Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jerry Saltz on 40 Years of Art in New York City

Jerry Saltz, adopting the chronological format of Foster, Buchloh, Bois, and Krauss in Art Since 1900, has published a list of the major events of the last forty years in New York art. (There's also an abridged version in New York.) There won't be many surprises for anyone who's been paying some degree of attention, but he does mention a few pieces that unfortunately don't get talked about much anymore: Walter De Maria's New York Earth Room, Daniel Joseph Martinez's I Can't Ever Imagine Wanting to Be White, and Alan Sonfist's Time Landscape.

While New York's editors isolate the inclusion of a 1986 Warhol self-portrait as a serious 'argument starter', the real controversy would seem to come from the 2004 entry (emphasis added):
Having opened a 292,000-square-foot space in upstate Beacon, N.Y., the year before, Dia, under director Michael Govan ... unforgivably closes down Dia’s West 22nd Street building. Thus, Govan oversaw the loss of the first space in Chelsea -- one of the most important exhibition sites in the world. This is the most lamentable misstep in New York exhibition history.

Even if you can't get endorse that type of hyperbole, there are still enough great moments to make it worth reading. A choice anecdote from Saltz's 1993:

At a dinner given for Anselm Kiefer, after his opening at Marianne Goodman Gallery, raw food is served to the crème-del-a-crème of the art world as they sit at long white tables atop a floor covered with white sand, as actors mimed dance. The decadent dinner marks the last gasp of 1980s hubris. As we entered the dining hall, artist David Salle looked at me and said, "They’re going to kill us all." And then he left.