Carl Apfelschnitt, Robert Barry, Wallace Berman, Ashley Bickerton, Greg Colson, Anne-Lise Coste, R. Crumb, Anne Daems, Jules de Balincourt, Braco Dimitrijevic, Ben Durham, Jacob El Hanani, Simon Evans, Walton Ford, Jef Geys, John Giorno, Marc Goethals, Rodney Graham, Peter Greenaway, Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, Matthew Higgs, Dorothy Iannone, Larry Johnson, Rashid Johnson, Adam McEwen, Leonel Moura, Oscar Murillo, Adam Pendleton, Grayson Perry, Georgica Pettus, Nicolas Rule, Elizabeth Streb, Walter Swennen, Al Taylor, Nari Ward, Lawrence Weiner, Christopher Wool
May 11, 2023 - July 28, 2023
Nicole Klagsbrun grew up in Antwerp, the eldest daughter in a multilingual family. French and Flemish were the languages of the street in Belgium, while in her home, Yiddish was for secrets shared among an older generation, and German and Spanish made fleeting appearances, reminders of a Viennese past or a wartime sojourn in Cuba.
These many languages helped her become comfortable with the idea that something could have meaning, even if at first she didn’t quite understand it. And that ability to withstand–or even to be intrigued by–a certain level of discomfort came in handy when in the early 1980s she landed in New York and set up shop as a gallerist amid a flourishing downtown art scene.
The thirty-seven artworks included in this exhibition are drawn from both the gallery’s inventory and Klagsbrun’s personal collection. It’s her third such exhibition. The works chosen here bear witness to her eclectic eye and boundless curiosity for the new in art, while also highlighting her continuing fascination with artists who use letters and language as signs of or portals to alternative realities.
Some are early works by artists shown at Cable Gallery when they were just starting out, such as the drawing by the late Ashley Bickerton, for example. Quite a few of those artists moved on to big art world careers with larger galleries. There are works by feminist iconoclasts, such as the late (and long-neglected) Dorothy Iannone, with her erotic reimagining of the Statue of Liberty as a dominatrix/WonderWoman, its inclusion here a sly reference to the gallerist as emigré. The contemporary heirs to Belgium’s most famous Surrealist, Magritte, are also represented: see Walter Swennen’s 1991 watercolor, “For Nicole,” with a bit of Flemish spelled backwards. And the time-based work of a younger generation is also present. Witness Georgica Pettus’ Screenplay (2023), a five-minute, computer-to-computer conversation.
A collection is in many ways a self-fashioning. In the chatter that emanates from these text-based works–diagrams, instructions, notations, supplications, invectives, epigrams, and elegies–one may hear the echo of the gallerist’s decades of conversations with and about artists and art.
- Leslie Camhi