Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Art Set: A Grand Tour; Part 1

The Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
by Charlie Scheips

I got to London three weeks ago and headed up by train the next day by train to York where I was met by David Hockney and his assistant Jean-Pierre Goncalves de Lima for a fabulous hour and a half drive to the Eastern coast of Yorkshire, taking advantage of the setting sun behind us via back roads to witness the arrival of the hawthorn bush in bloom.

David had been waiting for the past week for its arrival and our drive included Hockney shooting a film of the drive standing out of his sunroof as “JP” as he is also known at the wheel of the Lexus. Hockney has been obsessed with landscape over the past five or six years and a major exhibition of that work opened up a few weeks ago at Swabisch Hall near Stuttgart (Kunsthalle Wurth) and will be on view through the end of September.
Hawthorne in bloom in Yorkshire.
It was a working weekend for Hockney and crew as spring had only just sprung there recently. David rises at dawn going into the field to draw usually with charcoal and then back to the studio where he paints from his sketches and memory. The Royal Academy, London will mount a major show of his recent landscapes in 2012 but we will get to see some of them in New York in October of this year when Hockney has his first exhibition with the Pace/Wildenstein Gallery—over a decade since his last gallery exhibition at his long time New York dealer, the late André Emmerich’s 57th Street gallery.

Back to London, I crossed the street from Kings’ Cross Station
to St. Pancras and got the Eurostar to Paris. I stayed this time on the rue du Bac with Jimmy Douglas, one of the great characters of Paris (and the world for that matter) and after a quick there we headed over to Brasserie Lipp for dinner with curator, Thomas Gunther.

Jimmy Douglas and Charlie Scheips at a cafe on rue du Bac.
Peter McGough and Charlie Scheips in front of Le Bouledogue in Paris.
The next morning, Condé Nast legend Susan Train picked me up in front of the Hotel Pont Royal and we headed over to the Eglise Saint-Roch church near the Louvre to attend the anniversary memorial mass in honor of Yves Saint Laurent.

There wasn’t the same mix of sadness and hysteria present as there was last year when I attended the funeral but then French President Nicholas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni were there along a plethora of personalities from the worlds of fashion, the arts and international society.

That day a year ago, Saint Laurent was given really as close to a state funeral, with full French military honors.

Many of the same friends of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé attended including their intimates such as Betty Catroux, Madison Cox, and Dominique Deroche. Connie Uzzo, Susan Train and Robin Fournier-Bregmann, as well as Hubert de Givenchy, the Herald Tribune’s Susie Menkes, Marie-Jose Lepicard, Thomas Gunther, Christophe Martin, Leslie Caron, the former French culture minister Jack Lang and Ségolène Royal, the former French presidential candidate--to name just a very few I spotted myself in the very full and beautiful church which was open to the public for the service.

Organ music by Camille Saint-Saëns played by Françoise Gangloff began and ended the service while Mozart was performed throughout the catholic service by the Orchestra Ensemble, Paris directed by Alexis Roy and the Choir of Nicolas de Grigny directed by Jean-Marie Puissant. Soloists were Jenny Daviet, Catherine Radlo, Rodrigo Ferreira, Guillaume Guitiérrez and Virgile Ancely.

Pierre Bergé
offered a moving homage for the late great fashion designer as he did last year during the funeral.
Saint Roch in Paris.
Dominique Deroche and Danielle Leclerq-Jabelot at Yves Saint Laurent mass at Saint Roch in Paris.
Connie Uzzo and Susan Train. Susan Train and Iann Roland-Bourgade.
Sheaths of Wheat at altar of Saint Roch for Yves Saint Laurent mass.
After YSL mass.
After failing to wake up for my very early plane to Venice the next morning (my alarm was set on the iPhone but ringer turned off) I spent the better part of the day trying to figure out how to get there. But make it I did--getting to Marco Polo airport after midnight--a water taxi to the hotel, and then heading over to the Hotel Bauer where nightly the art world gathers for nightcaps and nonsense in a kind an international reunion of sorts—the Venice Biennale—the biennale is on view until November of this year so if you want to see what is happening in contemporary art and culture as well as the delight of being in Venice you should really make it over there. (

This my 20th anniversary of my first Biennale (1989) which featured Jenny Holzer in the American pavilion and Anish Kapoor for Great Britain to name just a few of the memorable installations that year. I have gone to every one ever since which is an accomplishment of some kind I suppose. The next day I had a quick lunch on the terrace of the Gritti Palace with Pace/Wildenstein’s Susan Dunne and then took the vaporetto (water bus) to Giardini for a reception honoring Lucas Samaras’s installation at the Greek Pavilion.
Susan Dunne at Gritti Palace terrace, Venice. Greek Culture minister, curator Matthew Hicks and Pace Wildenstein's Arne Glimcher outside Lucas Samara installation at Greek Pavilion.
Pace’s Arne Glimcher was joined by Greece’s minister of culture Antonis Samaras (no relation) and curator Matthew Hicks each spoke in celebration of the Samaras installation.

Other Pace/Wildenstein insiders such as Andrea and Marc Glimcher, Douglas Baxter and a large party of their friends and collectors joined in to salute Samaras’s installation.
Greek Pavilion in Giardini, Venice.
Lucas Samaras in Greek Pavilion.
That night we headed over to the Dorsoduro area for the opening of Francois Pinault’s Punta Della Dogano in the old Venetian customs house that has now been brilliantly fitted for contemporary art by architect, Tadao Ando. We were among the first guests to arrive so we actually walked in right behind the official party replete with security guards and armed soldiers. I can’t tell you if most of the contemporary art world was there but it certainly was a lot of them.
Taking the traghetto to opening of the Dogano, Venice.
Staff in formation for opening of the Dogano, Venice.
Crowds pouring in at the opening of the Dogano. Marc and Andrea Glimcher.
Sigmar Polke at the Dogano.
Murakami at Dogano. In front of Charles Ray's sculpture at Dogano.
We then headed back across the Grand Canal to the Hotel Monaco for a cocktail reception hosted by Pace/Wildenstein, Alessandro Benetton and Tina Brown, where I ran into Beth De Woody with Craig Starr.

Afterwards we took yet another water taxi with the Studio Museum’s Thelma Golden back over the Grand Canal to the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation that was hosting another celebratory cocktail party in the Garden of the palazzo. I saw many friends there including the Guggenheim Foundation’s newly ensconced president, Richard Armstrong, as well as MOMA’s John Elderfield amongst the throng. The Guggenheim was featuring a great show of Robert Rauschenberg as well as contemporary artist, Wim Delvoye.
Beth DeWoody in water taxi at Peggy Guggenheim. Thelma Golden and friend leaving Guggenheim.
The crowd at Guggenheim party.
Uli Tredup and Arthur Duncan. Marta Sale.
Three receptions later we were all getting hungry so Beth, Craig and I ended up at the Ristorante Al Gondolieri behind the Guggenheim. New York art dealer Sara Meltzer was having a large party in the private dining room there.

Meredith Palmer at Guggenheim.
Alas, my steam ran out before making it over to the Hugo Boss party that I heard went off beautifully thanks to the company’s magician of marketing and public relations, Philipp Wolfe.

The next morning I took in the biennale’s Arsenale installation that took several hours to take in.

Then I met Susan Dunne for lunch at Harry’s Dolce on the Guidecca and happily running into Arthur Duncan and friends including Nadine Johnson and collector Santiago Barberi Gonzalez there who offered us a ride after lunch in their water taxi to Pinault’s Palazzo Grassi where a sister exhibition to the Dogano was opening again curated by Francesco Bonami.

For information on both the Punta della Dogano and the Palazzo Grassi, click here.
Curator Pedro and Susan Dunne taking boat to Cipriani. Nadine Johnson saying 'ciao.'
Friends at lunch at Harry's Dolce, Venice.
Interior court of the Palazzo Grazzi, Venice.
Arthur Duncan managed to work his magic again finding a delicious restaurant to accommodate 10 friends that night plus the water taxi to take us there.

We ended up after dinner at the Hotel Bauer seeing many friends in the throng including Interview’s Christopher Bollen, Montreal Museum of Fine Art’s Thierry-Maxime Loriot, Ivan Lacroix, art dealers André Viana, Marco Frignati and Diego Cassina, the Judd Foundation’s Madeliene Hoffmann, the Whitney’s Lisa Anastos and many, many others.
Andre Viano, Thierry Loriot, Ivan Lacroix, and Marco Frignati in garden of Hotel Bauer, Venice.
The next morning I met Rhona Hoffmann for breakfast at the Hotel Flora and spotted the Tate’s Stuart Comer at another table so we decided to do the outlying art installations around Venice that day together.

Taking in both Bruce Nauman installations installed at the two university campuses of Venice as well as some of the other off site pavilions around the city.
Rhona Hoffman and Stuart Comer on way to Nauman installations.
Bruce Nauman's 1972 Pink and Yellow Corridor. Shezad Dawood's Triple Negation Chandeliers.
éilvinas Kempinas's TUBE in Lithuanian pavilion.
Canaletto-like sky over Piazza San Marco.
Jacob Hashimoto, Rhona Hoffman and Elizabeth Smith in garden of Hotel Flora.
That night I had dinner at Ristorante Lineadombra on the Dorsoduro with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago’s chief curator Elizabeth Smith, artist Jacob Hashimoto, Rhona Hoffmann, Uli Tredup and Arthur Duncan. The full moon had created very high tides that evening and when we returned back to the Gritti Palace that night the lobby had been flooded and walkways about three feet above ground had been installed in the lobby.
High tide and full moon flooding, Venice. Lobby of Gritti Palace flooded.
My last day in Venice I headed back over to the Giardini to take in some of the pavilions that had been too crowded to see during the opening day. I particularly loved the Danish and Nordic Pavilions and its installation by several dozen artists selected by Elmgreen & Dragset entitled The Collectors. An actor playing a real estate agent took us through the Danish Pavilion acting as if she was the actual listing agent of a property that had been vacated and put up for sale by a family of art collectors who had had a change of fortunes. It was hilarious. (

I also took in Bruce Nauman’s United States Pavilion—he was announced the winner of the prize for best pavilion that evening.
Inside Danish Pavilion. Mementos of past lovers at Danish Pavilion.
Bruce Nauman at American Pavilion.
Spencer Finch's Candelight at Italian Pavilion. Jacob Hashimoto's installation at Palazzo Fortuny.
After a quick lunch at the Paradiso café just outside the Giardini—I headed over to the Palazzo Fortuny to catch that installation in the famed designer’s house. We also went around the corner to see the James Lee Byars Lived Here exhibition. I had already checked out of my hotel and grabbed a quick dinner with Rhona Hoffmann and former Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago director Robert Fitzpatrick before heading to the train station to take the night train to Munich with too many catalogs that I can’t wait to pack and send back to New York from Basel—my next destination.
Mario Merz neon piece on fascade of Palazzo Fortuny.
Drinks in San Stefano, Venice.
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