The Disappointment That Was Skin Fruit

Chris Ofili, Charles Ray, Kara Walker, Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, Tino Seghal, Seth Price, Janine Antoni, Richard Price, Urs Fischer. It’s a roll call of blue chip artists and by that very merit ought to have more resonance than Skin Fruit, the exhibition currently up at the New Museum, does.

A lot has been made, justly, of the museum using the collection of Dakis Joannou to create a show. After all he is a Trustee of the New Museum–creating a bit of a conflict of interests. Conflict number one being whether to show so much unappealing work; conflict two being whether the show benefits more himself and his cohorts rather than the public. The show is curated by Jeff Koons, who just so happens to be collected by Dakis Joannou, and just so happened to include himself–via the basketball–in the show.

One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank, 1985

But let’s put that aside and move on to the fact that between Dakis Joannou and Jeff Koons the worst taste ever demonstrated is on display. Judgment call? Yes, but how they can make artists I like (Chris Ofili, Charles Ray, Cindy Sherman) look so bad is beyond me. It takes a special sort of taste: one that prefers feral humanoids liberally sprinkled with fur and confuses brash ugliness with boldness.

To compound the problem, the works were stuffed in together so that it was hard to “appreciate” any of them. If anything, it seemed like a Nouveau Riche Victorian households where costly bric-a-brac crowd the mantle. I mean, if you are watching somebody climb up a crucifix (Pawel Althamer’s Schedule of the Crucifixion), you don’t want to have to weave your way through glass and chocolate structures to get an unobstructed view of the performance. The show was certainly not the best choice for my first art experience back in NYC. I left generally disgusted and more than a bit enraged that the New Museum continues to disappoint. On the bright side, the show ends June 6.

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