beeswax, oil and human hair

Anyone interested in what rich folks spent in the fall Impressionist and Contemporary art auctions at Christie’s?

The pickings were slim this season. The theory is that the the U.S. election caused uncertainty among sellers. Nobody wanted to risk cosigning their most valuable pieces in a potentially disastrous economic downturn due to a Trump victory. The stock market has set records since the election so they all guessed wrong. Next spring you’ll see more compelling pieces.

Let’s start with my nemesis. This guy does more to give contemporary art a bad name than anyone else.

Robert Gorber
Untitled
beeswax, wood, oil and, yes, human hair
Est: $2,500,000-3,500,000
Did not sell

gober_butt

In order to be a successful, wealthy artist, you need proper gallery representation. There isn’t a gallery rep on earth who could convince me this has any artistic merit whatsoever.

Jean-Michael Basquiat
Untitled
acrylic and enamel on blanket mounted on tied wood supports with twine
Est: $5,000,000-7,000,000
Sold for $5,847,500

basquiat

Basquiat is another guy I don’t respect. He held the world in the palm of his hand and threw it away on an O.D. Idiot. I find most of his work overly-simplistic and sophomoric, but I like his use of a blanket instead of canvas. I like the textures. His balance of black and red are perfect. He could’ve gone too far in either direction but it works for me.

Are you ready to get creeped out? I walked into a darkened corner of a gallery on Christie’s second floor and was greeted by this beauty:

Isn’t she scrumptious? They’re three white orbs with images projected on each.

Tony Oursler
Woo
fiberglass sculpture, master cassette tapes, 2 DVDs, DVD player and projector
Est: $30,000-40,000
Did not sell

It’s a shame it didn’t sell. I think it’s a creative use of new media. My daughter turned away and couldn’t watch it.

Here’s the big ticket item. God, it was beautiful. It really glowed in person.

Claude Monet
Meule
Estimate on Request (thought to be +/- $45,000,000)
Sold for $81,447,500

monet

Works from Monet’s haystack series rarely come to market. And this is a particularly striking example. They’re as iconic as his water lily series. While typing this section of the post, I kept mistyping “Monet” as “Money.”

Back to the present.

Damien Hirst
Do You Know What I Like About You?
household gloss and butterflies on canvas
Est: $900,000-1,2000,000
Sold for $1,039,500

hirst1

When I first encountered these butterfly paintings I thought it was cruel to kill these beautiful living things for the sake of commerce and art.

hirst2

I still don’t approve but I’ve made peace with it.They’re pretty. He has some pieces with just the wings that are fashioned into cathedral windows that are particularly fetching.

Dan Colen
To be titled
rock and acrylic paint
Est: $7,000-9,000
Sold for $5,000

colen

A rock painted like a green peanut m&m for $5,000. Go ahead. Have your say.

This is a nice Picasso. Its weirdness is easy to decipher.  It’s just different views of the same face. Click on it and look at how thick, bright and juicy his brush strokes are. That’s Picasso’s girlfriend. “Look, honey! I painted a picture of you!” No cuddles that night.

Pablo Picasso
Buste de femme (Dora Maar)
Est: $18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $22,647,500

picasso

This guy is a favorite of my brother. I didn’t see the merit in Kandinsky’s work until a big retrospective at the Guggenheim a few years ago. I can’t explain it but you occasionally get these ah-ha moments whereby a body of work suddenly makes sense.

Wassily Kandinsky
Rigide et courbe
oil and sand on canvas
$18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $23,319,500

kandinsky1

You read that right. He used SAND. it gave the piece a beautiful depth and texture. I’m thinking he must’ve worked with the canvas resting on the floor. How else could’ve he achieved these fine separations?

kandinsky2

~~~~~~~~~~

I was in Disney World over the election. You barely knew anything political was happening. Disney works HARD to keep the outside world outside. They don’t want the happy bubble they’ve cultivated ruptured by reality.

On election day, we inadvertently found ourselves inside the Hall of Presidents. We hadn’t planned on going but we were inside the Magic Kingdom with time to kill and there was no line, so we went in.

One by one, the audio-animatronic ex-Chief Executives spoke of the gravity of the office and their love of our country. With the weight of election day pressing down, I found myself unexpectedly deeply moved by all this (as opposed to bored to sleep, which is what I anticipated). There were representations all the way up to President Obama. Think what you want about Obama, that guy is a hell of a speaker.

Do you realize they’re going to have to make an animatronic Donald Trump? His words and voice are going to pour from it. Can you imagine? I hope that guy surprises everyone. It can happen.

Wife Swap

When four people who have four different agendas spend five days in the pressure cooker known as Disney World, disagreements can, and will, arise. Don’t ask me how I know. Just take my word for it.

This is going to be my second wife. She’s a Muslim princess. She’s RICH. Her father owns a kingdom.

princess-j

~~~~~~~~~~

My office was closed on Veteran’s Day. So, like all good veterans, I went to the Guggenheim for the Agnes Martin retrospective. Her early work is super-boring but her later stuff is fine.

While there, I waited in line for :25 minutes to piss in Maurizio Cattelan’s America. The security guard assigned to crowd control told me that, at peak times, the wait can be as long as two hours.

america1

It’s an 18k solid gold, fully functioning, toilet. It’s said to be worth upwards of $11M. I guess it depends on the price of gold that day. That lid is very, very heavy.

america2They had some problems installing it because gold is such a soft metal. Hell, yes, I used it. You would’ve too. Something tells me these are being installed in the White House as we speak.

america3

~~~~~~~~~~

Another journal excerpt:

October 24, 1991

I saw the Warsaw Symphony at Carnegie Hall with Elvin last night. He works for a woman who’s a classic New York City overachiever. She has subscriptions all over town but can’t attend any of the shows because she works day and night, so she gives the tickets away. Wonderful seats. I love Carnegie Hall. The theater is nice and movies are just movies but walking into Carnegie Hall makes me feel like I finally did something right for once in my stupid life.

I took Maureen to “Breaking Legs,” a terrible play starring Philip Bosco and Vincent Gardenia. It was an insult to my Italian half. It had every negative Italian stereotype you can imagine and a stupid plot. They’d never produce a play with Stepin Fetchit and Mammy characters so why do they produce crap like this?

Maureen is really down in the dumps. It’s the first time she’s had a real job with real workplace pressures and office politics and it’s killing her. All she’s ever known is academia and artist colonies. Now she’s in publishing and it’s a shock to her delicate system. She’s got a suffocating workload and works for a woman who demeans her. I’ve seen this before. Some adapt to having their dreams crushed. Others leave town. I’d offer some platonic comfort but I’m afraid she’d run with it.

I just won tickets to see the Stray Cats at the Ritz on Halloween night.

My phone just rang and when I picked it up there was no one there. This has been happening a lot recently. I think I have a secret admirer. It’s like when you’re on the school playground and you like someone so you give them a good, hard shove.

Donna is ignoring my calls and messages. I wonder what I did this time?

~~~~~~~~~~

The Shroud of Turin

turin

The Waffle of Orlando

orlando

~~~~~~~~~~

Just look at this douchebag. Not only did he take two spots, he took the two next to the handicapped parking (the blue lines). That means he took the closest possible spots. And there were TONS of empty spaces not far away. I don’t know why I let this stuff bother me so much. Maybe I’m jealous because he drives a nicer car. I wish I could be more Zen. Humanity, you dirty slut.

parking

~~~~~~~~~~

Okay. I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going Muslim for my second wife. I’m definitely going Native American.

princess-p

Here, Pocahontas points the way to the best divorce attorney on the reservation.

princess-p2

It’s amazing that these girls played along with my foolishness and treated me with such good humor. Later that evening, my wife told me that 14-year old daughter came up to her and asked why she puts up with this stuff.

~~~~~~~~~~

peanuts

I know how he feels. At least he got a response.

Manhattan Predator

To almost everyone’s delight, peregrine falcons have settled in Manhattan. There are currently about half dozen pair. Falcons mate for life. They adapt to city life remarkably well. There’s shelter and an endless supply of rats and pigeons to eat. They should’ve moved in ages ago.

This guy occasionally perches on a beam outside my office. I took these from different angles to get varied, more interesting, backgrounds.

falcon1

I’m up on the 50th floor. It’s so high that mobile phone signals don’t reach us. We need repeaters installed in our ceiling. Helicopters fly by at eye level. No other city bird flies up this high. We never see pigeons or sparrows up here.

falcon3

Early in the summer it’s usually a mother and an eyasses. That’s a baby falcon. They’ll perch on opposite beams and screech at each other. By autumn they’re on their own.

falcon2

They are FAST. Peregrine falcons have been clocked at over 200 mph. I’ve only witnessed one departure. He spread his wings, dove off the beam and shot straight down towards the street like a bullet. He was gone in a blink.

I said ALMOST everyone is delighted. There are luxury apartments along Central Park on the Upper West Side that have tried to have falcon nests removed from their eaves—eyasses and all. Apparently, a dead rat or two can fall out and land at the entrance. To my complete delight, the tabloids laid into them as unfeeling, rich prigs so they backed off.

falcon4

~~~~~~~~~~

Currently at the Gladstone Gallery’s 21st street space is Ugo Rondinone’s the sun at 4pm. The literature gussies it up as ‘a visual link between nature and the human condition.’ Yeah, yeah. Whatever. What I see is a room full of vibrantly colored stone sculptures.

ugo1

What’s cool about it is you can weave between sculptures and get all kinds of playful angles and shades. The light pours in through a skylight and what you see depends on how the light hits them.

ugo2

The sculptures seem haphazardly strewn about the room but you can detect some order if you stand the right spots.

ugo3

I wish they had stuff like this back when I was still doing bong hits. Can you imagine this on hallucinogens?

ugo4

~~~~~~~~~~

Sticking with Gladstone, this time their 24th Street gallery, is Matthew Barney’s Facility of DECLINE. It’s a recreation of his 1991 career-launching New York debut exhibit. The exhibit contains film and sculpture and, quite honestly, I found it kind of boring. The fun piece is inside this walk-in cooler:

barny1

Barney, a hulking physical fitness nut, created this bench press. The structure had a translucent interior skeleton but it’s mostly made of petroleum jelly. It needs to be kept cool or it’ll melt.

barny2

Don’t tell anyone but I poked it a bit just to see how deep the vaseline layer is. It’s pretty impressive. Barney is perhaps best known as ex-husband of Björk, who seems to have suffered a severe emotional breakdown when he left. In Black Lake, from her 2015 release Vulnicura she “sings”:

I did it for love, I honored my feelings
You betrayed your own heart, corrupted that organ

Family was always our sacred mutual mission
Which you abandoned

You have nothing to give, your heart is hollow
I am drowned in sorrows

Jesus, baby, take it easy. It’ll be okay. On a press junket in 2000 for Dancer in the Dark, Björk claimed making the film was “…like signing on to war, going to the Vietnam War. I believed I might die.” She’s a little prone to histrionics, to say the least. Can you imagine being married to that?

~~~~~~~~~~

nazi1

Piotr Uklanski
The Nazis
Est. $500,000-700,000
Sold for $550,000

This is a giant work. It covered an entire wall. They’re stills from movies and television that show various actors portraying Nazis. It’s like Where’s Waldo for the Third Reich. I uploaded a high resolution pic so you can click on it and see how many actors you can identify. Can you spot the young Clint Eastwood? How about Werner Klemperer from Hogan’s Heros? It’s fun! Except the part about them being Nazis.

~~~~~~~~~~

kelly

Daughter hamming it up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in front of Ellsworth Kelly’s Spectrum V. My girls make me laugh.

Jerks ruin it for everyone

Two posts ago I riffed on the new internet kiosks dotting Manhattan. They provide free wifi and unfettered internet access. OF COURSE people took advantage.

daily-news

As that titan of New York journalism, the Daily News put it, pervs were using them to watch porn. The service has come to its foreseeable conclusion. The kiosks still radiate wifi signals but you can no longer surf the web.

~~~~~~~~~~

bins

June 2, 1993

Had brunch on Sunday with Klinger. His place on West 4th Street looks bigger since his live-in left and took everything with her. He still has the mirror that looks like the MasterCard logo.

We walked a couple blocks to Boxers and got a table outside to watch the parade of humanity. When I first got to NYC that place was called Jimmy Day’s. Sinatra used to drink there. It closed, was sanitized and now it’s Boxers. It’s charmless.

Klinger got into a shouting match with a homeless transvestite with blue fingernail polish. Ellen from work walked by and stopped to chat. I’m sure she thinks Klinger and I are gay. She said she’ll finish her summer internship and return to Stanford in the fall and some other stuff but I got bored and stopped listening. Klinger and I flirted with the waitress.

Klinger suggested I get some 8×10’s made and try to land some commercial work. He said my face is just bland enough for it. He said one toothpaste commercial that runs nationally and I’m set. He wrote out a working resume that was all lies. He listed classes I’ve never taken and work I’ve never done. I protested but he told me to stop being such a pussy. That everyone in the entertainment industry lies.

After Boxers, we stopped in El Coyote and sat at the bar. He had to work in a restaurant in a couple of hours and said he needed a margarita or he’d never make it. The barmaid was enamored with me for some reason. I didn’t do anything to encourage it. She’s from Yugoslavia. Her teeth and fingertips were yellow from chain smoking. She has straight, shiny, black hair, like a Japanese girl. I couldn’t understand a word she said through her thick, Eastern European accent. She had a pretty face but smelled like an ash tray that needed emptying. I told her I loved the background music so she popped the cassette out and gave it to me.

Klinger was supposed to start work at 4:00 but we didn’t leave El Coyote until 4:10. He’s going to lose that job, too. He doesn’t give a damn. He’ll get another. I wish I could be more like that.

I walked down Broadway and at Bond Street there was a Beatles cover band playing outside an art gallery. They were promoting a show of Beatles photographs. I went inside and was immediately accosted by a gallery rep who tried to sell me a photo for $500. As if. I wanted to shoot pool but I was broke so I went home.

~~~~~~~~~~

The fam and I saw this beauty at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Nari Ward
Iron Heavens
Oven pans, cotton and burned baseball bats

wilde

The oven pans reminded Ward of a starry night.

ward2

The bats ‘ground’ sky and earth. The cotton references the old South slave trade, but is also the material used for bandaging and healing.

ward3

Lots of messages and mixed meanings but, as is usually the case, this works for me primarily on a visual level.

You Only Live Twice: A 9/11 Story

True story.

15 years ago…

On September 10, 2001, I was working in the graphics department of an asset management firm located in midtown Manhattan. My graphics colleague from the Atlanta office, Jose, was in town for marketing and branding strategy meetings.

As he left the office that evening, he told me about his plans to visit the observation deck of the World Trade Center the next morning before coming to work. Jose was an architecture buff. He was thrilled at the opportunity to see Manhattan from such a rare perspective. The weather forecast was for bright, blue skies.

The next morning, at 8:46 a.m., the first plane flew into the North Tower.

At 9:03 a.m., the second plane hit the South Tower. The tower with the observation deck.

Our offices were on a high floor on 6th Avenue and 46th Street. The employees gathered in the main conference room, which had sweeping, unobstructed views of the southern tip of Manhattan. We watched in stunned silence as one tower fell. Then the other.

It would be up to our manager to contact Jose’s family in Atlanta to tell them of the tragic misfortune. He was a young guy. Really bright. And so happy to be visititing New York.

At 11:00, Jose walked into our office.

He had overslept.

The hotel maid had drawn the blackout blinds—something he never does himself, preferring to rise with the sun. When his alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. the room was dark. He was delirious from being woken from a sound sleep. He thought he’d set his alarm incorrectly and that it was still the middle of the night, so he went back to sleep.

While brushing his teeth and cursing himself for having missed the chance to visit the observation deck, a special bulletin came on the TV. He sat in his hotel room, transfixed to the TV, not realizing we all thought he’d perished.

I hadn’t spoken to Jose in many years. I reached out to him this past weekend just to confirm I didn’t imagine this happening. It’s all true. He left graphic design and now works designing medical devices at M.I.T.

~~~~~~~~~~

I saw Springsteen perform earlier this year and sent a couple concert pics to my pal, Sharon Florin, an artist who specializes in New York City architecture and is a yuge Springsteen fan. She was inspired and made two fetching oil paintings based on the photos. That’s my photo on the left and her interpretation on the right.

bruce2

I like the paintings better. The photos look too stark. Too ‘real’. I prefer the implied blur of the paint.

bruce1