Nicolas Pol: How to Create Art World Buzz in 8 Steps


Monday evening, a former meat market on the Lower East Side was pumped full of ’80s tracks and smoky incense, moodily lit to the rafters and punctuated only by rectangles of light centered on the goods for sale. This was no boutique opening or perfume launch, however. Instead, the goods were sixteen mixed media canvases by up-and-coming artist Nicolas Pol, who describes his motif as “emotionally moving music for a silent film.” Combining elements of street art, abstraction, and sketch cartooning, and with a visual energy akin to that of Basquiat, Pol is being promoted as the next big thing on the contemporary art scene. Follow along as we break down what it takes to orchestrate the buzz.

Curator Vladimir Restoin-Roitfield, left, with a friend and artist Nicolas Pol, right.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Be born into sartorial greatness. Curator Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld of Feedback Ltd. just so happens to be the offspring of French Vogue editrix Carine Roitfeld. Bonus points if your maman is still smokin’ hot at age 55 and attends the opening wearing no pants.

2. Be foreign. French-born Nicolas Pol has previously exhibited in London (at Allsopp Contemporary) and had never even set foot on American soil before the installation of “The Martus Maw.”

3. Be mysterious. What is “The Martus Maw,” you ask? According to Restoin-Roitfeld, the title means “a painful weakness,” though it’s ambiguous. “Martus” loosely references martyrdom, and the word maw can mean either guts or gullet. Good luck drawing your own conclusions.

4. Hire Nadine Johnson as your publicist. Obviously.

5. Create a guest list that reads like a fashion-y Yellow Pages: designer Jean Paul Gaultier, famous twin/ bag lady Mary Kate Olsen, socialites Olympia Scarry and Poppy De Villeneuve, model Erin Wasson, and jetsetting hotelier Andre Balázs.

6. Fill out the remaining crowd with beautiful people.

7. Reference the rocket-like trajectory of past Bright Young Art Things by inviting former buzzed-about artists Andres Serrano and Terence Koh.

8. And finally, secure the appearance of two figures with real art world credentials. Larry Gagosian, blue chip gallerist, and Neville Wakefield, superstar curator, can make or break Pol’s career faster than you can say “more champagne, please.” Stay tuned on that verdict.

“The Martus Maw” by Nicolas Pol will be on display at 80 Essex Street (at the corner of Broome) until December 10, 2009. Exhibition organized by Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld in conjunction with RVCA.