On an ice-cold morning last month, art adviser Thea Westreich tried to woo Ryan Gander. “He called me up and asked me on a date, and I said I was married,” she joked of her first meeting with the British conceptual artist, who came to the city to accept an honor at the New Museum’s Next Generation fete (“I’m in town for some dinners,” he told us modestly). For his last day, the artist decided to give Westreich — who is, in truth, an old friend — a shot at nabbing him as a client. Westreich arrived to the Upper East Side via black car wearing a quilted parka, her blonde hair neatly bobbed, to find Gander, in plaid and a puffer vest, already deep in conversation with her current client, Grant Henegan, a collector and businessman in town from North Carolina looking for his latest find. On the agenda were visits to Skarstedt, Dominique Lévy, MoMA, and Fergus McCaffrey for some Oehlen, Polke, Gober, and more, as Gander observed adviser and advisee. In a nod to Gander, we present a script from the day.
Ever since Sex and the City first aired in 1998, it has served as the ultimate guide for the young and hopeful — those with their studio apartments, their burgeoning collection of Manolos and Louboutins, and their never-ending quest to find true love in a city of 14 million. From cupcakes to Cosmos to the rising rents in Manhattan, the series indelibly shaped our image of New York City — as well as our idea of the smart, funny, sexually active women who lived in it.
Talk about the best artist you’ve never seen! Known as the “Invisible Man,” Liu Bolin, who has been a vocal critic of China alongside his contemporaries such as Ai Weiwei and Zhang Huan, has made a career by blending in — quite literally. Bolin chooses a backdrop (a supermarket, a bulldozer, the Great Wall of China) and paints his body to match and then poses for up to ten hours in situ. In essence, he’s human camouflage. And though his practice can be political, and rightly so, we hardly need reminding that the holidays are upon us — and even the most serious of folk need a bit of levity and humor at the moment.
We’ve been longtime fans of artist Kalen Hollomon’s work. The artist, who lives in Chinatown, stumbled upon Instagram a couple of years ago, and has used the platform to experiment in ways that have lent him a sizable audience, even if he is wary of being categorized as being someone who works strictly within the medium of social media. SEEN asked Hollomon to make a series of collages for us exclusively, one that riffed more on art (he’s been known to collaborate with more fashion-friendly magazines, like Vogue), but that used his same playful brushstrokes and sense of imagery.
Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s hard stand against book discounting in 2010 was the first salvo in the war of Amazon versus Big Publishing (and led eventually to the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the latter). Today he announced a multi-year truce of sorts, becoming the latest to make a deal with the etailer to regain at least some control over the price of the company’s books. (Simon & Schuster made a deal in October, and Hachette, whose books Amazon had been deliberately underselling, came to terms last month.)
Is that the ghost of Houdini resurrected for the sake of art? No, her name is Loren Crabbe — a successful personal trainer by day, artist by night — with a body seemingly sculpted by Michelangelo. On Tuesday evening at the Roger Smith Hotel, Crabbe performed her signature piece, titled Abjection: Construction and Deconstruction (a touch heavy on the theoretical framework), which was, it turned out, anything but heady. More like blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. Crabbe broke her finger in the end. Out-of-the-box thinking, maybe not, but certainly not trapped in one, either. Watch below!
“Find a rich man, marry his father.” “I only accept apologies in cash.” These status updates could pass as slogans for our generation of millennial microcelebrities: the girls (as they tend to be) who wholeheartedly embrace internet notoriety in lieu of actual stardom. The artist Amalia Ulman was so fascinated by pop culture’s obsession with Instagram celebrities that, earlier this year, she decided to become one.
J’accuse, indeed! It appears that even the most selfie’d artist of the year, Jeff Koons, isn’t untouchable. In fact, as the AFP and Artnet News are reporting, the artist has been slapped with his fourth copyright infringement suit. This time, the bobo French brand Naf Naf has found similarities between its 1985 advertisement of a woman supine in the snow while a pig sniffs her face and Koons’s sculpture. Both are titled Fait d’Hiver. Why now? Well, the Centre Pompidou currently is exhibiting the Koons retrospective that recently closed at the Whitney, and wouldn’t you know, Fait d’Hiver is included. In fact, the bailiff presiding over the legal action, which has been brought about by the creative director who created the ad, Franck Davidovici, went to the exhibit to photograph the work as proposed evidence. Another note of coincidence is that the work is from Koons’s Banality series, and the three other copyright infringement suits brought against Koons all are, too. He has lost two of the three cases. If, according to Picasso, “good artists borrow, and great artists steal,” then what happens to greatness when artists steal and get sued?
Margaret Keane is 87 years old, an impish woman in a blue suit, a turtleneck, and jeans who’d been up until 3 o’clock in the morning December 15 for the MoMA premiere of Big Eyes, the new Tim Burton film about her, her husband, and the lies he told, very publicly, in passing her own haunted-moppet paintings off as his own, getting them quite rich and famous — by 1960s standards, anyway.
Unexpectedly but unmistakably, 2014 was a pivotal year for comics. For starters, the industry had its best sales month in 17 years. What's more, sales rose for both digital and physical purchases. The unending boom of licensed comics properties reached an insane critical mass: Warner Bros. and Disney unveiled slates of DC and Marvel superhero movies running all the way to 2020, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier demolished the box office, five comics-adaptation TV shows were on the air in primetime (with many more to come), and it seems like we can't go more than a few days without some kind of superhero casting announcement.
I went because of a friend of mine who is very much into the environment and energy. He asked me one year ago if I wanted to go, and I made mistake to say yes, thinking it would never happen. This September I saw him, and he told me, “Are you ready for November?” In a gesture of macho attitude, I said, “Of course!” And there it was.
“What I remember,” John Cleese says as he peers outward from center stage at the Schoenfeld Theatre, “is, during our first rehearsal, a lot of people in the very back, moving around.” It was exactly 50 years ago, in the fall of 1964, and the Schoenfeld was called the Plymouth. Cleese and six university friends had staged a comedy revue that had gone on tour; renamed Cambridge Circus, it was transferring to Broadway. Those people agitatedly milling around “were the investors. And after the first rehearsal, they told us they wanted us to change about 20 percent of the show.” Never mind that it had toured to New Zealand and back; it was rewritten, “and was better for it,” Cleese admits. When it opened, it received good reviews in nearly every paper except the New York Times (“a series of irrelevancies that fall flat”). Cleese recalls watching the opening-night party disintegrate as that review came in. The show closed in three weeks, reappearing briefly in an Off Broadway house. But before long, Cleese was getting regular work on the BBC; within five years came the premiere of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in which he and five friends sicced dead parrots and the Ministry of Silly Walks upon the world.
Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) was inarguably one of the most important artists of the 20th century, but the trajectory of her career was an extremely unusual one, with most of her successes coming only when she was already into her 70s. One of the most comprehensive exhibitions of her work was at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2008, when she was 97. Much of her artwork, specifically the work that won her so much attention later in life, was about male and female sexuality and her contentious relationship with her father.
Being a director of a museum is, unsurprisingly, busy work. In between management, fund-raising, working with curators, and everything else, directors don’t often look back and, well, reflect. And they rarely share the reason why they got into this game in the first place — the art. SEEN recently interrupted their chaotic schedules to find out, firstly, the first work of art that made an impression on them, and secondly, the piece of art currently in their museum’s collection that they can’t get out of their heads. Reading their answers below — which are thoughtful, precise, and surprising — it comes as no surprise that they are at the top of their field.
It’s not easy nabbing the Nivola Brothers. Alessandro, who is starring in The Elephant Man on Broadway with Bradley Cooper and Patricia Clarkson, is also busy filming the second season of the HBO comedy series Doll & Em with his wife, the actress Emily Mortimer. He also has two movies opening later this month: Selma and A Most Violent Year. His artist brother, Adrian, is preparing for a group show titled “Winter Salon” at the Drawing Room, open December 13 through February 28, 2015. But they generously made time to meet at Alessandro’s home in Brooklyn, where they described growing up in the fascinating world of their grandparents — artists Costantino and Ruth Nivola — and getting to know their grandparents’ legendary friends, which included artist Saul Steinberg and architect Le Corbusier. We sat down in Alessandro’s cozy living room, where Adrian, on the left, and Alessandro, on the right, started by talking about their grandfather’s work, the painting above the couch being one of Costantino Nivola’s.
Stationed above a busy corner on Canal Street, the studio of the Iranian filmmaker and artist Shirin Neshat whirred with several working film editors and assistants upon our arrival. Neshat is best known for her black-and-white cinematic films addressing gender issues within Islamic culture. She shares the space with her partner Shoja Azari*, a fellow filmmaker and frequent collaborator. Conversations in Farsi and Italian were shooting back and forth among the crew. “We are very lucky because our studio is like a community. We’re all close friends and we’re together all the time basically,” said Neshat.