The $2m slave to art

Johnny Naked offers his service—at a price

New York




An up-front offer

Who is Johnny Naked? Well, according to his own words he’s “an artist, an actor, a film-maker, an attention whore”. And now he’s potentially a piece of art in himself, having placed advertisements in underground magazines offering his services as “Naked Slave for Sale for 1-Year Term”. Thus in exchange for just $1,999,999.99 up front, paid into a secure holding account, Mr Naked shall offer his services to the buyer as a “live-in slave” for exactly 365 calendar days. Mr Naked is apparently “firm in his belief that all art is just some form of masturbation…even the good art”. Prospective collectors of this unusual work should visit for

full details.

A year with the Dalai Lama

“How long did it take you to do that?” is a question every abstract painter dreads (art, like sex, is somehow assumed to be better the longer it takes). By contrast, the now-bankrupt dealer Lawrence Salander was always amusingly direct about how he ran his vast business whilst also making large-scale abstract paintings: “Come on, it doesn’t really take that long to do a painting, one can do it in an hour at least, most artists just pretend it takes longer.” Upping the ante, Venetia Kapernekas Gallery is showing (until 3 May) a single meticulous portrait of the Dalai Lama (pictured) by Robert McCurdy, which took him more than a year to create. Even more impressively, over at Gallery Schlesinger an exhibition of paintings by Peter Heinemann (until 10 May) evinces “a stubborn obsessive quality that allowed him to work on one painting, exclusively, for ten years”.

I’ve got you under my skin…

Richard Strange, the contemporary art world’s favourite rocker, delighted New York with a performance at an all-star benefit at St Ann’s Warehouse. Among the likes of Suzanne Vega, David Byrne and Beth Orton, Strange sang “The Headless Horseman” to his favourite new prop, a glittering interpretation of Damien Hirst’s diamond skull. This found much favour backstage, not least with fellow-thespian Steve Buscemi (pictured) and Strange henceforth adopted it as his every day accessory, carrying it with him to a triumphant soirée at Manhattan’s Norwood private club. Here, Strange regaled us with artsy anecdotes and songs, notably “The Ballad of Sam Taylor-Wood”.

Inspiring Richard Prince

Walter Robinson is the best-loved fixture of our Manhattan scene, an Eighties downtown painter who created the Lower East Side space ABC No Rio, acknowledged by Damien Hirst as inventing the spin-painting as high-art, and ruling the roost as editor of magazine. His old gallery, Metro Pictures, is now both blue-chip and red-hot but had no hesitation in granting a comeback show (until 3 May) of his seminal early work. These lushly daubed, pulp-paperback-cover heroines are credited by Elizabeth Peyton as an influence and uncredited by many more. Indeed in a scandalous speech at the after-opening dinner at Bottino, Glenn O’Brien (recently appointed by Peter Brant as overall editor of all his magazines, including Art in America) boldly stated that Richard Prince’s nurse paintings could never have existed without Robinson’s earlier oeuvre. As O’Brien is a major player in the Prince camp (as collector and critic contributing both works and words to his recent Guggenheim retrospective), this was practically an open apology.

Make mine a cosmopolitan

Those that Stalin styled “rootless cosmopolitans” abound in the art world, not least at the current show “Present” (until 24 May). Hosted by dealer H.P. Garcia, a Spanish exile linked to both the Norwegian royal family and Knights Templar, it was curated by Jay Murphy, a Southerner from New Orleans now naturally resident in Aberdeen (the one in Scotland, not South Dakota). His chosen artists included Paul Pagk, a Czech-English painter who grew up in Paris, and Sandro Kopp, a young portraitist who divides his time between Western Scotland, Heidelberg and New Zealand. Kopp also guards a certain reputation as actor and ladies man, not least as one third of the love triangle between himself, Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton and the father of her children, Scottish playwright and artist John Byrne. As such, le tout Manhattan was out to greet him, including editor David Kuhn and critic Hilton Als. There was even Sikh-star Waris, who divides his time between making movies with Wes Anderson and being portrayed by Kopp, including a canvas entered in the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Award last year (detail, above). “He’s my favourite subject ever, I’d happily paint nothing else,” said Kopp. n

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