Viva the poster revolution
Despite the frisson of the occasional street protest (who can forget angry demonstrators outside Kcho’s show at Barbara Gladstone?) Cuban art from within the evil regime continues to find a warm welcome in Manhattan, and hardly a month goes by without another undiscovered graphic genius popping up at The Drawing Room or Art In General. Now the American Institute of Graphic Arts is unveiling a fat show of Cuban posters of the last half century. Occupying their Strathmore Gallery, “¡Propaganda!” gathers agit-prop silkscreens and offset movie posters to demonstrate a wealth of design talent hidden until now. It also includes many delicious poster titles such as “Che’s Revolutionary Virtues constitute an ideal model for our youth”. This groundbreaking exhibition follows hard on the heels of a big show of Cuban prints, including rarities from the early 70s, at the Cuban Art Space in Chelsea, one of those mysterious venues whose true funding and status will doubtless leap out of the woodwork at a later date in a Clintonian manner.
Another Warhol factory
“Imagine Yourself Immortalised In the Pop Art Style of the 60s & 70s” runs the advertisement in various magazines including The New Yorker, next to what looks like a Warhol portrait of Liza Minelli. The idea behind Neo 60 Studios is rather smart, you simply send a photo of yourself or loved one to their HQ in Illinois and within six weeks they will send back a silk-screen acrylic version of it, allowing everyone a sort-of Warhol portrait at a fraction of the price. These works are “created in brightly coloured acrylic paint on high-quality canvas, gallery-wrapped and ready to hang” and they even have gift certificates, the sort of business Warhol himself might well have eventually established, a logical endgame to his aesthetic. Prices range from $265 for a single 14”x14” painting to $6,908 for a quad of four panels.
Art beats real estate
Another exemplar of Pop business aesthetics is the storefront gallery ApoGEE of Peter Gee on West Broadway which does a hot trade in his silk screens from the 60s and his current paintings. Gee may be the last genuine artist on this block but like any good Pop entrepreneur he also owns some of it, not least his own gallery and his fabled corner penthouse and roof garden on Prince Street, which he sold to Rupert Murdoch for a pop, around $6 of the big ones. A quintessential British art school graduate of the groovy years, Gee developed the Puck Building, showed his prints at “Word and Image” at MoMA and still maintains downtown real estate: “I’m actually making more money now selling my art than I did with real estate deals.” Way to go, Christopher Brooks!
Danny Moynihan’s delicious party at Gagosian to celebrate the US publication of his scandalous art-world novel Boogie-Woogie delivered its required pleasures despite Nadir Johnson’s ghastly PR minions waving clipboards and interrupting the author as he spoke to friends. (Nadir handled the publicity, with Moynihan as paying client, the sort of thing Edith Wharton families arched their eyebrows at). Much of the event’s charm (and Danny’s own) came from the fact that Moynihan is equally old-guard bohemia, penniless poets, as teenage wildlife, Victoria Secret models. The presence of Moynihan’s mother Anne Dunn, New York School painter and patron, guaranteed such mythic figures as Alex Katz, Duncan Hannah, Irving Sandler and John Ashbery. The latter had lunched with Moynihan at La Luncheonette in Chelsea and glancing round the room mused; “Hmm, the last time I came here it was called THE STRAP!”
Wait until it’s dry...
The tradition of the artist’s “vernissage” is still alive at art fairs. Kiki Smith was to be seen at the Armory touching-up her own work as it hung on the wall. “Have you got a pencil?” was her quiet question, greeted by the gallerist’s cries of “Kiki don’t TOUCH it!” But exercising her artist’s prerogative, Kiki went ahead and gently, tenderly added to the drawing of her favourite, recently deceased cat, a final act of hommage.
...or hurry before it flakes
What is Damien Hirst doing hidden away at the very end of an otherwise very prosaic gathering of “Modern British & Irish art” on Sotheby’s.com? Amongst low-priced works by revered Royal Academicians and genteel genre painters, Hirst’s early collage “Mirror” sticks out like, well, like a Hirst, though it does somewhat resemble a bad Howard Hodgkin. “Mirror” is estimated at $20,000-30,000 and only available through Sotheby’s “Signature Lot” bidding system. This work was acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner and carries the troubling proviso, “In excellent condition given the nature of the piece", which is oil and collage on found mirror. The Hirst is lot 90 of 94 and is flanked by Julian Trevelyan’s “Strawberry Hill” and Mary Newcomb’s “Country House in Norfolk” (est. $1,500-2,000), charmingly improbable neighbours. Presumably some friend of Damian’s is so ashamed of flogging an early gift they’re hiding it in the digital dustbin.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'A Hirst hidden in the digital dustbin'