The decades-old rivalry between Gagosian Gallery and Pace Gallery is being fought in new arenas: in London and at the poker table.
Pace Gallery earlier this month announced that it will open a space in London, where its rival has long had a thriving space. And last week, Pace director Marc Glimcher sat down across a poker table facing Gagosian’s Sam Orlofsky, among other players. Real money was on the table: The Texas hold ‘em buy-in started at $500.
The occasion was the gallery’s opening party for its latest show by Turner Prize-winning artist Keith Tyson, “52 Variables.” The packed event in the basement of the Ace Hotel featured influential art consultant Thea Westreich, Lisa de Kooning (Pace handles the estate of Willem de Kooning, her father), collectors and art critics.
The artist, dubbed “the Map Professor” for works involving science, math and computers, achieved widespread fame in 2002 when he won British’s prestigious Turner Prize for a piece that crammed computer equipment into a pillar. But it was the aftermath more than the artwork that won him attention: Britain’s then culture minister Kim Howells famously decried it and other nominees as “conceptual bullshit.”
Mr. Tyson, a longtime poker player, spoke, between hands at the table, about addressing the issues of “chance” in his work and about the power and attraction of the backs of playing cards. In the exhibition, the artist offers meticulously and beautifully painted 40-inch-high images of cards. (He has a collection of hundreds, dating back decades.) The 52 artworks, on aluminum, are displayed against Pace gallery walls specially tinted green for the occasion.
As for the poker game, Pace said that it went late into the night, with two players splitting the winnings. But the gallery declined to disclose who they were–which makes us suspicious.
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