Dorothy said it best
June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
June 21, 2011
There is no place like home. We have just touched down in Los Angeles after 3 exhausting but thrilling weeks in Europe. Skipping the madness of the opening days of the Venice Biennale, Sidney and I, accompanied by our daughter, the much-admired jewelry designer Suzanne Felsen, and her long-time companion Kevin Swanson, instead began our trip in Berlin. We were eager to explore the city’s extraordinary art and architecture and take in a few fabulous meals, following the recommendations of some dear friends.
One of our first activities was to meet up with art collectors Hilde and Busso Bartels, Berlin natives who were able to help us prioritize the many things to see by giving us an extensive driving tour throughout the city. They also introduced us to the extraordinary library at Humboldt University, designed by architect Max Dudler. Low-key on the outside and eye-popping on the inside, it is something that we certainly would have missed without their introduction.
We visited lots of museums, including a stop at the Berggruen Museum, repository of the magnificent collection of Heinz Berggruen, legendary art dealer and father of San Francisco galleriest John Berggruen. While there, we had the good fortune to encounter Olivier Berggruen, the youngest of the Berggruen sons, who took us into a private office to share with us his latest acquisition, an astonishingly fully-rendered Picasso sketchbook.
Beyond the memorable artworks we were privileged to view in the many museums and galleries we visited, we found a number of works by Gemini artists throughout the city. On our daily walk to coffee, we’d see Richard Serra’s Line of the Curve prints in the Westin Hotel, and we made an excursion with a cooperative taxi-driver to the Jonathan Borofsky Molecule Man sculpture in the Spree river (photo). We attended a reception for Andrea Zittel, with whom Gemini has been discussing a project, and saw her fantastic Pattern of Habit exhibition at Spruth Magers. We also attended the opening for Bruce Nauman’s For Children/For Beginners exhibition at the Konrad Fischer Galerie, and unexpectedly found the artist in attendance! It was a wonderful surprise to spend some time with Bruce. After the opening, we wandered around the corner to the lively artworld restaurant Sale e Tabacchi which Gemini artist Julie Mehretu had introduced us to two years ago while she was living in Berlin to complete her Goldman Sachs mural.
Reluctantly, we eventually had to leave Berlin behind, but fortunately our next stop was Switzerland, with its familiar cities, restaurants and routine activities. We landed in Basel on a Friday night, just in time for our first of several dinners at Chez Donati, the artworld darling during Art Basel, and arrived at the convention center the following morning in our blue jeans and tennis shoes, fortified and ready for the labors of installing the Gemini booth. We made enormous progress on our first day, so we felt relaxed on Sunday as we headed to Zurich in order to attend the annual reception for new paintings by John Baldessari at Mai 36 Galerie. In this exhibition, titled Double Vision, Baldessari couples iconic images by great artists such as Cezanne, Lewitt, Matisse and Warhol with the printed name of another artist, written out in his classic formal type. This deliberate false attribution is a classic Baldessari tongue-and-cheek puzzle on art history. He also removes iconic motifs from their traditional context, subjecting them to radical intervention and placing them in an unusual perspective. In all, Baldessari effectively has altered the images’ historical recognition and familiar meaning, while still allowing viewers to identify formal similarities between the originals and his versions.
Back to work on Monday, we completed our efforts in setting up the booth and were ready as the doors to Art Basel opened to enormous crowds on Tuesday. Amongst the many opening day visitors to the Gemini booth was British Museum curator Stephen Coppel, collectors Margrit and Paul Hahnloser and, relaxed and happy with his Zurich exhibition, Baldessari.