Dan Colen, the downtown artist best known for his charming antics with Ryan McGinley and the late Dash Snow, opened a solo show, Help!, at the Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Conn. yesterday. The pristine green lawns (with oversized pillows and blankets for, you know, lounging), decadent buffet (the burrata was delicious) and endless champagne were a far cry from Colen’s debauched legacy.
But Colen, now 34 and sober, seems a far cry from the troublemaker who, along with Snow, realized the infamous, drug-fueled Nest at Deitch Projects – a video of which plays on loop on the lower level of the exhibit.
The attendees — who travelled to the estate via luxury vehicle, Uber, shuttle bus, or train depending on socioeconomic status — were varied to say the least. Our favorite East Village inhabitant, David Schwimmer, was there, as were former Villagers Harmony Korine and Chloe Sevigny.
Brant Foundation regular Leonardo DiCaprio looked unassuming in cargo pants and a Newsboy Cap, his arm in a sling (what happened, Leo?).
The downtown set was there, too — both Colen’s contemporaries McGinley (who brought his mum), Leo Fitzpatrick and Nate Lowman (who collaborated with Colen on the crack pipe beaded curtains on view) and the 20-somethings who emulate them to varying (mostly limited) levels of success.
People (critics, wannabes, occasionally New York writers) like to hate on Dan Colen – in part because he’s a handsome fellow who once engaged in reckless behavior at parties they weren’t invited to. These days his works fetch hundreds of thousands at auction (his “Holy Shit” painting went for $341,000 last November) – which rubs some people the wrong way, too. I tend to disagree. It is easy to focus on the silly or sensational (the gum paintings, for instance) and forget subtler works, like the beautifully executed depictions of extinguished Disney candles.
Late in the afternoon, a performance by experimental, uninhibited duo I.U.D (which features Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzi Bougatsos) atop Colen’s sculpture “At Least They Died Together (After Dash)” succeeded in breaking down some of the pretensions inherent in drinking champagne at a billionaire’s estate.
Colen hurled rocks at his piece – two half-buried semi-trucks – proving there are still flickers of 20-something Colen in his lanky frame.
Meanwhile, there were plenty of actual twenty-somethings to make use of the open bar. (Myself included. To me, the antics and indulgences of Colen and his cronies are merely those of legend.) We lingered on the grass until security kicked us out.