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Rauschenberg’s Sly Kebab, Tuymans’s Corporate Ship: Chelsea Art

"Summer Letter" by Brice Marden is part of "Brice Marden: Letters" at Matthew Marks gallery through Dec. 23, 2010. Source: Matthew Marks via Bloomberg

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Rauschenberg’s 1962 “Aen Floga (Combine Painting)” is a white canvas outfitted with rusty wire and beat-up scraps of wood and metal. Even after half a century, the work looks radical.

Gagosion gallery represents the artist’s estate, and it’s the first work you see at the current retrospective, which is bursting with 49 raw, amusing and messy pieces.

Rauschenberg, who died two years ago, was the master of combines and collaging, and could pull off the most bizarre compositions using rags, tires or old furniture.

It’s hard to imagine the popular wave of “assemblage” without Rauschenberg’s stack of cardboard boxes impaled by a wooden branch kebab-style in 1973’s “Untitled” (Venetian).

Compared to some of his peers, Rauschenberg remains undervalued, though no doubt Gagosian will be working hard to change that.

In 2008, “Overdrive,” his 1962 oil and silkscreen on canvas fetched a record $14.6 million at Sotheby’s in New York. That’s $14 million less than the auction record of Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg’s friend and contemporary.

The gallery declined to reveal prices for available works. Rauschenberg’s digital collages shown at the Pace gallery in 2008 cost $400,000 each.

“Robert Rauschenberg” runs through Jan. 15 at 522 W. 21st St. Information: +1-212-741-1717; http://www.gagosian.com.

Corporate Takeover

Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, who last cast a baleful eye on Disney, has a bigger target in “Corporate,” the group of 11 new works on view at David Zwirner gallery.

A striking image of a galleon floating on still water, its sails paradoxically swaying in the wind, opens the show. Painted in ominous shades of gray and purple, the vessel looks headed for disaster.

“Anonymous” is a portrait of a man with a dark featureless mass instead of a face. In “Panel,” the speakers look like overexposed photographs, white, washed-out and unidentifiable. The corporate effect on modern life is clearly not a happy one.

Prices range from $600,000 to $1.2 million, and all works have been sold.

“Luc Tuymans: Corporate” runs through Dec. 21 at 525 W. 19th St. Information: +1-212-727-2070; http://www.davidzwirner.com.

Meditative Fever

In Brice Marden’s new large-scale paintings at Matthew Marks, ribbons of color snake and entwine with meditative musicality.

The palette of pale grays, greens, blues and yellows is occasionally interrupted by bursts of terracotta red, earthy orange or dark blue. The landscapes are framed by vertical monochrome bands running to the right and the left.

Slowly, the history of each painting’s creation unfolds as your eyes adjust to the subtle color transitions and ghostlike layers emerge beneath the surface.

The exhibition also includes 13 virtuosic works on paper.

All have been sold. The gallery declined to reveal the prices. An auction record for Marden’s painting is $9.6 million; the top price for his work on paper is $2 million.

“Brice Marden: Letters” runs through Dec. 23 at 522 W. 22nd St. Information: +1-212-243-0200; http://www.matthewmarks.com

(Katya Kazakina is a reporter for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the reporter of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at kkazakina@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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