The night I died a little

bins

May 4, 1993

Laura came over and molested me.

She had lunch with some guy to discuss her acting career. For my lunch, I ate a big insecurity sandwich and a washed it down with tall glass of low self-esteem. She came over about 5:30 and said he was creepy. That’s all that was said.

We sat on the sofa and talked for a long time. You could feel the bright filament pulling us together. Finally, we surrendered to it. She straddled me. She gently took my face in her hands and lowered her mouth onto mine. We kissed. She unbuttoned her shirt but didn’t take it off—a move I love. She was wearing a black bra. She slowly moved her hips while kissing me. I reached behind her and unclasped her bra. She has a soft, smoky voice, like a melody, and she’d moan gently and whisper my name, which is another move I love.

Then her eyes started to water and her nose started to run. She had a severe allergic reaction to the cats. We had to get out of the apartment or she’d suffocate.

We ate dinner on 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street and took the subway to her place on the Upper East Side. She’s got a tiny apartment and a roommate so we bought some beers and went up to her roof. It was clear and cool out. We huddled close and talked and kissed. The skyline was the backdrop. It was a beautiful night that I’ll never forget. At one point, I asked if she had a boyfriend and she said, “You don’t want to talk about that now, do you?” My heart sank. I said no, I never want to talk about it, but now I do. I want to know.

It was almost morning. She walked me to the subway at 59th Street. We kissed in a vestibule at Bloomingdale’s. When she kisses me she wraps her body around me and I have to hold us both up. We broke, she looked up at me and told me I was fantastic.

I don’t know. I think I might love this girl. This actress. An actress. So predictable.

I called an allergist this morning. The initial injection would be $150, the second $90 and $30 per week thereafter. I can’t afford that. What am I going to do?

~~~~~~~~~~

Ye Olde Me

I treated my sister to a movie while visiting Cleveland last week. I bought the tickets and thought, gee, it sure is CHEAP to see a movie here. Once inside, we discovered the young punk selling tickets gave us the senior discount without asking if we’re eligible. (We are not.) My sister thought it was a riot but I took it pretty hard.

I just had a birthday. I’ve got aches and pains after I run. I used to engage in innocent, harmless flirtations that, more often than not, were well-received. Now, women look right through me like I’m a wisp of steam that somehow got into the room. I was complaining to a friend and she said, “Welcome to being a woman over 40.” I am no longer mistaken for being younger than my actual age. That was my superpower but now it’s gone. I’ve got the deep blue blues over it.

My astrological sign is cancer. I met this fellow while walking the beach on my birthday.

~~~~~~~~~~

The summer installation at Rockefeller Center is this 45′ high inflatable nylon ballerina by Jeff Koons.

I’ve heard some complaining about how Koons misappropriated Degas’ dancers but I’m so tired of the haters.

When the weather is bad they deflate her and take her inside.

Koons said the project is tied to a charity, The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I fail to see what the connection is.

It’s based on his steel ‘Seated Ballerina’ from his antiquity series.

To laugh or weep: contemporary art auction results

I’m sure many of you read about the Basquiat that sold for $110 million to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. He relayed his bids to a Sotheby’s specialist on his iPhone, which I find quaint for some reason. The work was listed as ‘estimate on request,’ but nobody expected it to sell for that much. That’s Picasso and Monet territory.

To his credit, Maezawa plans to open a museum in his hometown of Chiba, Japan, to showcase his sizeable collection. He told The New York Times, “I want to show beautiful things and share them with everyone. It would be a waste just to keep it all to myself.” Good on you, sir.

That’s the drama of this season’s auctions. Are you ready for the comedy? Let’s kick the door open and break the hinges with these excruciating exercises in pomposity. On the left, the word “PLEASE” stenciled six times onto a sheet of aluminum. On the right, four shop vacs in a Plexiglas case with neon lights.

Christopher Wool
Untitled
Estimate: $15,000,000-20,000,000
Sold for $17,159,500

Jeff Koons
New Shelton Wet/Drys 10 Gallon, New Shelton Wet/Drys 5 Gallon Doubledecker
Estimate: $7,000,000-9,000,000
Sold for $7,863,500

 

What’s the intrinsic value of a piece of red yarn tacked to a wall?

Fred Sandback
Untitled (Diagonal Cornered Construction)
Estimate: $70,000-100,000
Sold for $60,000

I can’t poke you with a sharp stick throughout the entire post with terrible art. I’m not a complete curmudgeon. I’ve gone hot and cold over Roy Lichtenstein over the years but this piece was bold and stark. Estimate on request always kills me. It sounds like a dare.

Roy Lichtenstein
Nude Sunbathing
Estimate on request
Sold for $24,000,000

I’m no fan of Basquiat. I think his stuff is infantile. Plus, I don’t respect him for throwing it all away on an OD. Poor, tortured, artist. Boo hoo. Idiot. But this is nice. I like Lester Young.

Jean-Michael Basquiat
In The Wings
Estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000
Sold for $5,975,000

Ugly and violent. I turned the corner and this was high on the wall. It looked very real.

Maurizio Cattelan
Untitled
Estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000
Sold for $1,507,500

This was one of the showcase lots. I happen to like Francis Bacon but I can understand it if you don’t.

These are based on photos of George Dyer. Dyer was the great love of his life but the relationship was a bouillabaisse of alcohol, abuse and dysfunction. They met when Dyer, a small-time cat burglar, broke into Bacon’s studio in the middle of the night to rob him. Bacon caught him and said if he didn’t go to bed with him, he’d call the police.

Francis Bacon
Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer
Estimate on Request
Sold for $51,767,500

Speaking of British eccentrics:

There’s always one that defies commentary.

Damien Hirst
Dog Days
Glass, wood, paint, cigarettes, cigars, ash and lipstick
Estimate: $350,000-450,000
Sold for $468,500

~~~~~~~~~~

bins

April 27, 1993

I was sitting on the sofa finishing Barry Gifford’s Wild at Heart—wonderful—when suddenly, someone in the hallway started screaming at the top of their lungs, “HELP! HELP! MURDER! HELP ME!” It was the most God-awful, horrible thing I’ve ever heard. The hair on my legs stood up. The first thing I did was turn the lights off because, believe me, you don’t want to get involved in this neighborhood. I’ve read one too many stories about good Samaritans getting the shiv. [Note: What a hero I was. What a man of action.]

I looked out the peephole and the guy across the hall poked his head out the door but didn’t go into the hallway. Someone must’ve called the cops because in about ninety seconds the place was filled with them. They all piled into the apartment next door where those two gay guys live. Two minutes later two cops casually walk out talking about the softball league. Meanwhile, my heart is hammering in my chest.

About ten minutes after that, the cops escorted someone out who was carrying a suitcase. I didn’t recognize him. He must’ve been a weekend guest or something.

What must it be like being a cop? They arrive expecting bloody murder and they’re met with a bunch of gay guys having a domestic dispute. But it could’ve just as easily gone the other way. What a job! Those guys are fucking idiots. You don’t scream bloody murder on this block unless you’ve got someone with a gun on the other side of your door trying to get it. I called Lynne in the front office this morning and she didn’t know anything about it. Didn’t hear a thing. How is that possible?!

I am not the enemy, ladies.

bins

April 6, 1992

Should I feel guilty about having fun at the pro-choice rally in D.C.? I believe in the cause wholeheartedly. It’s a matter of life and death. But Suzanne asked me to go with her and her friends and I wanted to seduce her. It was mayhem, as expected. The crowd was estimated at a half million people. How can they know for sure? Regardless, I think we got our point across.

I thought it was going to be a gentle, rolling sea of delightful bachelorettes but it was actually a raging tsunami of pissed-off political militants. There were portions of the rally that were downright anti-man. I felt like the enemy. I am not the enemy! I’ll tell you what it was a sea of: lily white faces. 100% Caucasian. Where was the minority representation? It’s their cause, too.

Planned Parenthood sponsored a special non-stop train there and back. I stopped at the Middle Eastern bakery on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the night before to load up on snacks for the trip. I bought dried apples, cashews, dried bananas, peanuts, dried apricots, yoghurt covered raisins, some breads and a big bottle of water, the total of which weighed about 70 pounds. I got the gold medal for snacks. A fun, healthy, politically progressive combo. By the end of the day my body ached for a thick, undercooked cheeseburger. They all brought boring stuff to eat and glommed off my stash.

We got to the Washington Monument late in the morning. Bella Abzug spoke as well as the editor of Ms. Magazine and a bunch of other women. No men. None of them said anything new or inspirational. I was disappointed. You’d think a crowd that size would light their words on fire but each speaker was as boring and predictable at the next. Peter Paul & Mary sang “If I Had a Hammer.” Seriously? It’s not 1968, you idiots. Do something relevant.

We moved to the stepping-off point for the march and waited, literally, an hour before we could walk. It was that crowded. We were packed pretty tight and Suzanne started to have a panic attack so I told her to close her eyes and rest her head on my chest. I got excited. They had a bunch of boring, stock protest chants so I wrote this one on the spot:

2-4-6-8
I wish Bush could ovulate.

We finally moved and marched past the White House, which I’d never seen in person. It’s tiny. It’s like a toy model of the real thing. El Presidente made damn sure he was in Camp David for the weekend.

The march ended at the other end of The Mall by the Capitol Building. More bad speeches. Cindi Lauper sang a pretty song. There were a bunch of neo-hippies banging bongos, congas and drums with broken skins. At one point, Suzanne and I were sitting on a curb resting. I was spinning my web when, suddenly, bunch of them formed a drum circle around us and started drumming and chanting. There was some freeform interpretive dance that made me laugh very hard (inside). They resembled dying poultry.

There were so many different agendas being addressed that I began to feel disengaged from the core reason for the march. There was a feminist speaking (screaming, actually), calling for a new political party composed of just women, gays and minorities and with that voting bloc, they would take the White House this fall. Let me know how that works out, dreamers. Oh, and by the way, thanks a lot. Part of her speech was an attack on Middle America. You know, where my family is from. She screamed, “They don’t want US, so WE DON’T WANT THEM!” That’s a marvelous approach to our problems. Build those bridges, cupcake.

We got back to Penn Station about 11:30 at night. Everyone was exhausted, dirty and quiet. On the way up the escalator I thought the girl in front of me looked an awful lot like Mary Stewart Masterson. In the Times this morning, it said she attended, so I suppose that was her. Pretty.

I spoke to many, many people throughout the day and at some point in a conversation, I was eventually asked, “So, where did you go to school?” I like the look of disbelief on people’s faces when I tell them I’ve never stepped foot on a college campus. It allows me a brief respite from my self-loathing, which usually returns in fairly short order.

~~~~~~~

There’s a great Stuart Davis exhibit at the Whitney. He’s one of my favs. He plays to my graphic design sensibilities.

On June 23, 1964, after watching a French film that ended with ‘fin,’ Davis added it to the painting on his easel before going to bed.

davis_fin

That night, he had a stroke and died in the ambulance on the way to New York’s Roosevelt Hospital. That’s how I’d like to go. Do the thing I love the most, go to bed and never wake up.

~~~~~~~

Two from Christie’s contemporary art auction a few months ago:

Christopher Wool
And If You
Enamel on aluminum
Est: $12,000,000-18,000,000
Sold for $13,605,000

Jeff Koons
Lobster
Mirror-polished stainless steel
Est: $6,000,000-8,000,000
Sold for $6,885,000

koons_wool

That Christopher Wool is such a fraud. But Jeff Koons! What an innovator! Only $6 million?

Kidding. What does either piece mean? Anything? The lobster was interesting in that it looked exactly like an inflatable pool toy. You didn’t know it was metal unless you rapped it a few times with your knuckle.

The spring art auctions: money amok

It’s the time of the season when we turn our beer-soaked attentions towards the modern art world and gaze, in dumbfounded disbelief, at what hedge fund princes, Russian oligarchs and Sheiks of Araby spend on what they are assured by gallery owners and auction houses to be Beautiful and Important objects d’art.

This spring’s Impressionist and Modern Art auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s were fairly staid affairs. There were no earth-quaking pieces that set me all aquiver. That’s happened, you know! I’ve turned corners and have been confronted with canvases that looked alive to me. That didn’t happen this time.

I’m going to start with the piece that’s likely to insult the most number of people. There was a WARNING posted outside the small gallery where this was displayed that some people might find the content upsetting.

A dark room with a spotlight trained on a small sculpture of a kneeling man/boy. What could possibly be so offensive about that, you might wonder?

him1

A visitor knelled beside him for perspective.

him2

Walk around to the front of the sculpture and all is revealed.

Maurizio Cattelan
Him
wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment
Estimate: $10,000,000 – $15,000,000
Sold for $17,189,000

him3

Oh. That guy. You can see how this might meet with some disfavor. There was a guard posted and only a few people were allowed in at a time. Part of the reason it sold for above the high estimate is that Maurizio Cattelan is The Hot Shit right now. He’s about to install a working 18-karat, solid-gold toilet in the bathroom of the Guggenheim. I’m going to poop in it. I am!

This following piece is more playful and easier to digest. I’ve seen these before and actually think I could put one in the corner of my living room and enjoy it. It’s suspended in sodium chloride reagent and distilled water.

Jeff Koons
One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Silver Series)
Estimate on Request
Sold for $15,285,000

koons ball1

I didn’t like Jeff Koons for a long while but I became so exhausted with hating stuff that I decided to give in and enjoy it. Plus, it does this cool refraction trick when you look at it from an angle.

koons ball2

Look at this lovely Monet. If you’re familiar with his work, you might be wondering about its unusual dimensions. You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you.

Claude Monet
Le bassin aux nymphéas
Estimate: $25,000,000 – $35,000,000
Sold for $27,045,000

monet

This is only half the painting. An unscrupulous dealer divided the canvas sometime before 1944 because, you know, two painting sell for more than one. This is the right half. The left half is in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. I think they should’ve bought it and hung it next to its missing half.

If the Tel Aviv Museum of art couldn’t come up with $27M for the other half of their Monet, perhaps they could’ve coughed-up $2M for this gigantic stick of butter:

Robert Gober
Untitled
Estimate: $1,500,000 – $2,500,000
Sold for $2,285,000

butter

I can’t stand Robert Gober. What a fake What a charlatan. It’s crap like this that turns contemporary art into a punchline.

This might prove to be divisive but I like Francis Bacon. Art is so subjective (although not subjective enough to qualify a giant stick of butter legitimate art). These are self-portrait studies. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you met him and his face was all smeared like that?

Francis Bacon
Two Studies for a Self-Portrait
Estimate: $22,000,000 – $30,000,000
Sold for: $34,970,000

bacon

I usually save my harshest barbs for Jean-Michel Basquiat. He passed his scribbles and half-baked canvases off as finished work. They’re lazy affairs. And aside from that, his dreams came true and he threw it away on drugs. What a stupid ass. But I finally, after all these years, found a piece of his to admire in this gigantic canvas. He rarely worked this big. You’ve got to grudgingly hand it to him on this one. I intentionally waited until that lady walked in the frame for perspective.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Untitled
Estimate on Request
Sold for $57,285,000

basquiat

There was a shocking dearth of Rothkos offered for sale. These auctions typically feature a few juicy pieces. This season, we only had this one and another smaller piece to choose from. This is another painting I think I could live with, although I’d have to buy a much bigger house to accommodate it.

Mark Rothko
No. 17
Estimate: $30,000,000 – $40,000,000
Sold for $32,645,000

rothko

I took this group shot and realized that, individually, they’re interesting enough but if you bought ALL THREE and displayed them just as you see here, you’d really have something to drive the neighbors insane with envy.

Roy Lichtenstein
Sunrise
Estimate: $300,000 – $400,000
Sold for $418,000

Andy Warhol
Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box
Estimate: $300,000 – $400,000
Did Not Sell

Keith Harring
Untitled
Estimate: $450,000 – $650,000
Sold for $745,000

roth_andy_keith

When I walked into the gallery I was instantly drawn to the pile of white objects on the floor. From a distance, you really couldn’t tell what they were.

Christian Marclay
Boneyard
Estimate: $600,000 – $800,000
Sold for $550,000

boneyard1

In memoriam:

[Brrring] the phone rang and she said
“Whoever’s calling can’t be as cute as you”
Right then and there I knew I was through

“The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”
Prince

boneyard2

Damien Hirst is another guy who raises a lot of rankles but I find some of it clever enough. People seem particularly bothered by the raw cruelty of raising butterflies in order to use their wings for paintings, but they’re quite beautiful. If you saw this in person you might have a change of heart.

Damien Hirst
Psalm 46: Deus noster refugium
Butterflies and household gloss on canvas
Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
Sold for $161,000

hurst

I’ve got more that’ll make you grind your molars to dust and question the direction contemporary art, not to mention all of humanity, is taking but I’m pushing 1,000 words and I don’t want to break my own Cardinal Rule of Blogging so I’ll leave you with these; one I like and one that deserves scorn heaped upon it. I leave it to you to decide which is which.

Jeff Koons
Smooth Egg with Bow (Magenta/Violet)
Estimate: $7,000,000 – $10,000,000
Sold for $7,445,000

koons

Cady Noland
Chicken in a Basket
Twenty-seven elements, wire basket, rubber chicken, boxes, bottle, flags, baster, bungee and beer cans
Estimate: $350,000 – $450,000
Sold for $305,000

chicken

The Horror. The Horror. More Art Auction Results.

Here’s another batch of results from the November contemporary art auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. While some of these pieces are quite striking, I don’t know that you can consider ANY of them worth what they sold for. They’re trophy pieces that say more about the purchaser than the piece itself, which I believe is by design.

Here’s one of Louis Bourgeois’ beautiful spiders. Christie’s always exhibits a giant sculpture at the entrance. It’s usually one of Jeff Koons’ balloon animals but this wild arachnid does nicely. Another inspiration from the animal kingdom.

Louise Bourgeois
Spider
Estimate on Request
Sold for $28,165,000

bourgeois1

It was unintentional, but I like the juxtaposition of the spider looming over a submissive Modigliani hottie. That’s a pretty raw poster for a public sidewalk, don’t you think? It’s right across from Rockefeller Center! There are little kids all over the place!

bourgeois2

Speaking of…Here’s another Modigliani beauty. The painting reproduced above fetched +$170 million. This one, a modest +$42 million. Modigliani died when he was just 35 from meningitis. He was flat broke.

Amedeo Modigliani
Paulette Jourdain
Estimate on Request
Sold for $42,810,000

modiglianni_paulette

Time for some whimsy. Guess what this is? If you guessed an 85 inch (216 cm) piece of yarn painted three colors and tacked to the wall, give yourself a cookie.

sandback3

Fred Sanderback
Untitled Wall Construction
Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000
Sold for $106,250. Exceeded expectations. Must be quality yarn.

sandback4

I can’t say I’m crazy about this piece but I have a lot of respect for the effort that went into it. You probably think it’s a tapestry but you’d be WRONG. Give the cookie back.

lou1

This is made from tiny, *tiny* glass beads tacked to an aluminum panel.

lou3

Scroll back up and look at the first photo. Imagine the physical act of constructing this. It’s big. 72 x 36 inches (183 x 91 cm). What exacting, tedious, painful work.

Liza Lou
Ofensive (sic)/Defensive
Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
Did Not Sell. What a pity.

lou2

Balloon swan! C’mon. You’ve got to like this stuff. It’s so NOT serious. Barely qualifies as art, really. That comes as a great relief to me sometimes. Too much serious art gives me a pounding headache.

Jeff Koons
Balloon Swan (Yellow)
Estimate: $15,000,000 – $25,000,000
Sold for $14,725,000

koons

Here are two spectacular Rothkos. There’s such a sameness to his work that you’d think I’d grow tired of looking at this stuff but I never do. I’m convinced you all think I’m nuts but you have to see these Rothkos in a gallery setting. These canvases GLOW. My photos are crap. Don’t trust them.

Mark Rothko
No. 6/Sienna, Orange on Wine
Estimate: $20,000,000 – $30,000,000
Sold for $17,610,000

rothko_sienna

Especially this one. It was set off in a dark corner. The walls surrounding it were painted black and the lighting was perfect. This thing throbbed. I stood there a long time saying hello and goodbye.

Mark Rothko
Untitled (Lavender and Green)
Estimate: $20,000,000 – $30,000,000
Sold for $20,410,000

rothko_lavender

This is one of the last Blue Period Picasso paintings in private hands. Personally, I think it’s kind of ugly although Christie’s insists it’s “striking.” Picasso was broke when he painted it. (He didn’t stay broke for long.) Like many broke-ass painters, he used both sides of the canvas.

picasso_gommeuse1

Christie’s mounted the painting so you could see both sides. You had to walk around a wall constructed in the center of the gallery.

picasso_gommeuse2

The verso illustration was painted upside-down from the front so they set up a mirror that allowed you to view it right-side up. This is Picsso’s friend and flatmate Pere Mañach. It was considered too ribald by Picasso’s early dealers and covered up. This second painting wasn’t discovered until 2000.

Pablo Picasso
La Gommeuse
Estimate on Request
Sold for $67,450,000

picasso_gommeuse3

A piece of stone held up by two iron brackets. On the stone is a little pile of bread, a little pile of sugar and some water. That’s it.

Giovanni Anselmo
Trespolo
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Sold for $122,500

anselmo

Hey, remember Claes Oldenburg’s giant typewriter eraser from the previous auction report? Well, here’s his giant clothespin. Number two from an edition of three. Maybe the fact that there are only two others makes you feel better about spending +$3,000,000 for a giant clothespin. I make fun but I like it.

Claes Oldenburg
Clothespin Ten Foot
Estimate: $1,200,000 – $1,800,000
Sold for $3,637,000. Well done, Claes. 

oldenberg_clothespin

Hey, remember the piece of yarn from above? Same guy. I’m not talking about the yellow cube on the white pedestal. That’s a different piece by a different artist. I’m talking about the piece of red yarn tacked to the floor and wall.

sandback1

Curious. It doesn’t have a title. Can someone suggest a title for this piece?

Fred Sandback
Untitled
Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
Sold for $221,000

sandback2

I was so thirsty. I turned the corner and was happy to see a water fountain. What a relief! A nice, cool drink…oh…wait…not so fast. It’s made of graphite. Like a pencil? That kind of graphite? Is this like one of Duchamp’s readymades? So lazy.

Adam McEwen
Font
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Sold for $293,000. Well above the estimate. Imagine that.

mcewen

This is from Picasso’s Blue Lobster period. Ha. See what I did there? I only included this painting so I could crack that joke and sound clever. But I do like it. Blue lobsters are rare but real. There’s an aquarium on a New Jersey boardwalk that has one. They’re beautiful.

Pablo Picasso
Le Homard Dans un Panier
Estimate: $1,500,000 – $2,500,000
Sold for $2,165,000

picasso_lobster

Oh, dear. This is Damien Hirst’s medicine cabinet filled with drugs. In his “Pharmaceutical Heaven,” he described the piece as like a body. Originally, he was going to place the remedies for your head on the top shelves, the guts in the middle and those for your feet at the bottom.

hirst1

In the end he went with a pleasing color scheme. That’s what I would’ve done, too.

Damien Hirst
Lies
Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000
Sold for $545,000

hirst2

It has occurred to me that most of the pieces in this review can be considered a joke. Actually, art being subjective, ALL of them could be considered a joke. I usually try to mix the good with the bad but pointing your finger is such delicious fun, isn’t it?


We trimmed our Christmas tree. These two ornaments are my favorites.

shakespeare