Jim Dine, Car Crash, Reuben Gallery, November 1960, Photo by Robert R McElroy/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Last night was Thursday night which if you are in New York – and per chance made time in your fashion schedule for bit of art – you were probably tramping around the West 20s hussling for some white wine and trying to catch a glimpse of art through all those bodies milling about.
We were one or two of those bodies (sorry if we blocked your view) at The Pace Gallery for the opening of “Happenings: New York, 1958-1963.” Not to imply that everything Pace puts on isn’t special, but “Happenings” managed to do the impossible. It captured what is essentially un-capturable, the seminal performance art that originated in the cottages of Cape Cod, eventually unfolding into New York City’s alternative gallery spaces. (That’s art-speak for random lofts and basements). Performance art in general has an annoying tendency to cease to exist when the performance is over, but Pace has put together an unprecedented collection of more than 300 photographs by five photographers who witnessed and documented the performances, including many photos that have never before been seen publicly. Rare film footage and original ephemera were also on view and really brought this marvelous piece of art history to life.
We may have followed the Pace kids to dinner afterward at The Standard Grill and indulged one too many post-show Penny Drops and fancied ourselves real downtown beatnik revolutionaries … dare to dream.
The exhibition is also accompanied by an illustrated book (304 pages, hardcover) published by The Monacelli Press and authored by Milly Glimcher.