Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter Gets Roasted During Armory Week… and Lives to Tell the Tale

03/10/2017 - 17:08

This time around, the globetrotting columnist barely escaped the art fairs with his scalp intact

Roving the art world for business and pleasure, I was en route to New York for the Armory Show and its attendant fairs and goings-on when I had a near miss with a sneering Tracey Emin, and struck a possible deal with Harry Blain of Blain|Southern Gallery. This was before I had even left the tarmac at Heathrow. Besides market clatter (which I never tire of, really) my plane neighbors were so loud I resorted to Pzizz, a meditation app originating from a group of university linguists in California (where else?) that sends you into that twilight between asleep and awake with an array of soothing sounds and mildly annoying positive cogitations. In the mercenary market, it’s an inestimable tool. I implore you to try it! While Pzizzing, I couldn’t get it out of my head that Harry had managed an insane package deal with British Airways and the Carlyle Hotel (aka art-dealing central) at a total cost less than one leg of my airfare. My tranquility was blown before I landed.

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Kenny Schachter

How I Found Sigmar Polke Alive and Well in a German Spa Town

03/01/2017 - 10:43

The Museum Frieder Burda was opened by the eponymous publisher in 2004 in a Richard Meier building in the German spa town of Baden-Baden (literally “Bath-Bath”) known for its natural springs and one of Europe’s very first casinos, dating to 1765 and in full swing, still. I dropped by to visit the Sigmar Polke exhibition entitled “Alchemy and Arabesque,” but sadly didn’t stay quite long enough to pop into a hot spring—though I did manage a side trip to the lavish Rococo casino, admired by as diverse a clientele as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Marlene Dietrich…and Andreas Gursky. The title of the Polke show is a little unfortunate; though the alchemy is ostensible, the arabesque is more like a kitchen-sink approach to capturing past, present, and future reflections/impressions in a boiling cauldron: Polke’s perfervid imagination.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter Says It’s the End of the World and Everybody Wants Classic Contemporary

02/13/2017 - 14:37

The market has become a comedy of access

The Unquenchable Appetite for Classic Contemporary
I’ve never lived through such a tumultuous period, one that compels us to tune into the news 24/7 to stay abreast of the rapidly changing global condition; the USA is giving the Middle East a run for its money; now every taxi driver is engaged in a life or death debate, every ride. We should all immediately invest in CNN, which is owned by the Turner Broadcasting System division of Time Warner Cable Spectrum (TWC) (formerly Time Warner Cable) and was purchased by Charter Communications (CHTR on NASDAQ) in 2016. And for that matter, add The New York Times Company (NYT ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange) to the portfolio too. They’ve already clocked over a quarter million more digital subscribers since the new presidency.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter on Richard Prince and the Magic of Art Market Metaphysics

01/17/2017 - 15:42

In what other sector can you conceivably disown something that is what it is?

Prince v. Trump
Without getting too much into the minutiae of Immanuel Kant’s concept of the “thing-in-itself,” as posited in his “Critique of Pure Reason” (1781), in which he wrestles with the differences between noumena and phenomena, I will say that there is no disputing that Richard Prince (b. 1949) made an Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump, at her behest, in 2014, and sold it to the First Daughter Elect netting $36,000. Though he claims to not, generally, undertake commissions for hire.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter on the Fire That Ravaged His Home and Art

01/16/2017 - 12:40

A work from a 2004 Kenny Scharf show was destroyed

Thursday evening, January 5, two bottles into a business dinner, my wife Ilona phoned to say that our London house was on fire. She assured me that everyone was fine (our four sons, ranging from 14 to 20 were in town), but that perhaps my blood pressure would be better served if I didn’t return home for the evening. I didn’t take that as an encouraging sign.

Before the taxi could reach my destination, I was waived down by the pack of firemen from the fleet of trucks instructing us the street was closed. When I mentioned it was my residence, they radioed that the “key-holder” had arrived but wouldn’t grant me access. I frantically asked where Ilona was before finding her ensconced in the back of a ladder truck. It was like a scene from a boxed-set drama series. There were onlookers, hoses snaking from the street into the front door, and a firefighter on a cherry picker spraying away into the bedroom of Sage, my youngest child.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter on Art and Horse-Racing in St. Moritz

01/05/2017 - 11:00

Life in the art world is like a Bildungsroman

Writing in St. Moritz, Switzerland lands me on a slippery slope in more ways than one, besides accidentally smashing onto the pavement on occasion. After an article I wrote last year, I was chided (and social-media-blocked) by the wife of a long-time resident and former gallery owner with the following admonition: “The death of dealers is indiscretion.” And I was under the impression I was being laudatory and reverential.

This, in turn, instilled a hesitancy to simultaneously post my impressions of the handful of gallery shows that dot the bustling alpine village while still sharing my holiday with the participants of the story. There is a degree of familiarity with the fur-and-jewelry-clad community that return for decades throughout generations.

Life in the art world is like a Bildungsroman, a novel of formation and education where there is an enduring amount of information to absorb. In that regard, St. Moritz is about the most perfect place to take a family ski vacation, if you have as much an aversion to skiing as I do.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter's Fact & Fiction

Jerry Saltz and the Future of the Critic-Artist

12/12/2016 - 16:51

There are few critics like Jerry Saltz. Scratch that—there are none

The world has changed in the last five months since I wrote this. Much of Jerry Saltz’s medieval (over sexualized) mischievousness has been replaced by multi-colored, grade-school crafty signs made for the internet inciting sedition against the as-yet-formed Trump administration. Saltz has become the social media Thomas Paine of pamphleteering and his art career may yet finally loom: photos, proclamations and porn.


From failed artist to Facebook fetishist, Jerry Saltz is a critic like no other. The one-time trucker turned Pulitzer-nominated writer has used his online persona to rail against the wild excess of the market and claim his place as art’s social-media poster boy.

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Kenny Schachter

Art Fairs

Kenny Schachter on Celebritism and 'Arting' at Art Basel in Miami Beach

12/05/2016 - 17:21

Back on the art fair circuit with Kenny Schachter

Loving and Learning
Like starlings changing course mid-flight in a well-ordered flock, many trudged to Art Basel Miami, season fifteen (there should be a boxed set). Come to think of it I’ve been to every fair, though never so much as dipped a toe in the water—certain things are better left unseen in the art world. There was constant chatter about audience fall-off from fairs past, though I didn’t observe much evidence from my side of aisles. How could you blame folks for not attending this year? Other than the very first fair, cancelled due to 9/11 and anthrax scares, I can’t think of more treacherous, nerve-jangling times in my lifetime—and I’m old.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter’s Dealer's Diary

Shanghai’s West Bund Art Fair and ART021

11/22/2016 - 17:31

Inexplicably, Adrian Brody had a booth of his very own

This may be the craziest, most pathetic thing I’ve written but consider this an appeal to action—or inaction—in light of recent political events, the relevance and significance of art has just been elevated a few notches. Art and empathy are about all we have left to join together with a view to dissolving walls, prejudices, rhetoric and worse: let us transcend Trump, one painting, museum, gallery, biennial and art fair at a time. What choice have we?

By the way, with the notion that Monopoly money may exceed the value of the US currency in the short-to-intermediate term, a call to art is probably the soundest investment advice afoot (viz. the New York auctions next week will go nuts).

Shanghai, where I was for the past five days catching two fairs, a load of artist studios, private museums and galleries is also home to a welcoming lack of cynicism (in the art world at least). It boasts the only art fairs in mainland China and besides, is more hospitable and navigable than Beijing or Hong Kong.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter Sees the Art Market Shimmy Along in a City Shaken by Protest

11/21/2016 - 16:04

For better or worse, the art market is in seeming oblivion to the surrounding chaos

New York is a city enveloped in an otherworldly atmosphere lined by an endless horizon of police cordons and seemingly spontaneous, raucous, pop-up protests that resemble school trips due to the youth of the demonstrators. There is a ten-block ring around Trump Tower in midtown which is ground zero for the new, new world order (or lack, we shall see). With police presence at levels not seen since the aftermath of 9/11, uncertainty is thick in the air. What a perfect storm for the most significant test of the art market in recent memory, if ever: New York’s November 2016 Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary auctions. And art won.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter Hunts Big Game Basquiat in Bentonville

11/01/2016 - 22:23

Kenny stops in Arkansas to visit Crystal Bridges Museum

This is an interim report between the West Bund and Art 021 art fairs in Shanghai next week, followed by the pivotal New York November auctions kicking off on the 14th, and the final Basel iteration before year end in Miami. The 11th Shanghai Biennial, entitled “Why Not Ask Again” (I might have opted for Don’t Ask!) is also underway. By Christmas I won’t be able to stomach another plane or painting.

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