"Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr will cook for Pèrez Art Museum Miami" @miamiherald - The George Lindemann Journal

Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr will cook for Pèrez Art Museum Miami

By Evan S. Benn The Miami Herald


An artist's rendering of an outdoor terrace facing Biscayne Bay at the new Perez Art Museum Miami, opening in December. Perez Art Museum Miami

A view from Watson Island of the under-construction Perez Art Museum Miami. The 200,000-square-foot space is set to open in December. Daniel Azoulay / Perez Art Museum Miami

An artist's rendering shows the bar area of the restaurant at the new Perez Art Museum Miami. Philadelphia-based restaurateur and caterer Stephen Starr will run the museum's food services. Perez Art Museum Miami

An artist's rendering shows the outside dining area of the restaurant at the new Perez Art Museum Miami. Perez Art Museum Miami

An artist's rendering shows the indoor dining space at the restaurant at the Perez Art Museum Miami, which will be run by Philadelphia-based restaurateur and caterer Stephen Starr. Perez Art Museum Miami

Restaurateur Stephen Starr Starr Restaurants


More information


•  Oversees 31 restaurants in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Washington, D.C.

•  Flagship restaurants include Buddakan (Philadelphia, New York, Atlantic City) and Morimoto (Philadelphia, New York); also owns Steak 954 in Fort Lauderdale and Makoto in Bal Harbour.

•  Has eight catering contracts at cultural institutions, including Pérez Art Museum Miami, New York Botanical Gardens and Philadelphia Museum of Art.

•  His new restaurant at Pérez Art Museum Miami, name to be announced, will be open Tuesday through Sunday.

By Evan S. Benn


With a small army of workers painting gallery walls and installing lighting fixtures this month, the new Pérez Art Museum Miami is getting ready to welcome thousands of visitors into its 200,000 square feet of bayfront space when it opens in December, in time for Art Basel.

And now, the museum has tapped a chef to feed all those hungry art aficionados:

Stephen Starr, the Philadelphia-based restaurateur whose empire includes 31 dining destinations and exclusive catering contracts at seven cultural institutions, will lead the still-unnamed restaurant at Pérez Art Museum. The catering arm of Starr’s organization also will handle food and drinks for all of the museum’s banquets and private events. Starr's contract with the museum runs for seven years.

“Stephen really appealed to us because of his experience at other institutions as well as with his restaurants,” said Hollie Altman, the museum’s director of special events and sales. “We met with a lot of groups who were either very good at catering or had successful restaurants. But Stephen really has this young, dynamic team that’s able to come to Miami and bring its culinary experiences from both aspects.”

Starr’s restaurant in the new Herzon & de Meuron-designed museum will be open during museum hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, in addition to extended evening hours, until 10 p.m., on Thursday. It will seat about 70 people inside, under a slanted ceiling, and about 30 outside; both dining areas feature views of Biscayne Bay.

The restaurant’s aim is to “lengthen the stay of museum guests, but also of course to raise their overall satisfaction,” said Simon Powles, president of Starr Restaurants Catering Group.

“We hope to provide everything visitors could want during regular museum hours, which primarily will focus on a lot of great lunch dishes and snack items,” Powles said. “We’ll also be open one night a week, and we’d love to take advantage of that by offering beer dinners, wine dinners, cooking demos. And I really hope we can make Sunday brunch a destination opportunity: Come have brunch down by the waterfront; spend the morning with us.”

The restaurant’s menu, like its name, is still a work in progress – Powles said his team has a team trip planned to Miami in early August to hammer out those details – but expect at least some influence from Starr’s flagship restaurants, Buddakan and Morimoto.

“We’ll definitely incorporate some signature Starr dishes, like dim sum from Buddakan and sushi from the Morimoto and Makoto menus,” Powles said, adding that the fare and price points will be family friendly.

In addition to serving the restaurant, Starr’s kitchen will have the capability to handle on-site banquets of up to 400 people at the museum.

“We pride ourselves on delivering restaurant-level cuisine at all of our private functions,” Powles said. “The best feedback we get from clients is when they tell us their food didn’t taste like a mass-produced, catered dinner.”

Museum leaders also have talked with Starr about rotating in seasonal dishes based on the background of exhibiting artists. Starr and his Asian-leaning cuisine should have no problem finding food to fit with the works of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who will be featured at the museum from December through March. But what about when the spring-summer “Caribbean: Crossworlds of the World” installation comes to town? Does he have recipes in his repertoire to complement Brazilian painter Beatriz Milhazes’ fall exhibit?

Leann Standish, the museum’s deputy director of external affairs, smiled.

“Something we love about Stephen was how creative he is,” Standish said. “He’s very flexible and able to respond to what Miami wants.”

The three-level Pérez Art Museum is located in downtown Miami’s Museum Park, the new name for Bicentennial Park. The space is about three times larger than the Miami Art Museum’s former Flagler Street home and will face the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, set to open in 2015.

The $220 million museum project is being paid for with about $100 million in public money, which Miami-Dade voters approved with a 2004 general obligation bond, and about $120 million in private donations (including $40 million in cash and art from developer Jorge Pérez, the naming donor, and $1 million from Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross).

Starr’s restaurant at Pérez Art Museum will be his third in South Florida; he opened Steak 954 at the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale in 2009 and Makoto at the Bal Harbour Shops in 2011. Having been named Bon Appétit magazine’s 2005 Restaurateur of the Year, Starr’s reach includes 20 restaurants in Philadelphia as well as others in New York, Atlantic City and Washington, D.C. His permanent catering gigs include New York Botanical Gardens, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Pérez Art Museum restaurant will be Starr’s first partnership with a Florida cultural institution – bringing his number of exclusive contracts nationwide to eight – and will mark his foray into the region’s catering and special-events market.

Powles said the catering group is looking at two or three potential spaces for a commissary kitchen in Miami to prepare food for non-museum jobs. Starr will have a staff of seven managers at the museum, plus another team for off-site catering.

“We’re very excited about taking our catering brand into the Miami market,” said Powles, who formerly led Wolfgang Puck’s catering business. “We’ve had great success with Steak 954 and Makoto, and obviously we think the Pérez Art Museum is going to be a spectacular venue. Stephen is very committed to South Florida and building our name there.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/22/v-fullstory/3514733/philadelphia-restaurateur-stephen.html#storylink=cpy

"London’s Neighborhood to Show and Be Shown" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Late last month, an opening of a Robert Irwin exhibition at Pace London, very close to Claridges hotel.

Published: July 15, 2013

LONDON — Mayfair is known for its high-end fashion boutiques: Prada, Burberry, Yves St. Laurent. And for more than a century, this area’s elegant streets have also been the home of the top old-guard British art galleries.

Recently, however, there have been some new neighbors: many high-powered American art galleries — Gagosian, Pace, Hauser & Wirth, Michael Werner, David Zwirner — that seem more Manhattan than Mayfair.

A number of them have opened or expanded their spaces in this neighborhood, paying top dollar for commercial rents. And in the me-too world of contemporary art, other galleries, also mostly American, are soon to follow.

“There is art on the street at a level that’s never been seen before,” said David Rosen, a London real estate developer, who says he is busier than ever finding new gallery spaces in the area.

In many ways, the new galleries are a sign of the heated competition at the top of the market. Dealers are competing not only for new collectors from places like Russia, China and the Middle East, who have bought homes here, but also for top artists, who increasingly demand dealers with global reach.

And London may become the city of choice for that kind of extended influence, with Mayfair as its epicenter.

“That’s where it’s all happening,” Mr. Rosen said. “There’s Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Claridges, the Connaught and the Ritz,” he noted, reeling off the names of big auction houses and world-famous hotels in the neighborhood. Foreign governments and hedge funds, as well as scores of other high-profile businesses, also have offices around Mayfair. And Mercury Group, the Russian owner of Phillips, the boutique auction house, recently paid about $160 million for a 52,000-square-foot building at 30 Berkeley Square, where it plans to make the basement and the first and second floors into Phillips’s London headquarters.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, smaller galleries with strong New York connections have also opened, some in upstairs spaces, like Per Skarstedt and Eykyn Maclean.

Mayfair’s latest art-centric turn started with Larry Gagosian, who opened his first London gallery about 13 years ago. He is now opening his third gallery here — a 22,000-square-foot space at 20 Grosvenor Hill — in October.

“I like the adventure of opening galleries in different parts of the world,” Mr. Gagosian said, adding that many European collectors shop in London, but don’t necessarily come to New York.

His other two galleries are on nearby Davies Street, also in Mayfair, and another is farther away, on Britannia Street, a stone’s throw from Kings Cross. But he decided to open a larger space in Mayfair after a collector in London told him, “I love you, Larry, but I just don’t have the time to go all the way to Britannia Street.” The new gallery will be Mr. Gagosian’s 13th worldwide.

Marc Glimcher, president of Pace Gallery, reluctantly admitted that his company opened the London gallery partly for fear of losing artists to Mr. Gagosian.

“Yes, there’s some truth to that,” Mr. Glimcher said when asked. “Gagosian made a brilliant move in 2000 when he opened in London.”

Pace now runs four spaces in New York, one in Beijing and two here in London: a small one in Soho and a large gallery in Mayfair in part of what was once the Museum of Mankind.

“We’re all chasing the same artists,” Mr. Glimcher said. “But the intensity of interest in art in London is long-lasting. You can get 10 reviews in 10 different newspapers. And besides the new collectors and galleries, there is a very vibrant museum community.”

Last fall, David Zwirner, perhaps Mr. Gagosian’s fiercest rival, opened a gallery in an 18th-century town house on Grafton Street, in which Helena Rubenstein started a beauty clinic in 1909; it was more recently a bank. He hired Annabelle Selldorf, the New York architect, to renovate that 10,000-square-foot building, which has five floors of gallery and office space. “I wanted a European presence,” Mr. Zwirner said, “and London is the second-most-important town after New York.”

Dealers say that doing business in London is different from selling in New York. “Nobody just drops in and buys something, like they do in New York,” explained Iwan Wirth, a partner of Hauser & Wirth, which now runs two large spaces in London. “We work on the Swiss model, developing relationships with collectors slowly.”

Although Hauser & Wirth began in Zurich, where it still has a gallery, along with two in New York, Mr. Wirth said it was not till he opened in London that he was considered an international dealer. He now also runs two spaces in London, one on Piccadilly and another nearby, on Savile Row.

Even the cautious have found that it is time to jump in. The Michael Werner Gallery first dipped its toes in the market here, opening temporary “pop-up” spaces on Mansfield Street, in the Marylebone neighborhood, in 2008, and then on Hoxton Square, in the East End, three years ago.

The gallery just added a third floor of space in a period house on Upper Brook Street, in the heart of Mayfair.

“Artists want to show in places where there are other artists,” said Gordon VeneKlasen, Mr. Werner’s partner in the gallery. “In the fall, when we had an exhibition of Peter Doig’s paintings, we had about 200 people a day here for three months,” he said, referring to the Scottish painter. Right now, the setting — large rooms with intricately carved Victorian woodwork, an elaborate fireplace and a glass-ceilinged winter garden — is the backdrop for two monumental paintings and a bronze sculpture by the Danish artist Per Kirkeby.

The cost of running so many galleries, dealers say, is astronomical, and London is exceptionally expensive. Mr. Rosen estimates that spaces in Mayfair usually rent for about £100 (about $160) a square foot per year, and that the average gallery is a minimum of 10,000 square feet. On top of that, he pointed out, there are taxes which he described as “half again as much.” That does not include renovations or salaries. “Yes the cost is huge,” Mr. VeneKlasen said. “But so far it’s more than paid for itself.”

The investment does not seem to be scaring off other dealers. Marian Goodman, who has her well-established galleries in Paris and on 57th Street in New York, is looking for space. “We’re not out to conquer the universe like some of the men,” she said. “We’re really doing this for our artists, because a lot of them don’t show in London.”

Ms. Goodman added, “Now seems to be the right time.”

"MOCA chief Bonnie Clearwater leaving for Fort Lauderdale museum" @miamiherald - The George Lindemann Journal

By Hannah Sampson


Bonnie Clearwater, the art world powerhouse credited with raising the profile of North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, announced Wednesday that she is leaving the institution to head the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale.

The 75,000-square-foot facility at 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., which is owned by the private Nova Southeastern University, has been searching for a new executive director since Irvin Lippman retired last year.

Though Clearwater said the Fort Lauderdale museum had approached her repeatedly over the years, she wasn’t ready to make the move until now.

“The bones are there, the support is there and what they really need is exactly what I can bring them,” she said, describing her role as “defining its purpose, its vision and taking it to beyond not even the next level but he next level beyond that.”

Clearwater said leaving MOCA, where she has worked since 1993, was a “very, very” difficult decision. But she said she is leaving the museum in good hands, with an enthusiastic board, able staff and well-regarded young new curator in place, Alex Gartenfeld.

“I feel very confident in the museum’s future,” she said. “It’s really [because of] the fact that there is such a strong and educated board and a creative, smart, resourceful staff that I feel confident that this is a good time for me to take this opportunity.”

She will start in her new position as director and chief curator on Sept. 3, but said she would still curate the Tracey Emin: Angel Without You exhibition at MOCA in December.

George L. Hanbury II, president and CEO of Nova Southeastern University in Davie, said the university has not been able to fully integrate the museum since acquiring it in 2008. He said Clearwater will be tasked with making the museum an academic asset for students at the university and at the K-12 University School.

Clearwater stood out, he said, because of her knowledge of South Florida and connections with art supporters in the region.

“We have been an underappreciated museum, I believe, for many years,” said David Horvitz, chair of the Fort Lauderdale museum’s board of governors and a friend of Clearwater. He cited the museum’s large size, its three permanent collections and its architecture as assets that often go unnoticed.

“Couple that with now being a part of Nova and their real desire to build an academic portion of this museum to integrate everything the museum does to the student life and the academic experiences of Nova,” he said.

“How do you get the right person to do this when, one, we’re underappreciated and under-known and, two, have these high expectations?” said Horvitz, whose wife, the artist Francie Bishop Good, served on MOCA’s board for many years. “It was an international search, it was a big search. And Bonnie has all these attributes that we’re looking for.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/17/3504804/moca-chief-bonnie-clearwater-leaving.html#storylink=cpy

"Art That Turns Both Heads and Stomachs" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

WHEN Euripides had the character of Medea kill her children, he sent her offstage. Today the threshold for thrills is higher, and many artists, filmmakers in particular, have the high-def tools to deliver them in detail.

Works by two artists with major exhibitions in New York this summer offer reminders that sometimes art can really leave a mark. James Turrell, who studied perceptual psychology as an undergraduate, is bathing the Guggenheim Museum’s atrium with intense artificial light and color in his piece “Aten Reign.” In her review in The Times, Roberta Smith said the exhibition would be the “bliss-out environmental art hit of the summer.”

A scene from Aten Reign
James Turrell

A scene from "Aten Reign."

But in a 1980 show at the Whitney Museum, two patrons filed lawsuits after claiming they became disoriented by Mr. Turrell’s work. Bevil R. Conway, a neuroscientist and artist, said Mr. Turrell’s pieces can affect the part of the brain that sees in three dimensions, effectively creating “a kind of functional stroke.”

“He’s impairing your ability to figure out what the scene structure entails,” Mr. Conway said of Mr. Turrell’s body of work, of which he is a fan. “You can’t tell where the floor is. The part of your brain responsible for guiding motor behavior can’t operate, and then you trip.”

At times, content is explicitly intended to cause discomfort. The artist Paul McCarthy has been triggering upset stomachs for decades with work that graphically combines bodily functions, sexual acts and food. For his latest multimedia installation, “WS,” Mr. McCarthy has packed the Park Avenue Armory this summer with scenes of degradation, violence, nudity and sex in his reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale.

A video at the Paul McCarthy exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory on June 20
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

A video at the Paul McCarthy exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory on June 20.

“Even though Paul’s work indicates that things are artificial, there are some people who have the physiological response of feeling repulsed or scared,” said Maggie Nelson, who wrote about Mr. McCarthy’s work in her 2011 book “The Art of Cruelty”: “Where his art has its power is in its ability to produce the same nausea that might be produced were it real.” Given the huge crowds flocking to the Armory show, the public seems to have an appetite for a mass-scale gross-out.

Visitors take in an installation at Paul McCarthys exhibit on June 20
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Visitors take in an installation at Paul McCarthy's exhibit on June 20.

Watching a bad movie can be torture. Is it worth sitting through “C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD” just to say you’re a “C.H.U.D.” completist? (No. Trust me.) But what about movies that actually hurt? In 1973 paramedics rushed to theaters to treat people who were felled by William Friedkin’s now-classic horror film “The Exorcist.” The movie’s graphic depictions of vomiting, gore and blasphemy were unheard-of in a Hollywood film at the time. A clip on YouTube of audience reactions to the movie shows a woman collapsing in the lobby. “As soon as they faint I get out the smelling salts,” says an usher.

Video by exmk000

Audience reactions from "The Exorcist."

The 1950s B-movie director William Castle was a master at provoking adverse audience reactions. At screenings of “The Tingler” (1959), buzzers installed under some seats jolted spectators at a moment in the film when the monster is announced to have gotten loose in the real-life theater. Before viewing “Macabre” (1958), audiences signed life insurance policies in case the film scared them to death. He “didn’t expect anyone to actually die,” said Jeffrey Schwarz, who directed a documentary about the filmmaker, “Spine Tingler!” “It was about the expectation that someone might die that got people to buy tickets.”

At screenings of his film ldquoThe Tinglerrdquo 1959 buzzers installed under some seats jolted spectators at a moment in the film when the titular monster is announced to have gotten loose in the real-life theater

At screenings of his film “The Tingler” (1959), buzzers installed under some seats jolted spectators at a moment in the film when the titular monster is announced to have gotten loose in the real-life theater.

Castle’s gimmicks were hucksterish, and mostly harmless. But his tactics have staying power, and for some renegade artists these days, a warning means business. At the beginning of David Lynch’s flashing and flickering new video for the Nine Inch Nails song “Come Back Haunted,” a notice warns viewers that the piece could “potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.”

Video by NineInchNailsVEVO

Nine Inch Nails - "Came Back Haunted"

Below is a sampling of other artworks that have caused audiences to faint, swoon, vomit or otherwise feel queasy.


SUNN O))) This metal band, known for its deep, droning guitar effects, performs so loudly and in such low frequencies that listeners feel vibrations more than they hear pitches. When heard live, such low-end frequencies, or infrasound, can trigger headaches and nausea. “People definitely go to these concerts to experience the vibrations,” said Olivia Lucas, a Harvard graduate student who has written about the band in her research on the sonic extremes of metal. “It’s like a pilgrimage to discover the physicality of sound.”

Video by salival

Sunn 0))) - Berlin, Volksbühne 2006


“THE FLICKER” (1966) Tony Conrad consulted with an epilepsy doctor before he released his 30-minute experimental short of black and white frames that combine to create a strobe effect. At the beginning, it warns: “may induce epileptic seizures or produce mild symptoms of shock treatment.” In a 2002 interview, Mr. Conrad said he knew of at least one person who suffered a seizure.

Video by alexomat2

The Flicker (USA 1966, Tony Conrad)

“IRREVERSIBLE” (2002) Twenty people fainted when Gaspar Noé's film, which depicts scenes of rape, brutality and blood-soaked revenge, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, according to news reports. “The scenes in this film are unbearable, even for us professionals,” a fire official told the BBC. An estimated 250 people walked out of the screening.

Video by thecultbox

Irreversible (2002) - Official Trailer


“DRACULA” (1927) Four years before Bela Lugosi played Bram Stoker’s vampire on film, he starred on Broadway in a stage version of “Dracula.” Stationed in the lobby of the Fulton Theater was a nurse with smelling salts. According to a 2006 biography of Lugosi, in the first weeks of the show’s run in Los Angeles 110 people fainted, 19 people left the theater “scared after the first act,” and “10 wives per performance summoned husbands to escort them home.”

Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film Dracula
Universal Pictures, via Associated Press

Bela Lugosi in the 1931 film "Dracula."

“BLASTED” (2008) At least one person fainted during the Soho Rep production of this intensely raw but critically acclaimed play by Sarah Kane, a young British playwright who killed herself in 1999 at 28. The show was mounted in the theater’s 74-seat space, an intimate setting that amplified its graphic depictions of cannibalism, rape and eye-gouging.

Reed Birney and Marin Ireland in a scene from Sarah Kanes Blasted in 2008 in New York
Simon Kane/Sam Rudy Media Relations, via Associated Press

Reed Birney and Marin Ireland in a scene from Sarah Kane's "Blasted" in 2008 in New York.


“CARSTEN HöLLER: EXPERIENCE” (2011) This Belgian-born artist, a trained scientist who refers to some of his works as “confusion machines,” had a career survey at the New Museum that deliberately disoriented visitors. A pair of goggles turned the viewer’s surroundings upside down and backward. An installation of flashing lights aimed to induce hallucinations. Museumgoers had to sign legal waivers to participate in the works.

Visitors rode the Mirror Carousel at thenbspldquoCarsten Houmlller Experience at the New Museum in 2005
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Visitors rode the "Mirror Carousel" at the “Carsten Höller: Experience" at the New Museum in 2005.

“EMILY’S VIDEO” (2012) The artists Eva and Franco Mattes put out an online call for volunteers to watch a video they described as “extremely graphic and extremely violent.” Those who agreed watched it on a laptop computer, and clips of their reactions were turned into a 15-minute compilation shown at a London gallery. In one video, a young woman fights back tears and gags as she watches through her fingers. In another a man hangs his head for the duration of the video.

Video by EmilysVideoReactions

Emily's Video reaction

<img src="http://meter-svc.nytimes.com/meter.gif"/>

Erik Piepenburg is an editor in the culture department of The New York Times.

A version of this news analysis appeared in print on July 14, 2013, on page SR5 of the New York edition with the headline: Art That Turns Both Heads and Stomachs.

"Jay-Z Is Rhyming Picasso and Rothko" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

Jay-Z Is Rhyming Picasso and Rothko

Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Jay-Z greets art-world guests before a taping of the music video of his song “Picasso Baby” at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea.

“I have no idea why I’m here,” the artist Marilyn Minter said, as she sat in a temporary V.I.P. room at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea on a steamy Wednesday. “I’m just a fame whore.”

Ms. Minter was one of hundreds of fans and art-world types — Kalup Linzy; Lawrence Weiner; Andres Serrano; George Condo; Yvonne Force Villareal; Lisa Phillips, the director of the New Museum; and Agnes Gund, MoMA’s president emerita — invited to take part in a live filming of Jay-Z’s music video for “Picasso Baby,” the art-centric song off his new album, “Magna Carta ...Holy Grail.”

The rap marathon was inspired by the performance artist Marina Abramovic’s 2010 MoMA exhibition, “The Artist Is Present,” said the art dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, who is Jay-Z’s art adviser and was a host of the event along with the film director Mark Romanek. “Jay has been wanting to do something durational for some time.”

The video shoot added a welcome frisson to Chelsea as the dozy season hit its annual doldrums. And it livened up a corner of the Web, where the topic of art-world fame whores racing to sell out can be counted on to set the thumb-tappers in motion.

Stephanie Theodore, a Bushwick gallery owner, tweeted a wry suggestion that the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei divorce his wife, marry Ms. Abramovic and form a megacult. Why not invite James Franco, the art blog Hyperallergic added, and make it an unholy threesome?

At a mere six hours, the taping was a water-cooler break by the usual standards of Ms. Abramovic, who during the run of “The Artist Is Present,” spent the equivalent of 30 full days sitting immobile in the museum atrium, while spectators took turns sitting opposite her. Still, as Mr. Linzy, a performance artist, said, “It’s epic.”

Dressed for the performance not in the Tom Ford suits he favors, but a pair of black jeans, white sneakers, a white short-sleeve shirt, a heavy gold chain, a gumball-size pinkie ring and a wristwatch from his collection of six-figure timepieces, Jay-Z rapped from a platform facing a bench reminiscent of the set of Ms. Abramovic’s original artwork.

Like Ms. Abramovic, he was a mesmeric presence, shifting spectators around as though they were iron filings drawn by a magnet. With his usual braggadocio, Jay-Z rapped lyrics like: “I want a Picasso, in my casa ... I wanna Rothko, no I wanna brothel,” and “What’s it gonna take for me to go, For y’all to see I’m the modern-day Pablo Picasso baby.”

He reminded his listeners that, like most every self-respecting millionaire mogul these days, he is an avid collector of contemporary art, although he alone turns the pursuit to his singular ends in lyrics that knowingly name-check everyone from Jeff Koons to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In “Picasso Baby,” Jay-Z’s grab bag of references includes Mr. Condo, Art Basel Miami Beach, Francis Bacon, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern and Andy Warhol. He cites Basquiat twice, preening his insider knowledge by lyrically incorporating both the artist’s given name and Samo, his original graffiti tag.

To some spectators, it was particularly bracing to watch a hip-hop god colonize a white cube world that must once have seemed as distant as Mars from the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, the projects where Jay-Z grew up (and where he was known by his given name, Shawn Carter). “For a young black man in America to be on his level of success and rapping about art, and not what he’s wearing, is the coolest thing,” the artist Mickalene Thomas said.

“People have to realize he’s referencing artists who have been shape-shifters in themselves,” she added. “They have to know that a young person hearing him saying ‘I am Picasso,’ is going to look up Picasso.”

Ms. Minter, whose lush photorealist paintings comment on glamour and decadence, said, “Jay-Z speaks to the times we live in.”

An Mr. Weiner, an austere conceptualist, added, “Jay-Z speaks with the times he lives in.”

Unquestionably, Jay-Z manipulates our credulous times as deftly as he did a crowd that also included Judd Apatow, the designer Cynthia Rowley, Alan Cumming, Adam Driver and the artist Marcel Dzama, who came to the filming wearing a cow costume he constructed for a recent video.

“It’s great how he has really recreated the whole MoMA feel,” Mr. Dzama said. And it helped that Ms. Abramovic herself was on hand, arriving theatrically an hour into the event and emerging from a stretch S.U.V. with a turbaned chauffeur. Wearing one of the floor-length black dresses that a friend, the Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci, creates for her, Ms. Abramovic stepped from the vehicle and glided into the gallery with the hypnotic gravity of some loopy space priestess from a sci-fi kitsch classic of the ’50s.

Cameras in her wake, she parted the crowd — “Queen of Outer Space” meets the hip-hop monarch — crossing the gallery to mount a low platform, where she and Jay-Z engaged in a pas de deux sure to go down as among the oddest moments in the annals of performance art.

Two minutes later, the dance had already been posted to Vine and gone art-world viral. “OK the video in Infinite Jest that entertains you to death has finally come and it is the Vine of Jay-Z & Marina Abramovic,” wrote @LindsayZoladz. “R.I.P. US ALL.”

Don’t close the coffin lid quite yet.

Like Ms. Abramovic, whose stare-downs at MoMA left so many participants in tears that it inspired the blog “Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry,” the Jay-Z video was too sincere, even in its cynicism, to be all bad.

To a large extent, that was owed to the hip-hop artist’s way with the crowd, both mellow and collaborative. When a generator cut out, taking with it the background music, Jay-Z called out: “Anyone got unusual talents? Anyone can do something awesome?” He then invited a ballet dancer to perform some pirouettes; the performance artist Jacolby Satterwhite to show off his vogueing; and Kiah Victoria, a music student, to blow the roof off the gallery with her a cappella rendition of a torch song.

“I just love the way Jay-Z riffs on what Marina did,” said Roselee Goldberg, the performance art historian and founder of Performa.

That the boo-birds on Twitter failed to share the love will doubtless help Jay-Z’s cause or, anyway, his record sales. The shock and peril that once characterized much performance art had been co-opted by a marketing wizard, turned, as the bloggers carped, into a tool of aesthetic predictability.

Here it seems proper to resuscitate both Andy Warhol’s famous observation that “being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,” and to paraphrase an aphorism often attributed to the actual Picasso: mediocre artists borrow, great artists steal.

<img src="http://meter-svc.nytimes.com/meter.gif"/>

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 12, 2013

An earlier version of this article misidentified a music student who attended the event.  She is Kiah Victoria, not Kiah Gregory.

"Artist takes issue with South Pointe dog park" @ Miamiherald - The George Lindemann Jornal



When Miami Beach commissioned German artist Tobias Rehberger to design a $500,000 sculpture for South Pointe Park in 2010, he envisioned his Obstinate Lighthouse rising five stories above an open lawn, unobstructed on all sides.

In May, when he found out the City Commission made his sculpture the centerpiece of an off-leash area for dogs, he wrote to the city’s planning department complaining: “If the public art project was for a dog park I would not have considered the invitation.”

The city’s Art in Public Places Committee shared similar concerns, telling the City Commission last month that surrounding the off-leash area and sculpture with a planned landscape buffer would compromise the integrity of the artist’s intent and concept.

However, the city’s Design Review Board on Tuesday approved the landscaping plan 4-1, with Jason Hagopian dissenting, essentially plowing the way for 450 feet of landscaping on three sides of the lighthouse.

Megan Riley, chairwoman of the Art in Public Places Committee, warned the board that the off-leash dog area and landscaping buffer could put the city in violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act, a federal law that protects visual artists against distortion or destruction of their work.

Patricia Fuller, also on the committee, told the board that “the base of the sculpture is very integral to the sculpture.”

“In fact it’s not a base,” Fuller said. “It’s part of the sculpture. It’s an important part of the vista that you see and establishes the relationship between the verticality of the lighthouse and this open flat lawn area that [Rehberger] was asked to address.”

“We need to consider that if we want to work with major international artists and spend the money of the city wisely on important works of art for the collection, we need to respect the relationship that we have with the artist.”

The city’s planning department wrote in a staff report for the Design Review Board that “any form of perimeter landscaping material or additional park signage in this focal location … would distract from and have a significant adverse impact upon and detract from the design integrity of the lighthouse sculpture as well as its intended ‘open lawn’ setting.”

However, though assistant city manager Mark Taxis described the landscaping as a “physical barrier,” he said, “I don’t think [the landscaping] will have a detrimental affect on the viewing of that art piece.”

The buffer, not to exceed 42 inches in height, would consist primarily of muhly grass and spartina (or cordgrass), which are both native, and firecracker plants as accent.

The Design Review Board considered the landscaping buffer at the request of the City Commission due to safety concerns arising from dogs running out of the off-leash area and chasing passers-by.

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Smith stressed to the board that the off-leash hours are limited, that leashed dogs are allowed in the park at any time the park is open, and that the area is not a “dog park” but rather an “off-leash dog area.” Smith said dogs can run leash-less in the area from sunrise to 10 a.m. seven days a week, and 6 to 9 p.m. on weekdays. He also mentioned it’s a pilot program that expires at the end of the year. The nearest dog park is two blocks away.

The planning department also wrote in the staff report that having off-leash dogs near the seating at the base of the sculpture “will almost certainly result in an unsanitary condition for park users, especially children and tourists.”

While the material near the base of the sculpture is treated for graffiti, it has not been treated for urine.

Dennis Leyva, coordinator for the Art in Public Places Committee, told the board, “We never considered, or the artist, urine protection.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/03/3483791/artist-takes-issue-with-south.html#storylink=cpy

"Art Fatigue in London" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

Critic’s Notebook

Art Fatigue in London

Published: June 28, 2013 

LONDON — The spring auctions here, which ended on Thursday night, were a sharp contrast to those that recently took place in New York. There was not a night in London over the last two weeks when sales reached nearly $500 million, as happened in May at the Christie’s evening sale of postwar and contemporary art in New York.

In fact, that one Christie’s auction almost eclipsed the total from all five of the evening auctions in London.

It’s been generally a struggle for Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips to gather property to sell. Unless a big estate comes up, or a collector is in financial trouble and needs cash, people these days are hanging on to their art rather than investing in the financial markets.

The London auctions also followed an unusually jampacked spring calendar that piled art fairs in Hong Kong and Basel, as well as the Venice Biennale, on top of the New York sales. Collectors seem tired. Many experts grumbled that the quality of what was sold in London paled in comparison with New York, and said that the auction houses should have considered canceling their June London sales.

Even the auction houses acknowledged some problems. “After New York and Basel, it was a challenge to keep clients focused,” said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s worldwide chairman of postwar and contemporary art.

Still, London is one of the world’s art capitals, attracting buyers from other parts of Europe as well as Russia and the Middle East. And the diversity of collectors was more pronounced than ever this season. On Wednesday, for example, Sotheby’s reported that at its contemporary auction, bidders came from 38 countries, its broadest participation ever, with one in 10 registered bidders from what Sotheby’s calls “new markets.”

Here are some of the high and low points of the London sales:

BACON STARS AT SOTHEBY’S Two paintings by Francis Bacon — one of the artist’s favorite female model and another of a man peering at the viewer from behind a pair of delicate glasses — were the stars of Sotheby’s sale of contemporary art. Both Bacon canvases were being sold by William Acquavella, the New York dealer, according to several dealers familiar with the works. The better of them — “Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne” — was a 1966 triptych of Rawsthorne, an artist, who was Bacon’s confidante and model.

Two bidders fought for that painting, which was purchased by Alex Corcoran of the Lefevre Gallery in London for $17.3 million. It had been estimated to bring $15.5 million to $23.3 million. Mr. Acquavella had bought the triptych at Christie’s in London nine years ago for $4.2 million.

The second Bacon — “Head III” — a 1949 canvas of a man’s head peering eerily out, was bought by an unidentified telephone bidder for $16.1 million, well above its $10.8 million high estimate.

(Final prices include the buyer’s premium: 25 percent of the first $100,000; 20 percent from $100,000 to $2 million; and 12 percent of the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.)

STRONG ABSTRACTS Abstract paintings have been all the rage recently, and two works by Lucio Fontana commanded high prices at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night. His “Concetto Spaziale, le Chiese di Venezia,” a 1961 canvas inspired by the mosaics, frescoes, glass and stone of churches in Venice, which was expected to fetch $6.2 million to $9.3 million, went to a telephone bidder for $6.8 million. And Fontana’s 1965 “Concetto Spaziale, Attese,” a white canvas with his signature slashes that was expected to bring $5.1 million to $7 million, sold for $6.7 million to another telephone bidder.

Another top seller was de Kooning’s “Untitled XXVIII,” from 1983, which was auctioned at Christie’s. The abstract canvas of swirling ribbons in reds and blues had sold for $4 million in November 2011. This time around, it was estimated at $2.8 million to $3.8 million and brought $4.4 million.

POPULAR IN LONDON David Hockney is always a favorite here, especially after his blockbuster exhibition last year at the Royal Academy of Arts. At Sotheby’s, two works brought higher-than-expected prices. “A Small Sunbather,” from 1967, depicting one of his famed swimming pools, had belonged to Stanley J. Seeger, the celebrated collector who died in 2011. Although it was expected to bring $467,000 to $780,000, it sold to a telephone bidder for $1.7 million. Mr. Seeger had bought the painting at Christie’s in New York 13 years ago for $270,000. A later Hockney work, “Double East Yorkshire,” a colorful landscape from 1998 that had been estimated to sell for $3.1 million to $4.6 million, went to another telephone bidder for $5.3 million.

The sale also included five photographs by Andreas Gursky depicting stock exchanges around the world. They were being sold by Greg Coffey, a former hedge fund manager living in London. Among the best was “Chicago Board of Trade III,” which was estimated at $935,000 to $1.2 million and went to a telephone bidder for $3.3 million.

MIXED RESULTS Jean-Michel Basquiat was a big seller at Christie’s on Tuesday night when a painting from 1982 went for $29 million. But at Sotheby’s, “Quij,” a 1985 canvas featuring a large yellow windmill, failed to sell. It was one of the evening’s biggest casualties, as was “Hoax,” a 1983 collage on canvas, also by Basquiat.

LOW BIDS Damien Hirst continues to lose his luster. At Christie’s, “Soulful,” a 2008 circular work made up of hundreds of butterfly wings on canvas, failed to sell. It was expected to fetch $980,000 to $1.3 million. “Zinc Chloride,” from 2002, one of Mr. Hirst’s spot paintings, was expected to bring $460,000 to $750,000, but sold for $432,320, or $521,679, including Christie’s fees.

But “My Way,” from 1990-91, one of the artist’s early medicine cabinets filled with old drug bottles, did well. Two people were interested in the piece, which was estimated to sell for $1.1 million to $1.4 million and brought $1.3 million.

At Sotheby’s, two works sold for well below their estimates. “Judgement Day/Atonement,” a canvas filled with butterfly wings from 2004-5, was expected to sell for $780,000 to $1 million but brought $651,537 to a lone telephone bidder. “Girl,” another butterfly painting, this one round and bright blue, from 1997, sold for $535,890, or $651,537, including Sotheby’s fees.

YOUTH SELLS Works by a younger generation of artists had some surprising results. Glenn Ligon’s neon sculpture, “Untitled (Negro Sunshine),” from 2005, sold to Ivor Braka, a London dealer, for $299,938, exceeding its high estimate of $234,000. At the Phillips auction on Thursday, younger, high-profile artists, including Rob Pruitt, Kelly Walker, Tauba Aueerbach, Sterling Ruby and Oscar Murillo, brought better-than-expected prices. The South American Mr. Murillo was particularly hot; a 2011 untitled painting by him brought $224,145, nearly four times its high estimate.

BIDDING UP The Scottish painter Peter Doig has been something of a star in London, especially after his 2008 retrospective at Tate Britain. On Tuesday César Reyes, a psychiatrist who lives in Puerto Rico and is one of the artist’s biggest collectors, was selling “Jetty,” a 1994 canvas of a lone figure on a dock at sunset. Four bidders went for the painting, which was estimated to bring $6.1 million to $9 million and was bought by a telephone bidder for $11.3 million.

POPPED Several Pop canvases had mixed results. There were no takers for Warhol’s “Colored Campbell’s Soup Can,” a 1965 painting that had been in the collection of the legendary dealer Ileana Sonnabend and was being sold anonymously by Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire, according to people familiar with his collection. But Lichtenstein’s “Cup of Coffee,” a 1961 painting from one of the artist’s series of a single image with his signature Ben-Day dots in the background, brought $4.3 million, above its high $3 million estimate.

The George Lindemann Journal

"Dia Foundation to Sell Works to Start Acquisition Fund" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

Dia Foundation to Sell Works to Start Acquisition Fund

Left, Cy Twombly Foundation; right, 2013 John Chamberlain/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Cy Twombly’s “Poems to the Sea” (1959), left, and John Chamberlain’s “Candy Andy” (1963) are among works to be auctioned by the Dia Foundation in November to start an acquisition fund.


Published: June 27, 2013

There hasn’t been any news about the Dia Art Foundation since it announced more than a year ago that it had bought the former Alcamo Marble building at 541 West 22nd Street in Chelsea. Dia is in fund-raising mode, trying to secure at least half the money needed to build its new Manhattan home on that site and on two spaces either side of it.

Dia closed its two Chelsea galleries in 2004, saying it had outgrown the buildings. Those who want to see its permanent collection — primarily works from the 1960s to the present — can visit its outpost along the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y.

Philippe Vergne, the Dia director, said this week that he had more on his mind that just the new building, though. Surprisingly, the foundation has no acquisition fund for its collection, which includes works by artists like Warhol, Walter De Maria, Joseph Beuys, Robert Ryman and John Chamberlain. “Dia cannot be a mausoleum,” Mr. Vergne said. “It needs to grow and develop.”

So the foundation plans to sell a group of paintings and sculptures at Sotheby’s in New York on Nov. 13 and 14, hoping to raise at least $20 million for an acquisition budget.

The works for sale include pieces by Cy Twombly, Chamberlain and Barnett Newman. In 1991 Dia gave the Menil Collection in Houston six of its best works by Twombly in anticipation of the Twombly Gallery that opened there in 1995. Mr. Vergne said that when he started evaluating Dia’s collection he felt it no longer made sense to keep the remaining Twomblys because there are not enough to fill a gallery.

The Sotheby’s sale will include 14 works by Twombly from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, including “Poems to the Sea,” a suite of 24 drawings from 1959 created when the artist moved to Sperlonga, a fishing village between Rome and Naples. “Poems” is expected to sell for $6 million to $8 million.

Chamberlain has been crucial to Dia since its founding in 1974. “Dia has about 100 Chamberlains, and even after the sale we will still have among the largest and deepest representation of works by him,” Mr. Vergne said.

Among those being sold is “Shortstop,” from 1958, one of the artist’s first sculptures fashioned from crushed automobile parts. It is estimated to bring $1.5 million to $2 million.

Dia has also decided to sell its only Newman, “Genesis — The Break,” a 1946 abstract canvas that is a precursor to the artist’s so-called zip paintings, which feature feathery bands of contrasting color. It is estimated at $3.5 million to $4.5 million. (Dia tried unsuccessfully to sell “Genesis — The Break” before, in 1985, to raise money for an endowment.)

Mr. Vergne said it was premature to say what he planned to buy with the auction proceeds, but he did give a hint: “There are things at Beacon that are on long-term loan and don’t belong to us,” he said. He was referring to works by the German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher and by Louise Bourgeois.


Ellsworth Kelly’s 90th birthday on May 31 has become a summer-long celebration, with exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit, as well as Paris and London. At the Museum of Modern Art, which has a show of 14 paintings from Mr. Kelly’s “Chatham Series” on view through Sept. 8, the occasion was also an excuse for the museum’s curators to assess their Kelly holdings and come up with a plan to barter some for better ones.

MoMA was an early supporter of Mr. Kelly. In 1959 Dorothy Miller, one of its first curators, organized “Sixteen Americans,” the first show there to feature his work. The next year it bought “Running White,” a black canvas with a giant white swirl that appears to be moving. It now has 22 Kelly paintings and sculptures, along with prints and drawings. Many of these works are regularly on view, but others have languished in storage.

“We decided to collaborate with the artist,” said Ann Temkin, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, “to see how we could best enhance the collection.” She, Mr. Kelly and Matthew Marks, the artist’s Chelsea dealer, devised a plan for Mr. Kelly to trade five works from his own collection for paintings and sculptures from MoMA’s.

Three were even exchanges with Mr. Kelly. But because of differences in value among the works, trustees stepped in to help the museum with promised gifts. Marie-Josée Kravis, MoMA’s president, and her husband, Henry, the Manhattan financier, and Glenn Dubin, a trustee, and his wife, Eva, bought works from Mr. Kelly and promised them to the museum. In addition, Agnes Gund, the museum’s president emerita, has promised the museum a sixth work, “Orange Green,” a 1964 painting she owns.

“Two of the works from the 1950s are paintings that Ellsworth had never been willing to part with,” Ms. Temkin said. In exchange, the museum gave Mr. Kelly two works of lesser importance from the same period. The museum got “Fête à Torcy,” a 1952 painting named for a village outside Paris where the artist spent the summer. It is composed of two canvas panels separated by a thin, dark wood strip. It also received “Two Blacks, White and Blue” (1955), a multipanel painting inspired by tugboat smokestacks in the harbor near his Lower Manhattan studio.


After a decade at Christie’s, Joshua Holdeman left two weeks ago to join Sotheby’s, where in March he will become a vice chairman working globally with various departments, including postwar art and design.

Mr. Holdeman, who was Christie’s international director of 20th-century art, is yet another top business-getter there to leave. Most recently, Ken Yeh, its Asia chairman, departed for the Acquavella Galleries in New York.

"One Eye on Art, the Other on Water" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

One Eye on Art, the Other on Water

Whitney Revamps New Museum After Hurricane Sandy

Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

The interior of a future gallery in the new downtown home of the Whitney Museum of American Art, expected to be completed in 2015.

When Adam D. Weinberg was planning a new home in the West Village for the Whitney Museum of American Art, he did not expect to have to worry about waterproofing walls or finding a hydro-engineering firm that makes watertight hatches for the United States Navy.
But then Mr. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, also didn’t expect Hurricane Sandy.

The storm hit the Whitney hard, just as construction had started on the museum’s new home by the Hudson River, flooding the basement with 30 feet of water and ensuring that weather protections would become nearly as important as aesthetics.

Mr. Weinberg talked about these changes during a tour on Wednesday that offered a first glimpse of the building designed by Renzo Piano and expected to be completed in 2015. The new Whitney, Mr. Weinberg said, will be a temple of American art and a model of storm protection.

“It’s the worst thing that ever happened to us and the best thing,” Mr. Weinberg said. “We will now have a building in which we can be assured that the art will never be at risk.”

Fortunately for the museum, work had not progressed very far before the 2012 storm, and the construction equipment was insured. Moreover, the Whitney had taken some precautions because its location, at the corner of Washington and Gansevoort Streets, was just a block from the river. While most museums keep their art-handling activities below grade, the Whitney put them on the fifth floor. “We always knew it was a vulnerability,” Mr. Weinberg said.

Nevertheless Sandy did force significant adjustments. The water had risen a foot above the 500-year flood plain, Mr. Weinberg said, so the museum searched the world’s leading hydro-engineering firms — including those in watery places like the Netherlands and Venice — for help. It settled on the German firm WTM, which partnered with the Franzius Institute at Hanover University, which specializes in storm modeling.

“They did an analysis of water conditions, wave conditions,” Mr. Weinberg said. “They came up with a plan for us to bolster and retrofit the lobby and basement to make sure we could withstand far beyond what happened in Sandy.”

Now the building will have a temporary barrier system — an aluminum wall with steel footings that can quickly be assembled around the perimeter — and the Whitney will conduct flood drills once or twice a year. The northern glass wall will be waterproofed. And both the loading dock and west entrance will have watertight doors, designed by Walz & Krenzer, which made high-pressure doors for Chevron’s “Big Foot” drill rig and a watertight hatch for the Canadian Coast Guard.

To pay for this, the museum has increased its capital goal by $40 million, bringing the project’s total expense to $760 million, including endowment and other costs. Mr. Weinberg said 77 percent of the total had been raised. About half of the additional funds will pay for flood mitigation, Mr. Weinberg said; the other half will cover unexpected costs.

Mr. Weinberg detailed these developments as he walked through the site, riding the construction elevator to the top floor, which offers views of the Statue of Liberty. He was clearly most excited to show off the art-related aspects of the project taking form around him.

These include a fifth-floor temporary exhibition gallery, which will be perhaps the largest column-free exhibition space in the city and has floor-to-ceiling windows at the east and west ends.

“It’s the first thing you can see coming down the street,” Mr. Weinberg said. “So you’ll know it’s a building about art.”

Four terraces will serve as outdoor galleries, doubling the museum’s total exhibition space to 63,000 square feet, and will feature plantings. Piet Oudolf, the garden designer for the nearby High Line, has been hired as a consultant.

The museum’s ground level will be entirely open to the public, including a free gallery space, an outdoor cafe (which Mr. Piano refers to as “the piazza”) and a Danny Meyer restaurant.

“People can get a taste of the museum” before deciding to buy a ticket, Mr. Weinberg said. “It feels like a community space.”

When the Whitney moves, its landmark Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue will be used for at least eight years by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a place to showcase its modern and contemporary art.

Mr. Weinberg said the new Whitney pays homage to Breuer’s brutalist design, namely its use of industrial materials like the concrete core that holds the building’s mechanicals and the central staircase.

“It’s rough, robust, but at the same time has an elegance to it,” Mr. Weinberg said.

Unlike the heavy blockiness of the Breuer, which Mr. Weinberg described as “castle-like,” the rest of the new Whitney aims to be more transparent, welcoming and connected to the neighborhood. The galleries will be warmed by wooden floors made of recycled pine from old factory buildings. The central staircase will be walled in by glass, allowing visitors to look out to the river at every level.

And if another storm does come this way, the Hoppers and DeKoonings will be out of danger, Mr. Weinberg said, 60 feet above the lobby level.

“If the water comes up that high, I’m sure Manhattan is gone,” he said. “And we’ll have a lot more to worry about than art.”  

The George Lindemann Journal

"A Shoe Sun and a Wire Ram" @nytimes - The George Lindemann Journal

The George Lindemann Journal

Laura Vookles

A sun, dominating one of the three gallery rooms that the installation “Fantasy River” is spread over, is made from about 200 Puma shoes. The cornstalks below the sun are shovel handles.

Stepping into “Federico Uribe: Fantasy River,” a sprawling installation at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, visitors encounter fish swimming in schools, a beaver building a dam and crows perching in a cornfield beneath an enormous sun.

Not until they move closer do they discover the defining quality of Mr. Uribe’s work: the unexpected materials he has used to construct his world.

In it, the fish are paintbrush handles, and the beaver and its dam are made from hundreds of colored pencils. The crows are bits of twisted bicycle tires and the cornstalks are shovel handles painted green. Mr. Uribe’s sun, measuring nine feet in diameter, is constructed with approximately 200 yellow Puma sneakers that he disassembled, flattened and mounted on the wall, and countless radiating shoelaces.

The 4,400-square-foot, site-specific installation is the newest iteration of the sculptural landscapes Mr. Uribe has been populating with his composite creations for the last seven years. Bartholomew Bland, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, first saw them in late 2010 in Miami, where Mr. Uribe has lived for the past 13 years. “There’s a sensual pleasure to his work, a beauty that draws you in,” Mr. Bland said. “Not that many serious contemporary artists embrace beauty, but he does.”

“Fantasy River” occupies three galleries. One is for wild animals, where zebras graze and alligators snap at a cheetah. Another is for domesticated species, with bees buzzing around an apiary and chickens roosting in coops. The third, the site of the cornfield and the shining sun, is devoted primarily to natural life in the Hudson Valley. This room includes pieces designed specifically for this exhibition, among them two squirrels that were once a pair of Alexander McQueen shoes.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Uribe, a trim man with short brown hair and an accent reflecting his native Colombia, sat amid the scenarios discussing his work. He wore custom-made clothing that echoed his artwork: pants patterned with flowers and a shirt covered in fish. (“Sí,” he said, “I always wear clothes like this. I buy fabrics wherever I go.”)

He is also always on the lookout for the commonplace items — tennis rackets, computer keys, garden hoses — that he uses to build his installations. He trolls hardware stores and lumberyards; friends give him things they think he might want. “They tell me: ‘My grandfather died and he has 10,000 golf balls. Can you use them?’ ” Mr. Uribe said.

Sometimes his choices are based on the way the objects look: artificial fingernails glued onto pencil erasers resemble bumble bees; old-fashioned coiled phone cord suggests a sheep’s black coat.

Other decisions are more conceptual, like his use of 45,000 bullet casings for the fur of a tiger. Pointing toward the majestic, metallic creature, he said, “That tiger got killed thousands and thousands of times.”

Another metaphoric sculpture is a rowboat made entirely of suitcases, an allusion to the numerous immigrants who, like Mr. Uribe, crossed bodies of water to begin anew in the United States. “They came with nothing but what they were wearing,” he said. “They were their own suitcases.”

Noting the boat’s oars, Mr. Bland said, “I think it’s so beautiful that he used shovels for oars, to represent the labor that is involved in getting here.”

A prevalent theme in “Fantasy River” is reconnecting manufactured products to their sources in nature. In Mr. Uribe’s installation, many animals are constructed from leather shoes. “People kill animals to make shoes,” he said. “I am destroying shoes to make animals.”

Likewise, Mr. Uribe builds his trees from books. Spines align to form bark, rolled pages serve as branches and covers become leaves. “I am letting them be trees again,” he said.

Mr. Uribe uses screws to secure most of the pieces, and says that the repetitive act of turning each screw is an outlet for his anger. “It’s a very aggressive gesture,” he said, “and I’m doing it thousands of times a day.”

Many of the screws remain visible, and like his other materials, they carry a message.

“I like the idea that people can read my effort in them, the time I have spent screwing every screw,” Mr. Uribe said. “They are the testimony of my work.”

Mr. Uribe, 50, was raised on a farm where, he said, “I had a terrible childhood, for many reasons.” He attended art school and began painting — “Painful paintings relating to religion,” he said. “But then my life changed and I couldn’t paint anymore and I started playing with objects.”

That was 18 years ago. Since then, he has continued to play, albeit with a highly disciplined practice.

“I work six days a week, from nine in the morning till eight at night,” he said. “Even when I don’t feel like it, I just do it, no excuses.”

But it is more than discipline that drives Mr. Uribe. “I work with the purpose of creating beauty and bringing uplifting feelings to people,” he said.

He is a man obsessed. “I do this and I can’t stop doing it,” he said. Then, gesturing around the gallery, he added, “I’m making it bigger and bigger and bigger. It will never be done.”

The George Lindemann Journal