Pop Stars, Politicos, and Temporary Tattoos Amid Frieze Week in New York—and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, the inside scoop on Dasha Zhukova's latest project.

Issy Wood in concert at Public Records. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

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].


Even though the fair has only been open for a day, most in the art world have their mind made up about Frieze New York this year: kind of a snooze, huh? It had plenty going for it, too: Its earlier-than-usual start date landed on the first spring day that broke 75 degrees, and the city has been humming with all kinds of satellite events and openings. My take: Although the fair is the center of all that action, it seems to provide the least in the way of actual fun.

That’s not to say there wasn’t pleasure to be had at the Shed. Almost instantly, upon walking in the door yesterday, I made eye contact with a celebrity I certainly didn’t expect to see perusing the booths: the beloved indie sleaze boozehound Ke$ha.

“I don’t think I’ll buy anything, but like, maybe?” she told me nonchalantly. “I like this, though, it’s kind of occult.” She gestured to a Raymond Saunders painting at Andrew Kreps’s booth, and snapped a photo. Other celebrity shoppers on VIP day included David Macklovitch, aka Dave 1, of the electro-funk duo Chromeo, and children’s book author Chelsea Clinton.

Pop star Ke$ha stands in front of a painting.

Ke$ha poses in front of a Raymond Saunders painting at Andrew Kreps’s booth. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

There was plenty of wall power in the Frieze booths (Sterling Rubys at Gagosian, a George Condo at Hauser & Wirth), but there was no “banana”—a sensational work piece that dominates conversation, as Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian did at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2019.

No, for that, you had to be in Chelsea on Tuesday, for Cattelan’s first-ever opening at Gagosian, as my colleague Katya Kazakina was. At the gallery’s West 21st space, the prankster unveiled a marble fountain of a man lying on a bench and peeing. Still, even that work is fairly subdued by his standards. Cattelan’s biggest stunt was stamping the chests and bellies of those at the opening reception with a rubber stamp that reads, “BEWARE OF YOURSELF.” Larry himself got the stamp treatment three times over, as pictured below.

A man's stomach stamped with the words "beware of yourself"

Photo by Katya Kazakina.

Perhaps the real star of Frieze was a painting by Sanya Kantarovsky at Michael Werner Gallery’s booth: a macabre portrait of a woman forcing a Joker-esque smile. Its location announced that the gallery now represents the Russian-born painter, who was previously with Luhring Augustine. It sold for $145,000, and judging by my Instagram feed, it was the most-posted artwork from the fair. 

Also at Michael Werner, a painting by the elusive Issy Wood, Tour Management Study, sold for $180,000. I spied the gallery’s co-owner, Gordon VeneKlasen, at a concert the artist held on Tuesday at Public Records in Brooklyn. “Isn’t she amazing live?” he beamed. The polymath artist’s two-night stand at the venue sold out, with many tickets going to art folks one would probably not normally see at an underground concert in Gowanus. I agree with VeneKlasen that the show was pretty amazing, especially considering that it was only the third time Wood has ever performed live. If you haven’t heard her collaborative song with fellow artist Chloe Wise called “Soup,” I encourage you to take this time to do so now


Dasha Zhukova. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

About two years ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine, many art types wondered what the response would be from Dasha Zhukova, the Russian American collector and socialite who founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow in 2008 with her then-husband, billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. (The two split in 2017, and she married collector Stavros Niarchos in 2019.)

For a while, Zhukova was nowhere to be seen (even on social media), but then she steadily began to reenter the public sphere. In December 2022, after a year off the grid, she was back in rotation on the gala circuit, resurfacing at a Met event (a natural choice, as a Met trustee), posing with model Karlie Kloss. Since then, she’s been spotted around town at Gagosian openings and, most recently, at the launch of Colby Mugrabi’s crypto-fashion line mmMerch. All standard activities for a wealthy, well-connected individual in modern day New York.

Recently, though, I noticed an intriguing new project from Zhukova that is somewhat outside that milieu. To my readers in Phoenix, Arizona: You now have the chance for Zhukova to become your landlord. Her “art-centric real estate venture,” Ray, has broken ground on a luxury residential building in the city’s downtown that will feature a bespoke mural by her longtime friend, artist Alex Israel.

If this all feels vaguely familiar to you, perhaps it’s because you also watched Nathan Fielder’s sensational satire The Curse. Set in the American Southwest, it follows two art-loving yuppies on their quest to create eco-friendly rental properties in a rapidly gentrifying area. Zhukova was not available for an interview about her Phoenix project, but I asked Israel if he’d seen the show. “I’ve heard the premise, and I know I have to watch… I just haven’t had the time,” he responded by email. “But yes: Nathan Fielder forever.” Agreed.

The interior of a sunny building lobby with cacti on the wall.

A bit of Alex Isreal’s mural made for Ray’s new building in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Alden Studios.

As a semi-recent New York Times profile of Zhukova detailed, those close to her are pretty tight-lipped. Both Larry Gagosian and Anna Wintour agreed to interviews and then rescinded their offers. However, when I asked Israel about why he has enjoyed collaborating with Zhukova, who has collected his work since 2013, he was happy to explain.

“We’re the same age and we both grew up in L.A. so she gets my references and my sensibility totally—in a way that’s rare and almost psychic,” he said. “She’s an incredibly open, curious and innately supportive person, which makes working with her so easy—but she’s also super smart, which makes working with her so much fun!”




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A post shared by Glenn Ligon (@glennligon)

I can’t tell what’s better: the photo that artist Glenn Ligon snapped of singer Kylie Minogue greeting Jenny Holzer, or the caption he made for it… Mazel tov to artists Sable Elyse Smith and Naima Green, who tied the knot on Martha’s Vineyard last week… Former Noguchi Museum director Brett Littman has landed as the new senior director of Carpenter’s Workshop… Chinatown gallery Entrance has broken ground on a sculpture garden out in Red Hook, and it will be up and running for summertime… Speaking of summer projects, Bortolami, James Cohan, Kaufmann Repetto, Anton Kern, Andrew Kreps, and Kurimanzutto have banded together to form a collaborative space called the Campus in Hudson, New York. (The supergroup’s name recalls Jack Shainman’s sprawling compound in nearby Kinderhook, the School, which is about 20 minutes away by car.)… Mensch alert! Chef Eric Ripert and writer Jay McInerney posed together for what appears to be the dinner party of my dreams…


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A post shared by Jay McInerney (@jaymcinerney)


It’s Frieze New York week, so the competition was stiff for this section of the column.

The more art fair feathers I add to my cap, the more I think that the Monday slot usually has the best event. White Cube’s beachside Monday party in Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach always sets the tone for the week, collector-dealer Arty Nelson has been throwing delightfully debauched house parties on the Monday prior to Frieze Los Angeles for the past couple years, and this week, the most fun I had was on Monday night on the rooftop of the Nine Orchard hotel, celebrating Matthew Brown’s new space in Tribeca, which opened with a solo show by the Croatian duo Tarwuk.

Reilly Davidson and artists Olivia van Kuiken and Shelley Uckotter. Photo by Annie Armstrong.

“God, who has a better view?!” exclaimed Jonathan Travis, the broker who hooked up Brown with his gallery,  which formerly housed JTT. Monday was the first real warm day of the season, and artists, dealers, and other art world luminaries were all eager to dust off their summertime regalia. “I hate hot weather, but I was excited to break these back out,” said Clearing director Reilly Davidson of her linen bloomers.

A few hours into the festivities, a more formally dressed contingent began to filter in from a party up at the Morgan Library. “Wait, what is this party? Who is this for?” Alex Tsebelis, the founder of the buzzy, art-adjacent modeling agency No Agency, asked me. He wasn’t the only one crashing: artist Lucien Smith slipped in wearing a hoodie, and then very quickly returned to the elevators, whether by choice or force, I couldn’t quite decipher.

Regardless, the mood remained fizzy and joyful, with martinis sloshing over the edge of the roof’s stone gazebo. The lights turned on promptly at midnight, sending artists like Sasha Gordon, Olivia van Kuiken, Sedrick Chisom, Shelley Uckotter, Lauren Quin, and Jo Messer home.

So far, it’s the best party of my week. But the week is not yet over. On my way out, I was invited to an event that a prominent Chelsea gallery is throwing on Saturday. “We’re going to turn the gallery into a trap house,” one of its directors boasted. 

More on that next week. Until then.

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