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Emily Harvey: A Life in Fluxus

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  • mandreox
    Emily Harvey seemed to get along very well with men, although she never payed any attention to me. Our last conversation concerned -- Matthew Rose. I loved her
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 2, 2005
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      Emily Harvey seemed to get along very well with men, although she
      never payed any attention to me. Our last conversation concerned --
      Matthew Rose. I loved her gallery; Fluxus is the best. I got to know
      one of her ex-husbands Christian Xatrec when he curated the A.M. Fine
      show.Ray Johnson & Robert Buecker and Fluxus types like Cage and even
      Phil Glass regarded Fine as a genius. But he was so odd. He made
      temporary sculoptures and gave them away. I'd stick them on a shelf
      and eventually either I or Erika Rothenberg would re-arrange the
      elements and make them thereby into something new but not A.M. Fine.
      Eventually Fine gave up on New York, walked home to Boston, and
      died.

      --- In unmuzzledox@yahoogroups.com, "MISTAHCOUGHDROP"
      <mistahrose@y...> wrote:

      In one of the last conversations I had with Emily Harvey she talked
      about salt.

      "I'm still fighting the salt, but I'm winning," she said on the phone
      from New York when she began chemotherapy treatments. It was May
      2003, and Emily was referring to the renovation of the apartments in
      Venice that would form the basis of her Foundation. Emily
      was battling back the briny waters around Venice as they attacked her
      artist studios, and battling to stay alive for long enough to take me
      on a promised "special tour" of Venice, such as Angelo, her third
      husband, had given her to show her the effect of salt on the
      friezes he had studied as an art student and followed as they decayed.

      I never got to take the tour with Emily, but our conversations about
      both her foundation and her fight with pancreatic cancer found their
      way into The New York Times in July, 2003, something she thanked me
      for. She wanted to tell the world. Simply and directly.
      And again, I learned what a true character Emily Harvey was. I
      imagine I wasn't alone.

      There were the Venetian roof carpenters - "they use cork chips and
      cement" - whom she educated about the re-roofing of the Cloisters.
      There were the Venetian mattress replacement experts who patiently
      emptied her mattress of its wool, combed it and refilled
      it as Emily studied them. She giggled in delight once the bed was
      reset back on the frame.
      "It was a beautiful, comfortable mattress again! For fifty bucks!"
      The local specialists, who restored the 300-year old terrazzo floor
      by scraping up the existing mixture of ox's blood,
      red brick dust and wax, must have certainly enjoyed this perky
      American art dealer. Totally hip Emily (in her signature pigtails)
      let them know everything there was to know about it.
      "It feels velvety to walk on...barefoot…so luxurious," she
      cooed. "The floor was so gorgeous."

      In early Spring 2003, when I first heard that Emily was sick, I
      called her in New York. I was nervous and didn't know what to
      expect. She said, calmly, "The doctors gave me three
      months to live --11 months with chemo." She told me about the
      foundation she was putting together and urged me to get in contact
      with her husband Davidson, and a dozen other close friends and
      artists who would fill me in on the project, and the history of her
      gallery.

      I first met Emily Harvey in the late 1980s, visiting her gallery at
      537 Broadway, interested, as both artist and writer, in the Fluxus
      phenomenon as it manifested years after its birth and a decade after
      its reported demise. She routinely exhibited what most in the art
      would termed "marginal," but I was continually intrigued by whatever
      she would put on her walls, or floors, and most by the people who
      regularly showed up there. I discovered books split in half by Buzz
      Spector. There were video installations by Nam June Paik. I wandered
      through the ephemera, hanging in mid-air, of A.M. Fine: drawings of
      spoons, and obsessive typewritten notes on nickel postcards. I saw
      the "Brown Paintings" by Dick Higgins, witnessed a lecture and video
      of a plastic surgery "intervention" by French artist Orlan, and a
      discussion of globalization by Ben Vautier. It was the most lively,
      engaging gallery I'd found in New York. It was less a showroom for
      expensive objects, than a kind of art house, with cats and cups of
      coffee, and a cast of characters that helped define - for
      > me - art in the latter the 20th century. And, from Emily, I gleaned
      what was really important in making and looking at art: experiencing
      it. I wrote an essay on Fluxus in America for the Lund Art Journal,
      and another piece, focusing mainly on Emily's gallery and her role in
      George Maciunas's irreverent and often conceptual art movement for
      Connoisseur in the early 1990s.

      It was apparent that Fluxus suited her. She was irreverent, fun and
      extremely social. In every contact with Emily and the gallery over
      the years, I was aware of her generosity, her down to earth
      presence, and her energy. Casually dressed in a denim frock, Emily
      was more den mother than art dealer. She told me to call Ay-O to
      take a tour in the dark labyrinth in the basement of 537
      Broadway. "You must do this!" she told me. Ay-O took me through the
      darkened, winding corridors of the building -"Watch your head!"- to
      his biggest "finger box" installation. It was a literally a hidden
      jewel, using the building as a "box."

      "Wasn't it great?," she enthused when I'd surfaced an hour later.

      Most people who came to the gallery were surprised, I think. Carolee
      Schneemann told me Emily once abruptly left a conversation in mid-
      sentence with an art collector to fetch a band-aid for someone who
      caught a splinter in his finger. Another collector she left standing
      in the gallery to have a rather engaging chat with the UPS man who'd
      just arrived. She was often wielding a hammer, or making spaghetti.

      Emily's gallery was a home to probably hundreds of artists and
      friends, who undoubtedly felt they'd come to the right place at the
      right time. She gave to her visitors and acquaintances and friends
      what the high-tone galleries on West Broadway and Uptown could never
      offer: herself. And she gave an unmatched enthusiasm for her artists,
      whom she treated as family. They in turn, adored her.

      "Her gallery was the only one in New York not connected with money
      but with the idea of having people express themselves," said
      Christian Xatrec, her second husband. "Emily showed artists like Dick
      Higgins," he said. "Nobody else would show him." Christian came
      to my house in Paris and told me how Emily maxed out her credit cards
      to acquire the estate of AM Fine from the artist's mother, and used
      her corporate art sales job as a source of ready cash for edgy Fluxus
      exhibitions.

      Christian cross-referenced stories of many artists I knew of, and
      some I had met, with stories told to me by Emily. These were the
      people - Ray Johnson, John Cage, Daniel Spoerri, Francesco Conz,
      Henry Flynt, Jean Dupuy, Allison Knowles, Charlotte Moorman,
      Ben Patterson, Jackson MacLow, Robert Watts, Geoffrey Hendricks
      (Cloudsmith), Eric Andersen, Ben Vautier, George Brecht, Olga Adorno,
      Robert Filliou, Ken Friedman, Christer Hennix, Joe Jones, Takako
      Saito, Yoshi Wada, Emmett Williams, La Monte Young, Marian
      Zazeela, Lance Fung and Yoko Ono among others - who added in their
      wonderfully unique way to the vaulting spirit of the former loft of
      George Maciunas. They were the life injected into the spaces Emily
      inhabited and opened to the world.

      I asked Christian about her many husbands and he laughed. "Emily
      inspires in both artists and husbands a deep loyalty and love."

      And that, deep loyalty and love, was - or better, is - true. It is
      the essence of her gift.

      When I was last in Venice in late May, 2003, I visited Emily's
      apartments on Calle dei Cinque, and the gallery, Archivio Harvey.
      Emily was not able to meet me. She was in New York, still undergoing
      treatments at Sloan Kettering. Henry Martin, Berty Skuber and Ewa
      Gorniak gave me the grand tour, taking me up to the roof, showing me
      the terrazzo floors and introducing me to Emily's cats. We walked
      late into the Venetian night, and talked about what Emily had done
      over the past 10 years in Venice - and was still doing - when
      all odds seemed against her. When most people would lay down and just
      die. She was hurrying to set up the Foundation. She wanted others to
      benefit from the enormous inheritance of love and fortune she'd been
      blessed with. And in that spirit, I wanted to leave her something. It
      was a little painted text work on wood in acid green and psychedelic
      fuschia. The word was "PIU." In Italian, it means "more." I wanted
      (and I think we all wanted) "more" Emily.

      I was happy to know Emily Harvey. I am changed because of her, and
      every time I set foot on a terrazzo floor or remember the message
      Dick Higgins once left on my answering machine concerning the nature
      of Fluxus - "It comes in waves…" - I think of her.

      Emily Harvey died November 8, 2004.

      The Emily Harvey Foundation: 537 Broadway, NYC, NY 10012
      The Emily Harvey Foundation: S. Polo 322, I-30125 Venice, Italy Tel:
      +39-041-522-6727
    • mandreox
      Today, according to Butler s Lives of the Saints, is the feast of the founder of the Albertines. Albert was canonized by John Paul II; he also wrote a play
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 17, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Today, according to Butler's Lives of the Saints, is the feast of
        the founder of the Albertines. Albert was canonized by John Paul II;
        he also wrote a play about St Albert. In the late Seventies, when John
        Paul became Pope, Unmuzzled OX published The Poets' Encyclopedia.
        Ray
        Johnson wrote a piece about Albert M. Fine called The Albertfine. As
        part of a collage, Ray defined "the Albertfine" as "a
        soft, plumpy,
        decorative throw pillow perfect for throwing onto chairs and
        sofas."
        As for the real Albert Fine, he invented his own alphabet for the
        Encyclopedia. He defined many strange things. Albert resembled a
        street person; he inspired that nervousness. Albert seemed on the
        border of sanity. The Albertines work with the homeless.

        --- In unmuzzledox@yahoogroups.com mandreox wrote:
        > Emily Harvey seemed to get along very well with men, although she
        > never payed any attention to me. Our last conversation concerned --
        > Matthew Rose. I loved her gallery; Fluxus is the best. I got to
        know one of her ex-husbands Christian Xatrec when he curated the A.M.
        Fine show.Ray Johnson & Robert Buecker and Fluxus types like Cage and
        even
        > Phil Glass regarded Fine as a genius. But he was so odd. He made
        > temporary sculoptures and gave them away. I'd stick them on a shelf
        > and eventually either I or Erika Rothenberg would re-arrange the
        > elements and make them thereby into something new but not A.M.
        Fine.
        > Eventually Fine gave up on New York, walked home to Boston, and
        > died.
        >
        > --- In unmuzzledox@yahoogroups.com, "MISTAHCOUGHDROP"
        > <mistahrose@y...> wrote:
        >
        > In one of the last conversations I had with Emily Harvey she talked
        > about salt.
        >
        > "I'm still fighting the salt, but I'm winning," she said on the
        phone
        > from New York when she began chemotherapy treatments. It was May
        > 2003, and Emily was referring to the renovation of the apartments
        in
        > Venice that would form the basis of her Foundation. Emily
        > was battling back the briny waters around Venice as they attacked
        her
        > artist studios, and battling to stay alive for long enough to take
        me
        > on a promised "special tour" of Venice, such as Angelo, her third
        > husband, had given her to show her the effect of salt on the
        > friezes he had studied as an art student and followed as they
        decayed.
        >
        > I never got to take the tour with Emily, but our conversations
        about
        > both her foundation and her fight with pancreatic cancer found
        their
        > way into The New York Times in July, 2003, something she thanked me
        > for. She wanted to tell the world. Simply and directly.
        > And again, I learned what a true character Emily Harvey was. I
        > imagine I wasn't alone.
        >
        > There were the Venetian roof carpenters - "they use cork chips and
        > cement" - whom she educated about the re-roofing of the Cloisters.
        > There were the Venetian mattress replacement experts who patiently
        > emptied her mattress of its wool, combed it and refilled
        > it as Emily studied them. She giggled in delight once the bed was
        > reset back on the frame.
        > "It was a beautiful, comfortable mattress again! For fifty bucks!"
        > The local specialists, who restored the 300-year old terrazzo
        floor
        > by scraping up the existing mixture of ox's blood,
        > red brick dust and wax, must have certainly enjoyed this perky
        > American art dealer. Totally hip Emily (in her signature pigtails)
        > let them know everything there was to know about it.
        > "It feels velvety to walk on...barefoot…so luxurious," she
        > cooed. "The floor was so gorgeous."
        >
        > In early Spring 2003, when I first heard that Emily was sick, I
        > called her in New York. I was nervous and didn't know what to
        > expect. She said, calmly, "The doctors gave me three
        > months to live --11 months with chemo." She told me about the
        > foundation she was putting together and urged me to get in contact
        > with her husband Davidson, and a dozen other close friends and
        > artists who would fill me in on the project, and the history of her
        > gallery.
        >
        > I first met Emily Harvey in the late 1980s, visiting her gallery at
        > 537 Broadway, interested, as both artist and writer, in the Fluxus
        > phenomenon as it manifested years after its birth and a decade
        after
        > its reported demise. She routinely exhibited what most in the art
        > would termed "marginal," but I was continually intrigued by
        whatever
        > she would put on her walls, or floors, and most by the people who
        > regularly showed up there. I discovered books split in half by Buzz
        > Spector. There were video installations by Nam June Paik. I
        wandered
        > through the ephemera, hanging in mid-air, of A.M. Fine: drawings of
        > spoons, and obsessive typewritten notes on nickel postcards. I saw
        > the "Brown Paintings" by Dick Higgins, witnessed a lecture and
        video
        > of a plastic surgery "intervention" by French artist Orlan, and a
        > discussion of globalization by Ben Vautier. It was the most lively,
        > engaging gallery I'd found in New York. It was less a showroom for
        > expensive objects, than a kind of art house, with cats and cups of
        > coffee, and a cast of characters that helped define - for
        > > me - art in the latter the 20th century. And, from Emily, I
        gleaned
        > what was really important in making and looking at art:
        experiencing
        > it. I wrote an essay on Fluxus in America for the Lund Art Journal,
        > and another piece, focusing mainly on Emily's gallery and her role
        in
        > George Maciunas's irreverent and often conceptual art movement for
        > Connoisseur in the early 1990s.
        >
        > It was apparent that Fluxus suited her. She was irreverent, fun and
        > extremely social. In every contact with Emily and the gallery over
        > the years, I was aware of her generosity, her down to earth
        > presence, and her energy. Casually dressed in a denim frock, Emily
        > was more den mother than art dealer. She told me to call Ay-O to
        > take a tour in the dark labyrinth in the basement of 537
        > Broadway. "You must do this!" she told me. Ay-O took me through
        the
        > darkened, winding corridors of the building -"Watch your head!"- to
        > his biggest "finger box" installation. It was a literally a hidden
        > jewel, using the building as a "box."
        >
        > "Wasn't it great?," she enthused when I'd surfaced an hour later.
        >
        > Most people who came to the gallery were surprised, I think.
        Carolee
        > Schneemann told me Emily once abruptly left a conversation in mid-
        > sentence with an art collector to fetch a band-aid for someone who
        > caught a splinter in his finger. Another collector she left
        standing
        > in the gallery to have a rather engaging chat with the UPS man
        who'd
        > just arrived. She was often wielding a hammer, or making spaghetti.
        >
        > Emily's gallery was a home to probably hundreds of artists and
        > friends, who undoubtedly felt they'd come to the right place at the
        > right time. She gave to her visitors and acquaintances and friends
        > what the high-tone galleries on West Broadway and Uptown could
        never
        > offer: herself. And she gave an unmatched enthusiasm for her
        artists,
        > whom she treated as family. They in turn, adored her.
        >
        > "Her gallery was the only one in New York not connected with money
        > but with the idea of having people express themselves," said
        > Christian Xatrec, her second husband. "Emily showed artists like
        Dick
        > Higgins," he said. "Nobody else would show him." Christian came
        > to my house in Paris and told me how Emily maxed out her credit
        cards
        > to acquire the estate of AM Fine from the artist's mother, and
        used
        > her corporate art sales job as a source of ready cash for edgy
        Fluxus
        > exhibitions.
        >
        > Christian cross-referenced stories of many artists I knew of, and
        > some I had met, with stories told to me by Emily. These were the
        > people - Ray Johnson, John Cage, Daniel Spoerri, Francesco Conz,
        > Henry Flynt, Jean Dupuy, Allison Knowles, Charlotte Moorman,
        > Ben Patterson, Jackson MacLow, Robert Watts, Geoffrey Hendricks
        > (Cloudsmith), Eric Andersen, Ben Vautier, George Brecht, Olga
        Adorno,
        > Robert Filliou, Ken Friedman, Christer Hennix, Joe Jones, Takako
        > Saito, Yoshi Wada, Emmett Williams, La Monte Young, Marian
        > Zazeela, Lance Fung and Yoko Ono among others - who added in their
        > wonderfully unique way to the vaulting spirit of the former loft of
        > George Maciunas. They were the life injected into the spaces Emily
        > inhabited and opened to the world.
        >
        > I asked Christian about her many husbands and he laughed. "Emily
        > inspires in both artists and husbands a deep loyalty and love."
        >
        > And that, deep loyalty and love, was - or better, is - true. It is
        > the essence of her gift.
        >
        > When I was last in Venice in late May, 2003, I visited Emily's
        > apartments on Calle dei Cinque, and the gallery, Archivio Harvey.
        > Emily was not able to meet me. She was in New York, still
        undergoing
        > treatments at Sloan Kettering. Henry Martin, Berty Skuber and Ewa
        > Gorniak gave me the grand tour, taking me up to the roof, showing
        me
        > the terrazzo floors and introducing me to Emily's cats. We walked
        > late into the Venetian night, and talked about what Emily had done
        > over the past 10 years in Venice - and was still doing - when
        > all odds seemed against her. When most people would lay down and
        just
        > die. She was hurrying to set up the Foundation. She wanted others
        to
        > benefit from the enormous inheritance of love and fortune she'd
        been
        > blessed with. And in that spirit, I wanted to leave her something.
        It
        > was a little painted text work on wood in acid green and
        psychedelic
        > fuschia. The word was "PIU." In Italian, it means "more." I wanted
        > (and I think we all wanted) "more" Emily.
        >
        > I was happy to know Emily Harvey. I am changed because of her, and
        > every time I set foot on a terrazzo floor or remember the message
        > Dick Higgins once left on my answering machine concerning the
        nature
        > of Fluxus - "It comes in waves…" - I think of her.
        >
        > Emily Harvey died November 8, 2004.
        >
        > The Emily Harvey Foundation: 537 Broadway, NYC, NY 10012
        > The Emily Harvey Foundation: S. Polo 322, I-30125 Venice, Italy
        Tel:
        > +39-041-522-6727
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