Linda Yablonsky took the opening night tour of Chelsea two weeks ago. Among the dozens of names and faces she registered on the street were Kara Walker, Jay Jopling, Nate Lowman, Brice Marden and . . . well, read on:
On Saturday I set off again, keeping expectations low, but before I even reached the door at Mary Boone I had heard about the nine-million-dollar Basquiat painting with a red dot next to it on the checklist. The exhibition was labeled “A Tribute to Ron Warren,” the poker-faced gent who has put in twenty-five years of service with Boone, first at the front desk and now as a partner in the gallery. On the walls and floors were works old and new by thirty artists who have participated in Boone gallery shows during Warren’s steadfast employ. It included portraits of the man of the hour by Eric Fischl and Will Cotton and a lenticular “family tree” by Francesco Clemente, who identified each branch with the names of Warren’s closest friends. Sweet.
I found Barbara Kruger at the back of the gallery, fending off the advances of a tall stranger who identified himself as an artist and mistook her for Boone, to whom he wanted to show his paintings. Boone stood silently by, stifling a giggle. When he walked away, she recalled the time Julian Schnabel, then a young artist, came on to writer Carol Squiers (now a curator at the International Center of Photography). “He thought she was me,” Boone let on, “and wanted her to give him a show.”
Out in the main space, David Salle and Fischl were trading stories, too. Salle reported stopping into Sonnabend and telling Nick (who has worked at the front desk of the gallery for—count ’em—forty years) that he was going to a tribute for Warren. “Why?” asked Nick. “Is he dead?”
What can I say? This opening was fun—and it had art that was done to a turn. The dinner at Bottino afterward brought together personalities as disparate as Barry Le Va, Jack Pierson, and art consultant Sandy Heller, adviser to heavyweight financier-collectors like Steven Cohen and David Ganek. I asked Boone how she hired Warren all those years ago. “After 1982,” she said, “it was hard to get serious people. Everyone thought all we did was serve champagne and buy shoes. But then Ron walked in, and I knew right away: He was serious!” What’s more, he didn’t need shoes.
Warren Piece (Scene+Herd/ArtForum)