Théâtres de Mémoire

Calder mobile at Hauser Wirth in Chelsea
Calder mobile at Hauser Wirth in Chelsea

Our list of shows in Chelsea was shorter than ever. Just one must see, Marlene Dumas’s “Myths & Mortals” at David Zwirner on 20th, so we started there. Luscious, large, thinly painted oils, mostly nudes in gorgeous colors and small watery watercolors, mostly black and white, swiftly executed and expressive, work created for a recent Dutch translation of William Shakespeare’s “Venus & Adonis.”

Hauser Wirth is always good so we headed there next. They have galleries all over the world and their 22nd Street spot is especially comfortable with its café, bookstore and bathroom. They were showing the collection of Sylvia Perlstein, a Max’s Kansas City denizen. The Calder, above, is from that show.

From here we just wandered, staying between 9th and 10th of course, and stumbled into shows featuring Jean Dubuffet’s (Basquiat’s father) “Théâtres de Mémoire,” Al Held, whose heroic, thickly painted abstracts from the fifties look fresh today, Jenny Saville’s new paintings that show the work, the scrubbing out, the reworking, the buttery finish to the strokes and Damien Hirst’s spot paintings, three huge rooms of them.

Coincidentally, the last two shows we saw we’re by a wife and her husband. Both are the parents of the actress and director, Lena Dunham. Laurie Simmons from Cindy Sherman’s Picture Generation is showing her dummies and picture thought bubble photos at Mary Boone and her husband, Carroll Dunham, is showing his “vulgar beyond belief” (Los Angeles Times) male wrestler paintings at Gladstone Gallery. It was a perfect afternoon.


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