Twice yearly the who’s who of the New York art world, coupled with the odd art-enthused celebrity, make the pilgrimage to The Brant Foundation – Peter Brant’s art compound in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Foundation’s most recent show, curated by Brant (a self proclaimed art advocate and collector) is entitled Deliverance, featuring four of NY’s most bankable artists – Larry Clark, Christopher Wool, Richard Prince and Cady Noland. With Prince’s Cowboys, Noland’s riffs on media culture, Wool’s apathetic mantras and Clark’s portrayal of youth culture, Deliverance is an ode to America through blue-chip contemporary art.
With its focus on work from the mid 70s through the 90s, notions of political, economical and social unrest permeate the show. We find pivotal moments of change in America in Noland’s “Oozewald” (1989) or Clark’s “Teenage Lust” (1995). These artists tackle their subjects head on, with insight, humor and candor. Wool’s text paintings provide the narration: Fuckem if they can’t take a joke.
Through an expansive selection of photography, painting, sculpture, film, and mixed-media installations, Deliverance explores the work of an iconic group of New York artists who emerged during a distinct moment in American history – one marked by a growing skepticism of political and economic systems as well as a “crisis of confidence” that wounded the American spirit. Drawing upon artistic explorations of mass media popularized in the 1960s and 1970s, Clark, Noland, Prince and Wool developed incisive artistic vernaculars that exposed the underbelly of American culture. Their works engage with themes of sexuality, power, censorship, authenticity and the influence of mass media with unmatched candor and continue to influence artistic practice and dialogues worldwide.
Prince, Clark and Wool toured the opening together – much to the delight of the scene photographers stationed on the lawn. Unsurprisingly, the famously reclusive Noland was MIA, but her presence was felt through a strategically placed disclaimer (a security guard stood directly in front of it on the day of the opening), stating that Noland “hasn’t given her approval or blessing to this show.” Every attempt to Instagram the disclaimer, which quickly became a hot topic at the opening, was thwarted.
After a few glasses of bubbles under the big white tent, the focus invariably shifts from the art on view to gossip and gawking. Chloe Sevigny and Leo Fitzpatrick, who can also be spotted onscreen in the exhibit in the Clark’s twisted classic Kids, turned up to support the artists. Stephanie Seymour, who has been married to Brant for almost 20 years, and her fashion-forward boys Peter, Jr and Harry Brant, were there to support the patriarch. Artists such as Dan Colen, whose retrospective opened at the foundation last summer, Nate Lowman, Rob Pruitt and Daniel Arsham were also in attendance, along with gallerists Gavin Brown and Jeffrey Deitch.
As the sun set over Brant’s vast estate, guests walked past the over-sized, flowered Koons terrier as they collected their cars and started on their hour-long journey back to the city. Some of the cheekier guests, like artist Korakrit Arunanondchai, swiped bouquets off the tables – and many stopped to take a quick iPhone snap of the pastel sky (after all, there was no photography allowed in the exhibit). And so we put another Brant opening on the logbooks and patiently wait for summer.