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News from New York: Marathon sailing and cycling, while Marina Abramovic bares all

The Yugoslavian artist draws the crowds at the Guggenheim with her racy restaging of iconic performance art

Exhibitionist Abramovic

The Yugoslav-born artist Marina Abramovic’s Guggenheim performances proved the hit of the season, especially her re-staging of her 1975 performance Lips of thomas in which she flogged herself, kneeled and spread herself on an ice crucifix, all utterly naked. She also cut a star in her stomach with a razor blade, a reference to the Soviet emblem. The surrounding “Russia!” show at the Guggenheim was a perfect complement with all its Slavic cruelty, whether portraits of that other great female fan of corporal punishment, Catherine the Great, or a bronze of the flayed Marsyas. This overtly masochistic exhibitionism whets the appetite for Gray Watson’s forthcoming book Sex and art which doubtless details his adventures in The Torture Garden and other S&M clubs with his then-companion—Marina Abramovic.

Artist’s $1 million Miami bike ride

Lee Quinones, everybody’s favourite graffiti art survivor, is cycling from Brooklyn to Miami to raise funds for children affected by Hurricane Katrina. The ride will take him more than a month and as the man says: “If one million people send in one dollar each, I’ll raise one million dollars.” Or as actress Rosie Perez put it at the send off: “Lee is one hell of a crazy Puerto Rican.” Money for the “Tour de Lee” bike fund can be sent c/o: Absolutlee Studio, 475 Keap Street 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11211. There will be a cheque-presentation when Lee arrives in Miami, perhaps just in time for Art Basel/Miami Beach.

Captain Reid sets sail, all for the sake of art

Simultaneously another fabled East Village art-world maverick, the sculptor-painter and Basquiat confidant, Captain Reid Stowe, also left New York on his fabled “1,000 Days at Sea Odyssey” in which he plans to lose sight of all land for that duration. The bohemian skipper was given a fine send-off from his Chelsea port, sponsored by no less than the luxury hotel group Cipriani. His navigational feats can be tracked daily at: www.1000Days.net.

Rauschenberg and Johns: secret window display artists

In the spirit of New York department store Christmas window displays, Exit Art has commissioned 10 artists to create festive season installations in the ground floor windows of its headquarters at 10th Avenue and 36th Street (until 1 January 2006). By chance the Swann auction house has just offered work by the most celebrated 20th-century window-display artist, Matson Jones. These hand-painted plaster fruit sculptures were created in the mid-50s as Tiffany window displays by “Matson Jones custom display”. But behind this pseudonym lingered two young artists who worked together, namely Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. As a certificate of authenticity from the Rauschenberg studio admits, these “charming objects” were undoubtedly made by “Matson Jones” but neither artist considers such work a part of his oeuvre. The works were sold for $11,000 (est. $5,000-8,000), a small price for a piece of art history.

Keith Tyson spins the wheel with Uma

Yes, that was indeed Hollywood actress Uma Thurman at the roulette table upstairs at Bungalow 8, celebrating the artist Keith Tyson’s massive debut show at PaceWildenstein. The gallery provided gambling chips, a curious choice as Tyson, by his own lengthy admissions, has cured his gambling problem. But the artist was glued to the wheel along with fellow Brit artist Fiona Rae who has also been snapped up in Pace’s recruiting drive. Meanwhile the artist James Siena almost outshone Uma’s glamour; since being taken on by Pace, Siena is rapidly acquiring the aura of a movie star himself.

Keeping it in the family

Thesp Molly Ringwald turned up for her friend Will Ryman’s show at Gasser-Grunert which included a life-size replica of the newsstand (right) where a young Will worked as a teenager. The after-opening dinner at La Luncheonette was packed with collectors from Michael and Susan Hort, the Mallins and Douglas Maxwell, to investor Randy Slifka and Marti Margulies who has a seminal self-portrait by Will Ryman back in Miami. While Will’s brother Ethan Ryman (son of Lucy Lippard) attended, father Robert “Mr White” Ryman kindly stayed away not to deflect attention. Meanwhile, Will’s other brother, Cordy Ryman, also an artist, had his own opening in Brooklyn the very same night, the second time shows by the siblings have coincided.

Artist-turned-dealer, a rare breed

Dealer-artists are a surprisingly small and select set. There’s Tony Shafrazi, Christine Streuli and Konrad Lueg, later known as Konrad Fischer, who created a German version of Pop Art, “Capitalist realism”, with his friends Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter in the 1960s. In the 1980s, there was Mitchell Algus, Peter Nagy & Meyer Vaisman. Even the gallerist Matthew Marks was forced to make art when at Bennington College. “As soon as I graduated I packed up my pictures and put them straight into my parents’ attic. They’ve never come out since,” he declared. Now Brent Sikkema has opened a gallery called “Sikkema, Jenkins & Co” in homage to his partner Michael Jenkins, who as an artist was in almost every 1990s collection.

Desperately seeking: Swiss/Dutch artists

The Swiss are notoriously generous in sponsorship of their contemporary artists, perhaps only matched by the Dutch. And considering the extreme largesse of both Pro Helvetia, the Arts Council of Switzerland, and The Netherlands’s Mondriaan Stichting organisation which funds artists, we must salute the genius of New York’s Haswellediger Gallery which this month managed to find the one and only Swiss-Dutch artist, Bob Gramsma. Indeed this small exhibition (until 17 December) “was made possible with the generous support of…” both funding organisations!

The importance of being JG

Former gallery owner Jay Gorney is currently in the strange position of running his former space, magnificently re-designed by Bill Katz, under a different name and on behalf of someone else. Uptowners Mitchell Innes-Nash recently took over the Chelsea space and appointed JG as director. Oddly, the only other person this has happened to was Jay Grimm who had his Chelsea gallery taken over by uptown “James Graham”. It was conveniently renamed as “JG Contemporary” and he remained to run it.

Needlepoint, not such a novel medium

This month artist Maria Piñeres is showing her “signature medium” of stitched needlepoint images of celebrities at DCKT gallery (until 17 December). “Homespun grandmotherly needlework is taken into the world of stars…” proclaims the press release. Maybe Piñeres will include an image of fellow artist Francesco Vezzoli, a bone fide celebrity since this year’s Venice Biennale, who has been doing work in needlepoint for decades. Right, Piñeres’ Michael Jackson, 2005.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Marina Abramovic bares all'