This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

26May/12

DAN COLEN: CRACKS IN THE CLOUDS

Dan Colen’s motorcycles glitter and shine in front of the Seagram Building in Midtown (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Seagram Building
375 Park Ave. between 52nd & 53rd Sts.
www.gagosian.com
cracks in the clouds slideshow

We were among the many who thought that art bad-boy Dan Colen’s inaugural solo show at the Gagosian, fall 2010’s “Poetry,” stank. But don’t lump us in with all the haters. It literally stank, with several canvases containing chewed bubblegum, sending a sticky aroma into the air. The mixed-media display also included a wooden skateboard ramp, a brick wall supported by a beam, and a baker’s dozen of Harley-Davidsons that had been kicked over, as if the artist were looking for a fight outside a bar. The thirtysomething New Jersey native has now re-created that motorcycle piece, “Cracks in the Clouds,” in front of the Seagram Building on Park Ave., where fellow bad boy Urs Fischer’s “Untitled (Lamp/Bear)” lit up the night last year while fetching nearly seven million at a Christie’s auction. Colen got the idea for “Cracks in the Clouds” after seeing a lineup of bikes outside the Hells Angels headquarters in the East Village. He meticulously went about finding the exact makes and models, incorporated every little detail he could, brought the bikes first to Gagosian and now to the Seagram Building’s plaza, and kicked them over so they fell like fancy, glittering dominoes. Situated between two fountains, “Cracks in the Clouds” recalls the Guggenheim’s controversial 1998 exhibit, “The Art of the Motorcycle,” which drew criticism for installing brand-name bikes in the hallowed institution dedicated to contemporary art. A trained painter, Colen is no stranger to controversy and criticism for his market-savvy use of found objects and ready-mades. But in taking his art outside, away from the high-profile Chelsea galleries, he is gaining a very different audience, one that doesn’t know or care about his art-world celebrity image and reputation and instead just likes looking at a bunch of shiny motorcycles while grabbing a smoke or picking up a sandwich before having to return to the daily grind. [ed. note: Although the display was supposed to stay up through September 30, it suddenly disappeared in early June....]

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