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Pills and Thrills: Fred Tomaselli’s Transports

November 18, 2010 | by

Car Bomb, 2008. Photocollage, acrylic, resin on wood panel. 60" x 60". © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

When Motherless Brooklyn author Jonathan Lethem announced in April that he would be relocating from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, to the white-collar, academic enclave of Claremont, California (where he’d take over David Foster-Wallace’s teaching slot at Pomona College), the borough felt a twinge of old-time, Brooklyn Dodgers–style rejection. Fortunately for dwellers of Kings County—and others who hold resident New York bards dear—Fred Tomaselli was simultaneously putting the finishing touches on the installation of his latest crackerjack show: his unabashedly gorgeous, conceptually expansive midcareer retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum.

Tomaselli is a Brooklynite in the same way most New Yorkers come by their adoptive heritage—as immigrants from ambition. Born in Santa Monica and raised in Orange County, within spitting distance of Disneyland’s Matterhorn, he moved to Los Angeles in 1981, only to leave for New York, and rusty, desperate Brooklyn, in 1985—“one last crazy stupid thing before I got old and lost my nerve,” he later recalled.

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Good-Bye to All That: The Basquiat Cult

September 24, 2010 | by

Jean-Michel Basquiat, from “Tuxedo,” in issue 87, Spring 1983.

Jean-Michel Basquiat would be turning fifty years old this fall. Instead, he has been dead for twenty-two years, the victim, at twenty-seven, of a 1988 heroin overdose the art world witnessed more or less firsthand. Basquiat’s crack-up begat a frenzy of speculation that drove that decade’s art-market crash (since the rise of the contemporary auction ecosystem, there seems to be about one every decade). His funeral reportedly featured more art dealers than mourners; Jeffrey Deitch—now the director of LA MoCA, then the high-flying founder of Citibank’s art-advising arm—gave the eulogy. According to Phoebe Hoban’s detailed account in her unsparing book Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art, the ruined artist left behind “917 drawings, 25 sketchbooks, 85 prints, and 171 paintings.” That, and a counterfeit fable of overnight sensation for biographers, filmmakers, and groupies to pore over. Read More »