I spent the afternoon in Chelsea.  It is a great place to see art.  There are about 350 galleries and they are so concentrated that it is easy to walk from one to another.  Many of the exhibits are as good or better as any museum shows and they are all free.  Sometimes the doors are barely marked and you can’t tell what is behind the opaque glass.  You just have to take a chance and walk right in.  On my most recent visit, I only covered the territory between 18th Street and 22nd Street.  Here are some highlights:

Sterling Ruby at Hauser and Wirth, 511 West 18th Street

Hauser & Wirth opened this gallery space in the from Roxy nightclub space less than 2 years ago.  But it has been recently announced it is going to be torn down and a high rise condo building will be built here.  In the meantime, to enter the gallery, you must walk up an extra wide flight of stairs with striking stripes on the walls.   Through July 25th, the large gallery space is housing the works of L.A. artist Sterling Ruby.  I’m familiar with him as a sculptor, but the show includes spray paint paintings, fabric collages and cardboard collages.  The sculptures are monumental in size.  They employ a wide variety of materials, colors and styles.

The most striking is the cup:

The Cup by Sterling Ruby

It is about 10 feet tall.  The sculptures stands out first because of its bright red color.  But then one notices that the red looks like bloody viscera that repulses, as if Ruby has just binge-watched the TV show “True Blood”.

I had a similar dual reaction to another work, Big Yellow Mama:

 

Big Yellow Mama by Sterling Ruby

At first, it looks like a large Alice in Wonderland type chair for children to play on, but then I realize it is more like an oversized electric chair.

The Hauser and Wirth show includes a ceramic “Basin” sculpture like the works of Sterling Ruby that are currently included in the Whitney Biennial.

BASIN THEOLOGY/2C-T-XX by Sterling Ruby

Glenn Brown at Gagosian Gallery at 522 West 21st Street

Glenn Brown at Gagosian Gallery

I don’t know anything about Glenn Brown and wasn’t sure what to expect as I walked into the gallery where I have seen amazing museum quality shows of artists like Monet, Picasso, Frankenthaler and Rauschenberg.  At first it didn’t look like something I would enjoy, but the more I looked, the more I found myself drawn into these colorful, yet grotesque paintings and scuptures.

A few examples:

The show is on view until June 21st.

Tom Duncan at the Andrew Edlin Gallery, 134 Tenth Avenue

Also on view until June 21st is the Tom Duncan show at the Andrew Edlin Gallery. The show features sculptural assemblages, both large and small, inspired by Duncan’s childhood memories. I liked many of these works, especially the small ones, most of which were sold.

Works by Tom Duncan

No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989 at David Zwirner Gallery

Cologne/New Show at David Zwirner Gallery

Another museum quality show is at the David Zwirner galleries on 19th and 20th streets.  It features artists who showed in both New York and Cologne between 1984 and 1989 and includes works by Americans Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Jenny Holzer, and German artists Albert Oelen, Gunther Forg and Walter Dahn.  Many artists included in the show have been the subject of  recent solo museum shows in New York, such as Cindy Sherman, Christopher Wool, George Condo, Martin Kippenberger, Rosemarie Trockel, and Mike Kelly.  The show is on view until June 14, 2014.

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