Thursday, September 06, 2001

On Thursday 26 July, I did Chelsea, New York. I visited 27 galleries in one day. Here's what I saw:

    22nd Street

  1. Gracie Mansion: Drawings by my second favourite South African artist, William Kentridge (son of Sir Sydney Kentridge, the barrister who represented Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia trial back in the 60s); and some very cool photos of melting popsicles by Meredith Allen.

  2. Bruce Silverstein: Evocative black-and-white photographs by American master Aaron Siskind

  3. Nikolai Fine Art: Karen Giusti's White House Project: humorous subversion of America's seat of power, including a perspex greenouse in the shape of the White House, with a huge dollar bill as the back wall.

  4. Max Protetch: An exhibition of drawings by pioneering architect Mies van der Rohe, including proposals for a building above Bank station, London.

  5. D'Amelio Terras: A group show, none of which did much for me, though I did rather like Martin Eder's pretty yet unsettling watercolours.

  6. Matthew Marks: Another group show, this one featuring some big names: Jeff Koons, Lucian Freud, and Bjork's Hidden Place video

  7. Phag Inc: Yet another group show. [I get the impression gallery curators go on holiday in July?]

  8. Friedrich Petzel: Electrify Me! A wonderful exhibition of neon lights, glowing bulbs, groovy lamps, etc by Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman, and the wonderful Stuck by James Turrel: so simple an idea that most gallery-goers walked straight past it without noticing. A rectangular slit is lit with a perfectly flat light. There are no shadows, no depth; it is hard to tell if you're looking at something solid, opaque, translucent.


  9. 23rd Street

  10. Cheim and Read: Liquid Properties. An amusing show. Where Electrify Me! was electric, this is liquid. All the works have something to do with the properties of liquids: how they flow, corrode and evaporate. I liked the huge weighing scale by Louise Bourgeois, each end filled with a blue liquid - the different rates of evaporation tilting the scales.


  11. 24th Street

  12. Barbara Gladstone: Vito Acconci's cool robot-like installation, with radios for ears, video cameras for eyes, etc.

  13. Metro Pictures: A group show, most of which made no impression on me, apart from Olaf Breuning's huge photograph.

  14. Matthew Marks: Canvases in various shades of grey by Ellsworth Kelly, the American artist normally known for his use of vivid colours.

  15. Andrea Rosen: More Than One The most engrossing of the group shows. Wonderful, wonderful archive photos. Famous pictures like Weegee's incredibly crowded Coney Island and Ormond Gigli's Girls In Windows. Incredible pictures by Mole and Thomas, whose human formations, such as this one of the Statue of Liberty made up of 18,000 army officers, are just mind-boggling. I also loved Neal Slavin's photos, particularly the one taken at a 60s Electrolux convention.

  16. Luhring Augustine: A group show which clearly meant nothing to me, as I took no notes.

  17. Charles Cowles: Famed pop artist Richard Hamilton's Swingeing London - photorealist paintings based on sensational newspaper reports of the trial of Mick Jagger and Keith Richard.

  18. Gagosian: Monitor Vol I - an excellent group show curated by gallery staff. I liked Susan Hiller's Psi Girls which uses clips from Carrie, Firestarter and similar horror films which revolve around teenaged girls with psychic powers. I loved Wood and Harrison's series of short, amusing films. Best of all was this song, 27, and its accompanying video, by Swedish artist Tobias Bernstrup. I watched it several times, transfixed. 27 is the supreme eighties tribute. Like Stephin Merritt fronting the Pet Shop Boys, it is a knowing pastiche and has a cool, Resident Evil-style video.

  19. Liebman Magnan: A small show - I loved Raul Cordera's lenticular pictures, which change as you walk past them, so the sign welcoming you to Las Vegas, then hopes you drive carefully and come back soon.


  20. 25th and 26th Streets
18. -27. By this stage, of course, I had seen too much art. I remember very little about the remaining galleries. I did like Roland Fischer's montage of 450 Chinese steelworkers, and I found Herbert List's 1930's homo-erotic photos of Greek statues and naked boys rather quaint. West African artist Olu Oguibe had an exhibition where the tribes of Britain were written about as anthroplogical curiosities, the way African tribes were written about in earlier times.

But I was now going to galleries simply to say I'd been there, and it was time to call it a day. A fascinating day, an inspirational day, and one hell of a slog. I may take a day off in future and do a similar trip around the galleries of Hoxton or Mayfair.

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