New York attitude
By Cristina Ruiz.
It’s a good thing I didn’t start the spot tour in New York because, if I had, I probably would have given up after the first gallery. Why is it that Gagosian staff here, in what must surely be the three most commercially successful galleries in the international franchise, are always so caustic? Even when they’re polite and (reluctantly) helpful, they can’t be bothered to look at you for longer than three seconds so that all conversations take place while they’re staring at their computers... What on earth are they doing that is so important? Are they in the middle of a multi-million dollar sale to Steve Cohen? It makes you want to bang your head against the counter. I am reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago with one of Bill Gates’s art buyers. He had arrived at a Gagosian gallery in New York unannounced. Nobody knew who he was when he walked through the door. He was so put off by the snottiness of the staff that he left the gallery and never returned.
On the plus side, the guards here are really friendly. Some of them smile at you when you look at them. Amazing. I ask the woman posted in the Madison Avenue room with the earliest spot painting of all on display what she thinks of it. “It’s different from all the others, it’s got its own style,” she observes. She’s right. Entitled simply Spot Painting and dating from 1986, it was made by Damien Hirst himself before he had worked out the rules that all subsequent spot paintings would follow. It is the first and by far the best. Unlike its successors, Spot Painting is a jumble of messy colour. There is no grid, the colours are repeated in many of the spots and the work is painted not on canvas but on three pieces of board fixed together. And unlike the other spot paintings—anonymous, inscrutable, boring—this one looks like a riot of balloons released on a winter’s day. It’s charming.
I ask the gallery staff if they can email me a picture. No, they cannot. I need to email somebody else, they say, and the person I am speaking to is unable to simply pass on my request. I guess she’s also negotiating a sale to Steve Cohen. The next day I follow up my email with a phone call to ask if the 1986 Spot Painting is on loan from a museum or a private collection or if it is for sale. The person who answers the phone at the Madison Avenue gallery doesn’t “have that information”. Please call someone else, she says. But the person I am told to call is not available and my email requesting a picture goes unanswered.So to see the image you’ll have to go to the Gagosian website. The staff in New York are so deliberately unhelpful that it makes you wonder if they’ve been specifically instructed to obstruct the press. Or maybe it’s just me.
Next and FINAL stop: Beverly Hills.
The running tally
Return flight from London to New York: £399.94 ($633)
Taxi from JFK to Gagosian Gallery, Madison Avenue: $55
Staying with friends in New York: FREE!
Total today: $688
TOTAL SPENT SO FAR: $2751.75
Submit a comment
All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be
made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.
Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email firstname.lastname@example.org