Monthly Archives: August 2017

Anarchy Breathing Robot at the Chelsea Art Gallery

The artist Mark Pauline has a reputation for creating chaos. Over four decades, working under the name Survival Research Laboratories, he has earned a devoted following for pioneering violent, large-scale performances by custom-built machines and robots.

One of those shows might include a flamethrower mounted on a walking frame the size of an elephant, a pile of 20 pianos set ablaze, a menacing claw just the right size to grab a human head in its pincers and a bin full of rotting vegetables.

Now, after years as an art-world outlaw, Mr. Pauline is bringing his machines to the marketplace. This latest project, opening at Marlborough Contemporary on Saturday, will be less pungent but promises to be nearly as spectacular in a white-cube Chelsea gallery.

On the opening day, Mr. Pauline’s “Pitching Machine” will hurl wooden planks at up to 200 miles an hour into a bulletproof containment vessel, where they will disintegrate in calamitous fashion.

Running the Pitching Machine at ACE Auto in SF 2001 Survival Research Labs Video by Genuine Survival Research Labs
The exhibition, “Inconsiderate Fantasies of Negative Acceleration Characterized by Sacrifices of a Non-Consensual Nature,” will also be his first selling show.

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The Man With a Plan to Rebuild After the Apocalypse MARCH 16, 2012

Max Levai Directs the Marlborough Chelsea MARCH 6, 2012
“People have told me that they would be a big art-world phenomenon,” Mr. Pauline said, referring to his creations. “But people have been telling me that since 1979.”


A detail of “Rotary Jaw With Squirrel Eyes.” Credit Vincent Tullo for The New York Times
That was the year he began his idiosyncratic career as a maker of heavy equipment for manufacturing mayhem and a choreographer of bizarre, occasionally unauthorized performances. Animal remains were sometimes incorporated. Explosions, intentional and otherwise, were not uncommon.

The authorities were frequently involved. On YouTube, you can watch video of Mr. Pauline being confronted by a fire marshal after a 1992 performance before a groundbreaking at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Despite the conflict, his safety record is largely intact, with one notable exception: A 1982 explosion in his shop badly wounded Mr. Pauline, taking most of the fingers from his right hand.

An enterprise that began in solitude has grown, and Mr. Pauline has come to work with a number of assistants, largely volunteers.

The creations, mostly built with castoff and recycled materials scavenged from Bay Area factories and corporate labs, have traveled with Mr. Pauline around the world. In 1999, he set up an internet connection to allow users in California to control a machine in Tokyo. And despite the occasionally medieval appearance of his works, he has continually updated them to remain at the leading edge of technology. One machine at the Marlborough gallery, “The Big Walker,” was created in 1986. Another, “Track Robot,” was first built in 1998 and has recently been updated to be controlled via a 3-D Oculus Rift headset.

Art Collector and Dealer (Eugene V. Thaw) Is Dead at 90

Eugene V. Thaw, a major American collector of European old master art and one of the world’s most respected dealers in the field, died on Wednesday at his home in Cherry Valley, N.Y. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by Katie Flanagan, president of a charitable trust established by Mr. Thaw and his wife, Clare E. Thaw, who shared his art-collecting enthusiasms.

Mr. Thaw also earned distinction as the co-author of a monumental catalogue raisonné of Jackson Pollock’s work.

His personal collection featured more than 400 drawings, including rare works by Goya, Van Gogh and Andrea Mantegna and price-setting items by Rembrandt and Samuel Palmer.

But he insisted that “great art collecting need not be based on a great fortune; education, experience and eye are more important.” He spoke from his own history.

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He was born on Oct. 27, 1927, in Washington Heights in Manhattan. His father was a heating contractor, his mother a schoolteacher. They named him for the socialist leader Eugene Victor Debs, who had died the previous year.

As a young teenager, Mr. Thaw took drawing classes at the Art Students League on West 57th Street in Manhattan. But he did not pursue the hands-on practice of art.

“I can’t create the objects I crave to look at,” he later said, “so I collect them.”

After graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at 15, he entered St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., and began making day trips to art museums in nearby Washington.

Returning to New York in 1947, he took graduate classes in art history at Columbia University with Millard Meiss and Meyer Schapiro. He also followed the city’s contemporary-art scene, getting an early immersion in Pollock’s work at the Betty Parsons Gallery.

Having neither the money nor the social connections generally required to be a museum curator in those days, Mr. Thaw decided on selling art as a career option.

In 1950, with a loan from his father, he opened a gallery above the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street. He gathered stock in part by rummaging through antique stores and hanging out at small auction houses.

His wares were eclectic. To keep the doors open, he sold Nabis prints and Toulouse-Lautrec posters. But he also researched Rembrandt drawings, handled some Native American material and mounted the first solo show of a newcomer named Joan Mitchell.

Looted Antiques Seized From Billionaire’s Home

Investigators raided the office and the Manhattan home of the billionaire Michael H. Steinhardt on Friday afternoon, carrying off several ancient works that prosecutors say were looted from Greece and Italy.

Mr. Steinhardt, a hedge-fund manager and philanthropist, has been collecting art from ancient Greece for three decades and has close ties to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where one of the galleries is named for him.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Steinhardt, 77, declined to comment, “for now,” on the seizure of at least nine pieces from his private collection at his Fifth Avenue apartment at 79th Street, a three-floor home that overlooks Central Park. The authorities also searched Mr. Steinhardt’s office at 712 Fifth Avenue.

The seizures marked the latest action in an effort by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., to repatriate looted antiquities discovered in New York City to their countries of origin.

Over the last year, Mr. Vance has roiled the city’s rarefied art world, seizing work from major museums, auction houses and private collections. In recent months, he has returned three ancient statues to Lebanon, a mosaic from one of Caligula’s ships to Italy, and a second-century Buddhist sculpture to Pakistan.

Mr. Steinhardt Credit Evan Agostini/Invision, via Associated Press
Last month, Mr. Vance formed an antiquities-trafficking bureau to continue the work, putting it under the leadership of Matthew Bogdanos, an assistant district attorney who is a classics scholar and has headed most of the investigations.

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A Remnant From Caligula’s Ship, Once a Coffee Table, Heads Home OCT. 19, 2017

Looted Antiquity, Once at Met Museum, to Return to Lebanon OCT. 11, 2017

Ancient Limestone Relief Is Seized at European Art Fair OCT. 29, 2017

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But the district attorney’s aggressive efforts have drawn criticism from collectors, who have argued such disputes over the provenance of ancient pieces would be better handled in a civil courts. Mr. Vance has been using a state law that allows prosecutors to return stolen property to its owner, though so far he has not brought charges against anyone for possessing the works.

Among the pieces seized on Friday from Mr. Steinhardt was a Greek white-ground attic lekythos — or oil vessel — from the fifth century B.C., depicting a funeral scene with the figures of a woman and a youth, according to the search warrant. It is worth at least $380,000.

Also seized were Proto-Corinthian figures from the seventh century B.C., depicting an owl and a duck, together worth about $250,000. The other pieces included an Apulian terra-cotta flask in the shape of an African head from the fourth century B.C.; an Ionian sculpture of a ram’s head from the sixth century; and an attic aryballos, a vessel for oil or perfume, from the early fifth century. The objects were all bought in the last 12 years for a total cost of $1.1 million, according to the warrants.

The death of betty wodmen the multimedia art

Betty Woodman, a sculptor who took an audacious turn when she began to transform traditional pottery, her usual medium, into innovative multimedia art, moving her work from kitchen cupboard shelves to museum walls, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 87.

Her son, Charles, said the cause was pneumonia.

Ms. Woodman’s evolution from artisan to fine artist culminated in a retrospective in 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its first for a living female artist.

“I am coming out of left field,” she told The New York Times when the exhibition opened. “They don’t know what they’ve got hold of.”

One of the 70 works in the show, “The Ming Sisters,” is a nearly three-foot-high triptych of cylindrical vases arranged side by side — each with irregular, winged cutouts — that depict Asian women in gowns on one side and brightly colored paintings of vases on the other.

Reviewing the show for The Times, the critic Grace Glueck wrote that the “sharply outlined spaces between the figures, ghostly gray intrusions, play an important part in the presentation of the figures.”

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Another work in the retrospective was “Aeolian Pyramid,” which reflects Ms. Woodman’s late-in-life shift to very large installations of ceramics, some of them fused with paintings. “Aeolian,” which comprises 44 pedestal-mounted vase shapes, gradually tiers upward in a dramatic, pyramidal design.

“The composite keeps squeezing out real space, which keeps muscling back in,” the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in his review in The New Yorker. “The result is a visual ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’ ”

He added: “At the age of 76, she is beyond original, all the way to sui generis.”

Ms. Woodman’s “Aeolian Pyramid,” which Peter Schjeldahl called “a visual ‘Hallelujah Chorus’” in his review in The New Yorker.
Credit Salon 94

“The Ming Sisters” is a triptych of cylindrical vases that features paintings of Asian women in gowns on one side and paintings of vases on the other. Credit Salon 94
Using clay as her primary medium, Ms. Woodman’s vividly colored ceramics drew on innumerable influences, including Greek and Etruscan sculpture, Italian Baroque architecture, Tang dynasty glaze techniques, Egyptian art and Islamic tiles.
They also evoked paintings by Picasso, Bonnard and Matisse. “You should be able to think of Matisse,” she told the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail in 2011, “but hopefully you don’t stop there; you realize that it makes a reference, but it goes beyond.”

Ms. Woodman — usually attired in a kerchief, a boldly striped dress and wildly patterned stockings — worked at her potter’s wheels and kilns at her studios in Boulder, Colo., the Chelsea section of Manhattan, and Antella, Italy.

Her husband, George, a painter and photographer, died last March; her son is an electronic artist, and her daughter, Francesca, was a photographer whose erotic and melancholy pictures won her acclaim before she committed suicide in 1981, when she was 22.