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Date created
Mon, Jan 4, 2016
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Chronicles of an Art Drifter 3Q15


James Turell's Skyspace at Norah and Norman Stone's Calistoga compound.

As promised I would give an update of my travels every quarter. The third quarter brought me back to NY in July, where amongst other places I spend some time in the Hudson Valley in Columbia County. One of the reasons to be there is my involvement in the development of the Marina Abramovic Institute in Hudson proper. The institute is to be realised in an 90 year old 33,000sq.ft theater on the corner of Columbia and N. 7th Street. Architect Rem Koolhaas and his office OMA sign for the development of the new plans, and we are presently in dialogue how to move into the next phase, which is to create a clearing for a simple space with maximum functional flexibility. With the city of Hudson becoming more and more a significant cultural center as part of the Hudson’s estuary developing as a cultural vein, it would be very nice to see the MAI to open its doors soon and emanate a value I hold dear; the exploration of impermanence in contemporary creative culture and science. Another related to be in the Hudson Valley was to see the amazing pianist, composer, and all round creative force Adam Tendler perform John Cage 4’33” in a Cage|Cowell program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock NY, across the river. In the 4th on July outdoor concert Tendler not only played 4’33”, which premiered at that same theater in 1952, but also the composers Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano (1946-1948) as well as beautiful works by composes Henry Cowell, of whom I knew little. As in my involvement with MAI it’s Adam Tendler’s link to the ultimate awareness of constant change and impermanence that draws me to Cage’s work. In this context its nice to mention that im setting up a foundation to explore impermanence in visual and performative art in our time. The foundation is named The Temporary Center and will focus on bringing people that work with this premise together in dialogue. Stay tuned. In the meantime back in New York curator David Kiehl introduced friends of mine to the new Whitney Museum on Gansevoort Street and I was lucky to be able to join then on this very early, very quiet, and very impressive tour. We can think of the Whitney building from the outside what we will, and I will admit I have some opinions on it, but the interior and facilities are a dream come true for any curator or artist. Much in keeping with the organisational clarity of the old beautiful Marcel Breurer building on Madison Ave, the building is a cleaned up, expanded and optimised version of its predecessor while shedding the heavy-handed aura this former home had. This alone was worth the exercise. It also was great to finally get a chance to see the scope of the museums own collection in all its magnificence and shortcomings. Another highlight was the visit with my friend James Collier to the Metropolitan Museum to see China; Through The Looking Glass, a brilliant exhibition investigating, predominantly through fashion, the influence of Chinese culture on the West. Housed in the Asian wing the exhibition excelled by acknowledging the role of film as a major force in this exchange. The way this was incorporated in the design was very successful even if it was only and unwillingly because it was alluring to the West’s fear of the future rol of Asia as a relentlessly futuristic and dominating society. In mid August I travelled to the south of France to visit the Cote D’Azur and the Bernar Venet Foundation with some friends. Bernar Venet is a slightly insular artist who has produced over time an oeuvre in which one can find very powerful sculpture, but also very poignant works on board and other detritus material. The foundation, located in Le Muy near St. Raphael is a bounty for those that appreciate the grand gestural masculine works of the 1970s of Andre and Serra and Morris. I was most mesmerised by Venet’s later works were he piles his curbed and corroded steel bars seemingly effortless and casually into immense heaps of steel. The very rudimentary mark-making is very dear to me. Being in Europe in the late summer also afforded me to attend the very generously organised dinner of Eberhard & Charlotte von Koerber to raise awareness and money for Manifesta 11, at their splendid home on the Zuriger See near Zurich Switzerland. The dinner was a great success, with artist/curator Christian Jankowski explaining the thinking behind his them What people do for Money, where he will pair up artists with specific old and new professionals from computer analysts to butchers. Manifesta 11 will run form 11.6.–18.9.2016 in the city of Zurich. Reason for me to attend the dinner was my recent appointment to the board of Manifesta 12, which will be held in Palermo, Italy in the summer of 2018. A visit to San Francisco in September afforded me a breathtaking private tour through the famous collection GAP founders Doris and Don Fisher put together. The most eminent works by Gerhard Richter, Lee Krasner, Warhol and many more, some 1100 pieces in all, it is a full survey of late 20th century art. Don Fisher, who passed away some years back, has bequeathed the entire collection to the SFMOMA. The museum, who is now renovating and adding a new wing to the building originally designed by Mario Botta, will become the recipient of one of the larges and most prominent art collections of our time. Opening of the renewed museum is planned for spring 2016. On this same trip I had the immense please to be invited to dive into the one and only swimming pool designed by artist James Turrell, in Calistoga, just north of the city. Part of yet another vast and beautiful collection of art the experience was all the more special because Turrell’s quest to focus our awareness on the transitory nature of nature by making us observe light, features high on my impermanence treasure list. Travelling with me were designer Ralph Nauta and cultural mediator Anne van der Zwaag who had invited me to a dinner the SFMOMA had set up in Amsterdam back in June. Thank you Anne for these inspiring connections. Finally on a further California trip I attended the opening of the much talked about Eli Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles. A jewel of a building designed by NY based architect Liz Diller and her team at Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Suspending the storage facilities mid building turned out to be a very nice feature. Eli and Edythe Broad’s super glamorous collection turned out to hold some very intimate and rare gems, two early work by artist Sam Francis, but more special even two work by activist artist David Wojnraovic, of whom David Kiehls is preparing an exiting show at he Whitney.