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Feature: The Art Awards

Feature: The Art Awards

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Published by: api-27327302 on Oct 23, 2009
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FEATURE: The Art Awards

City ’s take oN . . .
on october 29, the art community in New York will be honored in the style of a Hollywood awards show. Rob Pruitt will highlight the best of the best in this year’s gallery shows, museum installations, and even a lifetime achievement. and the Nominees are . ... .
Photography: Eddie Brannan / Illustration: Gant Powell

Presented by rob Pruitt at the GuGGenheim museum

The art world could use a little pick me up these days, so what better time to hand out a few prizes? Intended to celebrate the creative community, Rob Pruitt’s First Annual Art Awards have a lot more in common with a bowling competition (where everyone gets a trophy just for trying) than a beauty pageant (where everyone gets a spray tan). “In art, there isn’t really such a thing as the best,” Pruitt says, so he envisions the awards fulfilling a loftier purpose of recognizing the art community as a whole. As the event’s organizer and an artist himself, Pruitt says, “I hope that the awards will introduce art to a larger audience and also make people question the lofty status of art, which can often be alienating.” Rather than emulate over-glitzed events such as the Vogue Costume Institute Gala, Pruitt envisions the Art Awards promoting a vibe more in keeping with his own ‘Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market.’ “Some people have questioned the appropriateness of giving out awards for art,” he says, “But I see this as an exciting counter to all the magazine covers and biennials that are chosen by an elite few.” Pruitt himself professes not to know the winners, since the nominees were selected by a large committee of artists, critics, and gallerists. (We’re guessing that, since PricewaterhouseCoopers isn’t handling security, he’s peeked in the envelope). Nevertheless, with the ceremony being held in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum, and with presenters drawn from the worlds of fashion and celebrity, there’s no denying the incipient glamour of the occasion. But as the museum’s Bronwyn Keenan notes, “In addition to the spirit of community-building, the event will fundraise on behalf of the museum, White Columns gallery, and the innovative ‘Studio in a School’ program.” So hopefully, one day a sponsored student will be standing on stage, clutching the scrappy award Pruitt has designed for the occasion — “A classic silver ice bucket holding a champagne bottle that I converted into a lamp.” In keeping with the thrift required to succeed as a struggling young artist, Pruitt says that “it’s functional as well as commemorative.” — KEN MILLER

FEATURE: The Art Awards

Joan Jonas & Kasper König
We can’t think of a better recipient for the lifetime achievement award than Joan Jonas, one of the first artists to pioneer the use of performance, multimedia and video. Moreover, as a prominent female artist, Jonas was a leading figure in the ‘70s Soho loft scene that has come to define the New York art community. Jonas has never received the stateside recognition she deserves, in part because performance-based art has always been a tough sell around here. But as part of a generation of scruffy innovators (along with Dan Graham and Vito Acconci, to name a couple) who placed their own creative identity at the center of their work and who freely mixed theater, installation art, and video documentation, she helped create a template (or perhaps break down some longstanding rules) that has allowed several generations to innovate.
Joan Jonas’ performance piece from The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things

SOLO GaLLERY ShOW / gallery
When in doubt…put on a Picasso exhibition. When he wasn’t busy fretting his staff about poor sales, that’s exactly what Larry Gagosian did this summer, and the crowds lined up at his door. Who are we to complain about a gallery exhibition with the drawing power of a major museum retrospective? Picasso’s later work shows him to be, well, Picasso. And don’t forget While Gagosian’s Picasso exhibition may have drawn the crowds, the same gallery’s Yayoi Kusama show this summer arguably had a bigger presence on the Internet. Thanks to constant Facebook mobile uploads, her “Infinity Room” really was everywhere.

^ Pablo Picasso at Gagosian Gallery

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Piero Manzoni, Gagosian Pablo Picasso, Gagosian Cindy Sherman, Metro Pictures Paul Sharits, Greene Naftali

The mastermind behind the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” exhibition, Massimiliano Gioni had the guts to take on the Whitney Biennial and establish a new triennial survey show. The result was an intriguingly diverse collection of artists that introduced us to some potential stars. Now the trick is to pull it off again in three years!
Pic a sso insta l l ation V ie w © succession Pic a sso. Photo rob Mck ee V er , cou rt es y g agosi a n g a l l ery; M a ssiMili a no gioni Photogr a Phed by dorot h y hong.

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Joa n Jon a s Per for M a nce Piece froM t he sh a Pe , t he sce n t, t he feel of t hings at di a : be acon, n y 2 0 05; Photogr a Phed by Pau l a cou rt; u r s fischer , insta l l ation V ie w “ you ” g aV in brow n ’s e n t er Pr ise , n e w yor k , iM ages cou rt es y of g aV in brow n e e n t er Pr ise .

oscar season runs from october through December, and that same schedule can be applied to prestige museum shows. So even though Urs Fischer’s exhibition at the New Museum is opening almost simultaneously to the Art Awards, his show is our pick to top the year. Best known in New York for “You,” his 2007 exhibition with Antony Gormley at Gavin Brown’s enterprise, in which he excavated a giant crater in the center of the gallery, Fischer is a surprisingly varied and whimsical sculptor. over the past few years, we’ve seen several prominent local artists receive solo museum shows, only to under-whelm when asked to fill a big space. Fischer’s combination of monumentality and lightness makes him perfect for a crowdpleasing museum exhibition to close out a year that could use a pick-me-up as it winds to a close.

^ Urs Fischer’s “ You” at Gavin Brown’s enterprise

And don’t forget Kathy Grayson’s “New York Minute” exhibition features a whopping 80 artists, so even if we didn’t love the artists she’s collected (and we do) she deserves consideration just for her organizational ability. Moreover, Grayson’s openness and engagement with the artists represents a refreshing challenge to the too-often stuffy and snobbish art establishment.

Klaus Biesenbach Daniel Birnbaum Connie Butler Massimiliano Gioni

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Louise Bourgeois Urs Fischer Dan Graham Mary Heilmann

“The mastermind behind the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” exhibition, Massimiliano Gioni had the guts to take on the Whitney Biennial.” Curator Massimiliano
Gioni at the New Museum

FEATURE: The Art Awards
< the Pictures Generation” at the Metropolitan Museum of art Hanne Darboven’s “100 Books” at the MoMa . ^ ^

The ‘80s are back! But which version of the ‘80s – the edgy empty bank account ‘80s or the scary-slick fast money ‘80s? Perhaps both. With work by Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons and Barbara Kruger, “The Pictures Generation” encapsulated a moment in time that seems to speak very clearly to the current state of affairs in the art world. By layering instantly gratifying pop iconography over a political examination of our media saturated culture, these downtown legends created work that managed to be both strikingly of the moment and surprisingly timeless.

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GROUP GaLLERY ShOW / gallery
How could we not love an exhibition that included work by notoriously lovable Art Awards organizer Rob Pruitt? Not to mention that “Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns” was organized by the previously mentioned Urs Fischer (along with the about-to-be-mentioned Gavin Brown) and also included work by Rirkrit Tiravanija (who can be cross-referenced with elizabeth Peyton), Cindy Sherman, Francis Bacon and numerous other names on this list, all piled one on top of another in a unique presentation that was equal parts collage and exhibition. To answer the question posed by the exhibition’s title: not any ambitious artist placing their work on a pedestal alongside the masters (i.e., any artist worth our devotion). And don’t forget Another group show that saw multiple generations of New York artists happily mixing it up was the unfortunately titled “The Living and the Dead” at Gavin Brown’s enterprise. Despite occurring in the dead of summer, the show was very much alive and felt like a block party as much as an exhibition. With names ranging from Anne Collier and Spencer Sweeney to Matthew Higgs and Lizzi Bougatsos (along with the peripatetic Fischer and Pruitt), it was a happy reminder that the future still looks promising for New York’s creative community.

^ “Who’s afraid of Jasper Johns?” installation at tony shafrazi Gallery

N o M I N aT e D

With work by Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons and Barbara Kruger, “The Pictures Generation” encapsulated a moment in time that seems to speak very clearly to the current state of affairs in the art world.
“the Living and the Dead” at Gavin Brown’s enterprise >

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insta l l ation V ie w of “ w ho’s a fr a id of Ja sPer Joh ns?” ton y sh a fr a zi g a l l ery, n e w yor k , Photo cr edit: Ja Mes wa lton / ton y sh a fr a zi g a l l ery, 2 0 0 8; “ t he li V ing a n d t he de a d” at g aV in brow n ’s e n t er Pr ise , Ju ly 1 - august 7, 2 0 0 9, iM age cou rt es y of g aV in brow n ’s e n t er Pr ise , n e w yor k .

A Twilight Art, Harris Lieberman Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns?, Tony Shafrazi Gallery Your Gold Teeth II, Marianne Boesky Gallery ZERO in New York, Sperone Westwater

And don’t forget We would like to establish a dialogue between the artists of “In & out of Amsterdam” at MoMA and those selected for future iterations of “The Generational” at the New Museum. Both share an enticing youthful energy that we’ll never tire of, but more than that, the Dutch conceptual artists of the ‘60s demonstrate that terrific art doesn’t require a budget, just imagination, determination, idealism and a dose of good humor.

After Nature, The New Museum The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984, The Metropolitan Museum of art The Quick and the Dead, Walker art Center, Minneapolis WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, P.S.1 Contemporary art Center

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Francis Bacon, Tate Britain Jeff Koons Versailles, Château de Versailles Mike Kelley: Educational Complex Onwards: 1995–2008, Wiels Contemporary art Centre, Brussels Wolfgang Tillmans: Lighter, Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Few photographers have explored the potential of the medium as thoroughly as Wolfgang Tillmans. From personal diary to conceptual projects to classic still lives to ethereal abstractions, he has pretty much done it all. In keeping with Tillman’s interest in focusing on the most basic elements of photography, Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof installed an astounding variety of Tillman’s work tacked straight to the wall, framed, or laid out on display tables in a multiplicity of sizes. With digital media taking over from classical photography, it was nice to be reminded that a photograph will always be a picture.


Wolfgang tillmans’ “ostgut Freischwimmer” in Berlin .

FEATURE: The Art Awards
Martin kippenberger’s “Untitled” 1988 . ^

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Dan Graham: Beyond, MoCa Los angeles, and Whitney Museum of american art Lawrence Weiner: As Far as the Eye Can See, MoCa Los angeles, and Whitney Museum of american art Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton, The New Museum Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective, MoCa, Los angeles and MoMa, New York
During his life, Martin Kippenberger was a master at both grabbing attention and alienating a crowd. So, too, his posthumous retrospective at the MoMA, which showed the German artist at his most multifaceted, masterful, whimsical, and infuriating. Proficient at many genres, completely satisfying at almost none, Kippenberger tore through the art world like a brilliant but over-stimulated child. Walking through the MoMA’s massive array of his work, it was hard not to give in to his merciless sense of play.
^ a video still from Ryan trecartin’s Sibling Topics

We have a love/hate relationship to Ryan Trecartin. Yeah, we get it: his flamboyant web videos comment on the fluidity of identity politics in an era where self-invented celebrities litter a fractured, flattened media environment. But we kind of got the same point when Adam Lambert became a bigger celebrity by coming out as gay than he did by coming in second on American Idol. And don’t forget In contrast, Cyprien Gaillard’s art is unabashedly retro, looking back to the failures of 20th century social engineering. Gaillard’s work focuses on the monumental apartment blocks found in poor neighborhoods in europe and the United States, which serve as the backdrops for scenes of frightening violence (as in a gang fight in St Petersburg), absurd comedy (with a sound and light show in Paris) and serene beauty (when a building is hauntingly demolished in the UK). In a similar vein, Tauba Auerbach’s entrancing work seems a throwback to ‘60s op-artists such as Bridget Riley. Sometimes it’s just nice to look at something pretty – or in the case of Auerbach’s collaborative wooden organ (which can only be played by two performers in unison), listen to some beautiful music.

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Elad Lassry Daniel McDonald Marlo Pascual Ryan Trecartin

And don’t forget We have to admit to being extremely surprised not to see Marlene Dumas’s name on this list. The South Africa-born, Holland-based painter combines a thorough mastery of painterly technique with a luminous control of light to make even the most morbidly pornographic scenes entrancingly lovely. In a way, Dumas’s old-fashion devotion to the craft, as well as the art, of painting makes her seem too timeless for an annual award. Besides, since she hates to travel, she probably wouldn’t make the trip to NY to accept it.

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Tim Griffin John Kelsey Walter Robinson Jerry Saltz
M a rtin k iPPe n berger u n tit l ed, 1988 © estat e M a rtin k iPPe n berger , g a l er ie gisel a c a Pita in, cologn e; Jer ry sa lt z Photo by r aV i saw h n e y; M a r l e n e du M a s, “Ju l e-die V rou ”, iM age cou rt es y of t he sa atchi g a l l ery, lon don, ©M a r l e n e du M a s, 2 0 0 9.

rya n t r ec a rtin, sibling toPics (sec tion a), 2 0 0 9; Photogr a Ph by be noit Pa il l e y at “ t he ge n er ation a l : you nger t h a n Jesus, at t he n e w Museu M, n e w yor k , c y Pr ie n g a il l a r d, desni a nsk y r a ion, 2 0 0 7.

Perhaps we should really say that Jerry Saltz was the talker of the year. Sure, he has always been a terrific and insightful art critic, but this year we got to see a new side to Saltz: Internet superstar. Wandering around international art fairs, inquiring about exhibitions with a diligent air of amused detachment, he managed to make the art world as goofily familiar as a neighborhood flea market. You get the sense that’s really how Saltz feels about something that too many people take too seriously.
^ art writer Jerry saltz Marlene Dumas’ “Jule-die Vrou” oil on canvas >

Cyprien Gaillard’s exhibition at “the Generational: Younger than Jesus” at the New Museum >

“Martin Kippenberger was a master at both grabbing attention and alienating a crowd. Proficient at many genres, completely satisfying at almost none, he tore through the art world like a brilliant but over-stimulated child.”

FEATURE: The Art Awards

. . . AND other cAtegories CITY hAs creAteD

cOMEback OF ThE YEaR
It was hard to miss Marilyn Minter in a year in which she exhibited her videos in Times Square and provided a backdrop for Madonna’s latest tour. Minter has caused a lot of controversy in the past for her appropriation of pornographic imagery, but we’re more amazed by the erotic qualities she finds in the most basic pictorial elements. even in Minter’s most glossy abstractions, the colors and shapes in her images have a visceral intensity that is downright smutty.

History will be the final judge for the oeuvre of Dash Snow; in our opinion, it will judge him quite well. In his short life, Dash managed to manufacture an outsized persona through his art – a persona that many mistook as his own. Twenty-five years after Haring and Basquiat, bringing the streets of New York into a refined gallery space should not still feel like a radical intervention, but it still does. Dash was a second-generation idealist reaffirming the vitality of downtown New York. As another note, among many galleries that have shut their doors, we will particularly miss Rivington Arms (Dash’s old gallery), where Melissa Bent and Mirabelle Marden did an unusually good job of promoting new talent.

Marilyn Minter has caused a lot of controversy in the past for her appropriation of pornographic imagery, but we’re more amazed by the erotic qualities she finds in the most basic pictorial elements.

Advertisers love to steal inspiration, so we couldn’t get too worked up about BMW blatantly recreating Aaron Young’s 2007 “Greeting Card” performance (in which motocross racers ‘painted’ on the floor of the Park Avenue Armory) for a television ad. But we hold an institution such as MoMA to a higher standard, so we’re surprised to see their summer ad campaign (and related web graphics) blatantly copycat the emotional charts Andrew Kuo has been creating for both The New York Times and his own exhibition at Taxter & Spengemann. At the very least they could have asked Kuo to do it himself—he does a better job.

This summer was a bummer, with the notable exception of the X Initiative’s consistently stimulating series of talks, exhibitions, and screenings. Better still was their fantastic conversion of the Dia Art Foundation’s former 22nd Street home into a rooftop romper room for art kids, complete with padded floors and neon lighting in the stairwell. Hanging out on a rare sunny evening, it was hard to argue that there was anything more aesthetically rewarding than a summer sunset.

M a r ily n Min t er , cou rt es y of t he a rtist a n d sa lon 9 4 , n e w yor k ; a si a song societ y iM age cou rt es y of t er e nce koh; M at t Joh nson, su Per s y st e M, insta l l ation V ie w (iM age cou rt es y of M a r k woods).

da sh snow, Photogr a Phed by ru Va n w iJesoor i ya , froM t he book , a l l nigh t n e w yor k , dfa r ecor ds; bM w z 4 , a n e x Pr ession of Joy froM bM w ag; cou rt es y of in a ba a n d x initi ati V e , n e w yor k .

People like to talk a lot about the ‘downtown scene’ without ever really defining what that means. So leave it to local ‘it’ boy Terence Koh to write his own definition with his scruffy, community-oriented Asia Song Society, a throwback to the non-commercial Soho and east Village galleries of yesteryear.

Hopefully they didn’t clear out the ghosts when Frank Stella’s old studio was reborn as Taxter & Spengemann’s new gallery space. over the past decade, the gallery has guided artists such as Lutz Bacher and Kalup Linzy to museum-level prominence, so whatever is haunting the room seems to be paying off in concrete creative inspiration.

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