A FOMO Sufferer's Highlights During Armory Week In New York

text by Keely Shinners

Art Fair weekend in New York is a dream for the travelling collector, but a thorn in the side of the press. How does one feel like she has seen all the best work without running around to galleries and exhibitions like a mindless consumer? The feeling only elevates when you’re a girl like me, stuck in Los Angeles, living vicariously through Instagram feeds. New York art fair weekend FOMO is real and poignant. To organize and categorize, I make lists. I make a folder on my desktop labeled “new york art grrrl shit” and dream about “being there.” If you’ve got FOMO too, check out this list of seven amazing pieces from this year's art fair weekend:

1. Tony Gum “Twiggy” presented Christopher Moller Gallery at PULSE Art Fair.

In these portraits, Tony Gum, hailing from Cape Town, reimagines herself as Twiggy, Frida Kahlo, and the Virgin Mary. Her work is innovative, questioning the politics of visibility and reproducibility (which proves especially poignant, as she is the only African artist to exhibit at PULSE this year) but not devoid of humor and humanness. Her Instagram from the other day reads, “If you’re at the @pulseartfair, come through so that we can do humane things like chatting, hugging, and dancing.”

2. Namsa Leuba “Sarah, from the series NGL” at Echo Art’s booth at the Armory Show.

Leuba’s work explores African identity through Western eyes. She has her finger on the pulse of the innovation and vibrancy of Africa’s art and fashion worlds. The series “NGL” focuses on a collaboration with Art Twenty One in Lagos. Leuba does an amazing job of capturing and translating the vibrations of the Lagos fashion and art world to New York.

3. Macon Reed “Eulogy for the Dyke Bar” installation (and real bar!) presented by Mackin Projects at PULSE Art Fair.

Despite so-called “victories” for lesbian, femme, and bisexual women this year, traditional strongholds for queer-girl culture are closing down. As the lesbian bar is threatened with extinction, Macon Reed recreates an empowering, generative, and reformative space. With real drinks!

4. Adriana Marmorek “Brasier Girasoles F (Triple D)," made of glass, on view with Nora Haime Gallery at PULSE Art Fair.

With a glass Triple D bra, Marmorek channels both the beauty and the fragility of the feminine. That which supports the woman, that which makes her beautiful, is also that which might break her. Her work is not all forlorn; the glass is also easily broken.

5. Wallpaper by Michel Auder and paintings by Alex Chaves at Martos Gallery booth at the Independent Art Fair.

Chaves’s watery, impressionistic still lives paired with Auder’s wallpaper gives one the comforting feeling of being at home, or at the very least, a home once dreamt of. But there is also something defamiliarizing about their work – the cinder block on the table, the acute intricacy of the wallpaper pattern. Here, we are once at home and somewhere strange.

6. Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson, “Untitled” at Fleisher/Ollman booth at the Independent Art Fair.

Johanson and Jackson’s painting looks like 2016 invited us into her medicine cabinet. Aesthetically, there is order, form, complementary colors. But a closer look between the apothecary bottles reveals a hot dog, an impressionistic lightbulb, and an 8-track. Once again, we are confronted with the colorful absurdities of our time!

7. Patti Smith “18 Stations” at Robert Miller Gallery

Though not part of a fair, Patti Smith’s third solo show opened this weekend at Robert Miller Gallery. Smith exhibits emotional, black and white photographs from her familiar haunts: the Greenwich café where she starts her day, Rockaway Beach, where she seeks repose. Like her music and her prose, Patti Smith’s photographs have an emotive tactility, like the memory of a place you have loved for a long time, a place you’ve never been before.

8. Genevieve Gaignard “Muscle Beach” at the SPRING/BREAK Art Show

In the middle of the New York minute, we get a smoggy breath of LA. Genevieve Gaignard’s installation feels like stepping into the kitschy apartment of your washed-up television star aunt’s Pasadena apartment – living room beauty parlor and all. Her self-portraits, which dot the walls of the installation, explores the LA alter ego, with our narcissism, our nostalgia, our desire to be “looked at” but also to be hidden. If anything, go for the cat knick-knacks.

The Best Gallery Exhibits Of 2015

text by Adam Lehrer

Counting down your favorite gallery exhibits is much harder than putting together any other list. It’s not like your favorite music that you can hear again and again, or your favorite films and shows that in most cases you can go back to when you need to or want to, and it’s not even like a play where you most likely will have the opportunity to experience it again. A gallery show is a singular experience, and seldom do people go more than to passively glance at the work, schmooze with other high society types (note: I am not a high society type, I am a poor person that often rubs elbows with these people hoping they never get around to asking what a critic makes these days), and grab a drink. That means for the gallery exhibition to stick with you, it has to manifest as a transcendent experience. The best exhibits give you a feeling, and whether or not that feeling is the one proposed by the artist is beside the point. The art is your experience, and it belongs to you. 2015 has been, admittedly, a great year for art across almost all mediums. Bear in mind, I’m only including exhibits I’ve actually seen; thus, there will be a lot of New York-centric stuff.

1. Mark Bradford, Be Strong Boquan, Hauser & Wirth

Mark Bradford was recently featured in a T Magazine piece along with fellow artists Theaster Gates and Rick Lowe. The article celebrates the artists and their adherences to using art to a higher social calling. Bradford is not afraid to imbue his work with big concepts, as evidenced by his fall exhibition at Hauser & Wirth. In a collection of paintings and a video project, Bradford explores the early AIDS crisis and our government’s response to it, juxtaposing the horror to the jubilation of 1980s club culture. The exhibit’s most talked-about piece, Spiderman (2015), is a response to Eddie Murphy’s homophobia and misogyny in his 1980s stand-up classic Delirious. In the piece, an unseen black comedian makes jokes about Eazy-E’s battle with HIV and the black community’s encounter with AIDS, while a laugh track plays underneath. The piece implicates the viewers and their complicit laughter. Be Strong Boquan is not an easily forgotten body of work. Click here to see our full coverage.


2. Wolfgang Tillmans, Polymerase Chain Reaction, David Zwirner

Operating as a photographer since the early ‘90s, Wolfgang Tillmans has never felt as relevant as he does now. And that is saying something, considering he has been rightfully respected as one of the world’s foremost fine art photographers for over a decade. Tillmans is heavily featured in a stunning new issue of Arena Homme + with two full interviews and a slew of images culled from his amazing 2015 David Zwirner exhibit, PCR. Featuring 100 of Tillmans’ recent images, the installation is emblematic of Tillmans’ unique relationship to space. The exhibit itself was a considered artwork, with Tillmans using each image to create one solitary piece. It was an utterly expansive work, covering the entirety of Zwirner’s New York location’s first floor. Tillmans’ imagery of life: partying, suffering, joys, and pain; is juxtaposed by his references to time. All of this happens in a unique realm of the infinite. Click here to see our full coverage.

3. Agathe Snow, Continuum, The Journal Gallery

Agathe Snow has too often been relegated to the descriptor, “Dash Snow’s ex-wife.” The legacy that her late ex-husband left behind is one that surely shadows the fascinating body of work that Agathe has created. In Continuum, Agathe made great use of the Journal Gallery’s unique space with its 30 ft-high walls being met to the ceiling by her gigantic papier mâché sculptures. The sculptures themselves can best be described as totems, portals to a world beyond our own mortal lives. A startlingly personal show for an artist who has faced much loss in her life, Agathe was able to create an exhibition that was tactilely brilliant and emotionally resonant.

4. Mike Kelley, Kandors, Hauser & Wirth

Hauser & Wirth is my personal commercial gallery of the year, and the late Mike Kelley (my personal number one all time artist) had some of his later life work shown, specifically the Kandors. Some artists think sporadically, stacking multiple ideas into a single show. Kelley is more in-line with the obsessive artists that generate a quantity of ideas after the one. The one in this case, is Kelley’s take on Superman mythology, specifically Superman’s home city of Kandor that was shrunk to globe size by the villain Brainiac. The exhibition begins with a set of illuminated sculptures glowing in neon that all depict the various ways that Superman’s home planet was illustrated in various different series of the comics. The show culminates with Fortress of Solitude, a life-sized rendition of Superman’s secret cave with the retrieved Kandor globe where he would go to ruminate on his relationship to the Earth and his condition of being a part and apart from it all the same. It jibes with the narrative of being an artist in the contemporary world, as evidenced by the short film shown at the end of the exhibition, which uses Fortress of Solitude as a set. There will never be an artist like Mike Kelley again. Click here to see our full coverage.

5. Elmgreen and Dragset, Past Tomorrow, Galerie Perrotin

“Norman Swann’s Family Fortune is Long Gone,’ reads the opening line of a book written by Danish artists, Elmgreen and Dragset, accompanying the duo’s exhibition of the same name at Galerie Perrotin earlier this year. The labor that goes into Elmgreen and Dragset’s work is astounding enough, but the duo must be credited for creating a whole new form of storytelling. The exhibition is literally an interpretation of the home of unseen character Norman Swann, and as you walk through it, it becomes a mystery that can be solved. It is an engaging form of art, but what is at the root of Elmgreen and Dragset’s exhibition is a rumination on inconsoloable loneliness and regret. Though Norman isn’t real, we feel for him, or for whomever he actually is. The exhibition engulfed me in a profound state of empathy.

6. Jeffrey Gibson, Jeffrey Gibson, Marc Straus Gallery

As Jeffrey Gibson has come to embrace his Native American ancestry more in his work, the other elements of his work have become more effective: politics, music, subculture, queer theory, art history, and more are all given a unique perspective. Though it shouldn’t be surprising to have a Native American take on these subjects, it is simply due to the fact that I have not ever been exposed to it. If that is my fault or the educational system’s fault I am not here to say. I can say that I am a massive fan of Gibson’s work. His use of fabrics and beads are always given a contemporary feel, and his series of punching bags that are all applied the titles of various outsider sub-cultures (Goths, punks, etc..) look like nothing else available on the art market.

7. Isa Genzken, David Zwirner

I have been fascinated by German artist, Isa Genzken’s interest in clothing and how it relates to the sculpture of the human body. On May 1, in Berlin at Galerie Bucholz, Genzken had a honest-to-goodness fashion show with models of both genders wearing clothes she created in 1998. The paint splattered and mightily distressed garments stretch the boundaries of good taste while making us ponder the fact that if perhaps some mighty atelier sewed these, we might consider them to be the highest of fashion. At her recent exhibit at Zwirner, Genzken draped life-sized mannequins in similarly distressed garments as well as other human-shaped sculptures. Along with the fashion show, it seems Genzken is now more than ever looking to address how we sculpt our own bodies in image. Some of the mannequins wear Genzken’s personal clothing, denoting a kind of self-portrait or a need to understand her own shape. Not to mention, I met Kim Gordon at the opening, so it’s hard not to look back on the exhibit with a smile. Click here to see our full coverage.

8. Justin Adian, Strangers, Skarstedt Gallery

What I love about Justin Adian’s work is its juxtaposition. He has this very design-oriented and art deco-inspired clean aesthetic derived from his unique process of stretching canvases over shaped foam that at the same time captures his youthful love of what the pretentious art world would consider “low culture:” punk rock, horror films, Black Flag. Adian said at a seminar for his recent exhibition, Strangers, that he has never moved on from something he loves or finds interesting. From hardcore to Frank Stella, he just keeps adding references to his œuvre. Much has been said of the Texan artist’s thematic similarities to Texan minimalism. They aren’t untrue either, as Adian infuses a healthy amount of humor into his singular style. What separates Adian most from Texan minimalism is that narrative has a powerful place in his work. Adian does have stories in mind when he creates, and went as far as to include a booklet of short stories to accompany this exhibition. Click here to read our coverage.

9. Scooter LaForge, How to Create a Monsterpiece, Howl! Happening

Scooter LaForge had the biggest year of his career. First, Walter Van Bierendonck elected to use LaForge’s prints for his SS 2015 collection that saw LaForge working on an installation at the London Dover Street Market location. Then, after creating one off wearable art garments for Patricia Field for some years, high fashion and streetwear retailer VFiles brought LaForge in to do the same for their clientele. Finally, he just collaborated again with Pat Field on another installation at DSM’s New York location that offers a Pat Field-curated vision of fashion. All the work in fashion has exponentially increased interest in LaForge’s art resulting in four solo exhibitions this year. His show at Howl! Happening felt like the tip of the iceberg, using the gallery’s impressive space to show off all the work that he has accomplished in creating these past few years. His paintings, sculptures, and garments were all shown as a single body of work with identifiable imagery and characters. It also marked LaForge as the first contemporary artist to show at the gallery, putting him in the lineage of important downtown New York artists. Howl! Happening had a very first impressive year, with major shows by Lydia Lunch, Arturo Vega, Clayton Patterson, and Tim Clifford. The spirit of New York lives in this organization.

10. Jose Parla, Surface Body/Action Space, Mary Boone Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

Jose Parla’s paintings are marked by decay, history, and emotion. The massive body of work that is Surface Body/Action Space that needed two galleries to host the large body of canvases tells a story that is both personal to Parla and to the viewer. It can be any story, and you can attribute what you need to it for your own purposes. Parla is able to make rust and decay look beautiful, or perhaps make you realize that deterioration is beautiful. He has exponentially matured artistically, but the essence of freedom within the work remains the same.

[REVIEW] Mark Bradford's 'Be Strong Boquan' at Hauser & Wirth Addresses Eighties Club Culture, the AIDS Epidemic and Cultural Taboos

text by Adam Lehrer

The color palette used by Los Angeles-based abstract painter Mark Bradford for the work in his stunning new show at Hauser & Wirth, Be Strong Boquan, is different than the palette that comes to mind when I think of his other work. While some paintings make strong use of the dark and austere colors most associated with his work, there are also bright pinks and yellows. Despite the vivaciousness of these colors, there is still a physical menace that emanates through them. Walking through the exhibit, I was reminded of that indescribable feeling that courses through your body just before you realize that you are full-blown sick: goosebumps on your arms, chills running through your spine, the inability to make a fist, a feeling of faintness.

The feeling elicited was not at all unintentional on the part of Bradford. Bradford has the uncanny ability to filter societal woes through abstracted images. In Be Strong Boquan, Bradford tackles issues personally important to him: society’s false representation of the queer identity, the brutality of the 1990s race riots in Los Angeles, and the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. The show seems emblematic of the fear of the deterioration of the body, and the militant efforts to destroy the bacteria and disease that infect the body.

Despite the heavy subject matter of his work, Bradford’s persona is anything but dark. Standing at about 6 ft. 5, Bradford has no problem talking about his work. In fact, he revels in it, and loves gauging the reactions of those that observe and examine it. He did just this the day of his opening. Walking a group of collectors, admirers, and journalists through the exhibition, Bradford illuminated on some of his conceptual choices for the show. These are some things I learned about Bradford.

Bradford harkened back to 1980s club culture for the show, capturing the exuberance of the scene, contrasted with the AIDS epidemic that was slowly, and later quickly, killing off the peoples that made the scene exuberant in the first place:

“In this show, maybe I was thinking about this space being the Roxy a little bit, but then I was also thinking about nightlife and what was on the horizon as far as the epidemic that was on the horizon, as in the AIDS epidemic. Interestingly enough, Hauser and Wirth kept all the roller skates from the Roxy and they shipped them all to my studio about a year ago and I kind of hung them from all the rafters and would roller skate around to find something abstracted in the social.”

When you walk into the exhibition, the first thing you will hear is the song‘Grateful’ by 1980s Disco performer Sylvester that is accompanying the piece ‘Deimos,’ a video installation. It gives you the feeling of the substances just starting to wear off and the lights going out at the club: the possibilities of the night coming to a screeching halt. Of course this is amplified when you realize the rest of the exhibition deals with possibility snuffed out by disease. Fitting then that the exuberant track is being performed by a musician who tragically lost his boyfriends to AIDS, neglected to get treatment himself out of devastation, and slowly saw his own body deteriorate.
“The song is ‘Grateful’ by Sylvester, I think Sylvester was in many ways ahead of its time. Anybody who lived through that time is grateful, I feel, just to be here.”

Though the exhibit does not explicitly depict the human body, the body is ominously present in each of the paintings and the sculpture.
“The marks that you see are cells that I looked at under a microscope that just became marks. The show does have to do with the body even though the body isn’t present. It’s more like a ghost body.”

He is interested in the time it can take for a monumental social plague, such as AIDS, for people to come together and speak out against the plague in a social setting. “With the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s, it was pure dying. It was almost political, God came down and brought this disease and it just wiped everyone out. In the ‘90s it started to get political. I’m interested in the military terms we use when it comes to things that deteriorate and infect the body. “We have to wipe this disease out.”

He has become interested in processes that involve waiting and time, particularly his stain paintings that make use of tracing:

“I used to work at a hair salon, and I used to trace the prices on the wall. Sometimes I reduce my palette. It’s like when you have a heavy meal so next you want to eat a salad and drink some tea. Sometimes I feel like my work can be so heady, so material. So I’ve been doing the stain paintings, where I use a reduced palette and it can become all about the trace and all about the times. You do the paintings in about a two-hour time. As this aged black paper, you pull it off, and it leaves traces. I like that even though it’s a very reduced palette, it has a lot of depth.”

The final piece in the exhibition, ‘Spiderman’ is a play on the black comedy best exemplified by Eddie Murphy in the 1980s. Murphy and other comedians often used homosexuality as joke material. The piece features video and the voice of an unseen comedian, a transgendered man. The piece forces us to confront our complicity in hate speech by laughing about dark jokes concerning Eazy E’s homosexuality (“Only Eazy-E can make AIDS gangsta,” says the unseen comedian) and the black community’s battle with AIDS. Bradford is interested in comedy’s ability to offend while simultaneously getting people to talk about uncomfortable issues.
“I remember watching Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’ in the early 1980s. I wasn’t really interested in Eddie Murphy, really. But I’m always interested in the developing of the social contract. Like the “n” word. It is a part of the social contract now, but there was a time when it wasn’t taboo. When does something stop being taboo? I remember Eddie Murphy making jokes, “faggot look at my ass.” Everybody was just laughing! I thought if this is the early part of the AIDS epidemic, and this is now part of the social contract. What I often find is I like to turn comedy around. Like making the man the butt of the joke. I wanted to address social change. I do think there are things that just aren’t appropriate, like calling black women bitches and ho’s.”

Bradford’s work is compelling in its aesthetic beauty contrasted by its conceptual heaviness. He doesn’t know how to make art any other way.

“I’ve seen a lot of hard stuff in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful stuff in my life.”

Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287


11 Things You Need To Know About The Artist Known As H.C. Westermann

"See America First," a comprehensive exhibition of sculptures and drawings by the late, great H.C. Westermann, is on view now at Venus Over Manhattan. The installation features a wide range of Westermann's work, spanning from 1953 to 1980. Here are 11 Things You Need To Know about the artist before you visit the exhibition:

1. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps

Westermann served in World War II on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, weathering kamikaze attacks by Japanese fighter planes. He also served in the Korean War. Thus, much of Westermann’s work draws on the idea of a nostalgic and romantic America, one that yearns for a return to traditional values.

2. He was a carpenter

Before his service, Westermann worked in the logging industry of the Pacific Northwest, where he picked up woodworking and handyman jobs. Westermann used the skills he learned as a carpenter to create sculptures that confronted the realities of his time at war and the post-war psyche of America in the 40s and 50s. Mr. Westermann once said he wanted his constructions to look like they’d been made by a mad cabinetmaker. 

3. He started out as a painter

Westermann attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the GI Bill, where he studied painting. His paintings combined geometric abstraction with surrealist images, inspired greatly by the work of Paul Klee. After college in the mid-1950s, he turned to sculpture. 

4. A cross-country road trip inspired an entire series of creations

Mr. Westermann and his wife (painter Joanna Beall) embarked on a cross-country road trip in 1964, which inspired a series of cartoon drawings in 1968. These drawings, entitled “See America First,” were the inspiration for the newest showing of his work at Venus Over Manhattan.

5. His letters to his dealer included wild drawing and fantasies

Several wild and beautifully illustrated personal letters to Westermann’s long-time dealer Allan Frumkin are included in the newest exhibition.

6. He regularly made art as gifts for friends

The exhibition includes a box with sergeant stripes inlaid in its lid’s underside that he gave to the Los Angeles painter Billy Al Bengston as well as a relief carving he made for the West Coast Funk artist William T. Wiley. “For Baby Ed from Cliff” is a small, rustic rocking horse that he gave to the Pop artist Ed Ruscha.

7. He inspired a generation of underground artists

Westermann’s work challenged the pop art status quo of the 1960s. Movements such as the Bay Area’s “Funk Art” scene and the famous Chicago Imagists Hairy Who were inspired by Westermann’s art.

8. He was featured on the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album.

In 1967, he was one of the celebrities featured on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely hearts Club Band. Mr. Westermann appears in the third row alongside George Bernard Shaw and Albert Stubbins.

9. He refused to comment on his work

When asked to interpret an object of his, Westermann said, “It puzzles me too… How can I explain a work like that?”

10. He was given a retrospective at the Whitney

In 1978, Westermann was given a full-fledged retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Reviewing the Whitney exhibition, John Russell wrote in The New York Times: ''There is in his work a combination of fiendish invention, boisterousness, naivete and a high-souled ethical overdrive. He never evades a question, and he doesn't mind coming on like an unreconstructed preacher.''

11. His Views On Art and Death Were Profound

Westermann died of a heart attack at the age of 58 in Danbury, Connecticut in 1981. Of life, he said, ''I feel that life is very fragile. We're all just hanging by a thread; it's very spooky. I can best come to grips with it by doing my work. I guess that's why I'm an artist.''

"See America First" is on view now until December 19th at Venus Over Manhattan, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, NY. Text by Keely Shinners

A Beautiful Bouquet of Rebelliousness: Ten Things You Need To Know About Artist and Former Andy Warhol Superstar Brigid Berlin

Brigid Berlin Untitled (Self-Portrait Double Exposure), ca. 1971-1973

Brigid Berlin is an American legend. Deranged and beautiful, her life is a head on collision between high society decadence, urine soaked carpet fibers and methamphetamine filled veins, forming a beautiful bouquet of rebelliousness. On view now at Invisible Exports, an exhibition explores the life and ephemera of this strange specimen, from her polaroid’s of Andy Warhol’s factory and the New York avant garde to her obsessive audio recordings to her wonderful tit paintings that make for fine framed prints on any discernable gentleman or gentlewoman’s desk. Just who is Brigid Berlin? – She is a rebel in the purest form. She is an artist and a documentarian. She was once a part of Andy Warhol’s circle and entourage. Today, Berlin is alive and well and, no doubt, as weird as ever. Here are ten things you need to know about Brigid Berlin.

1. Her Parents Were Socialites and She Grew Up In A World Of Manhattan Privilege

Polaroid of Gerard Malanga and Brigid Berlin by Andy Warhol

Her mother was Muriel Johnson "Honey" Berlin – on her deathbed she was still ordering outfits from Saks. Her father was Richard E. Berlin – chairman of the Hearst Media empire for 32 years. Sometimes she would pick up the phone and Richard Nixon would be on the line. On one occasion, Lyndon B. Johnson accompanied the young Berlin to a rehab in Mexico. 

2. She Rebelled Against High Society By Over Eating

Brigid Berlin Untitled (Self-Portrait Double Exposure with Refrigerator), ca. 1971-1973

Her mother tried to give her a dollar for every pound she lost. Honey Berlin would also take her young daughter to get shots of amphetamines and dexedrine from various doctors around New York city to speed up her metabolism. Brigid was also sent to a school in Switzerland to lose weight, but she would steal other girls’ money and go on pastry binges. 


3. Brigid Meets Andy Warhol and Becomes A Central Figure of His Entourage

In 1964, curator Henry Geldzahler tok Brigid to meet Andy Warhol at his silver factory. Berlin would wind up collaborating with Warhol on multiple projects. She starred in Andy’s films Chelsea Girls and Ciao! Manhattan. Brigid also worked at the front desk of the factory well into the 80s taking phone calls and transcribing interviews for Interview Magazine. 

3. Brigid Berlin Becomes Brigid Poke After Giving Out Doses of Meth and B12

Gerard Malanga & Brigid Polk - 1969

Around the time that Berlin met Warhol, she was living in various rooms of the Chelsea Hotel. It is there that she earned the name Brigid Poke because of her habit of doling out “pokes,” which are simply injections of B12 and methamphetamine. In the quasi documentary film Ciao! Manhattan, directed by Warhol, Berlin can be seen shooting up whilst giving an interview. 

4. Brigid Found A Blank Diary Notebook and Turned It Into The "Cock Book"

Berlin’s “cock book” is one of the most famous pieces of ephemera from the sixties. After finding a blank notebook, she would go around to places like Max’s Kansas City and Andy Warhol’s factory and had some of the most famous artists and figures of the time draw phalluses. Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Peter Beard, Basquiat, Leonard Cohen and more contributed. Artist Richard Prince bought the cock book at auction for $175, 000. 

5. Andy Warhol Once Told Everyone That His Works Were Actually Made By Brigid

In one of Andy Warhol’s famous practical jokes, he tells Time magazine in an interview that his paintings were actually made by Brigid. People took it very seriously and the value of Warhol’s work decreased significantly. Both Warhol and Brigid were forced to retract their statements. 

7. She Would Obsessively Document Her Life and The People In It

From the sound of her own peeing in hotel rooms to polaroid portraits of some of the biggest names in art and the social scene, Berlin would capture everything. She also used reams of tape to record audio from the goings on inside Warhol’s factory. Some of those recordings were used in the Velvet Underground’s album Live At Max’s Kansas City. 

8. Brigid Became Known For Her Tit Paintings

Untitled (Self-Portrait as Mermaid), ca. 1971-1973

While Andy Warhol was using silkscreens to interpret pop culture, Berlin was dipping her breasts into ink and paint, and then transferring them to canvas and paper to create a unique series of “tit paintings.” Many of these tit paintings can be seen at Invisible Exports as part of the exhibition, It’s All About Me

9. Needlepoint Became A Medium That Brigid Would Use Later In Life

Installation view Glenn Horowitz Bookseller

Taken from the salacious and trashy covers of the NY Post and Daily News, with headlines like “I Snorted My Dad” and “Bad Heir Day,” Berlin would create amazing needlepoint pillows. They were the kind of thing you’d find in cheap craft shops and are typical of the time passing handiwork that members of the upper crust turn to during the twilight years. Ten years worth of Berlin’s needlework pillows were shown last year at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller.   

10. You Will Soon Be Able to Purchase A Book of Her Polaroids

Untitled (Self-Portrait with Eyes), ca. 1971-1973

Currently available for preorder, Brigid Berlin Polaroids captures a large selection of her personal collection of Polaroids for the very time. From the introduction by director John Waters, “Brigid was always my favorite underground movie star; big, often naked, and ornery as hell...The Polaroids here show just how wide Brigid's world was; her access was amazing. She was never a groupie, always an insider."

Brigid Berlin "It's All About Me," curated by Anastasia Rygle, will be on view until November 15, 2015 at Invisible Exports, 89 Eldridge Street, New York, NY. Follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE

[ART REVIEW] Kamil Franko At New Release Gallery

by Adam Lehrer

I went to Paris for the first time when I was 16-years-old on a student trip. It was my first time in Europe, and the whole time I was in something of a transcendental lull. I was already heavily into art, music and history, and I remember the whole time being taken into a state that wasn’t quite awake but certainly wasn’t sedated either. I did the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I ate baguettes and drank booze for the first time. It was one of those experiences when the reality lines up perfectly with your imagination and a specific tranquil state is elicited. And then, I was on the subway when all of a sudden my eyes burst with tears and I fell to the floor violently ripped out of the bliss. I later found out that the police used tear gas to stop a thief. This is all coming to mind as I am looking at the formidable paintings by Copenhagen-based artist Kamil Franko at the opening of his show ‘Love and Violence’ at Erin Goldberger’s new gallery New Release Gallery. Franko’s paintings appear to be marked by tranquility as they are moments of sharp violence.

The lovely and brilliant Goldberger is best known amongst the New York art world as director of Bill Powers’s Half Gallery. The opening was packed with young art kids in a way that I haven’t seen in New York in years. It feels like Goldberger found the perfect time and the perfect Chinatown location to open a downtown gallery that could serve as a new Ground Zero for the new generation of artists in the city.

Kamil Franko’s work, while paying heed to the traditions of great painters, has a style that feels explosive and fresh. Franko piles paint on top of one another forming a thick and physical void separating the viewer from the imagery. The imagery contained within those paintings is at times both tranquil and violent. “I don’t think it’s about being between good and evil,” says Franko. “I think it’s a borderland between two polarities.”

Franko’s paintings are as much about creation as they are about destruction, and that dichotomy lives within his technique as much as it shows within his content. “I added paint carefully in creating the canvas, and at the same time I demolish it or remove it,” he says. “The motif is in the method. For example, I took a drone as a symbol for some destructive elements with an ominous presence of both beauty and ugliness.”

Franko is, for lack of a better term, a “painter’s painter.” He created the works contained with ‘Love and Violence’ during a period of isolation he underwent for three months in Budapest. He wasn’t even creating these paintings for the sake of a show, as there was no such show to be making them for. He literally paints just to paint. How many artists are like that are out there these days? Goldberger then contacted him via email to discuss putting together a show for her brand spanking new gallery. Franko credits that isolation with propelling his work forward. “After three weeks you’re asking yourself what the fuck are you doing here,” he says. “When you are alone in your head it seems to calibrate clearer ideas. You can focus when not disturbed by your environment.”

Franko’s work, at times both dark and hopeful, speaks to a bright future for art and proves a most appropriate show to open Goldberger’s new gallery. The time is right for a young gallerist to show off work by young artists, and I think I can speak for all of the young art community of New York when I say, “We are ready for this.”

Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287


[ART REVIEW] Wolfgang Tillmans "PCR" At David Zwirner In New York

text by Adam Lehrer

Multi-disciplinary artist and photographer Wolfgang Tillmans got signed to David Zwirner and has been living in New York for a month up until his current exhibition. By all accounts, he seems to be having a fucking blast. He’s been out at clubs, DJing Fire Island parties, and making a ton of art, according to a David Zwirner employee. But judging from his massive new David Zwirner exhibit, PCR (aka polymerase chain reaction), Joie de Vivre is a quality propelling the essence that makes Tillmans’s work fantastic. To him, people going out to dance, party, and express themselves is the ultimate form of protest.

“What I love about music more than anything is that by all measures, music is useless,” he says at a press preview of the exhibit. “This exhibition has an insistence on clubbing and playing. Take Glastonbury Festival for example, in some sense it’s very political, and in another sense it’s five days of absolute nonsense and fun. That is connected. “

Fun and politics need not be separate within Tillmans’s visual language. On the contrary, the two concepts are parallel to one another, a notion exemplified in the work displayed at PCR. The exhibit reads as a comprehensive look into the major themes that define his work: political progress, the exuberance of the nightclub, the power of music, and universal progress.

Numerous photographs line the walls of Zwirner depicting various artists and activists. The surroundings they exist within are different but their message is inherently similar. There are familiar faces from American pop culture like Patti Smith and MC Ride of Death Grips, artists that use their massive platforms to unleash their messages of revolution unto the world. But there are also activists that don’t have the platform that a media figure has, but nevertheless engage in protest whether they believe they are or not. The nightclub, to Tillmans, is a “sanctuary of free expression.” “Many of the photographs depict men having fun at gay clubs in Russia,” says Tillmans. “There are only two gay clubs in Moscow, and these places are the only places that these people can go and fully express themselves.

Despite Tillman’s exuberant outlook on life, he is a diligent curator, and was involved with every aspect in the development of this show. “He’s extremely thorough,” says David Zwirner Special Projects coordinator and artist Young Sun Han. “When he first came to Zwirner he gave us a presentation with a rundown of his entire career.”

Tillmans has always engaged with the curatorial aspect of his exhibitions as another form of expression, and not a burden. Within the PCR exhibit, every angle at which the work is displayed is meticulously thought out, even with some of the photographs that hang 15 feet in the air above the normal line of sight. “My mother always gets angry,” says Tillmans with a grin, “Why do you need to put it all the way up there?”

A table installation in the gallery’s back room, TSC (Time Mirrored), combines photographs of architecture and telescopes with statements considering the massiveness of time, and a sculpture, I Refuse to be Your Enemy, consists of black paper laid out along several tables. These structures act as a kind of element to focus the attention on, as a reprieve from the visual stimuli. These structures allow the viewer to consider the messages relayed from the content within the imagery.

The final item of the gallery is a brand new video piece, entitled Instrument. In the video, you see human figures dancing in the shadow in the right screen, while a man gyrating needlessly appears with his back to the screen on the left. While the video seems to be message-less, In Tillmans’s view there is never any expression that is left devoid of subtext. “The politics are never far out,” says Tillmans. There is sexuality in Tillmans’s work, but it is not racy or even sexual. It’s more about freedom. “I always want to show sexuality but never show sex or any one idea of sexual identity,” he says. “I just want people to achieve comfort with their bodies.”

PCR appears to emphasize living as the ultimate means of expression. Not just the idea of breathing and having a pulse, but to live life to the fullest of your own definition of the term. We as a people can set an example for generations to come by living how we wanted to live. That is how society will continue its journey forward.

See more photos from the opening here. Wolfgang Tillmans "Polymerase Chain Reaction" will be on view until October 24, 2015, at David Zwirner gallery, 525 and 533 West 19th Street in New York.

Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287