François-Xavier Lalanne’s Sheep Invade Chelsea
The sheep farm that has recently appeared at the Chelsea gas station on the corner of 10th Avenue and West 24th Street finally had its proper opening last night, as real estate developer Michael Shvo and Paul Kasmin Gallery launched the inaugural installation at New York’s newest public art site, Getty Station.
Those faux-wooly beasts—concrete sculptures by the late François-Xavier Lalanne—were fêted as they gazed blankly into space atop a series of grassy hillocks that had been planted around the decommissioned gas pumps, soon(ish) to be the site of a new luxury condo within spitting distance of the High Line.
Lalanne’s "Sheep Station" means something different to everyone. Are they grave portents of the art world’s sheep-like obedience to ritualistic trends? A populist dud? Or just really cute? Causing more of a stir than the animal sculptures, however, was the free-for-all nature of the converted convenience store. Everything from lumpy bags of beef jerky to cold beer and sacks of Sour Patch Kids was open game; guests milled around, thrilled with their illicit theft (despite being reminded by a few blasé security guards that "Hey, whatever, you can ‘steal’ what you like, with the exception of the Lalanne art books.")
Time will tell whether "Sheep Station" is remembered as a democratic celebration of public art, or simply the occasion for a hodgepodge crowd of poor art journalists and rich collectors, all equally and gleefully loading their bags with free chewing gum and jumbo-sized Cheetos.
BlackBook dropped by the opening reception last night. Check out the video below for a glimpse of the installation and reactions from some sheep-struck visitors, including young actor Caleb James, who provided a very informative mini-lesson on sheep that we have yet to fact-check.
Here’s the old gas station, from the not-yet-updated Google Street View:
Image of "Sheep Station" by Joshua Kogan