« October 2006 | Main | December 2006 »

13 posts from November 2006

November 30, 2006

Interview with Painter Chris Dorland

It's one year since we first saw the impressive work of young painter Chris Dorland down at ~Scope Miami'05.  He truly made a big splash with his hyper-acid color utopian paintings among collectors during Art Basel. Chris_dorland_untitled_green_1 Within months his paintings immediately become impossible difficult to come by.  Now, Chris has a new show opening in LA next week, but he was kind enough to give some of his NY City Art fans a sneak preview. (Photo #1, Chris Dorland, Untitled (Green), 2006, Oil on linen 32"x48") In fact, I hear the LA show is already 100% sold out well before these painting are ever getting put up on those wrong west coast gallery walls!! 

We had a chance to chat with Chris, so here's part 1 of a brief MAO Interview :

MAO Q1: Why did you decide to become an Artist? When the painter Paul Delaroche saw the first daguerreotype in 1839, he famously exclaimed, "From today, painting is dead!"  So, with such a huge expansion of art into new media, why choose "traditional" brush, oil, and canvas?

C. DORLAND A1: Ironically as a kid I always thought I'd be a lawyer. My whole family did. Not that there was much pressure, but I was really into rhetoric and it just made sense. My parents were both bohemians and I didn’t want to be anything like them. By age 8, I was an aspiring yuppy. In my early teens I got into graffiti. That was my first real passion. That and skateboarding, but I was much better at graffiti. Until that time I had never been particularly artistic. But I’d always liked to solve problems.

At any rate, I found graffiti really poetic and I loved roaming the city by myself at night. That’s where I developed an intimate relationship to the urban environment. The first couple of years I did it mostly in isolation. When I finally began to meet other writers I was disappointed. Their intentions were ultimately unsophisticated. The street poet veneer wore thin quickly and the magic died for me. Plus I was tired of getting arrested. All my friends were into one subculture or another. The club scene was a pretty big deal. I felt like the whole youth thing had run its course. So I decided to become an artist.

As for painting being dead, I instinctively knew that was bullshit. My Mom had a copy of Art After Modernism lying around the house. The first art essay I ever read was “Last Exit: Painting” by Tom Lawson. I was 18 years old. The only thing I took away from it was, I should be a neo-expressionist painter. I had completely misunderstood the thesis.

MAO Q2 : Photorealists artists like Chuck Close and Richard Estes focus the real subject of their paintings on the way in which they've interpreted photographs. Many MAO readers are Art photographers, photography dealers, and photo collectors. Can you explain how and why you use photography in creating your paintings? How does the use of photography, and the classic "photographic eye"  affect your work?

C. DORLAND A2: I'm really a closet photorealist. It’s my favorite kind of painting but hard to pull off successfully. To make a painting by copying a photograph is a completely literal act. It’s a totally Johnsian impulse. That’s where Richter comes from. So does Andy. I’m a very straightforward and literal person so it appeals to my sensibility.

Chris_dorland_what_dies_for_me_to_live With my work I aim to get many of the preliminary decisions like composition and color figured out on the computer. I think painting is like robbing a bank. The faster I can get the job done, the greater the success. I don’t like to waste time unnecessarily. (Photo #2, Chris Dorland, What dies for me to live, 2006
oil on linen,56"x72

I do most of the plotting and figuring out beforehand on the computer. My process is getting more and more layered. There are many steps that involve scanning, printing and drawing. I usually make five to ten versions of each painting on the computer. Once I’m done, I select the print I like best. Only then do I get around to the actual painting. From then on the only thing I care about is the energy of the object I’m working on. For me painting is an act of translation and reconstruction.

Ultimately I’m interested in modernity. In the ways modern technologies affect the way we see the world. Making paintings that are generated from photographic sources is a modern way of considering the world.

MAO Q3 : Ever since photography, painters had to react to it. The Modernist movements in 20th-century painting has frequently been thought of as a reaction to the increasing possibilities of photography. Today, Gerhard Richter works from snapshots, while Marilyn Minter takes her own stylized color photographs, but both have frequently used images from their life experience.  Where do you get your initial photographic source material and why did you choose these utopian landscapes?

C. DORLAND A3: In a way this picks up on my last answer. I knew from the very beginning that my work was going to deal with photography and film. My generation, those of us who were kids in the eighties, all tend to be concerned, in some way or another, with the blurring of reality and virtuality. I’ve been conscious of this blur since I was very young.

I grew up on movies like Robocop, Running Man and Total Recall.  They were packaged like sci-fi action flicks but those movies all had somewhat profound political reflections on the future. They were my first contact with cyber punk. Electronic music was a continuation of that. So was J.G Ballard. His books gave me the conviction to visualize what I was thinking.

The first fair painting I made was in 2001 and I just sort of fell on the source. It was based on a photo of the “Firestone Pavilion” from New York’s 1939 worlds fair. I thought it was amusing because at the time Firestone was being sued. The company had knowingly sold faulty tires after calculating the lawsuits would be cheaper than a recall.

The juxtaposition of the lawsuit, which was unfolding in real time, alongside the nostalgic old picture of the pavilion made fireworks go off. I saw the gap between the utopian promise that capitalism had so successfully sold to North America after World War II and the destructive drive for profit that capitalism now represents. (photo #3, Chris Dorland, Untitled (burning dome), 2006
ink/enamel/photcollage on paper,40"x50

Chris_dorland_untitled_burning_done Also at the time I was going to SUNY Purchase. The Purchase campus was meant be the great SUNY art school. Philip Johnson designed it. The model was first exhibited at MOMA in the seventies. Architecturally that campus was a total train wreck. The irony didn’t go unnoticed.

MAO Q4: The last few years, a great deal of attention has been given to the Leipzig School painters. Have these artists had any influenced on your work? If not these artists, are there any who've been a big influence?

C. DORLAND A4: This sounds a bit ridiculous because of the age gap and success differential, but I always thought of Neo Rauch as a peer. I first saw his work in 2002 and by that time my ideas were already in place. My only thought was that we were both working with similar subject matter.

A few years later the whole Leipzig thing happened I realized there was whole lot of them. Like clowns coming out of a VW. At that point I knew that it was a completely academic impulse that came from a European tradition of painting and drawing. I’ve never thought of any of them since. Conceptually I feel much closer to artists like Kelly Walker, Wade Guyton or Sean Paul.

My artistic roots are Jasper Johns, Gerhard Richter and Andy Warhol. That’s it. Malcolm Morley and David Deutsch were also important to me. I met Malcolm a number of times under unusual circumstances. He was quite mean to me in fact. But his cruelty was inspiring. It made me work harder.

...More from Chris Dorland, Part 2 Tomorrow..

November 29, 2006

Kiki Smith - A Gathering, At the Whitney

So.. while everyone in NYC was out doing their post Thanksgiving shopping or packing up their entire gallery inventory for their trip to Shop Art Basel Miami.
Kiki_smith_bronze_whitney1Dr. Quiz and I went to the Whitney this weekend, and while they may need some more space..
maybe even a new space in Chelsea..
they've packed one hell of an amazing group of shows in that museum.
The Most impressive was the new :
Kiki Smith, A Gathering, 1980 - 2005
show on the third floor.
The show, organized by the Walker Art Center looks 100% perfect at the Whitney!

Since it's already been everywhere, here's a few essays and reviews..


The exhibition has a full spectrum of Kiki's thought provoking work, including prints, drawings, Wax sculptures, books, and jewelry.

But, I have to admit.. we were blow away by her bronze statues.  There were several..all beautiful and just a bit unsettling.

(photo #1, Lilith, 1994, silicon, bronze and glass, 33 x 27 1/2 x 19 inches)

We also loved (photo #2 :Untitled, Crystal and Rubber, 1989-90) from Kiki's sexual reproduction series.  In this one, Kiki Smith has hand crafted a large pool of 200 crystal spermatozoa swimming in circles on black rubber, both amusing and a little creepy. Reportedly.. each crystal sperm is unique, and even include the artists fingerprints. Absolutely well worth seeing in person.

Oh.. and FYI.. if you didn't take our wise advice, you can go see the June'06 - MAO Art buy of the Month.. both of these Crown Point Press prints are in this Whitney show! They look great too!

Don't miss it! The show runs till February 11th. There's also a great Walker Show Catalog.

November 27, 2006

Mary Ellen Mark, Justine Kurland, and Joel-Peter Witkin

Just when you start to think mass media (aka.. deadwood newspapers) are all worthless..you wake up Sunday Morning to the amazing New York Times!

Plus, the New York Times Magazine must have some huge art budget super Art photo savvy editors.

Justone_kurland_still_left_behind If the Nan Goldin portrait of Kiki Smith 2 weeks ago wasn't impressive enough this month.. Today they out did themselves.  Included in today's magazine were 2 feature stories with new photo work by Mary Ellen Mark, and Justine Kurland, plus a third unexpected, but cool style photo project by Joel-Peter Witkin.

Here's the cover image by Justine Kurland (Photo #1 Still Left Behind).. and inside were several art history inspired style photos by transgressive photo shock jock.. Joel-Peter Witkin.. these 2 were my favorites.. check them out!

Joel_peter_witkin_manet Joel_peter_witkin_margritte (Photos.. by Joel Peter Witkin : #2 After Manet, and #3 After Magritte.)

November 24, 2006

New Photography Book by Phaidon: Vitamin Ph !

For all those Art Photography Enthusiasts.. If you haven't picked it up yet.. run out and get this MAO MUST book Today! It's a brand new survey of the up and coming stars of the Art Photography world.

Vitamin_ph_new_perspectives_in_photograp Vitamin Ph : New Perspectives in Photography

published by


The introduction of the book is written by TJ Demos.

Granted it's a broad survey, but it gives the reader a super current road map for the direction of Art photography.

These 121 photographers were chosen by 79 curators, 11 lords-a-leaping, several established artists, and 2 turtle doves a few art critics.... I guess they couldn't find a partridge in a pear....!!

In summery, the book includes lots of new, established, and some soon to be famous photographers from 40 different countries.

Since I'm so sure you're all super curious..

Here are the MAO TOP 20 PICKS to watch from among the too many featured in the book..(list in alphabetical order) :

  1. Valerie Belin,
  2. Olaf Breuning,
  3. Anne Collier,
  4. Kelli Connell,
  5. Sharon Core,
  6. Tacita Dean,
  7. Olafur Eliasson,
  8. Anna Gaskell,
  9. Anthony Goicolea,
  10. Nikki S. Lee,
  11. Sharon Lockart,
  12. Vera Lutter,
  13. Ryan McGinley,
  14. Catherine Opie,
  15. Robin Rhode,
  16. Andrea Robbins/Max Becher,
  17. Sarah Pickering,
  18. Alessandra Sanguinetti,
  19. Collier Schorr, and
  20. Alec Soth.

My sincere congrats to all 121 artists... Wow!! now, that's a lot of young photographers!!

Oh... and if you were wondering what to get that "someone special" for Christmas....try some Vitamins... P, D, and now Ph to put some muscle in your art book collection.

November 22, 2006

The ModernArtObsession Blog Birthday!

Today.. marks the one year birthday of this here silly blog... MAO WOW !!

A BigFirst_birthdaythumbMao_first_birthday Thanks go out to all those who've participated, read, linked, laughed with and Laughed At this here blog thing along the way !!

There's been 191 posts and over 1000 comments this year..OMG!! Time flies when you're goofing off at work art blogging!  XO -Mike

Looking forward to year number 2 !

November 17, 2006

Note to Self... Pre-Order Duane Michals Foto Follies!

OK.. well.. the NYC madness contemporary art auction is now over. Back to reality..

This looks like a MAO MUST have.. unfortunately we'll have have to wait till Jan'07!

Description : Of this satirical look at contemporary photography, Duane Michals has said, "The more serious you are, the sillier you have to be. I have a great capacity for foolishness. It’s essential." Whether parodying Wolfgang Tillmans or Andres Serrano, Sherrie Levine (A Duane Michals Photograph of a Sherrie Levine Photograph of a Walker Evans Photograph) or Cindy Sherman (Who is Sydney Sherman?), Michals uses his ferocious wit and keen eye to create images at once humorous and penetrating. As The New York Times described Gursky's Gherkin, the work "explores as never before the sense of picklehood, or what it means to be a pickle." The Times also testified that "this high-humored sendup of arty photography should be required viewing for all art-world heavies, particularly critics, curators and collectors." Michals takes aim at pretensions that are often perceived as deliberately obscuring contemporary art, and in doing so he exemplifies his mastery of both the visual world and the written word, while providing the elemental pleasure of a good laugh.

Seen one Warhol MAO you've Spent a few MILLION DOLLARS!!!

Up, UP AND AWAY!!..in my beautiful contemporary art balloon!!

So.. The results are IN!! This MAO sold for $2,256,000 !!! OMG!!


The presale estimate was TOTALLY WAY THE FUCK OFF the "experts" had only a range of $250,000 to $350,000. Clearly there is way too much money out there!!

Well...It maybe small no size queens here.. measuring in at only 10 x 12 inches.. but provenance was everything!!!  So that's $18,800 per square inch of painting! That's an official MAO WOW!!

Lot 47, MAO by Andy Warhol which had graced the home of David Whitney (Phillip Johnson's Long Time Partner) was a total food fight.

Will the craziness ever end?

None of our pathetic guesses were even close...so the official winner was Richard Polsky..who guessed $1 Million... Richard..Please contact Mike at ModernArtObsession to collect your prize!!

November 13, 2006

Marilyns, and Jackies and Maos.... OH MY!!

Warhol_marilyn_at_christies It's total Art Auction Mania in NYC this week.. the herds of sheep crowds at Sothebys Contemporary Art Preview this Sunday afternoon were insane. In total there's almost $80 Million worth of inflated Warhol Marilyns, Jackies and Mao's being dumped on the auction block this week.

(Photo Example : Warhol's, Orange Marilyn, from Christies Lot 32, Estimate $10 to 15 Million)

Here is Bloomberg's Linda Sandler auction preview..

Download Bloomberg_Nov06Auction.txt,

It's filled with some "outstanding" quotes,
but these two were truly too stupid close to the modern art obsessed heart..so we have to single them out...

``Warhol is like Microsoft,'' said New York private dealer Alberto Mugrabi

- Sotheby's has a small Mao image from David Whitney's collection at a $350,000 top estimate on Nov. 16 that ``could bring $1 million in this current wacky atmosphere,'' Richard Polsky said. ``The whole Mao thing is wild.''

Well..there you go, a Nov'06 MAO Quiz guess from the man who butchered wrote.. I Bought Andy Warhol.

So post your bid soon!! There's only a few days left!

November 10, 2006

Fortune Magazine Writes About Investing in Art Photography

Lowell_pettit_by_wolfgan_tillmans To further the concept of Art Photography as a speculative an Investment vehicle.. This week Fortune Magazine's Stephen Milioti writes a feature story about gambling Investing in Art Photography. Investors Zoom in on Photography in www.Fortune.com

My favorite line from the story :

Had you decided to sell that 1979 (Helmut Newton) photograph at Christie's for $38,400 (as its owner did last month), you would have enjoyed better price appreciation than a comparable investment in an S&P 500 index fund, General Electric stock, or ten-year Treasury bonds. And Newton isn't the only photographer whose prices are on the rise.

FYI... In the print edition.. they further illustrate contemporary photography's over valuation strong returns by showing this Candida Hofer image, as a prime example of how ridiculously fast the "value" of a modern photo can appreciate. Yikes! (Photo of Lowell Petti in front of Wolfgang Tillmans Lot at Phillips Photo Auction)

Another great quote..But this one should be filed under the category of "What in gods name is Josh smoking !!"

I think photography is still hugely undervalued in the scheme of art. It is greatly undervalued in terms of comparison to sculpture and painting," says Joshua Holdeman, international director of photographs at auction house Christie's. "You can buy one of the icons of art history in the photography genre for the same price as a third-rate Renoir sketch."

November 08, 2006

Art Photography Auction Opportunity!!

So.. If you've looked though the big Contemporary Auctions Catalogs.. and been depressed by all the stupid, sky high price estimates.... If you happen NOT to have a few extra million bucks to buy a cool Andy Warhol MAO image...  If like me, you were robbed out bid by all the insane crazy aggressive bidding at the recent NYC Photography auctions. Then there's an art photography alternative auction well worth checking out. 

Actually, I'm almost hesitant to even tell people about this one.. cause my greedy self I would rather keep this gem all to myself!! So if anyone sees me bidding.. You have to promise, DON'T BID against ME!! THANKS.

Georgeplattlynes_fashionimage So..It's a bit smaller than Sothebys, Christies and Phillips but this up and coming photo auction is run by the almost too honest to be a NYC art dealer a real photo pro and ex-sothebys specialist Daniel Cooney Fine Art

This time Dan's put together a very high quality sale of 100 lots.. photo's include work by : Karl Struss, Lewis Hine, Alfred Stieglitz, George Platt Lynes, James Van Der Zee, Walker Evans, Lisette Model, Man Ray, Todd Webb, Leon Levinstein, Weegee, Aaron Siskind, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ralph Gibson, Danny Lyon, Garry Winogrand, Larry Fink, Ruth Orkin, Todd Papageorge, Bruce Weber, and David Armstrong just to name drop a few!
Wow!! That's an impressive list!! Plus, some of these have sweet low reserve levels, many are only $250!
(Example is Lot #728252, Vintage Gelatin Silver Print, by George Platt Lynes, "Fashion Image"..starting bid only $1,200)
There's many more to choose from..Here it is.. CHECK IT OUT!    So, you have a few days left to go and inspect the lots before bidding.  They're all on display in Chelsea at :

Daniel Cooney Fine Art
                  511 West 25th Street
                  New York, NY 10001
                  212 255 8158
                  [email protected]

Oh.. and FYI.. if you meet Dan.. Please tell him Mike at MAO sent you.. I hear he gives all the smart MAO readers a special auction discount catalogue!!

November 06, 2006

Why There's Almost NO CHANCE For Art Prices To Fall In 2007

Well.. the preliminary numbers are in!!!  Lets just say... there will be freakin truck loads Billion and Billions of Wall Street Bonus Dollars to grease the wheels of every NYC Art Gallery, Auction House, Coke Dealer, Real Estate Agent, Strip Joint and Sports Car Dealership this Christmas Season..So.. HO HO HO! Pass the MONET and Let the merriment begin!


2006 is shaping up to be another record year for Wall Street. Just the average employee at Goldmine Sachs will be getting over $600k... and like anyone at Goldman is just average!! Hence it will be raining cash for quite some time around the NYC area. Now, I hope you gallery people are fully stocked up with over priced precious art to peddle.. cause these newly minted Hedege Fund egomaniacs Millionaires are going to want some trophies,toys pretty art to impress their friends.

If the chart above didn't already make you green say enough, here's a the gross details from Christine Harper of Bloomberg News ==> Download BloombergNews_2006WallStreet_Bonuses.txt

November 03, 2006

FUR - An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus Staring Nicole Kidman

So.. anyone who's anyone in the NYC Art Photography world was at MOMA this Tuesday night for the US Premier of the new Diane Arbus movie FUR : An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus... well.. everyone except the film's star Nicole Kidman!!  Apparently she snubbed rubbing elbows with MAO and friends to spend time with her drug addict husband Keith Urban who is at least not a closeted gay like Cruise currently staying at a rehabilitation center in Nashville. Well...at least Director Steven Shainberg spoke a bit about the making of the movie.

Nicole_kidman_fur The film is absolutely wonderful! Don't miss this one when it opens to all the little people on November 10th. One major warning... this movie is most certainly not a documentary nor has any real connection with the true life Patricia Bosworth biography on Diane Arbus. Despite the book's credit on the movie, it's a total joke fictional story, with many fictional characters. And while it does feature some real people in Diane's life, like her husband Allan Arbus and her FUR peddling parents, the entire film takes place in just a three month period of 1958.

It's a great love story, we laughed, we cried, but if you were hoping to learn anything about Diane Arbus... ForgetAboutIt!

Just read the book..cause it's very good!

November 01, 2006

The Nov Art Quiz.. Anyone need a MAO painting??

It would seem November is THE month to dump sell A Warhol MAO.  So far at least 4 Chairman inspired images are on the Auction block. There are three just in the Christies Contemporary Sales..

But only the most beautiful MAO can have the glorious distinction of being our November Art Quiz!

Warhol_mao_nov06_artquiz_1 It maybe small no size queens here.. measuring in at only 10 x 12 inches.. but provenance is everything!!!  This MAO by Andy Warhol has graced the home of David Whitney (Phillip Johnson's Long Time Partner). In fact, it was a Christmas gift by Andy Warhol to David Whitney...WOW..That's Sweat! Hence you'll notice the festive Red/Green color scheme.

On November 16th, Sothebys will hold the Whitney Estate Sale including this handsome MAO. It was created in 1972, of Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. and the presale estimate is a wide range of $250,000 to $350,000.

FYI.. that works out to $2,000 to $3,000 per square inch!! Here's a quote from Sothebys:

Having previously 'retired' his hand from the creative process, Warhol's portraits of Mao announced his renewed interest in painting by hand. Unlike his earlier flattened silkscreens, Mao is much more painterly in style with its loose brushwork of bright hand-painted acrylic hues. Embedded beneath and defining the image of Mao, the portrait's expressionist-like background is dramatically enhanced by the authorless silkscreen of Mao. In a radical departure from the somber tones of the original source photograph, the energetic emphasis and bright hues of the paint seem more appropriate for a Hollywood star than a Communist leader. As such, Mao provides a superlative example of Warhol's examination of the inherent contradictions of fame and celebrity.

As any Contemporary Art Junkie Collector knows.. WARHOL is HOT HOT HOT!! So what do you think this MAO will sell for??  Submit your guess!! The person coming closest to the total final sales price (including the 20% auction house premium) is the winner, and gets to choose either a 1 year Museum membership or an Arts Based Charity for a generous donation to be made in their honor. Post your guess in the comments or email [email protected]. All entries must be in by 10am on Nov 16th. Good Luck!

Oh.. and Dr. Quiz.. if you were wondering what to put on my Christmas list.. see above, cause MAO's been very naughty nice this year!