Category: Incisive Reportage

¡Art World Smackdown! William Powhida does a diving elbow drop on the New Museum.

See it at its most splendorous: LARGE. (Image courtesy of William Powhida.)

Brooklyn-based artist William Powhida takes down the New Museum‘s super cozy, highly-questionable relationships with some big-time collectors and gallerists in the upcoming cover of the November Brooklyn Rail. And C-Mon gets a passing mention for being “ethically outraged”!!! (In the future, Mr. Powhida, if you ever want to draw me, here’s what I look like. As you’ll see, I’ve got a much better rack than Tyler Green.)

Sorry I’m not in town for the NuMu pile-on (I’m working on cultivating a veritable constellation of bug bites here in Costa Rica), but you can read all about the brouhaha here, here, here and here. At posting time, I was waiting for the NY Times Artsbeat blog to get on the case. C’mon dudes: this is home turf. Come out swingin’!!

The Taxonomy of Art.

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As part of our ongoing mission to make art more accessible to a wider audience, the staff here at C-Mon recently went into mind-meld mode to produce this handy new taxonomy that categorizes all art into one of two easy-to-understand categories: stoner and douche. So the next time you find yourself at a high-falutin’ Chelsea cocktail party and someone makes a tangential reference to Fluxus, you’ll be able to add to the discussion by stating, “Hey, that’s stoner and douche!”

Special thanks to Ben B, El Celso and San Suzie for their contributions to this important scholarly project.

What I did During Spring Break: The American Academy in Rome.

In recovery at the Academy.

If there is one recommendation I can make to anyone in the art industry at this moment of global doom, it is: Become really good friends with a fellow at the American Academy in Rome so that you can stay there. Located on a hilltop, above trendy Trastevere, the Academy houses more than two dozen fellows, who live in a McKim, Mead and White building and dine on a local foods menu inspired by Alice Waters. After long days of work and study, they retire to the well-tended garden, where they reflect on the day’s drinking thinking. It’s like a 19th century sanatorium for the nervous children of the well-to-do. I kept expecting to see a nurse rearranging patients in wicker wheelchairs on the patio. 

I made it into the Academy as a free-loading guest of San Suzie. For a whopping seven days I hung out in what is effectively academia central, a geek’s wet dream of artists, architects and writers (many with advanced degrees) working on ambitious projects and thinking deep thoughts. There were recitations in Latin. A speech-laden meal that celebrated Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. And a champagne cocktail party for visiting artist Jenny Holzer. Party on, dudes! Any other spare moments I may have had were spent drinking cappuccinos in the company of a barista who told me I looked like Salma Hayek. Clearly, the Academy is an oasis from reality. Kinda like a Canyon Ranch for Ph.D.’s, but with open bar. All I gotta say is that it’s the bestest, smartest hotel I ever stayed at. Though some alum really needs to think about funding a hot tub. 

Grazie, Academy and San Suzie! (And to Brad and Dona for loaning us their space.)



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The Sounds of Swine Flu. Or why I heart Latinos.

My people are so enterprising. Or they just have an incredibly morbid sense of humor. There’s already a slew of influenza-related Latin songs out there, and they are all delightfully low-brow. The above video, for example, has a reggaeton vibe, lots of amateur booty shaking and an inexplicable shot of a rapping guy dressed as Osama bin Laden. (WTF???)

Music blog Sound Taste, run by an esteemed colleague mine, has the scoopy scoop on all the latest Latin music tributes to the swine flu, including a trombone-laced Duranguense bit (video #4), an acoustic ballad set to the tune of the Cure’s Monday, I’m in Love (video #5) and a punk corrido that channels Iggy Pop, with accordions (video #6). Sublime!

If humanity is left standing after this little pandemic, I’m hoping that Time-Life will be thoughtful enough to issue these as a compilation.

MAXXI Padding: San Suzie’s preview of Zaha Hadid’s upcoming Rome museum.

The smart museum comes with louvered ceiling panels that open and close automatically with changes in the sun’s position. (Photos by San Suzie.)

Ever since the Guggenheim and Frank Gehry managed to turn a not-particularly-interesting regional capital into a must-see art destination, cities major and minor have been clamoring for their own contemporary art palace designed by a starchitect. Rome’s contribution to the trend is the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, or MAXXI, a colossus of glass, steel and concrete designed by the prima superstar del momento, Zaha Hadid. Several weeks ago we were fortunate to horn in on architecture writer and Rome Prize winner Cathy Lang Ho‘s tour of the unfinished building. The 20,000 square meters of exhibit space (more than 200,000 square feet) were still full of forklifts, cables, and bellissimi Italian construction workers; nonetheless, we have to admit that we were head over heels for the clean, open spaces, curved walls, and louvered ceiling panels of Ms. Hadid’s “Cultural Space for the [sic] 21st Century Arts.”

The only problem, as we can see it, is that the museum doesn’t have much 21st century art. Or much art of any century for that matter; its collection is tiny. We are hoping that the €80,000,000 price tag (that’s $108 million greenbacks) of the building hasn’t eaten up the entire art budget. If it has, they might consider turning the museum — chock full of graceful ramps — into the world’s most spectacular skatepark.

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Lehman Bros. CEO a top art collector. For a few more minutes.

Richard Fuld
You gotta know when to Fuld ‘em. (Image courtesy of Forbes.)

In addition to having a multi-million dollar Greenwich, Conn. mansion with 20 rooms and a squash court, it turns out that Lehman Bros. CEO Richard Fuld, and his wife Kathleen, regularly make ARTNews‘s Top 200 Collectors list for their “works on paper, especially postwar and contemporary.” Which leads me to believe that there’s gonna be a bunch of postwar and contemporary works on paper hitting a local auction house sometime soon. If they don’t get shredded by p.o.’d Lehman traders first. In the meantime, Fuld’s fall should presumably open up a slot on next year’s Top Collectors list.

(Thanks to Todd Kessler for the heads up!)

Art Merch: David’s Pee Pee Edition.

David's Pee Pee
But what does the backside look like? (Photo by San Suzie.)

Just off the Piazza Venezia, where the biggest, blingiest monument in all of Italy — the memorial to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy — looms over a traffic circle that puts any L.A. freeway to shame, I was halted in my tracks by this admirable piece of local art merch: men’s boxer shorts featuring the salsiccia belonging to none other than Michelangelo’s David. There is a raging debate among local art historians as to whether this fine dong truly belongs to David or is simply a knockoff from some other statue. (I’ll be investigating as soon as I get to Florence.) In the meantime, we report, you decide.

Damien Hirst’s diamond skull: $24.95 edition.

Z Gallerie
Buy this and save $99,000,075 million

Want to “give your home an edgy look with some serious pizzazz?Well, look no further. Because “lifestyle retailer” Z Gallerie has just the home design trinket for you: a bling-a-rrific metallic skull that bears an uncanny resemblance to Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted sculpture, For the Love of God — only this version is almost $100 million cheaper. The best part: gift wrap is only $4.25 (shipping not included). Which means that you can purchase this fine piece of home design for yourself and more than a hundred of your closest friends — and still not come close to reaching the original’s price tag (which is almost seven times the GDP of Tuvalu). Act now. Or until Lladro comes out with a $19.95 version of Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles.

(Many thanks to Ryan Frank for the link.)

Update & Correction: Paddy Johnson over at AFC rightly points out that Hirst’s skull is now valued at £150 million (or about $263 million) — roughly the GDP of Micronesia.

Further Update: See what a pal of mine and I made with this fine piece of home décor merch.