Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Artist Aidas Bareikis is the hero of the 11 page article in This weeks New Yorker chronicalling the Days and nights of Leo Koenig.
(Bareikis) "as an art-school student in Vilnius, he'd been drafted into the Soviet Army. After two months, a Soviet general paid his unit a visit. There was a uniform inspection, and Bareikis was found to be wearing an undershirt on which he'd painted the Lithuanian flag. He was sent to the brig solitary confinement in a pitch-black cistern buried in the ground and then to a mental hospital, where doctors could not find evidence that his affection for his native republic had anything to do with madness. He was shipped off to Afghanistan, to fight the mujahideen. At first, he didn't see combat, but he did see, while loading trains bound for Russia, some of its results: caskets, quadriplegics, amputees. He came across a mangled helicopter covered in soldiers blood. Later, his convoy was ambushed, and he spent three days and nights behind a rock, pinned down by enemy fire. He told himself, "I've got to go back to art school". ...Bareikis and a few other Baltic draftees began scrounging for pencils and grinding the graphite into powder, which they inhaled through their noses in an effort to poison themselves. They also tried rolling fingernail parings into their cigarettes and depriving themselves of sleep. After a couple of weeks of this, Bareikis, delirious and suffering from high blood pressure, was ordered to see the unit’s medical officer..."
Then it goes on to describle Adias as living under a tree in Central Park and finally snorting vodka with Leo one fateful night and convincing him to open a gallery. Our R&D department is working on an Aidas Bareikis toy action figure complete with AK-47 and a glue gun. I mean, woah!

The article is thorough, there's a ton of information strung together and some interesting factoids (did we know Anton Kern is Baselitz's son)? Author Nic Paumgarten tags along on late nights out and then quotes Leo and Debora (who he neglected to mention is an accomplished artist in her own right) and others when they've obviously been putting a few back, it strikes me as unfair to quote someone when they're drinking. Also some of the characterizations have a bitchy, sometimes malicious edge. Still it's a good read offering insite into some of the obscure workings in the art world. Heres a link to the article if you don't want to spent 4 bucks on the New Yorker.

As long as you are mentioned, which you are, it's all good!
I don't think he comes off well. Greasy.
sleazeball, and the artist he is going to get 50,000 for? please give me a break, look at the image. "Myth" in your own mind.
Hey Corny Girl-
Long time listener, first time caller -
Sorry I couldn't resist. If only I had been so clever when it actually was my first comment! Thank you for yet another excellent tip to an interesting site, article, kitty robot link etc. I have already passed on two copies of the article. (very slow at work today!) Regardless of opinions about Koenig or his artists I appreciated Hubert Neumann's comments - (kind of reminded me of when Hilton Kramer's ghost took over your body.) Isn't it interesting that people are considered argumentative or cranky when they state that art can be profound and that most what we are being shown/ given and is commonly agreed upon isn't. I have to believe that Art aspires to be profound - and I don't mean ponderously or self consciously profound - (again the 3 minute pop song).
I agree about how Leo comes off, the purple shirt and all, hey he's European, he wears suits. He's comes off as puffed up but good at what he does and personally I more or less like his program.
Sir--may I suggest that all your problems will be solved if you visit ??? Just wondering.
Anon #1 I don't know about the "greesy" factorBut Leos my dealer and my friend so I'm inclined to defend him. I think Leo is a corageous business man and very self assured, I can see how it can come off as "puffed up....

Anon #2 Again That artist is a friend and I like her work a lot. Wait to see it in person before you judge it, the reproduction sucks and it's not one of her strongest pieces (sorry Kelli) which are reminisant od Hieronymus Bosch or Breugel, they really are jems, the best ones are packed with detail, and overwhelming. Might you like them better if they didn't have a price tag? I think the market might be inflated but that doesn't take away from the work. We have to seperate out the issues here.
Melly, There was something a bit gross to me about Hubert Neumann, he says some tough stuff but I think it was the Deluze quote about ownership which I felt was so bass, naff really, oh and not true... whats valuble in art can't be owned, it's there for anyone who looks at it.
i can separate the price from the artwork, and it may be a bad reproduction, and she may be your friend, but the fact that the article comes across as he is manipulating the work, and it is just this overblown boasting about the myth, etc. and this unrealistic price for an artist who has supposedly made 6 paintings its almost pure satire or parody on the artworld, if i were her i would be upset about being manipulated and depicted as letting herself be complicit in this depiction. I understand also he is your friend, dealer etc. but that doesnot mean he is not a tad overblown, i remember some years back in an article he said he would be the next leo castelli. His program does not prove that true. (except your paintingss of course). frank nitsche is a case in point, mediocre abstraction, looks like a lot of peoples work.
Hey Annon, I hear ya. But when leo discovered kelli working away in Ditmas park he couldn't sleep for 3 days, he could barely contain his elation. Granted there are dealers who have the tendancy towards the hyperbolic, but if you'll grant me a rare moment of optimism, I think it's because of sheer excitment about her work, not 'cause he's needs to hype her up. In the artical Leo said "No one knows her, but there’s a myth building.” not that he was building the myth, it was happening on it's own due to her only making 6 small paintings a year and there being a waiting list. he was very frank about his goal for her prices, it's aggressive but it's what the market can bare.
The art world is problematic, there's alot of crap out there getting big money, I just don't think kelli is one of those. Shit, everything is inflated right now, Art, real estate, gas... It'll all come crashing down when W leads us into The Great DepressionII

It's Yom Kippur and I'm fasting today so I need to conserve my strength and contemplate what a shit person I've been this year.
Peace out....
Leo Koenig seems no better or worse than most other dealers and at least this article shows that he is extremely passionate about art. It IS all overblown right now. Kind of insane. But it doesn't mean that dealers aren't intensely excited about their artists, every bit as devoted to them as they are to their own work. I have heard many dealers talk like this. They are not really the enemy. It's more complicate than that, it seems to me. So anonymous, you don't like Frank Nitsche. That's your subjective opinion, it doesnt' really prove or disprove anything. And it sounds like you are romanticizing Leo Castelli by mentioning him. It's all a problem. And everyone in it is part of the problem.
Also, wouldn't you be dazzled if a dealer or actually anyone believed in you and your work (I am assuming you are an artist here) the way Leo Koenig believes in Kelli Willliams? And it if they did, it would piss someone else off.
what is the problem? Is it the fact that there are so many artists with very little propping up the careers of the ones with so much?
What do you mean, anonymous? How are artists with little (I consider myself one) "propping up" those with more?
The article was what it was because a piece about a bunch of thoughtful, introverted people who go out and drink beer once a month with a sweet-natured, intelligent German guy would not have been interesting. The thing about Leo watching five women dance on a bar was telling because everyone was dancing and the women were artists and part of that group of friends but that isn't mentioned. One of the women had just come from her opening so maybe she felt like dancing. You can't call it "sexist" because it dilutes what the word means. It is just a point of view so you have to seperate out the writer's view and what makes a glamorous article.
Anonymous, I assume you are a different anonymous that the earlier one...what you share is good to know, the author's oversight of mentioning the women artists in the same circle. Irritating.
Everybody working in the artworld, whether they are lonely artists isolated in studios or galleristas create the climate that supports the money earners.
The few make money off the backs of others.
It's hard to be idealistic under these conditions.
i agree,its more about making a journalistic piece that makes artists and dealers out to be much more, and the issues it raises are complicated, because it gets all emotional, i guess i just feel that the overblowness is so overblown and nobody ever really takes it on, people believe the hype etc. they fall for it. i am propped up like kelli whatsher name by my dealers and there are people out there who got pissed , but i still got mad at the price thing. no matter how good she may be, its just too too much, i think it romanticized the whole boys in a bar drinking beer "myth" making moments, what i thought was funny was if you read the piece on Rikrit, there is also the same boys and beer romanticisism. its just a thought i may be wrong and it is yom kippur so lets all be a little introspective today, i'm just going to paint.
there must be a little truth to the whole boys club drinking club "myth." When I look at the artists in most big galleries the majority are men. And look at the PS1 show. these guys should take up golf.
the boys club...yeah, it's kind of depressing but whatever. keep painting. keep trying. idealism is fleeting, what choice do you have as an artist (male or female), or a productive human being, you just keep going. i read articles like that and don't totally believe the hype but can't deny i wouldn't like to have a dealer believe in me like that.

i don't feel like i am propping up bigger artists than me. i am independent of them, curious about them, wary sometimes. i believe i belong where they are, i can't help it. i don't want to demonize other artists for being successful or blame dealers for everything...blame people with money...whoever it is. the world is fucked, there is sexism everywhere, not just in the art world. we are lucky as artists to have a vocation that encourages daydreaming...

"it's yom kippur so let's all be a little introspective today, i'm just going to paint."

i like your sentiment.
Wow, I love reading all this. I would love to be sitting in a room with all of you to know who you are. Anonymousness allows you to say things you normally wouldn't, but's fun to know.
I hate add anything else - to what seems like a long comments section. Happy New Year Corny - and I am sure you weren't too much of a shit this year. Maybe just enough of a shit to keep it all interesting. I agree about the Deluze quote - not only naff but subjective really. I just thought that it was a nice break from the hyperbolic "Access Hollywood" quality of the rest of the article - It seemed he didn't give the writer what she wanted so she called him crabby and pointed out that he didn't buy anything.
Who knew your post would cause such furor. We now seem to be a country not only divided between red states and blue state but also pro Leo and anti Leo.
Congrats to him and all the artists he represents - great coverage 11 pages in the new fricken yorker...
"The article was what it was because a piece about a bunch of thoughtful, introverted people who go out and drink beer once a month with a sweet-natured, intelligent German guy would not have been interesting."
TOT! what the artical missed was Leos true nature which is very sweet.

Anon, I don't get this idea that "The few make money off the backs of others." Do you mean the people who weave the cotton canvas on which we paint? The free market lifestyle is problamatic, what to do?
personally I wish I had the wherewithall to hang up my chapeau and start a misandrist art collective in the catskills.

Anon who said "i am propped up like kelli whatsher name by my dealers and there are people out there who got pissed , but i still got mad at the price thing. no matter how good she may be, its just too too much"
You might be be right, but how is the artist suposed to say no I don't want to make that much money. I've been doing this for a while and i still don't feel secure money wise, it always feels to me like it could dry up at any second. So if a dealer wants to make you money and they aren't Mary Boone or other obvious vampires who will leave you high and dry, I can't see how you could say no.

Dealers get what what they think the market will give. If collector want to spend a lot on art, it's ok. Seems to me that most Americans who make a lot of money spend it on swinish 12,000 sq foot MacMansions, cars and bling so at least some of them have curiosity about art.
I think the condition of being a conciencious human being/artist is very difficult to reconcile with the cold hard fact of MONEY, I think the best we can do is what we're doing now, calling out the over priced mediocre work. Hey! Like what about that Nick Mauss show at Daniel Reich. A riddle locked within itself.
Anons you need to make up names or something...
Hey Corny.......thanks!!! Can we get a maid over here on Centre St.? xxx
Wow, your here, how cool. And yes a maid is a good thing...
tracking down the identities of those slatternly dancing girls at the "strip club". all fine, well-respected artists hanging out with their peers. i guess you can't believe everything you read.
I’m a little too late to this discussion to really bother commenting here, but, then again, why not?

Leo is a great guy, and was an amazing boss for the couple of months that I installed there. Adias’ work is one of the most exciting things in New York. Kelli Williams does make neat-o, decadent, jewel-like paintings – and deserves to make as much money off her work as can be fetched. That article was kinda dirty, but amazingly fun to read.
That's a great story. Waiting for more. »
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