Artiste or Old Letch?

A friend was visiting from California and we went for a Chelsea gallery hop. It’s a satisfying way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We stepped into the Mitchell-Innnes & Nash gallery on 26th Street and was blinded by this light.

Monica Bonvicini
Bent and Winded
LED light tubes, wire, steel

I like bright, shiny things and these light tubes had some interesting angles.

A girl walked into the gallery. As she circled the installation I was struck by the contrast of soft human form against cold mechanical edge. I asked permission to take some pics and she said it was okay. She looks like part of the installation.

I loved how these came out. I thought they had genuine artistic merit and shared them with some friends. What I *didn’t* count on was some of the reactions I got. They accused me of being a base old letch.

One guy called me a “perv.” Another one said it was a pro move. What does that even mean? My intentions were honorable and above-board. It’s not like I asked for her name and number or invited her to join us. She really didn’t seem to mind. They spoiled the achievement.

The James Cohan gallery has a nice solo exhibit by Xu Zhen. I like this concept. Zhen is angry but I’m not sure who at or what he’s mad about. This is the only thing on a wall and it’s pretty stark. The shadows help.

Focus
Camera, aboriginal spear

Where did he get an aboriginal spear? You don’t just pick these things up in a flea market or pawn shop, do you? Can anyone from down under chime in here?

Also by Zhen is this thick, juicy piece. It’s a nice riot of color and texture but you can’t tell its construction until you’re up close.

Under Heaven
Oil on canvas, aluminum

This is a bouillabaisse of thick, juicy swirls and colors. The artist as a confectioner.

I wonder how many tubes of paint he used? It’s a fairly large piece.

The PACE Gallery is the Big Swinging Membrane in the neighborhood. These all-new works are by Julian Schnabel and is a return to form. From a safe distance it has the calm quality of an Impressionist canvas. They’re inspired by the roses growing in the cemetery near Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France,

Up close, the truth is revealed.

Rose Painting (Near Van Gogh’s Grave) III
Oil, plates and Bondo on wood

The nine pieces are constructed using broken plates, china, cups, saucers, etc. They’re affixed to wood with bondo and painted over. They’re about $1 million each and all but one has sold.

Schnable made a series of ‘broken plate’ pieces early in his career. I think I remember reading that not long after they sold (for a lot of dough) the plates started falling off. Art is supposed to last generations and those pieces didn’t even make it past a hyper-modern fad.

This is in the Whitney’s Fast Forward: Painting Through the 1980s exhibit. The image is from the cover of a mass market spy paperback and I love it.

Walter Robinson
Baron Sinister, 1986
Oil on a printed bedsheet

While enjoying this Bond-esque image, who should walk in front of me but a Whitney security guard. Or is that, in fact, Baron Sinister himself?

Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond.

Despair: Mine and Roy Lichtenstein’s

bins

December 20, 1991

I went to the Empire Diner on 10th and 22nd with Lucy for a holiday turkey dinner. Golly, she sure is pretty. We picked up her friend, Lynn, along the way who’s even prettier than Lucy. I was the meat in a hot, wealthy girl sandwich. Lynn is a self-described spoiled rich girl. Her parents have been divorced for a long time. Her father is an executive who confuses love with money. She knowingly manipulates him. She said all she has to do is turn on the tears and he’ll throw $500 at her.

Despite this, I found her charming and engaging with more self-awareness than most New Yorkers I meet. She’d never get involved with someone who wasn’t wealthy but I still thought she had a certain lack of pretense. She has a boyfriend in London but chases boys here in New York. Why not? She’s only 23, looks like, and is worth, a million bucks. Why settle down?

She asked me—a total stranger—what she could do to improve herself. I said read a book and she gave me a puzzled look. I didn’t understand until later but she was referring to cosmetic surgery. I think she was fishing for compliments or looking for me to validate the fact that her body and face are perfect and can’t be improved upon. They are and they can’t be.

She knew I was smitten and was toying with me. After dinner, while walking down 23rd street, she took my arm, told me her birthday was next week and playfully asked what I was going to buy for her. I asked what she wanted and she said, “Something expensive. Something from Chanel.” She’s like a living, breathing cliché. She’s a perfect physical specimen.

I got a surprise Christmas card in the mail this morning. The last time I heard from Sheila was back in October at the George Michael concert. We saw his “Cover to Cover” show at the Garden. He sang Fame better than Bowie. I liked Papa Was a Rolling Stone, too.

After the concert she turned to me, looked me dead in the eye and said, “What do you want?” Asked it twice and made it sound like an accusation. I sat there in stupid silence and felt foolish. There’s no answer because I don’t think she has anything to offer. I didn’t call her after that. I hate confrontation and will do pretty much anything to avoid it. Her Christmas card said to keep in touch. It was kind of upsetting, to tell you the truth.

Klinger and I saw Denis Leary’s “No Cure for Cancer” at the Actor’s Playhouse. I had comps. He and I are a couple of sad sacks. We have no idea what to do with our lives. He has a little more direction than I do, but not much more. I asked how his investor’s party went and he said it amounted to a cast party with some bums that wandered in off the street, but no investors. He didn’t ask me for money, thank God. I told him I had to work and couldn’t attend out of fear he’d ask me to a contribution. I let it slip that I went out that night and had to scramble to come up with a plausible lie to cover my tracks. It was a cold, rainy evening. Blue Christmas.

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Roy Lichtenstein
Despair
Est: $1,500,000-2,500,000
Sold for: $1,927,500

despair_lichtenstein

I didn’t see the arm and hand until quite some time after I stared at this. It wasn’t so obvious in person.

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chrysler2

 

Inner Torment

The Inner Torment of Vice President Mike Pence

Look what I stumbled across:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Isaiah 58:7-10

How about that, Pence? You good Christian soldier? You devotee of scriptures? You sinner but only say the word and your soul shall be healed?

Is that guy able to sleep at night? Or does he stare at the ceiling wondering how he got himself into such a mess?

My Inner Torment

One of my favorite Sunday afternoon traditions is reading the obituaries and wedding announcements in the New York Times. They offer a litany of extraordinary lives lived and the joining of couples with unsurpassed professional credentials. These achievements always make me feel subhuman which is, apparently, my comfort zone.

Although…the Vows folks usually have long pedigrees. Most of them were born on third base and only breed amongst themselves. So there’s that to consider. But I try not to let that spoil my self-pity festivál.

~~~~~~~~~~

New this month on your newsstand:

mags

This is a serious lack of originality. These are major publications. Don’t they collaborate? Couldn’t one claim the thumb/phallic motif one month and the others follow suit the following months? Fail.

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I took these with my iPhone 7 using the depth effect.

ww

It gently blurs the background, which makes the foregrounds pop.

harley

I took these at Kinokuniya Books on 6th Avenue @ 41st Street, across from Battery Park. It’s a brick-n-mortar bookstore (one of few left in NYC) that specializes in Japanese anime and cultural touchstones. These statuettes are in a glass case. They’re true works of art and not inexpensive. Many of them are based on characters from anime books and movies. The girls are highly sexualized bordering on pornographic. Lots of schoolgirl stuff. Japanese porn is odd. But not as odd as German porn.

~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. Sensitivity strikes again. I read these journal entries and can’t believe what a clown I was.

May 8, 1992

I called Kathie in Phoenix to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She was upset because Brad got into an auto accident. I guess he’s not seriously hurt—there are no broken bones or damaged organs—but his face got pretty cut up. Kathie said there are “hundreds” of stitches and they’re thinking of plastic surgery. Gross.

Brad has incredibly low self-esteem, despite being a successful attorney. That guy works for one of the most powerful law firms in Phoenix but he’s crushed by a massive inferiority complex. How can you have it both ways? Now that his face is all bashed to shit, he’s REALLY going to have some problems. He’s never said or done anything bad to me. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Cars are pure evil. Half the reason I stay in this cruddy city is because I don’t have to own one. This was the week I was supposed to fly out there for a visit. I had to cancel because Ethan is going to Israel and Rome for a week, so I have to stay in the office. Imagine if I’d gone out there. Kathie never would’ve slept with me with Brad laying in the hospital all fucked-up. What a waste of money that would’ve been. Another close call.

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Robert Gober
Untitled
Beeswax, cotton, leather, aluminum pull tabs and human hair
Est: $1,000,000-1,500,000
Sold for: $847,500

gober

You can’t see it in the pic but human hair is embedded. It’s a little girl’s leg. Dreary.

Poo-shay

From our Literary Tidbit Department:

Ian Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952 at Goldeneye, his house in Jamaica where all of the Bond novels were written. He had been musing on a name for his new creation. “I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument…” He looked up from his desk and saw this on his bookshelf:

bond_birds

“I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought, by God, ‘James Bond’ is the dullest name I ever heard.” That’s right. The real James Bond wasn’t a globetrotting super spy. He was an ornithologist. And, yes, that’s a first edition.

Fleming would routinely name villains after actual people who had gotten on his nerves at one point or another. Hugo Drax, Goldfinger, Scaramanga, etc., were all part of a grand payback scheme. Sweet.

The Bond books were written while World War II was still a fresh wound. The villains were mostly Germans or Asians with hideous physical disfigurements who were hellbent on world domination.

Fleming’s greatest nomenclature creation is Pussy Galore. Talk about a straight white male fantasy! She was the leader of a gang of lesbian ex-circus performing cat burglars. Bond turned her hetro with his superior lovemaking skills. The film adaptation has Bond overpowering her in a bail of hay in a barn. Afterwards, woozy from a proper pumping from Bond, she willingly reveals Goldfinger’s nefarious plans to the CIA.

In a heartfelt tribute, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery features a character named Alotta Fagina, which I find no less absurd than Pussy Galore.

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Would you look at this whopper I bought before work last week. It was enormous! Gerthy, too. Five inches around. I measured.

Am I the only one astonished that I can buy fresh tropical fruit from a street vendor in Manhattan the middle of winter? Isn’t that a cause for wonderment? I’m certain that option didn’t exist not long ago. Only 50 cents.

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I have tried for years to develop an appreciation for Gerhard Richter’s work but it’s just visual noise to me. It’s big. You can say that much for it.

Abstraktes Bild (809-2)
From the collection of Eric Clapton
Estimate: $18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $22,087,500

Oh. And Eric Clapton owned it. You can say that, too. And say it they did. Over and over and over. That was thought to be one of the painting’s key selling points. They sure couldn’t sell it on its artistic merit alone. Clapton bought it in 2001 for $3.4 million.

$22 million. Give me a break. It was fugly in 2001 and it’s fugly today.

This was AIDS

bins

Would you look at this? Exactly 25 years ago to the day. Almost. Where were you?

January 7, 1992

Had lunch with Kat at The Brasserie. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to the Four Seasons. I had a club sandwich. She had a spinach salad. $43. I picked up the tab. I have to once in a while. It’s emasculating to never pay.

I don’t think she’s happy with her girlfriend, although she claims she loves her very much. She doesn’t think she likes having sex with women and all she ever wears is sweats. They’d better get that shit sorted out before they do any more house hunting. She told me about a house in Lido Beach they’re interested in. She said it’s an up/down and the bottom half can be rented out. In describing the bottom unit, she kept saying you have your own entrance and you walk out the door onto the beach and you have your own private terrace. You, you, you. I don’t think I was imagining it. I’d have to give it some thought. Commuting from Long Island has never been a dream of mine although wearing sweats 24/7 is.

I visited Elvin last night. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since his mother passed. He doesn’t seem to be taking it well. He’s lost a lot of weight and didn’t have much to start with. I mentioned how sorry I was for his loss but he clearly didn’t want to discuss it so I dropped it.

He had a friend over I’d never met. Tim. I think I’m the only straight person Elvin knows personally. That goes for ALL of my gay friends. It seems gay people ONLY hang out with other gay people. I think I’m a token. One of Oscar’s friends called me a breeder. Nice.

We sat in the living room and chatted like a bunch of mature adults. Elvin lit a fire. One day, I would like an old Brooklyn brownstone with an old Brooklyn fireplace that still works. There’s a photo of Victor on the mantle just before he passed away and he looked really, really bad. Elvin and Tim listed all the people in the neighborhood and friends of friends who are sick with AIDS. It was a long list. I was thinking to myself how lucky I am to be straight. Not that I’m immune, but I like my odds. For dinner he made chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce. It was very good. I left a little heavy-hearted because of all the talk about death.

Oscar threw a party for a friend who was just accepted into law school. I’ll tell you what…my gay friends sure know how to host a shindig. Loud, thumping music, dancing, scrumptious food and lots of laughing.

The next day I was watching the Cowboys/Lions playoff game and the two guys below me were having loud sex. It’s annoying. I cranked up the TV so I couldn’t hear them. Listening to gay sex while watching the NFL left me discombobulated. I don’t understand gay sex. There’s no part of a man that I find even remotely enticing. Poor women.

When I lived in Arizona my apartment shared a thin wall with newlyweds. That’s was pretty great. They went at it day and night. The girl was a screamer. I remember once, between moans, she said, “You shouldn’t. Remember what the doctors said.” That didn’t stop him. Can you imagine if he’d dropped dead right in the middle of it? I’m certain that it happens all the time.

Lucy and I saw a play at the Walter Kerr. Crazy He Calls Me. About a Brooklyn mama’s boy who falls in love with a Polish immigrant. It was just awful. Lucy didn’t like it either. It’s a two-hander and I felt bad for the actors. Polly Draper from thritysomething is in it. Lots of Hollywood folks come out here slumming on Broadway to burnish their resumes. She should run right back to LA.

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I would display this in my grand foyer if I had one.

minjun1

Yue Minjun
The Last 5,000 Years

minjun2

Estimate: $120,000 – $180,000
Price realized: $199,500

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Manhattan sunrise. I caught this just before they extinguished the lights on the Chrysler Building. It’s my favorite skyscraper.

sunrise