When he's not plating shit in gold, splattering his semen on canvas or just carousing around, art-world bad boy Terence Koh likes to read French poetry and, well, carouse around. He opened up to Hint on the eve of Flowers for Baudelaire, a show of new (and his first) paintings at the former New York studio of Richard Avedon, presented by Vito Schnabel and France's First Brother Olivier Sarkozy.
So what is Flowers for Baudelaire all about? Are there "flowers of evil" to be found here?
They're just a series of readymade canvases covered in corn syrup and then dusted with powdered sugar—the easiest paintings I can think of to make. I felt we needed something sweet for our moment right now in history. And yes, each painting is a flower. Each painting is evil. Each painting is a star in a universe. Making them was like making a Zen rock garden. Just raking sugar. Simple evil.
The show is at the former studio of Richard Avedon, famous for its cyclorama. Why there?
It's all about how Richard Avedon would see himself in a mirror. What would he do? Each painting is the eye of Richard Avedon. Not the black iris, just the white parts of the eyeball.
What's the Vito Schnabel connection?
We met through Stella Schnabel, his sister, who I met through Dash [Snow]. Everybody just meets everyone in New York if you have the will to make something in this city. We are kinda seeing each other, even though he's 100% straight and I have a boyfriend. We are like brothers, but without the guilt of genetics bearing down on us. We've known each other for more than two years and dating off and on for about a year now. We watch a lot of romantic movies together and he brings me to basketball games. I only go shopping with Stella, though. Vito doesn't really like to shop much, though I bought him a Juicy Couture sweater last week.
How is asianpunkboy [Koh's former alias], by the way?
He is my best friend. We have drinks at least once a week—Johnnie Walker Black Label on the rocks.
So what's next for you?
I hope to take the whole of next year off and do nothing, like go to Jamaica and rent a nice bungalow with all the modern amenities, except no TV and Internet. And just sit and read and go swimming and fishing in the sea, pick pretty seashells by the beach and read nothing but Marcel Proust.
NEW YORK - Last Wednesday saw the New York premier of Terence Koh’s art praxis in the medium of painting in an exhibition entitled Flowers for Baudelaire, curated by Vito Schnabel. After leaving Candy Pratts Price’s book release party at Bergdorf Goodman, a party that was filled with the who’s who of the fashion world, I made my way up to 75th Street, for what promised to be quite an event.
When Chinese-Canadian, New York-based artist Koh hooks up with Schnabel, Julian’s 23 year old son, creating an exhibition in Richard Avedon’s former studio, you know that you’re in for a feast, both for the art as for the people attending the opening. The event is the first time Avedon’s studio has been open to host another artist’s work, but traces of the models remain and during a small private tour with Eunice Kim of the PR firm, I even got to see the dressing room and cabinets with original name tags of the major models of the past.
While entering Avedon’s former photo studio, I ran into Anna Wintour. Escorted by Simon de Pury, she obviously had the same schedule and the duo proved yet again how intertwined fashion and art are nowadays. One wonders if they left soon after because visitors were asked to take off their shoes upon entering the exhibition room. The completely white room, with rounded corners, was lit with one single specially designed light (a completely different intensity to Koh’s light installation at the Whitney Museum last year, but at the same time very similar in its minimalism). The fashion models were no longer there to be shot by the great master of photography, and this time around the walls were sparsely covered with about 50 white canvasses coated with what, after a lot of speculation, turned out to be a mixture of titanium paint, syrup and sugar.
After checking out the art downstairs, I joined the party upstairs. Our hosts of the evening were Oliver and Charlotte Sarkozy (Yes, family of) and their living room and two terraces were filled with guests chatting, smoking and drinking champagne. For P.S.1’s director Alanna Heiss it was not the first time here, and she has very fond memories of the studio, being immortalized by Avedon (also a former Board member of her museum) on more than one occasion.
Around the dining table I chatted with artists Agathe Snow and Rita Ackermann, the latter confessing to me that she is so concerned with pollution in New York that she sometimes works with a gas mask in her new South Sea Port studio. Together with Yvonne Force Villareal, Ackermann made a sexy duo, showing off dresses that revealed a lot of flesh at the back! Other people in the room, including Phil and Shelly Aarons (both big supporters of Koh’s work from the beginning), dealers Mary Boone and Thaddaeus Ropac, designer Zac Posen, Diana Picasso, artist Kembra Pfahler and MoMA/P.S.1's Klaus Biesenbach, talked about the current state of the art world, with the Sotheby's Contemporary Art auction happening that same night.
Finally I ran into the man of the evening, Terence Koh, who was fashionably late, as always. He was joined by his gallerist Javier Peres who, loyal as he is to his artists, flew in from Berlin in order to be present at the opening and make sure Koh was doing fine.
By the end of the night everyone was covered in white dust from the paintings downstairs, which saw Oliver Sarkozy yelling across the room "Stop: those are my paintings that you’ve got on your dress." Luckily the mixture of paint and sugar came off quite quickly the next day! Leaving this party I was left wondering how next night’s Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum would surmount this extravagant mixture of art and exclusiveness.
Last night the ever precocious Vito Schnabel curated and hosted with Olivier Sarkozy the opening of Terence Koh's "Flowers for Baudelaire" exhibition along with a private party at legendary photog Richard Avedon's former studio on the Upper East Side. When we asked Vito if there was anything he would like to say about the evening's event he said, "I think this is a very important exhibition. It is based on an organic idea and we had friends coming together at a wonderful location other than a Chelsea gallery viewing meaningful art."
To celebrate Terence Koh's newest book, Flowers for Baudelaire, the artist's friend Vito Schnabel hosted a dinner at his house—yes, that would be dad Julian's big pink Venetian palazzo in the West Village sky—for about 50 of their nearest and dearest, including Marc Jacobs, Tom Sachs, André Balazs, Lazaro Hernandez, and Nathaniel Rothschild. "I wonder if this is the first time all these people have had dinner under a big white cock," self-styled bad boy Koh said. He was referring to a giant light installation of his in the shape of a rooster, which Schnabel had hoisted at one end of the dining room. (The other end was dominated by a lacquered black grand piano and a wall of Schnabel père's paintings.)
The event was sponsored by Dom Pérignon. Schnabel toasted Koh and explained why copies of the book weren't available yet: The palette took a while to perfect so the finished version is still in production in Iceland. Over lobster salad and mushroom risotto (and, oh yeah, a ton of cigarettes), conversation unsurprisingly focused on the arts, specifically the Venice Biennale taking place this week. But the best part of the night for many guests was a tour of the triplex penthouse, a part of the Schnabel complex that is still for sale. Kate Hudson was taken by the place, but the actress did have one practical question. "I wonder if there's enough closet space," she joked.
At last night's blowout opening party for Terence Koh's new show, "Flowers for Baudelaire," questions of taste predominated. Not about whether Koh — who created a scandal in England earlier this year by showing a statue of Jesus with a huge erection — had gone too far, but about whether people had actually tasted the art. The show, which rising 23-year-old dealer Vito Schnabel (son of Julian) curated in the seamless, immaculately white photography studio of the late Richard Avedon's East 75th Street townhouse, featured an ethereal array of 51 white granulated canvases that were hypnotically blurred by the haze of a fog machine. Viewers were encouraged to remove their shoes before entering the space, where Koh, dressed in a black suit and bright white sneakers, was inviting guests to eat little flecks from the paintings. "You can lick them — let me show you, it's very sweet," he said. "I was just trying to make the simplest paintings possible. It's just plain canvases, corn syrup, and powdered sugar."
While one reporter followed his lead, not everyone was so eager to trust the artist, who has been known to use his own bodily fluids and other unpleasant materials in his work. The art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, who deemed the show "magical," wasn't biting. "The question is we don't know if it's powdered sugar or crystal meth," he said. "I travel with an official taster, so I have to wait for my taster to come." Artist Agathe Snow balked too. "I don't taste paintings," she said. "Did it taste like cocaine?" (No, it tasted like sugar.) Schnabel — who had set up the show through his friend Olivier Sarkozy, the half-brother of the French president and the owner of Avedon's finely appointed house — showed his faith in the artist by sampling the work but warned against overindulging. "I just imagine that titanium pigment wouldn't be good to swallow," he said, adding, "There might be some semen in there, I don't know. Who knows."
Upstairs at the party, an art-world crowd featuring Alanna Heiss, Klaus Biesenbach, Kembra Phaler, and Todd Eberle were joined by glossy figures like Anna Wintour and Salman Rushdie, with people spilling out onto a two-story patio. Sarkozy had installed two of Koh's paintings in his living room, and as the night progressed, the jostling of the revelers created a minor snowstorm of powder. Ann Dexter-Jones was wearing a black coat, but the entire back of it was white. "I bought a painting," she said. "I talked to Terence, and I said I needed to have one. And then I accidentally leaned on one and this happened. Now I'm a little worried." Lyor Cohen's black coat was similarly whitened, but only on the sleeves. He said he hadn't gotten near a painting; he'd just run into a lot of powder-covered friends who kept grabbing his arms, saying, "Lyor, how you doing?" Indeed, the paintings were shedding all over Sarkozy's bookshelves, which lined the floor of the room and an entire wall by the bathroom. (The shelves by the bathroom contained dozens of diet books: Digestive Wellness, Marion Nestle's What to Eat, The Omnivore's Dilemna, etc., as well as Connect Four and a DVD titled Scientology: An Overview.) At some point, guests noticed all the powder on the shelves and started making lines, then took turns scampering about the room with a lampshade on their heads. Whatever was in the paintings, they provided fuel for a memorable night, and an excellent show.
A more sick than sweet attitude pervades Terence Koh’s body of work, which is exactly why his latest pieces, stark white canvases crafted from corn syrup and sugar, seem to belong to another artist. That is until Koh starts licking the paintings. “I just think it’s a really sweet moment in history,” says the optimistic Koh. Curated by his current bff Vito Schnabel, this is the first time Koh’s paintings have ever been shown in New York, and in Richard Avedon’s former studio no less. Flowers for Baudelaire (the title is an ode to the way the sugar hardens to form splotches reminiscent of flowers), is on view through January at 407 East 75th Street, thanks to the unlikely host, resident and owner of the space, Olivier Sarkozy. The half-brother to Monsieur French President himself, Mr. Sarkozy brought out the likes of Anna Wintour, Simon de Pury and even Maya Lin cooing for Koh.
Vito Schanbel, who curated the show along with Anna Wintour at the opening, via Park Ave Peerage. Schanbel above is seen in shoes with no socks as the artist Terence Koh requested all guests take their shoes off upon entering the show.
Terence Koh’s most recent exhibition, “Flowers for Baudelaire,” is on display now and consists of 51 paintings of varying sizes created using titanium paint, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. At the show the artist used a fog machine to create added effect. The show was curated by Vito Schnabel, a close friend of Koh’s and the son of the artist Julian Schnabel. The exhbit and was held at the home of Oliver Sarkozy, the half-brother of France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy. The artist maintained that the works were edible at the opening, even licking a painting in example though few of the guests such as Anna Wintour, Cynthia Rowley and Salman Rushdie ventured to taste the works. Others in attendance for the opening and after party were artists Dash Snow and Agatha Snow, Museum of Modern Art curator Klaus Biesenbach, gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, music mogul Lyor Cohen and photographer Todd Eberle. The Upper East side space, formerly the studio of late photographer Richard Avedon, was painted entirely white -floors, walls, and ceiling- as part of the display.
Vito Schnabel, the young art dealer and scion of Julian, likens walking into the Terence Koh (aka asianpunkboy) installation that he curated at photographer Richard Avedon's former studio on the Upper East Side to entering "a cloud." This effect stems from the lighting and intentionally rounded corners of the room, which creates a smoke-machine effect without the machine. And while it made Schnabel think of some low-hanging nimbus, it immediately struck me as the last art gallery on earth. Two empty chairs sit in the middle of the room and are surrounded by 53 paintings (each done in corn syrup and confectioners' sugar), and all is ghostly white, per Koh's preference for monochromatic pieces. It's all a bit eerie, as if ash from some catastrophe has covered paintings once bursting with color, and this is all that will ultimately remain of humanity's creative endeavors. After awhile, I started to feel the cloud thing that Vito mentioned, though, and imagined myself looking down through the atmosphere from the air at the snow-covered roofs of buildings (after a nuclear winter that I miraculously survived by way of my guts and cunning, naturally). But, despite all of my end-of-days premonitions, it all feels very serene. Chuck's evil flowers, indeed.
Oddi Printing of Iceland has been awarded a 2010 Premier Print Award, for outstanding achievement in the production of art books. The graphic arts industry’s largest and most prestigious worldwide printing competition, hosted by Printing Industries of America, the Premier Print Awards recognises those responsible for the creation and production of outstanding print communications. Oddi won a Certificate of Merit for their entry of two art books, "Show" and "Terence Koh."
Having examined thousands of entries from printing and graphic arts firms around the world, the judges bestowed upon Oddi the award which honors technical excellence in this category of the competition.
“It’s an honor to be recognised by the industry as a company that produces top quality, award winning materials,” said Marteinn Jonasson, sales manager of Oddi Printing. Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing Industries of America, notes, “Each year, the field of entries brings impressive work from some of the best printers in the world. Only a small number of companies receive any award. The craftsmanship and hard work of Oddi enabled them to produce an award-winning piece in the face of some very stiff competition.”
The Premier Print Awards is the printing industry’s oldest and largest worldwide graphic arts competition. In its 61st year, the competition recognises those responsible for the creation and production of superior print communications. The event promotes excellence in print and rewards companies and individuals who produce the best in print media.