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It's Raining Cats and Cash

There's a cool rain falling in New York City, at the Museum of Modern Art. The Rain Room, by Random International, is a field of falling water that pauses wherever a human body is detected: there may be no need to carry an umbrella again. Think of yourself as Moses. I don't know how many sensors it takes to run this project, but it's quite interesting and fun. The faster you walk, the more you actually get a bit wet. This will be a very popular exhibit once New York starts to heat up.

Also at MoMA is, Claes Oldenburg: The Street and the Store. This is a wonderful collection of early works, made with wire, fabric, and plaster, proving that some of the best art can be made simply and quite raw. These Oldenburgs reminded me of the early work of Red Grooms, also working in NYC at this time, and some of his best, too. With success many artists have their work professionally fabricated, especially large commissions, which tends to lose the quirky spontaneity. But here at the beginning it was pure inspiration-in, inspiration-out: it had soul.

By contrast there is a two mega-gallery expo, at David Zwirner and Gagosian Gallery, by Jeff Koons that is the antithesis of the Oldenburg exhibit. It's big, it's gaudy, and about as superficial as art can get today and selling briskly for lots of cash. Something that Zwirner has avoided until now are the armies of security guards that every Gagosian exhibit has. This is his first time showing Koons, which in itself created a stir. Zwirner had only one guard during my visit, which may be a requirement to show the artist's work. The guard-ification of galleries is just creepy.

To pile on to this saga, the irrepressible and often wonderfully sick artist Paul McCarthy, in Koons fashion, is showing some very large work at Hauser & Wirth. He was also the creator of a big red Koons-like inflatable, Balloon Dog, that greeted visitors to the recent Frieze Art Fair in New York. The always dependable Roberta Smith nails the battle of the big boy's toys.

Everyone likes a little spectacle now and then. I thought the Koons mix up at the Versailles Palace in 2009 was perfect, excess beyond all excess. Maybe we are in need a revolution!

Craving some simple elegance I headed over to Lori Bookstein for a second time to see Elena Sisto's closely cropped figure paintings. Pared down to the necessities, pattern and form, total bliss.

I can walk all over New York, see hundreds of works of art, and often it's the unexpected that sticks in my mind. Not big, flaming, or loud, just sublime goodness. I found that at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, in Eleanor Ray's small, 4x4" painting Charlotte's Studio with Sheets. Ray's work is included in a six artist exhibit. I left purged and happy.

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