The glamorous “L” of L&M Arts has just opened the first show of her new eponymous gallery Dominique Lévy, in a beautiful building at Madison Avenue and 73rd st. This show “Audible Presence” is a sensational selection of Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, and Cy Twombly from the late 50s to 70s in a tightly controlled palette, underscoring an already overdetermined sense of “elegance.”
It is, of course, a knock-out.
Speaking yesterday Ms. Lévy described the proportions of the space in EXACTLY the terms I love most: “human scale” meaning the galleries don’t engulf you in an industrial void but rather set the stage for a potential intimate exchange. Our eyes trained on minimalism and visually-spare contemporary art will find the installation a little crushed—we’re used to more space for our monochromes—but the fuller installation is more how they would have been shown in their own historical terms. They are works that thrive on nearby friends anyway. You could have mounted a breath-taking show with half the pieces, but who would make those choices Sophie? You wouldn’t want to lose any, gathered as they are from wide ranging private collections; the Menil; the Museum of Modern Art; the Broad; the Rauschenberg, Klein, and Fontana foundations (part of the function of this show is to be a performance of the significant artworld muscle at Ms. Lévy’s disposal.)
All three of these artists still look good, not like relics of their historical moment as sometimes happens. And they all look good in different ways. The Klein’s, with their authentic sensationalism, surprised me the most: a gorgeous Untitled Fire Painting (F 18) 1961 that looks metallic almost back lit, delighting as you follow the traces of dripping accelerant, following the licking marks of flame, encoding a specific type of time. The other marvelous Klein is an installation Pluie Bleue (S 36) 1961, borrowed from the Menil: a wave of famous Klein ultramarine pigment washes up against a wall. Suspended above it, roughly congregating in the center, are rods of the same pigment, each having a subtle organic swell or wobble and each gently moving on their fishing line tied to the ceiling.
My only wish is that the significant undercurrent of silliness in all these artists wasn’t suppressed in favor of their mystical seriousness. Part of what is wonderful about each of these artists is how traditionally (and falsely) opposed elements—playfulness and metaphysical sincerity—are covalent and simultaneous. Those Klein sticks hanging from fishing-line cannot help but be goofy, even as they are hugely sensitive—and that is what makes them poignant.
With this exhibition we are properly prepared for the serious, art historically important work assuredly in this gallery’s future. Go see this one in the middle of the week when no one is around, its up through November 16.
For more information click here.
—Contributed by Jarrett Earnest