Assembled by the young curator Vito Schnabel (son of artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel), White Collar Crimes, at Acquavella Galleries, brings together a collection of new abstract and conceptual works from emerging and internationally recognized artists, exploring the themes of concealment of crime by wealth, high level education and social status. Connecting concepts such as identity, historical erosion, commercialization, and political satire, the show opens the door to complexly interconnected readings of the subjects and artists on view, while directly addressing the context and location of the event itself. According to Schnabel, the exhibition “proposes an interplay between obscure ciphers and spectacular discoveries.”
Upper East Side gallery Acquavella Galleries is a family-owned gallery space, housed within a five-story French Neoclassical townhouse, giving the exhibition a uniquely intimate, experiential quality that emphasizes the work on view. Schnabel’s idea was to bring the work into an unconventional context, asking young conceptual artists to place their new works into a gallery known for exhibitions from the traditional masters of painting and sculpture. Participating artists include Rita Ackermann, Tauba Auerbach, Stefan Bondell, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Dan Colen, Rashid Johnson and Josh Smith. The show’s accompanying catalogue includes essays by Vito Schnabel as well as by art critic David Rimanelli and by President Emerita of The Museum of Modern Art, Agnes Gund.
The Bruce High Quality Foundation, The Wives (2012), Courtesy the artists and Vito Schnabel
The works on view make express use of repetition throughout the show, continually revisiting dichotomies of high and low cultural signifiers masked by the cultural aspirations and financial valuations afforded to the notions of ownership and collection in the fine arts market. This active contrast is even inherent in the artists exhibiting, many of which are pulled from the innovative, and occasionally subversive downtown art world. Of particular note is the work of Bruce High-Quality Foundation shown here, referencing the degradation of classical notions of art, and the controlling wealth of the art world elite through a combination of sculpture and photographic works.
Presenting young, downtown artists in the luxurious confines of Acquavella’s uptown space, the show subverts the constructed atmosphere of privilege often afforded to fine art by specifically addressing it. Using Acquavella’s reputation as a premier gallery to present the work of young, challenging artists, one has to wonder who the real perpetrator of the aforementioned “White Collar Crimes” is: Schnabel, his artists, or the gallery-goers themselves.