Bohemia: Now and Then
Last Thursday night, I started my evening meeting
New York-based photographer Christophe
von Hohenberg at Bottino’s — the
favorite boite since it settled in Chelsea in the
middle 1990s. It's owned by Danny Emerman,
whose previous restaurant Barocco was the dining
mecca for the then
SoHo art crowd during the 1980s. A couple years ago
Bottino’s was always jam-packed during cocktail
hour but Mayor Bloomberg’s
smoking police have of course ruined that too.
known Chris Hohenberg for a few years mainly through mutual
friends in Europe. We got together
to look at a book he wants to produce of the photos
he took of Andy Warhol’s funeral
at Saint Patrick’s
Cathedral almost 18 years ago in 1987.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been
that long since Andy died. The photos Chris took
day are now a time capsule of an almost vanished
time in the New York art world. For one thing,
a lot of the people are gone such as Halston,
George Plimpton, Roy Lichtenstein, Leo Castelli,
Holly Solomon and Henry Geldzahler. Sometime after
the funeral, Chris wrote many of attendees such as
Julian Schnabel, Joey Arias, Lynn Wyatt,
Lou Reed, Halston, Bianca Jagger, Debbie Harry,
Francesco Clemente et al to get letters of how they
felt about Andy for the book. I think the book’s
time has come and I hope to help Chris bring it
out in the next
year or so.
page from Christophe von Hohenberg's Warhol book: Grace
Jones, Henry Geldzahler, and David Hockney arriving
at St. Patrick's
we headed down 25th Street for Cheim & Read’s exhibition of new work of Louise
Bourgeois entitled The
Reticent Child. By the time we arrived, the gallery was already packed with
a diverse crowd of collectors, artists, and curators who came to
see this amazingly protean nonagenarian’s latest efforts.
in Paris in 1911 to a prosperous family, Bourgeois studied first
in Paris at Ecole du Louvre, the Académie des Beaux-Arts,
the Académie Julian, and the Atelier Fernand Léger.
After immigrating to New York in 1938, she continued her studies
at the Art Students League here. She was first heavily influenced
by the Surrealists — many of whom like herself had escaped
the growing threat of war and settled in New York. But by the 1960s,
her work had moved away from the cerebral dreams of the surrealists
to a far more personal art anchored in the memories of her family,
childhood, and notions of gender and identity.
Today she is one of our most important artists, the subject of
dozens of museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the world each
year. The current show takes its title from the sculpture "The
Reticent Child" that she created for the Freud Museum in Vienna
in 2003. It also features a suite of 82 drawings entitled "Il était
réticent. Mais je l'ai révélé." (He
was reticent. But I have revealed him.), and an autobiographical
series of cut and sewn fabric drawings inspired by the memories
of the river that flowed through her garden in the house where
she grew up in Antony, France. As Bourgeois has stated, "my
childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery,
and it has never lost its drama."
John Cheim and Howard Read are
contemporaries of mine having first entered the art scene at Robert
Miller’s gallery in the Fuller
Building on 57th Street during the boom years of the 1980s. They
left Miller in 1997 — first opening on 23rd Street in the
space now occupied by Christophe van der Weghe. The gallery also
the work of dozens of important artists including the late Joan
Mitchell, Jack Pierson, Pat Steir, Donald Baechler, Adam Fuss,
Rene Ricard, William Eggleston and Jack Pierson. The Bourgeois
show remains until December 31, 2004.
Bourgeois' The Reticent
Child at Cheim & Read
seeing the Bourgeois show, we went down to Elizabeth Dee’s gallery on 20th Street for Virgil
Marti’s opening. I met Virgil
this past spring while he was setting up his brilliant Grow Room installation at the last Whitney Biennial. Arranged according to
the configuration of James McNeal Whistler’s famous Peacock
Room, it sported cast resin chandeliers in the form of blooming antlers
with mirrored floor-to ceiling Mylar panels, silk-screened with macramé representations
of webs spun by drugged spiders. It was really quite a spectacle
if you didn’t get a chance to see it yourself.
Arriving at the
gallery we spotted Virgil among the hoards of his smoking fans enjoying
a puff or two outside. Informed by a wide range of art-historical
and pop-cultural references, Virgil’s art is a decidedly bizarre
take on installation art — Baroque and Rococo sensibilities
morphed by such decorative tropes of chinoiserie and japonisme, the
the 19th century Symbolists and moving on into 1960s psychedelic
art tinged with a dash of pop science fiction. I assure you — it’s
This is Marti’s first one-person show in New York thanks to
Elizabeth Dee. To mark the occasion, he created a group of oversized
wall sconces made from casts of shells of Russian and Egyptian tortoises
that are mirrored on the inside and feature silver-plated cacti with
brightly colored resin flowers lit by light bulbs. In the center
of the room, a large striped candle embedded with coral gives off
the scent of leather.
the main gallery, we next entered Marti’s room installation
that features fluorescent flocked wallpaper with a panoramic landscape
lit by black lights that was inspired by among other things, Nicolas
Roeg’s great 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth as well
as architect Frank Furness designs for the Pennsylvania Academy
of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Over all, one gets the feeling
you have walked into a very intellectual post-modern head shop.
Perhaps there is still hope for humor and bohemianism in art these
Dee also exhibited Marti’s resin-cast antler chandeliers in the galleries
offices. Fine art consultant Nancy Whyte told me she bought a lovely blue chandelier
during the opening reception. We headed up the street to Sara Meltzer’s
gallery for the opening of the New York-based art team Type A, (aka Adam
Amesand Andrew Bordwin) Push exhibition of works on paper, photographs and video.
Cohen and Elizabeth
Smith and Chris Eamon
had to cut out early then and head down to the
black-tie art auction and dinner benefiting artist Frederic
house Olana. The party turned out to be at what was until recently
Los Angeles art dealer Doug Christmas’ enormous New York Ace
Gallery space on Hudson Street.
you didn’t’ know, Hudson, New York has been having
a re-birth during the past several years as more and more New Yorkers
buy week-end retreats there. I first knew about this renaissance
a decade ago when my good friend the late Christopher Scott bought
a dilapidated Federal row house in the center of town with money
he inherited from his great friend curator and the first cultural
commissioner of New York City Henry Geldzahler. In recent years,
I have know slews of friends opening up businesses and restoring
places there including Ashton Hawkins, Johnnie Moore, Reggie
Young to name only a few. When I first visited Hudson a few years ago,
the first place I wanted to see was Olana.
Perched on a high place overlooking the Hudson River, Olana is one
of the great artist residences we have in the spirit of Claude
Giverny and David Hockney’s house
in the Hollywood Hills from which I write this column. Frederic Edwin
Church was born in Hartford,
Connecticut. Thanks to a wealthy father, he was able to indulge in
his early passion for art thanks to encouragement from the great
Hartford art patron Daniel Wadsworth. Wadsworth,
form the basis for America’s first art museum, the Wadsworth
Atheneum, was the son-in-law of revolutionary war artist John
Trumbull as well as the preeminent patron of what we now
call the Hudson River School of American painters — our
first native art movement.
the dinner at a Night of Olana
and Paul Costello
1848, Church had taken a studio in New York City, and was selling
his pictures of New York and New England to the growing
bourgeoisie of New York. In April
1853, Church and painter Cyrus Field took his first trip to
South America. He would take several other trips there throughout the 1850s — as
well as trips
in New England and the Hudson River area stretching up to Niagara Falls. His
fame as one of America’s greatest painters was secured with two paintings — Niagara,
1857 and Heart of the Andes in 1859 — on the eve of the Civil
war, Church bought farmland at Hudson, New York, and married Isabel Carnes,
he had met during the New York City exhibition of his Heart of the Andes.
After their marriage, the Churches embarked on an eighteen-month trip to Europe,
Africa, the Near East, and Greece that was to be the genesis of several important
pictures and influenced the design of their home on the Hudson. After their return,
Church would spend the balance of his remaining year designing and redesigning
of Olana, with help from architect Calvert Vaux — partner
of another Hartfordite,
Frederic Law Olmstead — the creators of Central Park.
the time Church
in 1900, he was probably the most famous artist in America.
The benefit on Thursday was entitled a Night of Olana and was hosted by Oscar
de la Renta. The evening began with a silent auction of over 30 works of art
by artists such as Delia Brown, Will Cotton, Adam Cvijanovic, Jane Hammond,
Rockman and Cynthia Rowley. Chairs Eliza Bolen,
Amy Fine Collins, Daisy Hill,
Jazz Johnson Merton, and Allison Sarofim greeted guests during the cocktail hour
as guests placed bids on their favorites.
I got to sit at Amy Fine Collins’ table with among others, her husband
Brad, Vogue’s Alexandra Kotur, Richard
Turley, Alex Hitz, Tiffany’s Robert Rufino.
silent auction (l. to r.): Hope
Atherton; Bill Powers, Cynthia
Rowley, Eliza Reed Bolen and Alexander Bolen.
by Patrick McMullan
Rowley and Eliza Reed Bolen
Basabe and Annie Churchill
Trump and Amy Fine Collins
Art Set, ©Charlie Scheips, 2004
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