Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery NYC & Richard Avedon Photography at Gagosian Gallery NYC

Chicago Seven photograph by Richard Avedon at Gagosian Gallery NYC.

At least twice a month we like to wander around the Chelsea gallery district (roughly: between 20th and 28th Streets, and 10th and 11th Avenues, hard by Hudson River Park, and right below the High Line). With more than 400 active galleries of all description, it's truly one of New York City's great treasures, a word-class concentration of contemporary art, constantly changing, always free. And although we tend to just show up without a plan–nothing more than "pick a few blocks, pop into everything"–sometimes it's nice to have a least a couple of specific destinations in mind. Like these two shows, for instance, both on 21st Street, and both well worth seeing: Richard Avedon photography at Gagosian Gallery NYC, and Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery NYC. 

Anish Kapoor's untitled sculpture at Gladstone Gallery NYC.

Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery NYC

First, the Anish Kapoor piece, which will be at the Gladstone Gallery on 21st Street until June 9. Although we were initially a bit disappointed–Kapoor's one of our favorites, especially his reflective works, like "the Bean" in Chicago's Millennium Park, and his Sky Mirror that stood in Rock Center for a bit in 2006, and his stunningly bright sun-like yellow disc at last weekend's Frieze NYC Art Fair on Randall's Island–this installation grew on us the more we walked around it, and watched other people's surprise upon entering the gallery, and whistled loudly into it, just to, you know, "check" the echo factor. The untitled new sculpture will most obviously remind you of some sort of alien relic, a spaceship crashed and left to rust, ancient and menacing. Anish Kapoor also has a sculptural installation–it's like a forest of poured, blobby concrete–at Gladstone's 24th Street location. 

Looking inside Anish Kapoor's untitled sculpture at Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea.


Allen Ginsberg's family photograph by Richard Avedon in Chelsea's Gagosian Gallery.

Richard Avedon Photography at Gagosian Gallery NYC

However the real treat of our afternoon in the Chelsea gallery district was to be found at Gagosian Gallery, an unheralded exhibition of classic Richard Avedon photos from the the late 1960s and early 1970s that kind of blew our mind, as they used to say. There are many reasons why this show so perfectly hit our sweet spot. First, of course, is just that Richard Avedon portraits nail the light and composition and his subject's expression every time. Then there's thrill of seeing such massive prints in person, the exhibition's four main murals composed of two or three huge, casually overlapping photographs creating a truly larger than life sensation. 

Richar Avedon Photography on exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan.

Finally and crucially, there are Richard Avedon's subjects, which include something of a late-1960s counter-culture hall-of-fame, from Warhol's factory to the Chicago Seven (top) to Allen Ginsberg's family, two above, as well as many of the architects of and participants in (willing and otherwise) the Vietnam War, including the Mission Council; Lt. Joe Hooper, the war's most decorated soldier (above); and haunting shots of Vietnamese napalm victims. If the era interests you at all, or if you just like superb photography, the Richard Avedon show at the 21st Street Gagosian, running through July 6, is a must. 

Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery, Richard Avedon at Gagosian Gallery Details   

Both galleries are located on 21st Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, and are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The Anish Kapoor wil be up until June 9; the Richard Avedon until July 6. For more information about Gladstone, please see here; for more on Gagosian, click here.


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