David Lachapelle has returned to his career. Much like the similarly-named Dave Chapelle, Lachapelle retreated to a farm after his documentary Rize flopped. But evidently nature wasn’t quite thrilling enough for him, and so he’s back in New York, with a retrospective at the Michelman Gallery and a show of new work at Lever House. I attended Lachapelle’s talk on his new exhibition at the Michelman Gallery, a retrospective of early works from the 1980s. Lachapelle spoke thoughtfully, choosing his words slowly and with great care for how each phrase would be perceived (a good choice, given the reaction to his recent New York Times profile). He was gracious, soft-spoken and polite. The gallery’s tiny audience hung on to his every word. I did not. I fell asleep.
There’s no point in giving you a “review” of the mothership of art fairs in Miami, Art Basel Miami Beach, so I thought a photo essay with some observations were more appropriate.
I admit that I got a little bored after three hours of wandering around. I found myself seeing the same thing and getting the same numbness I get during marathon holiday shopping trips or walks through ancient souks … there’s only so much merchandise you can see in one stop.
It was still refreshing to see some galleries display the prices of their wares freely, and examples of excellent abstraction by names mostly absent from the art history survey books, but I was most shocked to discover what must be the most awful Basquiat I have even seen in my life.
And art continues its march into mainstream pop culture … with the newly released/leaked (who can tell anymore) Kanye West track featuring Jay-Z, “That’s My Bitch,” which includes the following artful references to Basquiat, Picasso, Mona Lisa, and Larry Gagosian.
An attacker “brandishing a felt-tipped pen” has vandalized a Basquiat painting on display at Paris’ Modern Art Museum, the Daily Mail reports. Yet the victim, a work called “Cadillac Moon 1981,” (seen at left) “is of such an abstract nature that it took at least a few days for experts to notice the graffiti.” Eventually, “The restorer of the exhibition noticed the work has been slightly marked with a pen,” said museum director Fabrice Hergott. So a minor mark was made on a painting whose creator was known for his own vandalism. Is this, or should this be, a big deal?
In the world of graffiti, Martha Cooper is a cult figure. She’s an old skool photog who, along with Henry Chalfant, documented the fast-changing world of New York graffiti and unintentionally helped make it sexy and digestible for public consumption. Her book Subway Art, co-authored with Chalfant, kickstarted the graff book genre that has ballooned (for better or worse) into a full-blown field that witnesses hundreds of books published a year.
Since the influence and impact of Subway Art is well-know, I chose to focus this review on two more recent works by the graff photography veteran which were published in that last few years, Tag Town: The Evolution of New York Graffiti Writing and Going Postal.