A New Exhibition Pays Tribute to the ‘Style Guy’ and Man-About-Town Glenn O’Brien—See a Preview Here

The show, open now at Off Paradise, is a portrait of O'Brien through works by artists he admired and befriended.

Glenn O'Brien. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images.
Glenn O'Brien. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images.

At Off Paradise, a new Tribeca gallery, an exhibition pays homage to the late, great impresario of downtown cool, Glenn O’Brien.

Curated by Natacha Polaert, the show includes works by Walter Robinson, Dash Snow, and Martin Wong, among others, who together defined the era that O’Brien embodied and lived in.

He “was a great many things to a great many people,” Polaert writes in a short essay accompanying the show, adding that O’Brien—an editor, TV personality, screenwriter, critic, and dandy—was “a formidable creative director who elevated advertising to the realm of art.”

“I can’t help but feel like my ads are better than Barbara Kruger’s,” he once famously declared. “Although hers are art and mine, well they are just ads. They have a logo. But I think art has logos now, too, so maybe there is no difference.”

Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Off Paradise.

Installation view of “Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage.” Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Off Paradise.

Polaert has assembled an impressive group of artworks by artists whose work captured in various ways the qualities O’Brien appreciated. Some are by artists with whom he rubbed shoulders in Andy Warhol’s Factory, or whom he met as the editor of Interview magazine. Others, such as examples of poetry by Eileen Myles inspired by conversations she had with O’Brien, are taken directly from his life.

Polaert says the exhibition is a portrait en creux, a description of a person’s character “focus[ed]… on the background, on the company he keeps, as well as his actions in the world.”

Take a look images from the show below.

Walter Robinson, <i>Marlboros</i> (2019). Courtesy of Walter Robinson.

Walter Robinson, Marlboros (2019). Courtesy of Walter Robinson.

Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Off Paradise.

Installation view of Les Levine’s Diamond Mind (1977) in “Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage.” Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Off Paradise.

Dennis Oppenheim, <i>A Search for Clues</i> (1976). Ad campaign from the exhibition at M.L.D'Arc Gallery, NY. Collection Dennis Oppenheim Estate, Photo: © Harry Shunk.

Dennis Oppenheim, A Search for Clues (1976). Ad campaign from the exhibition at M.L.D’Arc Gallery, NY. Collection Dennis Oppenheim Estate, Photo: © Harry Shunk.

Dash Snow, <i>Secret Conception</i> (2006–07). Courtesy Dash Snow Archive, NYC and Vito Schnabel, New York.

Dash Snow, Secret Conception (2006–07). Courtesy Dash Snow Archive, NYC and Vito Schnabel, New York.

Sara Cwynar, <i>Girl from Contact Sheet Darkroom Manual</i> (2013). Courtesy Sara Cwynar, Cooper Cole, Toronto, and Foxy Production NY.

Sara Cwynar, Girl from Contact Sheet Darkroom Manual (2013). Courtesy Sara Cwynar, Cooper Cole, Toronto, and Foxy Production NY.

Eileen Myles, from <i>A Poem I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems</i> (1994). Courtesy Eileen Myles and Harper Collins Publishers.

Eileen Myles, A Poem from I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems (1994). Courtesy Eileen Myles and Harper Collins Publishers.

Alvin Baltrop, <i>The Piers (male portrait in sunlight) n.d.</i> (1975–86). Courtesy The Alvin Baltrop Trust © 2010. Third Streaming, NY, and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (male portrait in sunlight) n.d. (1975–86). Courtesy The Alvin Baltrop Trust © 2010. Third Streaming, NY, and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Off Paradise.

Installation view of Claude Rutault’s Bookshelves (A Portrait From Afar) (2019). Courtesy Claude Rutault and Perrotin. Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy Off Paradise.

Sarah Charlesworth, <i>Nouns</i> (2003). © The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC.

Sarah Charlesworth, Nouns (2003). © The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC.

“Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage” is on view at Off Paradise from September 17 through November 27. Off Paradise is located at 120 Walker Street, New York


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