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James Frey in The Seven Circles of Sotheby’s

from The New York Observer

Seven Circles of Sotheby’s Selling

By Alexandra Peer

There were art works by Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, Auguste Rodin and Jeff Koons, but everyone was watching Padma Lakshmi’s pants. The Top Chef co-host, in impossibly tight coral-colored capris covered in a gold lamé print, cut to the front of a book-signing line at Sotheby’s to glad-hand author James Frey.

What was the occasion for this unlikely mix of literature, reality TV and fine art? “Divine Comedy,” an elaborate themed display of art by the former director of the Guggenheim Museum, now Sotheby’s executive, Lisa Dennison. The exhibition, on view through Oct. 19, invites the visitor to Sotheby’s to tour hell, heaven and purgatory in the form of artworks depicting each, several of the works spectacular or particularly rare. But despite a gimmicky conceit and lighthearted demeanor—”have fun,” urged the wall text, right by a huge crucifix depicting Jesus Christ as a wart-covered frog—the show is very much about money. It represents a new business model for the auctioneer.

Drafted into all this was James Frey, who is co-owner of a Lower East Side art gallery—Half Gallery—and has written several art-catalog essays. He was on hand to sign a limited-edition exhibition catalog that featured his “Il Divino Bambino,” a reinterpretation of Dante’s story. He declined to discuss his compensation, and said he was very surprised at how many people wanted a signed catalog—”I thought I’d do two and be done with it.” Interestingly, the famous dissembler said that his two favorite works in the show were the Francken and the only “fake” chosen for the whole exhibition, a particularly harsh version of the afterlife painted not by a famous artist but by his “follower,” i.e., copycat. “I love the fake Bosch,” he said.

[ click to read full article at The Observer ]

Posted on October 5, 2010 by Editor

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