Knee deep in Armory Arts Week by Friday, we started the night’s activities in Times Square with a visit to the New York office of the Zabludowicz Collection. Finnish-born, London-based Poju Zabludowicz, a real estate mogul, and his art-loving wife Anita have compiled a major collection of contemporary art, which was exhibited last year at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK. A bevy of gallerists and collectors, including Andrea Rosen, Rachel Lehmann, Marian Goodman, and Lyor Cohen dropped by to pay their respects and review the mix of works on display by Gregory Crewdson, Jennifer Steinkamp, Ivan Navarro, and others. The 24th floor views of Times Square were equally compelling.
Jumping on the subway, we traveled to Deitch Studios in Long Island City for a much-anticipated performance by Vanessa Beecroft — her first New York performance since 2000, which she staged on the Intrepid. The cathedral-like space was packed with spectators, surrounding the performance of VB64, when we arrived. Twenty live nude female models in white body make-up were lying on the floor and on coffin-like bases, interspersed with white sculptural casts of live models. The visual impact was powerful. While we were watching, Kanye West, who is co-producing the filming of VB64, arrived with his posse in tow, adding more energy to the already charged environment. We lingered, watched, and chatted with people for a while more before moving on.
Our next, and final destination of the night was a loud and lively dinner, celebrating Michael Rakowitz’s exhibition at Lombard-Freid Projects, which we had seen at the gallery earlier in the day. The exhibition explores Saddam Hussein’s fascination with science fiction, and the dinner, which was attended by about 60 friends of the artist and the gallery — including critics Eleanor Heartney, Joe Wolin, and Linda Yablonsky — was held at La Kabbr, the only Iraqi restaurant in New York. We spent most of the night talking with LA-based artist Ruben Ortiz-Torres and Art in America reviews editor Cathy Lebowitz.
We got a late start on Saturday, but only had to get on a bus to kick off the night at Mickalene Thomas’ studio for a viewing of her paintings for her upcoming show at Lehmann Maupin. We spoke to International Center of Photography curator Christopher Phillips about the inclusion of Thomas’ work in the next ICP triennial this fall and got a great photo of Chicago gallerist Rhona Hoffman reclining like a painterly odalisque in Thomas’s living-room-like stage set.
Back on the bus, we made our way past the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Carroll Gardens, where we attended a party at the Starn Studio. A lively crowd of artists and dealers were admiring the work on view and enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres. We spoke with Richard Edwards from Baldwin Gallery about Doug and Mike Starn, Tom Sachs, and Ryan McGinness, whose opening we were next visiting. Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed made an appearance, talking with Mike about the work and the massive studio space, which the brothers have occupied for 20 years.
Grabbing car service to Deitch Projects on Wooster Street, we made it to Ryan McGinness’ show just in time to see the new paintings and sculpture, congratulate Ryan, and talk with Karim Rashid about his new Rizzoli book. We then made a quick dash over to Deitch’s Grand Street space for a look at Kessler’s Circus, Jon Kessler’s spoof of Calder’s Circus that mixes it with the American war machine. Hearing about a Pace Wildenstein/Art Production Fund party at Saatchi & Saatchi on Hudson Street we walked through Soho to find a small, but growing crowd in a big, open space, where artist Daniel Pflumm was spinning music. We stayed for a couple of drinks and then heading over to Ryan McGinness’ studio for a crazy after-party for his show.
It wasn’t easy getting up early Sunday morning for a brunch at the Hort Collection — especially after forgetting to set our clocks forward to adjust to daylight savings time — but the Hort’s brunch is always one of the highlights of Armory Show events. Curator Simon Watson had just installed the collection and hung a number of Michael and Susan Hort’s new acquisitions by Berlin-based American artist Matt Saunders and scores of somber realist paintings by Eastern European artists Oana Farcas, Pawel Ksasek, Alexander Tinei, and others. We ran into artists Erik Parker and Kenny Scharf, photographer Sante D’Orazio, Princeton’s Dean of Architecture Stan Allen, and several international dealers and collectors. Athen’s Biennale co-curator Cay Sophie Rabinowitz told us about a nearby performance that she had organized by Adrian William, so we went to watch it for a bit before going home to recharge the batteries for a couple of hours.
Still running low on energy, we headed to Audio Visual Arts in the East Village for a collaborative performance between artists Shaun Leonardo and Kalup Linzy. As the small invited crowd arrived, we were all told to wait in a realty office, where Michael Jackson videos were being screened on a monitor. Two-by-two we were taken into the performance, where we had a slow dance with our choice of male or female partners, a drink with Shaun Leonardo, a strip tease show by male and female dancers, and a sensational singing performance by Kalup Linzy in a grotto-like, makeshift lounge in the basement. Queens Museum director Tom Finkelpearl and his wife, Brooklyn Museum curator of contemporary art Eugenie Tsai; MoMA curator Christian Rattemeyer and his wife Cay Sophie Rabinowitz; Walker Art Center curator Peter Eeley; and Studio Museum in Harlem curator Naomi Beckwith were among the select few who were treated to this energizing and entertaining event.
Hungry, we jumped in a taxi for our final destination of the night and the week: Alexander Lee’s Decompression Dinner at Simon Watson’s downtown loft, which was in full swing when we arrived. We reviewed the week’s activities with artscribe Michael Wilson, Artist Pension Trust founder Pamela Auchincloss, and a host of other art world characters while enjoying a delicious, multi-course dinner with endless drinks. Armory Arts Week was finally over and, all in all, it had been great fun. We’d seen new art, met new people, and feasted on delicacies — now it’s time to get back on the treadmill!