Artists

Troy Richards

NY Times by Holland Cotter

CECI N’EST PAS
(This is not)
Sara Meltzer Gallery
525-531 West 26th Street, Chelsea
Through Aug. 17

Is the art world your whole world? This cleverly conceived group show, organized by Rachel Gugelberger and Jeffrey Walkowiak, assumes that it is and holds a mirror up to it. Everywhere you turn someone is either selling something, talking about how to sell or worrying about not selling.

The come-ons start with a sign by Alejandro Diaz on the gallery door reading “Naked Artist Inside,” which, like most promotional promises, doesn’t deliver. Sales are already in progress in the gallery’s first room, where David Kramer is hawking his own handwritten posters, individually priced at $18.95 plus tax, with a complete set of 30 going for $500. And the rest of the show is a sort of extended career how-to workshop.

Pablo Helguera walks us through the dos and don’ts of productively navigating a gallery opening. (A drawing by Peter Coffin suggests that when in doubt conversationally, you should just keep saying yes.) Laura Parnes, in a short film titled “The Real Art World, Episode 3,” dramatizes the studio visit as a klutzy back-lot seduction. On the assumption that your career is now in place, Michael Smith gives lessons in organizing group exhibitions of your own work, while Tamy Ben-Tor offers a portrait of the artist-in-residence as a sinecured Someone from hell.

If nothing else works, flattery might get you somewhere. Jude Tallichet sends out passive-aggressive valentines to art-world heartthrobs — John Currin, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons — in the form of small wool rugs. Jennifer Dalton turns images of high-rolling collectors into high-ish art. Then there is flattery through imitation, though timing is important. Terence Gower butters up Barbara Hepworth and Reynard Loki bows to Jean-Michel Basquiat. But, alas, neither object of adulation is around to return the favor.

Inevitably, one hears disappointed mutterings. Neil Goldberg gives a slide show of masterpieces, his own, never finished because — well, who knows? Cary Leibowitz, a seasoned whiz at professional self-defeat, indulges in some brazen name- dropping, but the names are either obscure or a little off in an art context (Liza Minnelli?), and lose what cachet they have by being printed on giveaway coffee mugs. Finally, abandoning any pretense of subtlety, Michael Lindeman gets back to basics, making paintings entirely from self-advertisements.

Is there no escape from this scrambling insiderness? Christopher K. Ho and Troy Richards sell getaway vacations, but they are all customized to appeal to art stars. So you’re stuck, which no doubt art-world lifers like just fine. If you are one, or just want to study the species from a safe distance, this is a show for you. HOLLAND COTTER

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