Cady Noland’s Ultra-Mysterious L.A. Show, an Art Space in a Snake Enclosure, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Cady Noland’s Ultra-Mysterious L.A. Show, an Art Space in a Snake Enclosure, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].

NOLAND GOES TO LA LA LAND

In birding terms, spotting a new Cady Noland project is something akin to catching sight of the late, great eagle-owl Flaco after he escaped from the Central Park Zoo: rare, awe-inspiring, and likely occurring in an unexpected location.

As readers may know, Noland stopped exhibiting new work in 2000 and became something of a hermit, even as critical acclaim for her work grew and her auction prices skyrocketed. (Her record on the block, set at Christie’s in 2015, is a whopping $9.8 million, making her one of the world’s most expensive living artists.)

During that time, tales abounded about her intervening to control how her old work was presented. When dealer Chris D’Amelio displayed a selection of Nolands at Art Basel in 2012, he famously posted a disclaimer, “at the request of the artist.” It stated, in part, “This exhibition is not authorized or approved by the artist Cady Noland, nor was she consulted about it.” (This is a great way to instill confidence in buyers.)

However, in recent years, Noland has been selectively emerging from seclusion to install shows—and even present new work. There was a show with Alexander Calder sculptures at Venus Over Manhattan in 2017, a retrospective at the MMK in Frankfurt in 2018, a project with Galerie Buchholz in Manhattan in 2021, and then a full-on solo show of fresh pieces at—of all places—Gagosian on the Upper East Side last summer.

Suddenly, Noland is beginning to look . . . prolific?

During Frieze Los Angeles, some well-informed arts professionals were startled to discover that another Noland effort was out in the wild. In true Noland fashion, though, the show was mounted with no fanfare at all; invites were sent only to a select few, and a press release never surfaced.

The project is so exclusive, in fact, that when I called up Mera Rubell, a key early collector of Noland’s work, not even she knew about it. She asked me over the phone, “What? Where? I’ll have to tell my son Jason to go. Was it at Gagosian?”

Not this time. The L.A. affair has been mounted at Maison d’Arts, a gallery that also remains unknown to even many insiders. It is owned by Theo Niarchos, son of shipping magnate Philip Niarchos and brother of collector and socialite Stavros Niarchos. Situated on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, the gallery stages only one exhibition per year and has shown two early collectors of Noland’s work, artists Steven Parrino and Olivier Mosset.

Theo Niarchos did not respond to a request for comment, and emails to the press-averse artist went unanswered. However, several sources confirmed that Noland did approve of the show at Maison d’Arts, and perhaps even helped with its installation. With some digging, I was able to find out more.

The Maison d’Arts show features all old work, including a screen-printed piece created in collaboration with artist Diana Balton titled Nuts ‘n’ Shit (1990) that used to live in the collection of painter David Salle. (Other examples of the editioned work are owned by the Brant Foundation and MoMA.) There is also an editioned tire and pole piece; another sold at Sotheby’s for a modest $40,000 earlier this year.  

Sources who were lucky enough to receive a price list told me that some of the works in Los Angeles are in the seven-figure range, commensurate with the prices given by Larry Gagosian last summer for her larger-scale new works.

What to make of Noland’s new approach? Houston dealer Bill Arning, who organized Noland’s first show, at White Columns in New York in 1988, told me, “Her old instincts came from being burnt from the art world, but now she’s like, ‘If I don’t historicize this work, and I don’t put it into context, nobody will.’”

Arning, who said that he maintains infrequent contact with Noland, owns one of her pieces that includes a medical walker, and noted that at the Gagosian show, a similar work was set in a resin case. “Is this her way of saying, ‘This is now a historical object’?,” he asked. “It’s really interesting to see Cady come out of seclusion to help determine how her work is being historicized.”

If Noland traveled to L.A., sources speculated that she may have slept at the gallery for a few nights, as she is notorious for doing. Mera Rubell recalled that when Noland first installed her large-scale work This Piece Has No Title Yet (1989) at the Rubell Museum in Miami, she slept in the museum for the duration of the process. When the Rubells moved the museum to a new space in 2019, “We were especially careful to duplicate the installation exactly as she did it,” she said.

Arning also has stories about Noland’s hands-on approach. After he bought the walker piece, he tried to situate it in his home the way he thought best, but when Noland visited, she hated it. Instead, she demanded that it stand flush against the wall, not lit. He laughed, “People walk into my house and think I had an accident.”

The show at Maison d’Arts is open until April 20, and appointment slots are few and far between. Get in while you can.

L.A. GETS A NEW ARTIST-RUN SSSSSPACE

Artwork hanging in a snake enclosure at an artist run gallery in Los Angeles.

An artwork by John Garcia covers the first gallery at Nora Berman’s Hisssss.

Artist-run spaces have long been abundant in New York, and Los Angeles seems to be catching up on the trend. Since 2021, Joseph Geagan and John Tuite’s Gaylord Apartments have generated buzz around their innovative programming, and Timeshare, co-curated by six artists, has made a splash since opening earlier this year. 

Today, I will add a new name to the mix. I hope you’re not afraid of snakes. 

Performance and conceptual artist Nora Berman opened her gallery Hisssss this past Sunday with a group show of new works by a smattering of impressive L.A. artists, including David Altmedj, Ramsey Alderson, Calvin Marcus, Lucy Bull, and Matt Copson, as well as a handful of European names, like Bernard Hegglin and Giangiacomo Rossetti, among others. 

The catch? They’re all miniature, made to fit three snake tanks that Berman keeps in her bedroom in Beachwood Canyon in the Hollywood Hills.

“The snakes knock over the art, so the way art works in there has to be different,” she told me over the phone. Berman’s art practice is based on experimenting with how people encounter art—true L.A. heads may recall her popular “McPoems” series, which she did in the 2010s, inviting artists to perform in McDonald’s playpens. 

Artwork hanging on the walls of a snake enclosure.

Collages by Veronica Gelbaum at Hisssss. Courtesy of Nora Berman.

Berman told me that she’s been working with the idea of turning her two snakes’ enclosures into art galleries for over a year, after realizing how appealing their design is, especially when lit by the red heat lamps that the snakes require.

“I’m kind of a slow-and-steady worker, and it took a while to wrangle the artists,” she said. (Not to mention wrangling the snakes: Berman told me she had awoken the night before to the snakes knocking Matt Copson’s piece into their water bowl.) She has several more shows already lined up, and plans to put more emphasis on incorporating artists from abroad in the next show—because, well, as she put it, “It’s pretty easy to ship miniature works.”

Hisssss is open by appointment only. Ophidiophobes, proceed with caution.

WE HEAR

Via a tipster.

The going rate for a private tour of David Zwirner is a cool $500, or at least that was the starting bid for one at a recent charity auction for Grace Church School… A new hat has been thrown into the Henry Street ring: gallery David Peter Francis officially opened its doors this week with a group show titled “Butterflies” that includes a harrowing Peter Hujar photograph that can’t be missed, titled Cow at Night… Beware! A scammer is posing as art advisor Todd Levin and asking clients to acquire NFTs of their artworks for $2,500… It seems that designer JW Anderson is a big fan of Albert York—did anyone else notice that paintings by the late landscape painter hung at the Loewe Winter runway show in Paris earlier this month … Sushi Noz, the restaurant owned by collector John Marquez, has come under fire for allegedly giving women smaller portions than male patrons…

PARTY OF THE WEEK

Sara Friedlander auctions a Joel Mesler piece at the Art Production Fund gala.

Sara Friedlander auctions a Joel Mesler piece at the Art Production Fund gala. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

Spring gala season is upon us, and I could not be more excited. The air is warm, winter coats are back in their closets, and people are in the mood to celebrate. That was certainly the case last night at the reliably and consistently fabulous Art Production Fund gala at the Grill, benefitting Casey Fremont‘s public art initiative. My favorite thing about the APF gala is that it’s pointedly for the girls and by the girls—Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry made an appearance, food stylist Laila Gohar artfully laid out the tablescapes, dealer Sarah Hoover made sure the menu included lobster ravioli from Carbone, and Christie’s auctioneer Sara Friedlander led a charity auction so entertaining (and lucrative: a Dominique Fung painting hammered for $70,000!) that I think Netflix ought to consider giving her a comedy special.

It was a night to remember. See you next week.

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