September 17 – November 27, 2019

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TV Party was Glenn O’Brien’s magnum opus, a public-access television show in New York City that ran from 1978 to 1982. Part  performance art, part improv, part experimental video, it started as a nod to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark, but for the downtown set. Martin Wong’s “TV Party” was made years after TV Party ended. Part of Wong’s hand-signs series, “TV Party” was first shown at his 1988 solo exhibition at Exit Art in New York City.

“Girl from Contact Sheet (Darkroom Manuals)” could evoke a first crush, but she could also be a young fan of TV Party whose mind is being blown by Glenn O’Brien.

The first artwork Glenn O’Brien ever purchased, while still a student at Georgetown University, was a set of “disposable” sculptures by Les Levine from Max Protetch. “Diamond Mind” is a performance videotape set in a control room at Syracuse University. Levine’s speech also relates to “various connections and partings one goes through in life … being born, dying, being unattached from the physical sense of image as we can know it. Understanding this process or image modulation of self is like finding a diamond in your mind.”

“A Search For Clues” was an ad campaign conceived and produced by Dennis Oppenheim on the occasion of his 1976 solo exhibition at M.L. D’Arc Gallery. It features his then seven-year-old daughter, Chandra Oppenheim, with a surrogate of the artist in an entirely silent ad. As an ad man himself, Glenn O’Brien worked on some of the most iconic advertising campaigns of his time. Among them was the infamous Calvin Klein campaign shot by Steven Meisel that was attacked by Bill Clinton as child pornography, investigated by the Justice Department, and parodied by Beavis and Butthead. “To me,” Glenn said, “that was the highest compliment.”

Eileen Myles wrote “A Poem” inspired by a conversation she had with Glenn O’Brien. Glenn never knew the poem existed. “Glenn spoke to me about poetry once in the 80s and about the problem of making no money from it. The conversation stuck with me and totally inspired ‘A Poem,’ which was pretty much an inventory of the moment and maybe writing’s attempt to value it, or it value poetry.”

Glenn stopped smoking a while back, but when he did smoke, it was Marlboro Lights. Walter Robinson’s “Marlboros” evoke the writer’s staple, an artifact of a bygone era that finds resonance in Myles’s poem, “Cigarettes and coffee were always enough in my youth.”

Glenn defined himself above all as a writer. “Nouns” is related to Sarah Charlesworth’s Modern History series from 1977-1979, in which she isolated the images printed in various newspapers and removed the text in which they appeared. In this front page of the New York Times from October 11, 2003, all words other than nouns—and the nameplate—were redacted.

Richard Prince and Glenn shared an affinity for great jokes, especially Borscht Belt humor. Bingo!

In this series of sculptures, Dan Colen rendered rocks to look like enlarged M&M candies. The scale, texture, and saturated color of the faux M&Ms create a physical experience that teases out our personal associations—nature versus artifice. And what could be more iconic than M&Ms in today’s pop culture?

“Alvin Baltrop’s pictures show a gone world, but the ghosts that inhabit these images retain the power to haunt our own time,” Glenn once wrote. Baltrop portrays the derelict, abandoned West Side piers along the Hudson River, the scene of gay cruising, drugs, and prostitution. This teenage runaway is enveloped in an almost beatific light—a light that could have been streaming from “Day’s End,” Gordon Matta-Clark’s “sun and water temple” intervention at Pier 52 in 1975.

Rene Ricard grew up in the small town of Acushnet, Massachusetts. “Judge” is about his abusive, alcoholic father, who went to jail for life on a murder charge—this murder charge. Perhaps like Baltrop’s teenage runaway of the West Side piers, Rene also is the gay son of a violent father who found solace in New York. Both works evoke what you leave behind when you come to New York and the family you make for yourself.

Frederick Hughes was Glenn’s mentor during his years at Interview, where Andy Warhol hired Glenn straight out of college as art director for his magazine.

Ouattara Watts makes paintings to be read. After a chance encounter with Jean-Michel Basquiat at Basquiat’s 1988 Paris opening, Basquiat convinced Ouattara to come to America. Glenn was the first person Basquiat promised Ouattara he would meet on arriving to New York. (“My best friend Glenn,” Jean-Michel would say.) “They were kindred spirits who hit it off immediately,” Glenn later wrote. “Both men had a princely attitude and the sensibility of a magician, not to mention a gift for painting.” “Le Faiseur de Roi” [“The King Maker”] portrays the Glenn who launched and championed a thousand careers.

Claude Rutault was the first French artist invited to a residency at MoMA PS1, the same winter TV Party launched. Rutault considers himself a painter, although he does not physically touch paint or his canvases. Instead he has a set of instructions, “de-finitions/methods” to guide the works. “glenn o’brien was a writer. my work starts with writing, i write paintings. my work consists in painting canvases the same color as the wall on which they’re hung; painting without end, perpetually actualized. beyond monochromes. for this show, all the paintings and photographs on glenn o’brien’s bookshelves that are not portraits of glenn will be covered by canvases painted the same color as the wall on which the bookshelves are hung. a portrait by subtraction. painting that reveals.”

These four orange skateboard wheels, hand-embossed by Tom Sachs and his team, evoke Glenn’s youthful spirit, the freedom and hunger of youth that he continuously fed, but also his constant motion and steadfast refusal to stay in any given lane.

Dash Snow often used bell jars as containers for arrangements of objects. In “Secret Conception” (2006-2007) crumpled sheets, a studded glove, dead flowers, and human hair are heaped on top of each other. The title “Secret Conception” refers to Snow’s daughter, Secret. Glenn once said, “There aren’t too many romantic artists, but I think Dash was one of them.”

André Saraiva’s “Love Letter,” made with an actual letterbox from La Poste Française, stands as a larger metaphor for the show: a letter to Glenn, for the afterlife.

OFFICE         Glenn O’Brien Takes Center Stage, November 13, 2019         PDF

THE KNOW CULTURE         Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage & Intelligence for Dummies: Essays and Other Collected Writings, November 12, 2019       PDF

GALERIE         The Life of Glenn O’Brien Celebrated in New Art Exhibition, October 7, 2019       PDF

PURPLE         Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage Opening Exhibition at Off Paradise, New York, September 20, 2019       PDF

PORTRAY          Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage, September 18, 2019        PDF

ARTNET          A New Exhibition Pays Tribute to the ‘Style Guy’ and Man-About-Town Glenn O’Brien, September 17, 2019         PDF

ARTFORUM          Off Paradise, Glenn O’Brien: Center Stage, September 17, 2019        PDF

BEDFORD + BOWERY          Art This Week: Downtown Luminaries and Iridescent Sculpture, September 17, 2019        PDF

FLAUNT          A celebration of Glenn O’Brien, September 17, 2019        PDF

ARTNET          Editors’ Picks: 20 Things Not to Miss in New York’s Art World This Week, September 16, 2019        PDF

ARTNET          Art Industry News: New Show Celebrates Glenn O’Brien, September 3, 2019        PDF

PAGE SIX          Glenn O’Brien to be celebrated with downtown art exhibition, August 31, 2019        PDF