Your Guide to the NYC Art World’s Top-Secret Hotspots, a Coveted Artist Decamps From David Kordansky, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, what art dealer was spotted wearing the red MSCHF boots? Which gallery director just sold a movie plot?

The Yeah Yeah Yeah's performing at Jean's. Photo courtesy of Rachel Opert.

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].


One of the best parts of my job is having Wet Paint take me to places I’d otherwise never get the chance to go. In the notoriously exclusive art world, that means a lot of private rooms and de facto nightclubs that the layman would never even know existed—I certainly didn’t before I started getting invited. I’ve written before about one that I think no one should waste their time on, but let’s take a look at the cream that’s risen to the top, shall we? 

Speaking (or not speaking) of Zero Bond, might I suggest Jean’s instead? When Jonas Wood recently had his show of prints uptown at Gagosian, he hosted his afterparty at Mayor Adams’s favorite members-only club—until the party-loving artist found out that Zero Bond closes at 2 a.m. and thereupon migrated the entire party a few streets over to Jean’s. The space was refurbished last year—but, sorry, it’s still not open to the public. Its owner, Bernardo Metsch, has instead been exclusively hosting private parties for members of the creative class, among them Max Levai, Chrissie Miller, Samantha Ronson, and Chloe Wise and Mike Eckhaus

“This place was built by New Yorkers for New Yorkers,” Metsch told me. Metsch grew up in Manhattan and went to school with many of scenesters who have now become regulars at his joint, which is on Lafayette Street right across from Indochine. “We want it to be more of an adult place, for people who are, like, 25 and older and have roots in the city.” 

Another downtown space that has an if-you-know-you-know reputation is the private dining space Lee’s in Chinatown. The space has been around since 2017, but over the past year or so I’ve been seeing a whole lotta galleries host dinners there, including Karma, Clearing, Gladstone, and, most recently, Kurimanzutto

It makes sense that the art hordes would flock to it—after all, it’s run by Nick Poe, the son of artists Amos Poe and Sarah Charlesworth. He told me that he didn’t start the space with the intention of it being a space for the art world, but he was working with star art-world chef Mina Stone (and her husband Alex Eagleton) around the time it debuted, they kicked off its opening with a string of dinners, and if you build it, they will come.

“It itches a scratch that people didn’t know they had,” Poe explained of the idea behind the space, which was inspired by a private dining room he stumbled upon in a small town outside of Rome. “This old man proprietor ran it with mismatched tables and chairs and paper plates and one little stove. You could use the space for free so long as you bought the wine he made from him.” 

The interior of Lee’s is very relaxed, and the first time I was there for a dinner Maria Vogel hosted I thought I was actually in her home for the first hour or so. That effect is very intentional, Poe explained, saying the space it was inspired by “was really humble and beautiful and a nice mix between private and public. It wasn’t someone’s home, but it feels like it could be.” 

Uptown, meanwhile, a few old-school spots are getting a breathe of new life—one of which by way of a speakeasy vaudeville spot. In the back of the beloved special-occasion dinner spot La Goulue, the chosen few are allowed to go into Omar’s, a burlesque club where you can still get one of the restaurant’s famed sushi rolls, paired with a show. I’ve been to the space for a dinner celebration thown by Carpenter’s Workshop as well as a dinner celebrating a suite of Ross Bleckner paintings at Petzel. 

Friedrich Petzel, who had been coming to the restaurant for years with Bleckner, said that the space “occupies a storied position in Manhattan’s cultural and culinary history”—and that it’s story evolved when nightlife impresario Omar Hernandez opened up the secret spot back in February of 2022 for a series of dinners called OH LA LA. Why does it work so well? “It’s in the neighborhood,” as Petzel put it. “It has the perfect atmosphere and it’s the right vibe.”


At left, the facade of David Kordansky Gallery in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mid-City; at right, Kordansky. (Both images courtesy Getty Images.)

What’s that sound? Do you hear it too? Shh … there it is again. The distinct rumbling of a big-name artist decamping from a big-name gallery. 

Quietly, overnight, the team at David Kordansky hit ctrl + alt + delete on Calvin Marcus’s name from their roster and maybe hoped that maybe no one would notice. The surrealist painter known for his cheeky sense of humor and penchant for self-portraits on chicken carcasses had been showing with the gallery since his 2015, and since then his work has been a highlight of the Whitney Biennial in 2019, landed in two major collections—those of Don and Mera Rubell and Alden Pinnelllast May, and provided fireworks during Phillips’s day sales when his piece Dead Soldier (2016) sold for $151,200, well above its high estimate of $120,000, according to Artnet’s Price Database. Though Marcus is not one of Kordansky’s marquee names, his general oeuvre is pretty emblematic of a certain set of Los Angeles painters that I’d associate with the “bro-primitivism” movement that my colleague Katya Kazakina recently wrote about

Suffice it to say, Marcus’s star is continuing to shoot, only now that shooting will be exclusively represented by Olivier Babin of Clearing, who will host a solo show of the artist’s work at his new space on the Bowery within the next year. A few months ago, Babin told Artnet that, along with Korakrit Arunanondchai, Marcus was an artist he’d be interested in fostering the same way he did with Harold Ancart, who, of course, now shows with Gagosian

I couldn’t find out much about precisely why Marcus left the gallery, migrating from the domain of one of L.A. art world’s best known bro-dealers to be exclusively represented by another, other than that it was the artist’s choice and not the gallery’s. Put nonchalantly to me over Instagram DM, Marcus wrote to me, “Well I did leave…the time had come . All good though. I don’t have further comments to make….” A representative from Kordansky also declined to elaborate on the situation. 

Now that Marcus has changed his gallery status, does that mean we shouldn’t expect to hear any new representation news about him for a while? Au contraire, mon bro ami. Sources close to him speculate that an announcement from a mega-gallery may likely come down the pipeline in the next few months. I’ll be waiting. 



There seems to be a secondary market for the new generation of Wet Paint hats on Grailed, but FWIW there are still a few left at the original price on Otto 958‘s website… The fad of celebrity-turned-artists never went away, as evidenced by New York Studio School’s new show of paintings by Lucy Liu (they’re, uh, not great!) and Karen Elson‘s collaboration with photographer Emily Dorio for a show in Nashville at the city’s legendary ParthenonEmily Watlington has been promoted to senior editor of Art in America… Meanwhile, Kyle Chayka has left his own publication, Dirt… After a dramatic few months, Downs & Ross is officially now Tara Downs Gallery… Painter Sarah Miska has joined Night Gallery’s roster… GAA Gallery, which has spaces in Provincetown and Cologne, is opening up in New York City in Cortland Alley … Beloved zine writer and Gladstone director Alissa Bennet has sold a movie plot… Bjarke Ingels is building a new neighborhood of 3D-printed homes in Marfa, Texas, which I’m sure aligns perfectly with Donald Judd‘s vision for the town and totally doesn’t have him rolling in his grave… A blind item for you all: a certain mega-gallery that had a surprising representation announcement last week is circling a certain potentially Oscar-winning photographer… 


Jeff MagidMary BooneBill PowersMax Werner, and Frenel Morris ordering the seafood tower at Balthazar *** The disgraced former Artforum publisher Knight Landesman popped up at a Reena Spaulings opening last month in Los Angeles, visiting from Utah where he fled post-cancellation *** David Zwirner popped by Ruttkowski 68’s opening for Richie Culver (those Germans tend to stick together) *** Robert De Niro and JR strolled through the Outsider Art Fair together *** Joe Nahmad and Helly Nahmad both showed up to celebrate British Vogue‘s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful‘s birthday in London *** Julie Mehretu was not shy about PDA at the afterparty for Wangechi Mutu’s New Museum show, enjoying a legit make-out session with a fellow reveler (good for Julie!) *** And finally, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Emmanuel Perrotin:

Courtesy of a tipster.


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