Whatever you had planned for tomorrow until 2pm hustle over to Sotheby’s palace of contemporary art at 72nd and York tomorrow – or if you’re lucky get an invite to the opening and closing party tonight at 7:30pm.
Either way, get your hands on the catalogue. Ignore the website which mentions every Sotheby’s shenanigan around the globe – except this one. The website often ignores what Sotheby’s does in NYC – which means a saunter to Sotheby’s weekly in season is often a smart art move.
The stars of the show? the building is packed with art – so that’s a difficult proposition. Here are the candidates:
- The deliciously displayed ultra rare oeuvres d’art on the 10th floor? One of the desk jockeys confessed to me that working on the 10th floor collection has been the high point of her career at the big S. The petite presentation of Alexander Calder’s jewelry is enough to take your breath away. The 10th floor is big – and the art there is bigger.
- But don’t forget the 4th floor: Albert Albee’s reaping the benefits of having three Pulitzers (only Robert Frost had four) and the creme de la creme of actors and actresses in his plays and the movies of those plays resulted in a collector’s eye rarely seen – and a collection par excellence. This may be the only time you’ll get to see what he’s given to Sotheby’s to sell for the benefit of the Albert Albee Foundation. The Man had the Eye. From the looks of the 4th floor he chose only the Very Best. I’m incredulous at his choices during times when it was very hard indeed to see what was the Very Best.
- Lastly, the 2nd floor is crushed and crammed with what the curators at Sotheby’s have determined what defines Contemporary Art. This happens a lot at Sotheby’s – which is one reason why it’s a good idea to always work the building from the top down. (Besides, the incredible cafe on the 10th floor with a terrace just below heaven is always a great place to start.) From incredibly crafted chairs and furniture to creations that leave your jaw dropped. MoMA, the Breuer, and the Whitney should take notice – and take notes – as to what is on display here.\
For the simple truth is that sometimes the Market Knows Best. This is why the auction houses – not the museums – so often mount Contemporary Art shows that startle, amaze, and excite. What the rich and powerful bought often is a good indicator of who’s winning in the art game – not some museum curator or curatorial committee compromised by the need that the show fit in with the existing collection.
This is the best, most comprehensive show of contemporary art since Sotheby’s left our jaws dropping in its legendary show on two huge floors of Russian contemporary art. By hook or crook take this one last chance to finally figure out – and See – what contemporary art is really all about.