The City of West Hollywood is well known as one of the most liberal cities in America, so it’s more than a little ironic that the city officials have been accused of censoring the artistic work of photographer Brooke Mason who curated shows of women’s artwork at three venues in that city in conjunction with Women’s History Month this March. The controversy reveals a double standard by the city when it comes to the display of male and female nudity.
DIEM: Talks Design symposium on November 13, 2015, curated by Mallery Roberts Morgan with KCRW’s Frances Anderton.
New York, Paris, London, LA, Berlin, Hong Kong… in major capitals the big story is art. Why? Is it pure commerce, a new form of spirituality or a branch of interior design? And how much of today’s “art” is any good? How much can the market bear? Panelists will ruminate on what art means to society today.
Ibrahim Mahama’s massive jute-sack installation for the 2015 Venice Biennale.
by Stephen J. Goldberg Esq. ·
February 23, 2016
Stefan Simchowitz is a controversial figure in the art world. He doesn’t own an art gallery yet maintains a large network of art collectors. He eloquently expounds upon art theory but is not associated with an art institution. He provides advice and monetary support to numerous artists whom he claims to have discovered but isn’t a conventional art patron. He doesn’t like to be called an art dealer, but that is basically how he operates. The New York Times Magazine did a profile of Simchowitz early last year, in which they named him the “Patron Satan” of the art world. Simchowitz, who infamously appeared clad only in briefs in a photo accompanying the Times piece, told me that the article is “a work of fiction” typical of the Times’ “bias” against the Los Angeles art scene.
Last year I was invited to view a controversial painting that the owner claimed to be a genuine Rothko he bought at a small LA auction many years ago. The painting was not officially included in the Rothko catalogue raisonné despite the fact that the owner discovered photos in the Rothko archive which seemed to prove its authenticity as an early work; his attempts to persuade the catalog’s author, David Anfam, were in vain. Rothko is a favorite artist and I’ve seen many of his works over the years at art museums and Rothko retrospectives, but it was difficult for me be sure that this painting was authentic. To my eyes it looked like a Rothko, but without inclusion in the Rothko catalog, it was not authenticated. Perhaps in the past it would have been possible to find an appraiser who would go out on limb, but today’s art world makes it more difficult to take a chance.
Danh Vo, Untitled, Coca-Cola, 2011. Sotheby’s New York.
ART BRIEF: All That Glitters is Not Gold
November 8, 2015 · in Columns, November_2015
In April I received a catalog for Sotheby’s May 2015 contemporary art auction with a cover image of a cardboard Coca-Cola crate embossed in gold leaf, an artwork created by Danish artist Danh Vo. This untitled 2011 work sold at that auction on May 13 for $466,000. I was puzzled by the hype for Vo since I thought this territory was covered in the ’60s by Andy Warhol and his Brillo boxes. I was further stunned when I discovered that a similar though larger work, Alphabet L, essentially a carton flattened into an “L” shape, also from 2011, sold at Sotheby’s May 15 evening auction for $700,000. The seller who admitted reaping a huge profit on Alphabet L was Bert Kreuk, a wealthy Dutch art collector.
Chuck Close, Self-Portrait II, 2011, oil on canvas
ART BRIEF: Is California’s Resale Royalty Act Doomed?
September 8, 2015 · in Columns, September 2015
In May of this year, headlines trumpeted that the contemporary art auctions in New York hit a new record of over $1.2 billion in sales for the major auction houses. There’s no doubt that a fair number of sellers of these marquee art works were California residents. And that means that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions in those proceeds, were due to the artists under a little-known (and now challenged) California law. Even though these sales by California sellers were made in New York, the artists would have been entitled to a 5% royalty on the sales price under the California Resale Royalty Act (CRRA).
I’ve come to know Ed Moses as a result of a friendship with his son, artist Andy Moses. In the last few years Ed became my client and a friend who, at the age of 89, continues to work early each morning on his art. It’s been inspiring to witness an artist who continues to create fresh and innovative artwork after seven decades. Ed is one of the original group of Venice artists known as the “Cool School,” who were essential to the creation of contemporary art in Los Angeles as it exploded onto the world stage in the ’60s and ’70s. He experimented with a vast array of techniques and media, but he remains above all perhaps the most influential Abstract Expressionist of postwar Los Angeles. This interview took place in March at Ed’s Venice studio in conjunction with a retrospective of his drawings currently on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and solo exhibition at William Turner Gallery in Santa Monica.
Cy Twombly, Leaving Paphos Ringed with Waves, 2014.
ART BRIEF: Clash of the Titans
May 5, 2015 · in Columns, May 2015
The Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills had its annual Oscar week art opening in February with an after-party for its top Los Angeles patrons at nearby Mr. Chow’s. The show this year was a selection of eye-popping oil paintings by John Currin depicting Rubensesque young women in various states of undress—mostly in lace negligees. Among the well-dressed crowd, I noticed such celebrities as Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mick Jagger. Standing prominently near the front door was dapper proprietor Larry Gagosian, in his perpetual tan and bespoke suit, displaying one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. One can only wonder if Gagosian’s grin was due to his December, 2014, court victory over mega-billionaire art collector and Revlon chairman, Ron Perelman, (whose art collection has an estimated value of $1 billion) who had sued him for fraud in a New York court.
by Stephen J. Goldberg
March 3, 2015 in Columns, March 2015
Art Basel Miami was such a social swirl (what did that Miley Cyrus concert at the Raleigh Hotel have to do with art?), that it’s hard to remember the actual works of art that were on display. Collectors jostled to be seen at the first Art Basel viewing at 11 a.m. You dare not show your face at the next opening at 3 p.m. for fear of being regarded as a second-rate collector. Continue reading →
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938), Berlin Street Scene, 1913, from Neue Galerie/Private Collection
ART BRIEF: DEGENERATE ART
by Stephen J. Goldberg
January 6, 2015 in Columns, January 2015
In September I managed to view the last day of the remarkable “Degenerate Art ” exhibition at cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder’s Neue Galerie in New York City, a museum which regularly displays pre-war German and Austrian art. Subtitled “The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937,” the show was smaller than the groundbreaking exhibit curated by Stephanie Barron at LACMA in 1991. However, research into this topic since that show has uncovered significant new details of this chapter in Nazi lunacy. Continue reading →