A sweeping art show opening in Rome this fall argues that right now is a glamorous and golden age of art in New York City, one of those moments that will be remembered someday as a turning point in art history. Really?
While Italian technology magnate Paolo Barzan certainly has his skeptics of this theory, the collector, well known on the Chelsea scene, will open a new contemporary art foundation outside of Rome in September with “New York Minute: Sixty Artists on the New York Scene.” The exhibition “isn’t a survey, it’s a show about a lifestyle, an art community,” about a glamorous group of artists who collaborate to turn their lives into their art, he says. His foundation, dubbed Depart, (for discuss, exhibit, and produce art) will team with Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art for the exhibition and several related events in other cities.
The New York art scene is in the midst of “a renaissance,” says Kathy Grayson, curator of the show and director of Deitch Projects Gallery, where she met Barzan. The city is headquarters now to not one but three historically important art trends, says Grayson: “Street Punk” (Dash Snow, Kembra Pfahler, Terence Koh), “Wild Figuration” (Jules de Balincourt, Takashi Murata), and the “New Abstraction” (Dan Colen, Sterling Ruby). (Perhaps not incidentally, a spate of the artists in the show have shown at Deitch.) Prominent pieces will include a large work by Barry McGee, and the cop car that Spencer Sweeney suspended from the ceiling at Gavin Brown’s. The shop of “Downtown Don” Aaron Bondaroff will also be re-created, and Snow had been slated to be the D.J. at the opening party.
Not everyone’s signing on to the zeitgeist. “I don’t know if it’s a renaissance … it’s a crew,” says Todd Levin, director of art-advisory firm Levin Art Group and curator of a show currently up at Marianne Boesky Gallery. “The show will be au courant, but some of these artists are selling for six- or seven-figure prices with one or two gallery shows under their belt.”
Whether this is a key moment in art history, we’ll find out later — but in the meantime, Barzan invites artists to debate it with him, and will be sponsoring a residency program in Rome this fall.