Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Sign of the times

December 13, 2007 - 9:57am -- Carol Diehl

Leaving the Whitney Museum the other day, we were in the mood for a quick cup of soup. The coffee shop that used to be in the same block was gone. Walking down Madison we passed a number of upscale restaurants, but no place where you could sit and simply get a bite--until 15 blocks later the Viand coffee shop appeared, looking like a complete anachronism amidst all the the steel and glass glitz. It reminded me of a piece the late Glen Seator did in 1999, where he inserted a full-scale replica of a check-cashing joint into the facade of Gagosian's Beverly Hills gallery. At the time Michael Duncan in Art in America saw it as "rather obvious social commentary" saying that "the contrast between the high-tone gallery and the low-rent check-cashing store seemed too much of an insider art world joke." Now the joke's on us when we can't get a cup of soup.

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