Richard Prince Blog Watch: Reviews of David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth’s New Chelsea Digs

richard-prince-blog-zwirner-hauserIt’s been more than six months since we last checked in on appropriation artist Richard Prince‘s blog (er, “birdtalk“), but the man has been busy “birding” up a storm, addressing subjects as wide-ranging as which fruit is better suited to still life paintings — apples or oranges — his favorite New York City art space of the moment — Karma — and offering his opinions of two of the biggest and newest galleries in Chelsea: Hauser & Wirth‘s converted roller-disco on West 18th Street and David Zwirner‘s new building on West 20th Street. One of them is vastly superior, in Prince’s estimation.

On the Hauser & Wirth space and its recently closed Paul McCarthy sculpture show, he opines:

I went to the old Roxy space. On 18th west of 10th Ave. I remember in the eighties people use to go there to roller skate to disco music. It’s been taken over by Hauser and Wirth and at the moment has a Paul McCarthy show. The stairway leading up to the second floor is pretty great. Its an architectural gem. It’s solves the problem of having to climb stairs by being wonderfully inviting. It’s more than graceful… it might be the stairway to heaven. Once upstairs you get the idea of why Hauser and Wirth wanted the space. It’s huge. I don’t follow McCarthy. And don’t know much about his work. I’ve seen some of his inflatables and don’t like the fact that they’re “tied down” with ropes to hold them in place. The work at the top of the stairs is huge like the space and reminds me of the Alice and Wonderland sculpture my daughter use to play on in Central Park. Where that Alice is cast in bronze these are made out of wood. Carved. I don’t know by who. And I can’t begin to understand how long they took to “whittle”. (Machine? The Chinese? The Seven Fucking Dwarfs?)

Before pausing briefly to offer his thoughts on how long the art-making process should take:

The “how long” began to bother me. These works were a commitment. To time. In the past I’ve taken as much as eight years to make a body of work… but right now all I can think about is making art that takes five minutes. To make art in five minutes is what it should take. Tops. That’s it. Spit it out and take a photo. Leave the photo in the I-phone and if you care, “bird it out” to who ever follows you. If it can’t be done in five, call it day or call it unfinished…

And then returning to a discussion of the monumental wooden McCarthy sculptures:

The shapes are based on “bookends”. I like that one of them is tipped over, so that they don’t line up. I use to collect bookends and had never thought to do this… to place one of them “upside down”. It’s an interesting solution to make something common uncommon. There are no books between McCarthy’s bookends. […] It would take an entire library to fit between McCarthy’s “ends”. Or maybe a kind of delusional big-ass bible. The absence of any of the ten “commandments” gives the gallery goer room to walk between the bookend “walls”. The walls form a small corridor. Just before I left, a skate boarder flew thru the passageway with arms outstretched brushing against the walls as if he was touching the side of an empty pool. Although there was no disco music the gesture of his outstretched hands seemed a perfect “bookend” to the Roxy roller days.

His evaluation of the new David Zwirner building and its just-closed Richard Serra exhibtion, titled “Hotel(California),” is markedly less enthusiastic:

Zwirner’s new space feels like a hotel. All I hear is how great it is. Ten years ago, maybe, but the minute it was built it was already old. The door to get in feels like something out of a high-end health spa. It’s like twelve feet tall and takes two hands to open. (Hey I’m not knocking it).

There’s a Richard Serra show “up”. It’s a re-creation of a past Richard Serra installation. (My immediate reaction: the ceilings are to high and the resolve of the meeting between the walls and the floor is to pristine). There’s a poster of Serra’s original show out in the lobby. The picture in the poster looked like it was taken in his loft. There’s pipes on the ceiling and instead of the ubiquitous cement floor… there’s an old crappy beautiful dull wooden “loft” floor. Character? Patina? An everyday “artists” surface? I don’t know. When I walked into the second room and saw the black tape that surrounded “early” sculpture… I didn’t like it’s addition. Sure I know it’s suppose to keep back the viewer from falling head first into the heavy metal and having an accident but I felt that these “keep back” “don’t cross” lines should never have been added. They weren’t there in the first place and it’s the “first place” that I want to see. Isn’t that what the guards are there for? Keep back. Not to close. Caution… do not touch.

It merits mentioning that Prince, like Serra, is represented by Gagosian, whose many spaces all conform to the very same “ubiquitous cement floor” aesthetic that so upset the artist during his visit to Zwirner.

— Benjamin Sutton