Last Look: Artist Harvey Quaytman at McKee Gallery

Warsaw Thirds, Harvey Quaytman
Warsaw Thirds, 1986. Acrylic and rust on canvas, 68.6 × 68.6 cm / 27 × 27 in. Collection of Elizabeth Rea, Connecticut; ©

On February 19, a crowd of friends and family gathered at McKee Gallery (745 Fifth Ave.; 212-688-5951; to open the latest exhibition of abstract painter Harvey Quaytman and to celebrate the release of the artist’s first-ever eponymously titled monograph published by Phaidon.

Fêted for his palette—vibrant colors, textural materials (rust, glass, beads)—his creation of lush surfaces and his shaping of sculptural canvases, Quaytman began producing his hard-edge modernist works on the Bowery in the 1960s. Propeller shapes, bands, blocks and cross-like forms appear throughout his geometric paintings, which have been shown in upwards of 60 solo shows in galleries around the world (New York, San Francisco, Paris, Zurich, Stockholm and Sydney among them).

While his inspirations include Gorky and de Kooning, Malevich and Mondrian, his work—as friend and critic Dore Ashton writes in the book’s preface—“always displayed an independence that made it feel difficult for commentators to ‘place’ him.”

“Harvey was a droll, pipe-smoking, very slow-moving, wine-drinking lover of food, classical music, constructivism, model airplanes and women,” remembers friend and gallerist Renee McKee, whose showcase of Quaytman’s work closes this Saturday, March 22. “He could be charming and lovable then caustic and insulting. He was not a theoretician. He was a romantic hedonist at the same time that he scoffed at bourgeois ‘things.’”

While Quaytman may not be as well known as some of his contemporaries, the 143-page monograph exploring four decades of his work may help to change that. “In the old days we would say he was ahead of his time,” said art critic and author Robert C. Morgan the night of the exhibit opening. “I hope we can say that again.”

The World’s Largest El Greco Exhibit

The World’s Largest El Greco Exhibit
El Greco/ Church of Santo Tomé

It’s funny to think that an Old Master painter as famed as El Greco wasn’t always so renowned. Four hundred years after his death—and only a century since his rediscovery—Toledo, Spain, is showcasing his legacy during a year of notable events held in his honor.

The centerpiece of the celebration is “The Greek of Toledo” (March 14 to June 14), an exhibit on view at the Museum of Santa Cruz (Calle Miguel de Cervantes 3; 34-925/221-036) and sites throughout the city where the artist’s paintings were made, including the Vestry of Toledo Cathedral and Tavera Hospital.

More than a hundred works culled from collections around the world will be on display, comprising the largest exhibition of El Greco’s work ever held. Pieces like The Adoration of the Name of Jesus (National Gallery of London), View of Toledo (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (pictured here and from the Church of Santo Tomé in Toledo) show off his distinctive—and now celebrated—style.

Born in Crete as Domenikos Theotokopoulos, El Greco began living and painting in Toledo—the city that gave him his famous moniker and the inspiration for his best-known works—from 1577 until his death in 1614. Though widely unrecognized until the 20th century, he is now considered one of the more modern and innovative painters of the 16th and 17th centuries, famous for his dramatic palette and elongated figures. Though Greek by birth and Italian by training, he honed his technique in Toledo.

“We will try to change our 1900 view of El Greco’s somber and truculent images of emaciated saints for a new perspective on his paintings,” says curator Fernando Marías of the show’s ambitions. “[We will remember him] as a creator of new worlds never before seen.” For a full list of events visit

A Gallery Exhibit of Modern Biker Culture in Marrakech

A Gallery Exhibit of Modern Biker Culture in Marrakech
Courtesy of Hassan Hajjaj, Taymour Grahne Gallery

Seeing his native Morocco used as a backdrop in glossy, high-fashion photo spreads—its own people absent—first frustrated Moroccan-born, UK-based artist, stylist and designer Hassan Hajjaj. Then it inspired him. Presenting a larger picture of local Moroccan culture, his stunning portraits of Marrakech’s lesser-known but no-less prominent contemporary biker culture are on view in the exhibit “’Kesh Angels” at New York’s Taymour Grahne Gallery (through March 7).

Throughout the show Hajjaj calls into question stereotypes of Arab women, capturing his fashionable female friends in brightly colored djellabas (robes) and patterned veils smiling confidently from atop their motorcycles. The clothing, which Hajjaj designed, mixes traditional prints with references to brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, recontextualizing familiar Western products within the structure of local custom—namely, traditional Muslim dress. The photographs’ handmade frames are fitted with found objects (colorful chicken-stock boxes, soda cans, Legos), further toying with the influence of branding and the relationships between East and West, old and new.

“In this work I want to show something particular to Marrakech,” Hajjaj says, “and to show that even though we have different cultures and religions, we share a lot in common as people.” 157 Hudson St.; 212-240-9442;

Jasper Johns: The Body and Lithography

Christie’s First Art Sale in India
Jasper Johns

Through April 30, The Gallery at Windsor in Vero Beach, Florida, offers the opportunity to explore an artist’s use of the body in a special exhibition of work. “Jasper Johns: Shadow and Substance,” the gallery’s third and final collaboration with London’s Whitechapel Gallery (77–82 Whitechapel High St.;, presents a collection of 30 works on paper that, from the 1980s to the present, the artist created with the print studio Universal Limited Art Editions. The exhibit is divided into three parts: The Seasons, Shrinkydinks and Family Album.

“The body has played a large role in Jasper Johns’s work, as a form of sign language and a means of communication,” explains Whitechapel curator Iwona Blazwick. “The silhouettes and figures in his lithographs, etchings and aquatints evoke performance, process, narrative and memory.”

Established in 1989, Windsor is a 416-acre oceanfront residential community founded by W. Galen Weston and his wife, the Honourable Hilary M. Weston. “I have immensely enjoyed our collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery,” says Hilary. “Now that the curatorial partnership is almost at an end, we are looking at a number of new ideas.”

Those new ideas are sure to be worth seeing. An independent art space within the property, The Gallery has been exhibiting works by top contemporary artists—including Peter Doig, Ed Ruscha, Alex Katz and Bruce Weber and Nan Bush—since it debuted in 2002. 10680 Belvedere Sq.; 800-233-7656;

Exhibit to See: Warhol Visits Dalí

Exhibit to See: Warhol Visits Dalí
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

“Artists do not operate in a vacuum,” says Dr. Hank Hine, director of the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, which houses the largest collection of works by Salvador Dalí outside Spain. The statement is a particularly apt reminder as the museum prepares to unveil its newest exhibit, “Warhol: Art. Fame. Mortality.” (January 18 through April 27), which explores the Pop artist’s relationship to public visibility and mass culture in the context of the Spanish Surrealist’s influence.

“Warhol was one of the American artists most marked by the legacy and model of Salvador Dalí,” Hine explains. “If Dalí used popular media to present his vision of the dream world, Warhol used popular media as the subject of his art.”

The exhibit is the museum’s first showcase of works by an artist other than its namesake. Roughly 35 paintings, 20 drawings, 50 photographs and a selection of films by Warhol—all on loan from his eponymous museum in Pittsburgh—are on display. Besides viewing the art, visitors can also experience their own 15 minutes of fame in a simulated minute-long Warholian screen test, which they can share on social media.

“In many ways Dalí passed to Warhol the mantle of the avant-garde, celebrity provocateur who juggled the high and the low and pointed the way that art would be made in the future,” says Hine. “It has taken this long to begin to see the work of each artist out of the shadow of their public image. This is the experience the exhibition will allow.” 1 Dali Blvd.; 727-823-3767;

Aspen Art Museum Gets Us Thinking

Aspen Art Museum Gets Us Thinking
Courtesy of Kerry Tribe and 1301PE, Los Angeles

The Aspen Art Museum is currently hosting “Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands,” a group show of videos, drawings, installations and other works on view through February 2.

The show—whose title comes from Alfred Hitchcock’s famous explanation of a MacGuffin (an element in a film or story that keeps the plot moving despite its own lack of inherent importance)—explores the complexity, uncertainty and incoherence of storytelling in contemporary art. “All the works deal with narratives or narrative structures of various kinds, but in such a way that the narrative itself is not really the point,” says curator Jacob Proctor. “It becomes a kind of device that allows other things to unfold formally, conceptually and philosophically.”

In addition to showcasing historical pieces by Mac Adams, Victor Burgin and John Smith, the exhibition presents brand-new works by artists Matthew Brannon, Gerard Byrne and Katarina Burin, as well as the North American premières of important recent projects by Saskia Olde Wolbers and Alejandro Cesarco.

Blurring the line between fiction and reality, the show urges spectators to ponder larger questions about how they know what they think they know, Proctor explains. “All the works in the exhibition ask us to look—and then to look again,” he says, “and to consciously ask ourselves about what and how we see.” 590 N. Mill St.; 970-925-8050;

Christie's First Art Sale in India

Christie’s First Art Sale in India
Courtesy of Christie’s

Christie’s will host an inaugural art sale in India on December 19, becoming the only international auction house to do so in the country.

Christie's has a nearly 250-year history of promoting South Asian art—James Christie offered “four fine India pictures painted on glass” at auction in 1766—and the sale, held at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace (Apollo Bunder; 91-22/6665-3366;, presents a curated survey of South Asian modern and cutting-edge contemporary artworks by the greatest artists of the last hundred years.

Highlights include works acquired from the estate of Mumbai-based gallerists and tastemakers Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, who have supported emerging artists since the 1940s and are among the most central players in developing India’s modern art scene. Featured works include important paintings by abstract specialists Vasudeo S. Gaitonde and Ram Kumar and Indian modernist M.F. Husain.

Also of note are pieces by six of the nine artists whose compositions are defined as “National Art Treasures,” including canvases by Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil and relatives Rabindranath, Abanindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore. The works, which are exceptionally important to Indian national culture, are non-exportable and must remain in the country when sold.

“We wanted to trace a complete overview of the development of Indian art in the past 100 years,” says Sonal Singh, Christie’s specialist and head of sale, of the 83-lot collection, which is expected to fetch between roughly $6 million and $8.5 million. “We hope to give Indian art another international push.”

Meet the New Queens Museum

Meet the New Queens Museum
Courtesy of Scott Rudd

With the re-opening of the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park last month, a different interpretation of an art institution began to emerge in New York’s largest borough.

After seven years of construction and a $69 million renovation to the museum’s original New York City Building (first constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair), the space has doubled in size and scope, thanks to a 50,000-foot expansion by Grimshaw Architects.

Evoking the idea of a town square or a public forum—“true places where public discourse exists,” says David Strauss, director of the museum’s external affairs and capital projects—the renovated building is a medley of glass, steel, LED lights and open spaces.

It’s an ethos that is integral to its mission to be a community institution, with programming that goes far beyond the banner of art, and one that’s committed to reflecting its location in the most ethnically diverse county in the country.

“We take both ‘Queens’ and ‘Museum’ seriously, seeking to activate conversations that span the art world and real world,” Strauss says. “What we are doing as an institution is setting a new paradigm for what a 21st-century art museum can be in an urban setting.”

That includes a wide range of exhibitions—the first solo show of Bread and Puppet Theatre founder Peter Schumann and “The People’s United Nations” (an exploration of diplomacy and conflict resolution) by artist Pedro Reyes kicked things off—as well as programming offered by a team of art therapists, educators and community organizers.

“We do see ourselves as an alternative space,” Strauss says. “The role of the traditional art museum is played to perfection by our sister institutions, which allows us to forge our own path. We learn from their example in certain practices, and hopefully along the way they can learn from us as well.” Flushing Meadows Corona Park; queensmuseum.orgcom.

Upcoming Exhibitions
• “Do you want the cosmetic version or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department (1986-2013)”:
The first museum survey of the LAPD, a performance group founded by artist, director and activist John Malpede. Opens February 2, 2014.
• “Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men and the 1964 World’s Fair”: Marks the 50th anniversary of the first showing of the mural 13 Most Wanted Men, which was first displayed 200 yards from the new museum’s location. Opens April 20, 2014.

Highlight Reel: Art Basel Miami Beach

Highlight Reel: Art Basel Miami Beach
Chuck Close

Nothing transforms a city quite like Art Basel, and the upcoming Miami South Beach edition is no exception. Hundreds of events, local restaurant and hotel openings and a slew of surrounding art fairs will pop up this week (December 2–8; From VIP affairs to the show’s newest sector, here’s a handful of happenings to keep on your radar.

• Don’t miss a new sector of the fair devoted to editioned works, prints and multiples. “We are formalizing something we had already been offering,” says Art Basel director Marc Spiegler. “Editions are a great entry point to collecting because they allow people to collect work by artists at lower prices. And there is a highly specialized collecting scene for multiples.” Thirteen galleries will participate, including Pace Prints (New York) and Niels Borch Jensen (Berlin), with works by Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close (pictured above) and more. 300 W. 41st St., Ste. 214;

• Fusion MIA Fair will launch its inaugural display of African and Latin artists on December 3 with an invitation-only First Look fête, with music by the Miami Symphony Orchestra. A series of events will follow through December 7, including an awards ceremony and a lecture series. 22nd St. and NW Second Ave.;

• As Maserati celebrates the debut of its new Ghibli, it will also host an opening-night VIP toast at the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s new facility (December 5, 7–10 p.m.; 1103 Biscayne Blvd.; and will sponsor a VIP lounge at Art Miami (3101 NE First Ave.; with events like a symposium on collecting art by women and a brunch for museum professionals and curators.

• On December 4, Berluti CEO Antoine Arnault will unveil the newest collaboration between the men’s fashion house and furniture designer Maarten Baas. The four pieces Baas created for the label include a valet, two mirrors and a chaise longue. The items will be on display at Berluti’s Miami boutique for the duration of Art Basel. 161 NE 40th St.; 305-573-4170;

• A parade of other fairs joins Art Basel, including Scope (December 3–8;, Red Dot (December 3–8;, PULSE (December 5–8; and Design Miami (December 4–8; Look out for the retrospective of famed fashion photographer Marco Glaviano showing new limited-edition, large-scale versions of his black-and-white images of supermodel Cindy Crawford, now printed on canvas and sprinkled with diamond dust. “I believe that after so many years, these are the most iconic pictures of the supermodel era,” Glaviano says. The opening reception will be held at the dedicated CC Lounge during the Art Miami / Context VIP preview (December 3), and the retrospective will remain on view there for the duration of the fair. 3101 NE First Ave.;

Award-Winning Art in Shanghai

Award-Winning Art in Shanghai

The inaugural Hugo Boss Asia Art award, a collaboration between the brand and the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, has high hopes for the future of Asian art. Currently displaying an exhibit of works by the honor’s seven finalists—all based in China, Taiwan or Hong Kong—the museum is backing talent that will no doubt make significant marks in the years to come.

The winner, Kwan Sheung Chi of Hong Kong, collected a stipend of about $50,000 for his stimulating oeuvre of video and installation art. Doing it with Mrs. Kwan…Making Pepper Spray, one of the works on view, is a five-minute video of a woman demonstrating for an audience how to make pepper spray using common kitchen supplies, spoofing cooking shows. The judges chose him for his ability to probe the realities of society via everyday people, “not just wallowing in simple criticism or praise, and not without humor or a sense of poetry either.”

Other finalists include Birdhead, a photography duo whose photos of their hometown (Shanghai) have appeared at MoMA New York; Li Wei, whose I'm Calm is pictured above; and Li Liao a performance artist who for one piece displayed a uniform from a job he took at a factory making parts for iPads, his contract and the iPad he bought with his earnings—a wry commentary on materialism and the ever-widening gap between workers and consumers.

The prize will be awarded every other year from here on out. Through December 8; 20 Huqiu Rd., Huangpu District; 86-21/3310-9985;

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