Friday, February 23, 2007

Very insubstantial polentina / very inessential people

22 February 2007 (~2:00 p.m.)

“VIP Lounge “ is something of a misnomer. Try ‘stand-in-line-til-you-faint-from-hunger-or-thirst’ cafe – which is when you may be revived by bottle of water (Dasani, $2) or a coffee (free – free!!!) I park my notebooks (and artillery magazines) on a table and go back to the queue which seems endless. They do bring water and coffee – both of which have been consumed by the time I get to the counter to order food. In the meantime, the table where my stuff is parked has turned twice. I order a “Polentina” soup which seems more English, circa Oliver Twist, than Italian. It sounds hearty; it is in fact watery gruel entirely without heart fit for a Dickensian workhouse. Generally speaking, the food is ghastly. I’m seated for a few moments with two private dealers, one local, one from Paris, who deals primarily in pretty high-end late 19th century art. She’s just come from Patrick Painter where she seems to have been bowled over simultaneously by the quality and the vulgarity (she makes it sound as if she’s talking about Patrick himself, which is amusing). She’s in love with a Sigmar Polke she saw there (and when I get back to Patrick’s space to have a look, so am I). They’re as ravenous as I am and it’s funny to see them trying to cope with the food. They manage to charm one of the waitstaff into bringing espressos to our table.

The remarks overheard on line and around the table are amusing. One dealer/collector expresses astonishment at the amount of painting and conventional works on paper – the overall price/quality ratio having slipped unacceptably above/below his horizon line. “I can’t imagine buying anything on paper anymore,” he says to the woman standing next to me. They’ve been to the 67th St. Armory show as well, where the prices seemed to impress at least as much as the work. (I’ll have to see to judge.) The Show will exhaust them. Works on paper are very much at home here. Finally at the head of the line, I’m queried by the exceptionally urbane Andreas Osarek, from Galerie Crone in Berlin, who invites me to check out his space. (I do – and love it.) He too seems a bit daunted by the sheer physical scope of the show. I feel like a wuss; am I tiring after taking in about 20 percent of it? And I’m wearing extremely comfortable shoes. (But a bit démodé? Looking at the fabulous heels all around me, I’m feeling shoe-challenged and fashion-challenged generally. Unfortunately there’s no budget for an emergency wardrobe update at Prada or Bergdorf’s.) Back to the booths.

Ezrha Jean Black, in New York

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