There is no shortage of treasures buried in Gallery 98’s extensive inventory of close to 7,000 items. Each one of these four items captures a different moment and direction in art. All have stories to tell.
Richard Lippold, Sculpture for Four Seasons Restaurant, Signed Card, 1961
Size: 10 x 8 inches
A recent New York Times story about the difficulty of moving a complex multipart sculpture by Richard Lippold (1915 -2002) from Lincoln Center to LaGuardia Airport, brings renewed attention to one of America’s leading 1950’s sculptors. Gallery 98 is fortunate to have a signed card connected to another Lippold commission: the hanging sculptures that he created in 1959 for the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building. The card reproducing Lippold’s drawing for the placement of the 3000-plus slender bronze rods suspended over the bar, was sent in 1961 with greetings to his artist friend Si Sillman. Lippold’s sculpture remains installed in Seagram Building, in the restaurant that replaced the Four Seasons in 2019.
Richard Lippold’s finished sculpture installed over the bar at the Four Seasons Restaurant.
Harry Smith, String Figures, 15-Page Pamphlet, 2012
Size: 5.75 x 8.5 inches
The current retrospective at the Whitney Museum and a new biography, have helped resurrect interest in the maverick artist, filmmaker, collector and archivist, Harry Smith (1923-1991). As a compulsive accumulator of “overlooked yet revealing objects,” Smith was a precursor of the idea of the artist collector. String figures were one of Smith’s areas of interest, about which he left an unfinished thousand-page manuscript, as well as, a collection of string figures that he himself created. This pamphlet announces an exhibition of Smith’s string figures curated by painter Terry Winters. It includes a separate insert of a card for the woodcut Strings (for Cabinet), a work by Winters that was inspired by Smith.
Kembra Pfahler, Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Doll, Signed, 2008
Size: 17 x 21.5 inches
Kembra Pfahler first established herself in the mid-1980s as a boundary-pushing performance artist at downtown venues like the Pyramid and as a participant in the Cinema of Transgression. Today she is best known as the force behind the visually compelling rock group “The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.” In performances, Pfahler transforms herself into a threatening feminist nightmare with distinctive eye make-up, a wild billowing black wig, thigh-high laced stiletto boots, and a single hue of body paint covering her otherwise nude body. Dolls like the one featured here are an extension of Pfahler’s “Karen Black” persona, and are used in both performances and gallery exhibitions. This one is dated 2008, the year Pfahler was featured in the Whitney Biennial.
Times Square Show, Xerox Flyer by Jane Sherry with Note to Debby Davis from Mindy Stevenson on reverse, 1980
The Times Square Show, Are Americans Afraid of Sex?, Flyer by Jane Sherry with Note on Back to Debby Davis from Mindy Stevenson, 1980
Size: 8.75 x 11 inches
Today the Times Square Show, a pop-up theme exhibition organized in the summer of 1980 by the artist group COLAB, which featured a diverse group of soon-to-be famous artists, has assumed near mythic status. This note on the back of a TSS Xerox flyer from Mindy Stevenson to Debby Davis (two artists included in the exhibition) captures both the uninhibited creativity and the grunginess of the exhibition. Davis was then a “food artist” whose contribution, a 3-foot-tall cone of instant mashed potatoes placed on top of a toilet, had begun to grow mold and stink, which led Stevenson to remove it and send this note: “I don’t know if you planned the piece this way but if you really are concerned about health you should think twice in the future about leaving a big pile of mashed potatoes next to a shit-filled toilet with cellar access in this rat and pest ridden city.”