance to see what's on view, the Tate Triennial is raising critics' ire and the public's curiosity. Included in the exhibition are sculptors Rebecca Warren and Eva Rothschild, former porn model Cosey Fanni Tutti, filmmaking collective the Otolith Group, and architect/performance artist Pablo Bronstein.

Rawsthorn leaves Design Museum » more

Sydney preps for 2006 Biennale » more

Legendary Paul Rudolph school to be demolished » more

Documenta 12 artists announced » more

British town commissions text-message sculpture » more

Party at the Milwaukee Art Museum descends into debauchery » more

Incoming Corcoran director sacks chief curator and four others » more

Kimmel Center sues architect Rafael Viñoly » more

Damien Hirst's Mexico City opening draws hundreds » more

Boy gums up priceless painting » more

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ The Armory Show ]


Richard Jackson / Tim Davis / Lisa Sanditz / Delphine Courtillot

As winter fades, the art world decamps to the Hudson River piers for New York's eighth annual Armory Show. This incarnation of the fair is especially diverse, featuring work from 2,000 artists represented by 162 galleries and editions dealers hailing from 38 cities around the world. Special features include Michael Joo and Richard Jackson's sculptures in the lobbies of the two piers and site-specific works such as a 65-foot mural by Brazilian identical twins Os Gemeos, Wolfgang Staehle's real-time, environmental video projection in Pier 92's cafeteria, and a massive chalk-and-slate drawing by Gary Simmons.

French, Austrian, and German galleries are well represented, as are the Brits. Emmanuel Perrotin offers a mini-retrospective of abstract painter Bernard Frize, and fellow Paris gallery Praz-Delavallade mixes old-school postmodernists Jim Shaw and John Miller with young Israeli photographer Adi Nes, whose staged scenes depict contemporary characters in classical poses. Vienna's Georg Kargl presents Chris Johanson's colorful paintings and drawings while Cologne's Michael Janssen goes goth with Christoph Steinmeyer's new black-and-white paintings. London's Approach brings collages by John Stezaker, whose surreal work is currently on view in the Tate Triennial and in a solo show at White Columns in New York.

Looking to the South and East: Milan's galleria francesca kaufmann presents Albanian artist Adrian Paci's recent monologic video work, Klodi, while the Breeder from Athens debuts large-scale drawings from Greek artist Jannis Varelas. Mexico City's kurimanzutto exhibits Gabriel Kuri's multimedia sculptures; Julian Opie's neo-pop silkscreen works can be glimpsed at Tokyo's SCAI the Bathhouse; and Sidney's Roslyn Oxley9 brings super-slick figurative sculptures by New Zealander Michael Parekowhai.

The American galleries, as always, are formidable participants. Chicago's Kavi Gupta displays Angelina Gualdoni's architectural fantasies, and Blum & Poe of Los Angeles features hot new kid on the block Matt Johnson. New York's Lehmann Maupin focuses on Ashley Bickerton's mixed-media assemblages; Yi Chen's twisted figure paintings appear at Marianne Boesky; Jack Tilton continues the gallery's recent presentation of artists still in school; and Leo Koenig offers three rotating shows of his star players: Erik Parker, Torben Giehler, and Greg Bogin.

Afterward, if you're still standing, check out some of the other art fairs in town: Scope showcases global emerging art. DiVA labels itself the first fair devoted to video and digital art; Pulse bridges the gap between established and dissident fairs; and LA Art is the joint effort of 16 Los Angeles galleries. (SK)

The Armory Show is located at Piers 90 and 92, Twelfth Avenue at 50th and 52nd Streets, March 10-13. Scope New York takes place at 636 Eleventh Avenue, March 10-13; DiVA is presented in the Embassy Suites Hotel at 102 North End Avenue, March 9-12; Pulse runs March 10-13 at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue and 26th Street; and LA Art takes place at the Altman Building at 135 West 18th Street, March 10-12.

To find out more about some of the alternative fairs, check out this week's issue of flavorpill NYC.

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Teppei Kaneuji: Splash and Flake

Kodama Gallery
Now through March 25

  For his new exhibition at Kodama Gallery, Teppei Kaneuji uses driftwood, found objects, and coffee to create alien cosmologies that explore the dynamic properties of liquids and materials. The show's title piece, Splash and Flake, sits like an overgrown nest on a sturdy wooden table, while dozens of tiny mirrors, magnifying glasses, and even binoculars planted within the assemblage exert a visual pull, sucking viewers into the artist's universe. Sea and Pus (Driftwood 3) is a beachcomber's ball of found toys, including the odd Frisbee, and Muddy Stream from a Mug #1 employs signature coffee-stain details. The talented Kaneuji also presents figurines, collages, and drawings that add to the show's funhouse effect. (AM)

Rancho Cucamonga

Wignall Museum at Chaffey College
Now through March 18

  Roland Barthes described plastic as "a spectacle to be deciphered," a substance that "gives man the measure of his power." Works in the astutely curated technocraft embody the transformative qualities of plastic and other synthetic materials while also emphasizing handmade processes. Shirley Tse's blocks of polystyrene rappel from fishing wire; Eduardo Abaroa's sliced drinking straws form a honeycomb-like growth; Jason Rogenes' fluorescent-lit chandelier defies gravity; and Jane South models a motherboard-cum-architectural model with paper and balsa wood. These and other meticulously crafted contributions from Won Ju Lim, Stephen Hendee, and Amy Myers — molded to plastic perfection — are proof that life in the age of mechanical reproduction has its handmade advantages. (ML)

Holiday Home: Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos

Institute of Contemporary Art
Now through March 26

  Holiday Home, a representation of the archetypal vacation home created by architects Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos of UN Studio, is part of ICA's Architecture + Design series. What separates this house from others, however, are the geometric transformations to which it was subjected by the architects — the result is a one-room, polygonal structure. Museum visitors can enter after removing their shoes, and inside it's easy to miss projections of video captured by external cameras, created by Imaginary Forces. The visual effect created by the angles of the house is so overwhelming that it's hard to resist crawling all over the construction — the unfamiliar architectural forms beg to be explored. (KG)

James Rielly: Nipples

Galería Distrito Cu4tro
Now through March 9

  Newspaper cuttings and tabloid tear-outs provide inspiration for James Rielly, whose equivocally emotive drawings display the quiet traces of neglected youth. Nipples, a series of 15 paintings created for Galería Distrito Cu4tro, reveals ghostly shapes and faceless forms that recall the naive ambiguity of Luc Tuymans, an artist with whom Rielly is often compared. Rielly's sugar-coated paintings often depict masked characters, hinting at paranoia. Beneath the images lurks a wry, implicating wit: perhaps such associations stem from the viewer's own perverse imagination and not that of the artist. (HV)

Catherine Sullivan: The Chittendens

Galerie Catherine Bastide
Now through March 11

  Catherine Sullivan's massive six-channel projection The Chittendens investigates the limits of theatrical represenation by replacing the dramatist's arc with the conceptualist's grid. Shot primarily in black-and-white and color and set in an abandoned office building and a small lighthouse, the film relies on numerical patterns to determine actors' personas, reducing human interaction to a catalog of visual signifiers. Through repetition, formulaic poses turn into character traits and even personalities, and the performers become hollow bodies, barely more than instruments in a score. Wearing an odd assortment of period costumes, their contemporary identities disappear, resulting in the unlikely scenario of 12 people in culottes sequentially striking the "thinking man" position. (JG)

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[ Jeff Sonhouse ]

Jeff Sonhouse

Only a few years past his MFA, Jeff Sonhouse sears our retinas with haunting, seductive images of model-handsome men in flashy suits on backlit stages — transforming his subjects into what both Shakespeare and the hustler would call "players."

Sonhouse transposes a quintessentially modernist photography concern — type classification — into richly embellished pictures that are as deeply layered with art history as they are with quotidian-turned-decorative objects. These added elements convert his two-dimensional images into semi-sculptural combines: fabric patterns over faces, jewelry made of charcoal briquettes, and afros made from steel wool or matches that Sonhouse sometimes ignites — putting his men through a purifying trial by fire.

Walking a conceptual path that pit stops at Bearden and Paschke, Sonhouse's work sits most comfortably next to Warhol in its aesthetic treatment, making Technicolor superstars of anonymous protagonists. Yet Sonhouse turns Warhol's technique on its mechanical head by hand crafting labor-intensive pictures of people whose faces and necks are ornately masked. The men's staring eyes create the most startling instances of subject-viewer interaction since Olympia gazed directly at us in all her naked shamelessness.

Sonhouse delves into issues surrounding the contentious representation of black men while showing a concern for both the portraiture tradition and pictorial spatial relations. If his latest work is any indicator, Sonhouse will continue to challenge both the way portraiture presents its subjects and the way we see them. (NB)

Jeff Sonhouse's work is on view in Frequency at the Studio Museum in Harlem through March 12.

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[ Philippe Vergne ]


Billy Sullivan / Critical Art Ensemble / Hanna Liden / Tony Oursler and Dan Graham

Paul Laster interviews Philippe Vergne, deputy director and chief curator of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and co-curator (with Chrissie Iles, the Whitney's Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Curator) of the Whitney Biennial 2006: Day for Night, about the recently opened exhibition.

AK: Day for Night tests the boundaries of nationalism by including international artists that live here part-time such as Urs Fischer and Florian Maier-Aichen; American expats, such as Dorothy Iannone and Cameron Jamie; and artists who have no American association other than content, such as Francesco Vezzoli. What was your reason for expanding the umbrella of inclusion?

PV: There are several reasons. First, most of the non-American artists involved have a relationship to the US. Either they live here or their work was produced here. Second, nowadays it is impossible to remain nationally bounded. As America seems more and more isolationist, we thought it would be good to open the conversation. Nationality is not and should never be an aesthetic category. Culture is like a gene pool: the more diverse, the better.

AK: Art fairs now function as surveys of contemporary art, and biennials and triennials are commonplace. How did you approach the task of encapsulating this moment?

PV: What always occupies us as curators is how to make sense of the present in a way that might hold some historical relevance. We think about aesthetics, about history, and how to make a link between artists and the audience. The market is one thing, and an exhibition is a different thing. The goals are different, not necessarily opposite, but different. The market did not even enter our thinking process. Just look at how the Art Basel fairs mimic the way cultural institutions function: parallel exhibitions, symposia, etc. Our concerns are different. Our goal was to make an exhibition. It was to understand a moment and make an aesthetic conversation — not to compare ourselves with or measure ourselves against something else.

AK: You certainly don't shy away from politics. Mark di Suvero and Rirkrit Tiravanija's Peace Tower — one of the first works we see when entering the museum — includes nearly 200 artists making antiwar statements; the Wrong Gallery's Down by Law installation presents 54 artworks, from Andres Serrano's Piss Christ to Andy Warhol's Birmingham Race Riot, which explore the myth of the American outlaw; and you display an iconic figurative work by Richard Serra that depicts a hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner with the slogan "STOP BUSH." What was your motivation for weaving these issues into the exhibition?

keep reading the interview »

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  Greater New York 2005
Alanna Heiss, Klaus Biesenbach, and Glenn D. Lowry
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

Summarizing a survey show of 160 artists that kicked off last year during the Armory Show weekend, this massive book offers a smart look at a range of work in all media that was made by young artists living in and around New York between 2000 and 2005. Beautifully illustrated with double-page spreads of the individual artists' works and installation views of the galleries, it includes essays by P.S.1 and MoMA curators and freelance writers, as well as a text about the process of organizing the exhibition. Seasoned artists such as Sue de Beer, Christian Jankowski, and Phil Frost intermingle with new talents such as Tamy Ben-Tor, Justin Faunce, Jamie Isenstein, and Mika Rottenberg, adding up to a delectable read. (PL)

WPS1 Art Radio broadcasts live from the Armory Show March 9-11, and P.S.1 offers gallery tours led by several Greater New York 2005 artists March 11-12.

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Cover Art
Marina Abramović
Portrait with Scorpion (Open Eyes), 2005
Silver gelatin print
49 1/4 x 57 in./125 x 145 cm
Courtesy Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Geneva
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Bryony Roberts
Andrew Maerkle
Greg Zinman
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Marlyne Sahakian

Naomi Beckwith
Justin Conner
Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Annette Ferrara
Leigh Goldstein
Katherine Gunderson
Sarah Kessler
Jessica Kraft
Catherine Krudy
Katie Kurtz
Melissa Lo
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Shiraz Randeria
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Hannah Vaughan
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney
Jules Gaffney

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

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