ArtSeen: Tales of Manhattan by Johnathan Goodman
Anton Kern Gallery is nothing if not international. Founded by Kern in SoHo in 1996, the gallery represents more than 30 artists from all over the world. In 2001 the space moved to Chelsea, then again changed venue to its current quarters in Midtown East in 2017. The current show, Tales of Manhattan, celebrates the quarter-century history of the gallery as a place for innovative art and an exemplar of the internationalism that has been central to New York’s remarkable longevity as a cultural center. The show itself occupies all three public floors of Kern’s large building near the Museum of Modern Art, where the gallerist started his career as an intern many years ago. Despite the fact that many artists are represented in the show, Tales of Manhattan quite successfully hangs together as a whole. Its aura is worldwide and not necessarily tied to a New York-centric outlook. Yet the feeling is very much like that of New York, being experimental in its contents and urban in its cultivation. The result is a fascinating representation of a point of view not fully American with a particular kind of expressiveness that distances the exhibition, to some extent, from the New York School and its traditions.