ARTnews Executive ditor Robin Cembalest is an award-winning investigative reporter who has published articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and El Pais, in addition to many other newspapers and magazines in the United States and Europe.
Question: Is New York still a special place for art?
Robin Cembalest: I think New Yorkers in general feel very close to art. I think a lot of people grew up going to the museums, I think there are so many artist here in people involved it the art world that even people who aren’t in the art world might know artist. The idea of having the art in your house, whether it is Jeff Koons or your friend next doors who is taking beautiful photos is it very accepted concept. So, people expect to see art everywhere, there is interesting Public Garden in New York that brings people and it makes them more aware of arts. So, I think there is a very close relationship between New Yorkers and art.
Question: If a New Yorker had one weekend to see art, where would you guide them?
Robin Cembalest: They have to go to the MEIAC, but they cannot go to the MEIAC on Saturday night and have a cocktail on the balcony and then go see a couple of shows, there is no one in there, it is one of the best kept secrets in New York actually. I would say they would have to go to Chelsea to see some of the cutting edge work, but I think it would also depend on their taste, because if they are very interested in the funky cutting edge, I would probably send them touring for Brooklyn or if they just love modern sculpture I would say will got in them to go Noguchi museum in Queens, if the love old masters, I would send them to the MEIAC or the Hispanic society, it depends what they want to see, there are so many options.
Question: What did you think of the Whitney Biennial this year?
Robin Cembalest: I went to Biennial during the opening and it was like Studio 54, you could not see anything, everyone just crowding around and kissing people. I could not really see the Whitney, enough to judge it. I will tell you though that I went to the armory, you know that there is a branch of Whitney the armory and I took my 12 year-old nephew and he loved it, a lot of the work is very accessible for example at the armory. He loved seeing the armory had a lot of bee works that may be they did have a kind of conceptual underpinning bee, they also worked as works that just resonated in this fabulous historic space. So I think that was actually very successful and accessible. What is fun about the armory two is that you do not know what is around the corner, that is what fun about the show like that. I would say actually that is the case of this Biennial where may be in certain other biennials the work was a little more familiars, you are like “okay, I see it” this work of biennial may be a little more surprising that you did not really know exactly what was going be around the corner, so that is what fun about seeing that show.