Chronicles of an undercover reporter From Paris to New York
Richard Prince was unable to attend his Paris opening at Almine Rech, having returned to New York after his mother was taken ill. A shame. His work was priced at $700,000 a piece. It was expensive.
As for Jeff Koons, he brought along his entire family for his retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. He has at least six children, a wife, nannies, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., and a mother in a wheelchair, who he asked when passing his earliest works, the plastic inflatables, “Hey Mom, do you remember when I did this?” (They date from the late 70s.) Never in the living memory of art criticism has such a swarm of society photographers been seen at one opening. It was familial and glamorous.
In Bottrop, at Wade Guyton’s opening, there wasn’t a single society snapper in sight. Bottrop? It’s a small provincial town 45 minutes from Cologne. The Galerie Gisela Capitain had assembled a dozen or so people to visit the Josef Albers Museum, which had commissioned Guyton to rehang its permanent collection as well as to produce new work for it. The trip had something of a this-was-how-modern-art-used-to-be feel to it.
It was great.
In New York, in his enormous Brooklyn studio, the same Wade Guyton had asked John Armleder to create a series of canvases, which themselves turned out to be gigantic, in a palette of iridescent colours. Armleder was on form: he produced so many canvases that there wasn’t actually room to hang them all (despite its being one of the biggest studios I’ve ever had the privilege to visit). So he piled them up one on the other. The viewing took place during the big-bucks week for New York auction houses, when the circuit of ticketed galas and chic fundraisers for all manner of institutions is at its highest pitch. At Wade’s there were only friends, a pizza van parked out front and trestle tables. It was free.
Paris Photo: I laughed a lot over my fellow critic Éric Troncy’s review of the Mapplethorpe exhibition which Isabelle Huppert “curated” at the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery. “I hope she won’t feel qualified to perform open-heart surgery should I someday I require it…” It must be said that by making him so respectable and so barely sexual, Huppert seemed to have disactivated Mapplethorpe. It was a bit sad and prudish.
The Galerie Balice Hertling organized an Olivier Zahm exhibition without in the least disactivating the erotic charge of his photos. A wonderful print of his very pregnant wife, enthroned in an armchair with legs-akimbo in high heels, welcomed gallery goers in Belleville. It was cool.
At Ropac once again, but this time in Pantin, Sylvie Fleury – who we haven’t seen in Paris for almost five years – conjured up a performance in which actresses produced sounds with gestures transmitted by motion sensors to a computer programmed by IRCAM (the Institute for Musical and Acoustical Research and Coordination). There was a piece by Loïe Fuller, a sort of trance dance, then a femme fatale drying her hair, but it was the jogger that stole the show. In a very 80s leotard, up and down she skipped on the very stepper marketed by Jane Fonda in her fitness-queen heyday. Fleury could hardly hide her joy at its finally having arrived, since eBay had initially sent it to Swaziland, thinking that was the same as Switzerland. It was experimental.