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Apple Time

Ahh, so much to see and so little time. On a foray into the big city (NYC) this week, I think I got the most out of just walking around and taking it all in. New York has such an incredible amount of activity and emotion on every block: an' everybody's got a story, ya' know whud' I mean? Tuesday someone went on a stabbing spree in Greeley Sq, and Wednesday a hit man shot a guy in the diamond district at four in the afternoon on a busy 47th Street. Sometimes it's just nice to come home.

Whud' about da' art, you say? Well, first stop was the Javits Center and the International Stationary Show. My wife is an artist/designer/many things and the stationary show is a must to see all the new lines which will be in stores this year, anything from paper clips to hand-pressed papers, limited edition cards to mass market. This show also serves as a time to meet, greet, and catch up with everyone in the industry. There is a lot to see and much to avoid, but the real challenge is to bring really great design to the marketplace. In the commercial industry of publishing and stationary, there are often layers of opinion to hurdle in order to get an idea from conception to market. It's a right-brain/left-brain process that creative people in this field have to master.

At the same time, the Javits also has one of my favorite exhibits going on, ICFF, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, a feast of some of the best of contemporary furniture design from around the world. Lots of ultra-suave Italian leather loungers and sleek kitchen and bath installations. When we're so inundated with bland mass market products, this show lifted my spirits and reminded me that there are thinking people out there, that we are not alone. This fair isn't only for established companies either. At least half of the show is devoted to new young designers. There is a submissions process and a long waiting line to get one of these coveted booths, and if you're a designer introducing a new line of cool lamps or home accessories this show could make or break your launch and career. Some vendors make all their sales for the whole year at this show. An important component to this fair is the addition of design schools giving students their first opportunity to show their wares to the public and perhaps more importantly a chance to interact with people from all areas of the industry.

Willem de KooningFrom Javits I made my way the few blocks to Chelsea. I like to start low, on 14th St. I'll leave it to Jerry Saltz at Artnet to give his opinion of Drunk vs. Stoned at Gavin Brown, as it didn't strike me as well. Walking up 9th Ave., I came across Alanis Morrisette giving an impromptu lunchtime concert on top of a sightseeing bus parked sideways on 16th St. She's got a very strong voice and a nice new short hairdo. Artwise the exhibit that stayed with me is Willem de Kooning (one painting shown at left) at Gagosian Gallery. For a de Kooning lover this show is fabulous and a perfect space to view all 39 paintings in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday. What beautiful paint. He was one of the best, certainly the best pure painter.

Many Chelsea galleries already seem to have their summer group shows beginning. In about a 3-hour period I probably cruised up and down stairs and elevators through 40 to 50 galleries: in some I lingered but in most cases not. For better or worse, it's a process I have developed over the years. In addition to seeing what kind of art is being shown, how it's presented, what kind of frame, I'm always searching for a potential gallery to represent my work. Finding a gallery to rep your work is a story I'll tackle at another time. I think it's safe to say that all artists have it in their mind, in addition to seeing if you can get the gallery receptionist to look up and acknowledge your presence: I won a $5 bet once and it wasn't easy.

John Constable, Cloud StudyThe next day I had enough time to take in the 79th St. area. Salander-O’Reilly has two beautiful shows, one of 15 small landscape paintings on paper by Corot from his trips to Italy. On the second floor you'll find a collection of beautiful cloud studies by Constable (see image at right). [See also this Ionarts post, Constable in London, from November 23, 2003.] Most all of the paintings by both artists curiously are on paper. It's rare, for me anyway, to see so many paintings on paper from this period. I was told that it's a heavy bond handmade paper and that both Corot and Constable used paper for sketching and en plein air painting. It's interesting to see a variety of framing choices. The V and A goes for a combination of matting, while the Tate centers the paper on linen with no matting, and both work. Most of the works are from private and museum collections, including the Tate and Victoria and Albert Museums. One Corot painting was bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford, by a Sir E. Farquhar Buzzard: I've never seen that one in a baby name book.

Acquavella Galleries has what is billed as the first New York gallery exhibition of Lucian Freud paintings in 18 years. It was the first time I had seen so many of his painting at one time. This makes it much easier to get a feel for an artist's process. Freud is a great painter, especially of flesh, both human and beast. There is a painstaking layering of paint, and certainly it takes many months for him to complete a work, but the paint is still fresh and loose. What impressed me most of all is what Freud doesn't paint. He's not spending all that time pursuing the minutiae of detail, but instead it's the essential: nothing is unnecessary in a Freud painting.

In order to escape the rain I ducked into the Met, if one can actually duck into the Metropolitan. The place was packed with groups and the guards were gruff. I guess looking for terrorists will do that to you. I made the rounds visiting all my friends and the new exhibit of the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. Tyler Green and Terry Teachout get their digs on this show. They're more astute as to the darker side of museum politics than I am. I was a little starstruck thinking what it would have been like if my dad were Henri Matisse and the circle of friends and artists I would have known. Ahh, but could you really know Picasso? Or was it Uncle Pablo? As expected, the collection has a lot of Matisse but also Giacometti bronzes as well as drawings and paintings. The bronze cat is fabulous. Rarely (if ever) seen Chagall, Dérain, and Dubuffet paintings are included, as well as everyone's favorite pedophile, Balthus (I do like his compositions). So that was my week, and now I'm back home with the cicadas. Now I know where the sound track to The War Of The Worlds came from.

Mark Barry ( is an artist working in Baltimore.

1 comment:


good piece of abstract art,