Chelsea Gallery Charges Artists for Representation, Dealer Drops Painter After He’s Accused of Copying, Plus More Art-World Gossip

Plus, which art collector's ex-wife got into it with Julia Fox at a Paris restaurant? And our columnist parties it up with David Mugrabi.

Just below the High Line, a gallery is charging artists for representation... (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
Just below the High Line, a gallery is charging artists for representation... (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

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]

 

ART WORLD AGORAPHOBIA 

You’ve heard of the Castelli model. You know about gallery shares. Now, get ready for the most exploitative possible gallery model of all time! 

Twitter went alight this week when critic Paddy Johnson posted about a space in Chelsea called Agora Gallery. “So, apparently Agora gallery is charging artists between $3000-17,000 a year for ‘representation’.”

I joined in the chorus of people who saw this and immediately thought, Who has the audacity

Artist Maya Ciarrocchi shared with Wet Paint an email sent to her from the gallery. It reads: “My name is Elle. I am a gallery representative, working with Agora Gallery, which is located in Chelsea, the art district of New York City. I came across your artwork online and I was impressed. As a gallery representative, my job is to discover talented artists who might benefit from the representation and promotion services that we offer.”

Ciarrocchi was, of course, taken aback when she looked into it further and found the gallery’s fee structure for representation. There are four levels to choose from: Digital ($3,450 per year), which offers only online representation; Basic ($5,450) which bumps you up to “10 linear feet of space” in the gallery; Standard ($9,250), which doubles your “linear feet of space”; and Premium ($17,850), which offers 40 feet of space, 500 invites to your opening, and a “full page profile in an art publication,” among other things.

To be fair(ish), 70 percent of the proceeds from a sold work go to the artist, so that’s something. But if you even want to be considered, get ready to shell out a $50 fee to get someone to look at your portfolio.

“It’s absolutely criminal,” Ciarrocchi told Wet Paint. “I was going to write her back tomorrow”—her being Elle Angeles, who is listed on the company website as an employee—”just to hear what they were proposing.” Another artist who was approached, Mark Berry, told Wet Paint that he assumed the gallery was “gearing up for an artist sweep.”

According to its website, Agora has been around since 1984. Personally, I’d never heard of it before this week, but I suppose that could very well be true. The gallery’s website does feature an incredibly long section devoted to artist testimonials—it honestly looks like there could be 150 of them (even though they’re written without full name disclosure so, uh, you know).

“You do a tremendous work of presenting artists from all over the world in New York and assist them in their career,” an artist named M. Grigoryan wrote in. “I encourage artists all over the world to cooperate with Agora Gallery, stemming from my own successful experience.” H. McConochie said one visitor to their show at Agora called it “one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”

Seems legit!

Agora Gallery did not reply to Wet Paint’s request for comment.

 

THAT HAPPENED FAST

The longer I report this column, the more I come to realize that it really all does go down on the ‘gram. Each week, the app brings new beef to the table. 

This time around, the drama came from Philadelphia-based artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase, who came in hot on Instagram with a caption reading, “D*ckhead. This is not an apology.” 

Yikes! A public callout! Personally, I love to see it. The insult was directed at Mohammed Laouli, an artist Chase had accused of copying his work.

Let’s back up. This week, Chelsea gallery Yossi Milo took to Instagram to announce its exclusive representation of Laouli, which it was kicking off with an online viewing room dedicated to his work. “Inspired by the writings of bell hooks, Silvia Federici, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson,” the gallery wrote, “he uses paint, collage, and a tender treatment of the human figure to deconstruct dominant notions of masculinity and reclaim the appropriated aesthetics of the European art historical canon.”

But Chase saw something else: a direct copy of their own style, which the artist illustrated in an Instagram post calling the imitation “disrespectful.” Chase tagged Laouli and Yossi Milo and added: “What’s good?”

Chase, who is represented by Company Gallery in New York, is known for making mixed-media, collage-style paintings that depict queer intimacy between Black people. The artworks are pretty instantly recognizable, as bodies twist, turn, and combine over colorful abstract backdrops. Recognizable enough, it seems, that Laouli felt the need to publicly reply.

“Dear Jonathan Lyndon Chase,” Laouli’s wrote in response to Chase via DM. “Although I remember having seen some of your works a couple of years ago, I really can not remember that I used them consciously as reference for my paintings. I know that this sounds weird and I understand that you feel offended.” 

Laouli then suggested that two of his paintings with particular likeness to Chase’s work be removed from his upcoming show.

But Yossi Milo took it even further, dropping Laouli from its roster, and cutting ties with him entirely—all before even hosting a show with him.

The gallery left a note on Chase’s original post: “I am a big fan of yours and I respect the integrity of your work completely. Again, I apologize sincerely for this ugly situation.” 

Chase told Wet Paint the matter was done with, and Laouli could not be reached for further comment. 

 

WE HEAR 

Adams and Ollman will now represent painter Rob Lyon … A handful of art-world influencers have been approached by a political PAC offering to pay them to post about how much Joe Biden’s presidency has positively impacted their lives… The new Netflix series about Anna Delvey has her home address as 12 George (when really she lived at Aby Rosen‘s 11 Howard) … Libbie Mugrabi and Julia Fox apparently butted heads at a restaurant in Paris … Petzel Gallery is moving to a larger space on 25th Street … Dominic Cummings, senior advisor to Boris Johnson, attempted to keep a Jake and Dinos Chapman print owned by the UK government on his way out of 10 Downing Street 

 

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SPOTTED

Jordan Wolfson, Aurel Schmidt, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, Oneohtrix Point Never, Olivier Babin, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Mills Moràn all braved the blizzard to attend Lomex Gallery‘s party in SoHo for an opening of works by H. R. Giger *** Someone’s Bored Ape has a dedicated mural in Williamsburg at the corner of Roebling and South 3rd Street, and it was apparently was commissioned by the owner *** Jacolby Satterwhite commissioned a portrait of himself by none other than Rachel Dolezal *** Facility Mag, the rag partially dedicated to publishing access codes to New York bathrooms, is back *** Works by Ruth AsawaJohn Baldessari, and Ed Ruscha photographed in the Santa Barbara home of Gwyneth Paltrow—color me gooped *** David Byrne at his opening at Pace, which apparently was consumed by the smell of a particularly garlicky dinner, which Wet Paint was mysteriously not invited to ***

David Byrne, courtesy a tipster.

David Byrne, courtesy a tipster.

WET PAINT IN THE WILD

A last minute mix-up left an empty slot in this week’s Wet Paint in the Wild, so I decided I’d take it over myself. I get asked all the time how I get my stories, so here I go, showing not telling. Really, I just try to weaponize my own extraversion and nosiness, and put myself right where the action is. So behold, here is me doing that.

These cones have been in front of my doorstep in Bedstuy for a week now, gently and lovingly reminding me of my imminent deadlines as soon as I get home. Welcome to my neuroses.

It’s Thursday, and with the column already up, I feel like it’s Friday, so I hit the town with some friends to see Jamian Juliano-Villani’s opening of works by Ashley Bickerton at O’Flaherty’s. Here are Berkley and Becky, two of my best friends in the city.

The opening was jam packed, and I couldn’t have been happier to run into Tom Sachs, one of my favorite people in New York. I actually know of Bickerton’s work through Sachs, as I wrote about a movie he made a few years ago called How To Learn How To Surf, which was filmed partially at Bickerton’s house in Bali. It’s really worth a watch.

After the opening, I headed over to the dinner that Jamian threw at some Italian place in the Village. The “Spotted” section couldn’t really do justice to how many downtown art-world luminaries were there. I think Artnet’s server would break from all that namedropping.

What’s that old saying? I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m writing this post! (Just kidding, I never report under the influence.)

Jamian and David Mugrabi coaxed me into doing a shot with them. I think Mugrabi bought a work from the show or something, so they were toasting that. I’m terrible at doing shots, but Jamian is a really hard person to say no to. This is approximately when things start getting rowdy.

Jamian stole my camera so I have a ton of photos of people at the restaurant who were not with our party. Next up on the role is this one, and I have no clue who most of these people are. Please write in and tell me if you do.

Speeches were made. One of my favorite things about Jamian is her reliable PGV (party-girl voice) that delivers biting, sincere, and often heartfelt musings about the art that inspires her. Great news: I think I heard someone say O’Flaherty’s will stick around, quashing Jamian’s original plan to strictly have the space for one year only.

The night continues and then, much later for me, ends at Clandestino, with my first camera all used up. End of day one.

My mini dachshund Weezy is my co-pilot. One of my tics is that I talk to myself when I’m writing, so in a way, Weezy is kind of my first editor as I talk to her about what stories I should follow, angles to take, etc. She has all of my secrets.

After work, it’s time for my friend Brooke Wise’s birthday dinner at Popular at the Public Hotel. I actually have to bang-bang birthday parties tonight—a remarkable number of my friends are Aquariuses.

Goodbye beautiful people! Off to Brooklyn with me.

Birthday party number two is at my friend’s favorite metal bar, Duff’s. I love this place because I like metal, but also because I reliably never run into anyone from the art world there, so it’s kind of a safe haven. This is Josh, whose birthday it was, and his metalhead wish to have Neil Young’s music permanently removed from Spotify has just come true.

The blizzard was starting to pick up steam when I stepped outside with Caroline to take it all in while it was all white and perfect and peaceful.

The next morning and most of the day is spent marveling at Weezy’s childlike joy in the snow, marathoning Sex and the City, and nursing a hangover. I was supposed to go to a lunch at Balthazar and later Lomex’s party for H. R. Giger’s opening, but the trains were pretty much shut down, so I took the excuse to hole up for a day.

If you know me IRL, you know that the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, owns a building on my block that he claims he lives in. I opened my door to go out and get groceries, and there he was, shoveling snow for some select members of the press. Little did he know that an unselect press rep would also be present. Sometimes, Wet Paint just comes to me.

I introduced myself as his neighbor. The whole joke is that during his campaign, he claimed to live in Bedstuy, but was apparently living in New Jersey. I don’t know about the Jersey part, but I certainly had never seen this man before in my life before the past few months. Sometimes his son is at the apartment, whom I Googled and found out is a voice actor who works as one of the Backyardigans. What a town!

Sunday was spent running errands with a pit stop at Fanelli Cafe, where I like to go alone to read and have a glass of wine and some fries. This meditative practice is both so I can pose as a manic pixie dream girl, and also keep my eyes peeled for celebs. I’m reading The Deer Park by Norman Mailer right now, which was recommended to me by David Salle when I sat next to him at a dinner recently. I think I know why he recommended it: a gossip columnist plays a central role in the plot. Looking at this photo now, I realize I am not alone: I have my wifey, girlfriend, and mistress with me, aka water, wine, and coffee.

The next night, Becky and I had dinner in Ridgewood at Rolo’s with our friend Brock Colyar, who writes an amazing column of a similar ilk to Wet Paint for New York magazine. I love catching up with Brock because we move through New York sort of similarly: we party for work and we party for play. It can get confusing sometimes, but it’s always fun.

WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE

Ooh la la, last week’s question got some scintillating responses! I asked y’all what you think is the sexiest artwork in any New York museum, and what came back did not disappoint.

Curator Daisy Sanchez said Roni Horn‘s Untitled (Flannery) (1996–97) at the Guggenheim Museum was “wet and illusive and rife with tension between forms.” Writer Laura Bannister named Carolee Schneeman’s Meat Joy (1964), which lives at MoMA, even though she admitted it wasn’t necessarily sexy per se. “But in its co-opting of flesh as material, it delivers something sensuous and carnal and kinetically charged, which might be the same thing.” Is it getting hot in here?

Critic and writer Larissa Pham said she’d been “overcome by how sexy the Herakles statue at the Met is… probably because I’ve been drawing it—but the abs!” Editor Laia Garcia-Furtado pointed out Joan Semmel‘s Intimacy/Autonomy (1974) at the Brooklyn Museum, while artist Pablo Gnecco chose Constantin Brancusi‘s bronze Bird In Space (1928), which belongs to MoMA.

Alright, let’s put the sexual gaze aside for now. My question this week is: What art-world person never remembers who you are, no matter how many times you’ve met?

Send your responses to [email protected]


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