New York City is gearing up for the arrival of thousands of pieces of modern and contemporary art (and perhaps just as many gallerists and art collectors) from around the globe, as the city on the Hudson will be playing host to several major art fairs all at once over the next several days. Although west coast dealers have always been willing to brave Manhattan’s freezing temperatures in order to place their artists’ work in front of new eyes during “Armory Week,” Los Angeles gallery representation at the city’s annual March shows is more extensive than ever this year.
The biggest of the Armory Week fairs is the The Armory Show (March 5-8) itself, with 199 total participating art galleries, including 15 from Los Angeles, showing work at Piers 92 and 94 on the west side. “The L.A. art community is really having a moment right now,” suggests the Armory Show’s Executive Director, Noah Horowitz, “from a flourishing gallery and institutional scene to a huge number of artists who have recently taken up residence throughout the city. [Our] exhibitor list this year absolutely reflects that trajectory.”
Although the Anat Ebgi gallery, situated on La Cienega Boulevard’s gallery row, has participated in other New York art fairs before, gallery director Paolo Di Stefano says the “much broader scope” of the Armory Show, where it will be exhibiting for the first time, “opens us up to be seen by a lot more people. It’s not just for young, emerging galleries and young, emerging artists.” Ebgi, Hollywood’s Various Small Fires, and M+B of West Hollywood are among 21 international galleries less than ten years old that are showing work by one or two represented artists in the Armory Presents section of the fair.
Several prominent Los Angeles galleries are bringing work to the Armory Show’s main Contemporary venue. “New York brings a lot of collectors from all over the world,” Cherry and Martin gallery director Michelle Pobar affirms,“ and a lot of them are excited to see what’s coming from Los Angeles these days.” Even OHWOW, which has generally eschewed art fair participation in the past, will be showing up for the first time. “Face time with collectors in New York is important,” acknowledges OHWOW partner Al Moran. Otherwise, “some people don’t even see the work [they buy] until it gets to their homes.”
Marc Selwyn Fine Art and Louis Stern Fine Arts are representing L.A. in the Armory Show’s Modern section, showcasing twentieth century art. A veteran Armory exhibitor, Louis Stern says “it’s always been a positive experience. We’ve always left the fair with a lot of optimism.”
Just a few blocks south of the Armory Show, the SCOPE New York art fair’s 55 exhibitors will include six Los Angeles galleries. Described by co-founder Alexis Hubshman as “the X-Games of the art world,” the SCOPE franchise, which includes fairs in different cities throughout the year, defines its mission as “tapping into the cultural psyche to present only the most pioneering work across multiple creative disciplines.”
Soze Gallery director Toowee Kao describes this weekend at SCOPE as a “sneak peek” at the seven or eight artists who will be having solo shows in Soze’s West Hollywood space in the coming year, though all of the pieces she’s bringing to New York “were made specifically for this fair.” Gallerist Lawrence Cantor, based on West Adams, describes his participation at SCOPE as an opportunity “not so much to make money as to meet people. It gives me a voice in a cutting edge, young market.”
Further downtown, in the Chelsea art gallery district, Independent New York is “a little funkier” than some of the city’s other fairs this weekend, suggests Kurt Muller of the David Kordansky Gallery on South La Brea. “It’s a great way for us to show something more atypical or radical” to the New York art world, “something unexpected.” The Hannah Hoffman Gallery and The Box will also be there.
Four L.A. galleries will be showing work at Volta NY on Pier 90, right next to the Armory Show. Distinguished in part by its emphasis on one- and two-artist exhibitions, the Volta event is not quite as slick, not quite as polished as other fairs in town, according to participating Santa Monica gallerist Richard Heller. “The people there are super cool, and it’s all a bit more collaborative.”
Another snowy, terrible New York City afternoon (a people-watching game to play with younger fairgoers is “snot bubble or tiny septum piercing?”) was no deterrent for a flock of art enthusiasts descending on today’s Independent art fair in Chelsea. Some of them were even too eager to speak: “There’s a time to look and a time to talk, and I’m looking right now,” collector Mera Rubell said in the fair’s opening hour. At least at Independent, there is a relatively (compared to the harrowing Armory) manageable amount of stuff to see.
Hanging out at the booth of Berlin’s Société gallery is a giant lightbox photograph by the German-Mongolian artist Timur Si-Qin approximating the aesthetics of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad campaign. In the photo, two absurdly hunky young white male models share a draped American flag around their oh-so-broad shoulders.
Si-Qin has in the past worked with materials as disparate as swords and Axe Body Spray (side note: we look forward to that inevitable moment when Axe Body spray sponsors an art fair), so for him to take on the aesthetics of an Abercrombie campaign fits nicely in line with his style as an artist, which for now is represented by a Yin-Yang crest with the words PEACE in all-caps below it, a signature that can be seen in the corner of his work on display at the Independent and on most of his works.
New York’s Real Fine Arts brought to the fair a giant Cookie Monster-esque sculpture by the artist Stefan Tcherepnin, originally made for a movie included in the artist’s recent exhibition at the gallery. “It had a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome in it as a setting,” said RFA cofounder Tyler Dobson, explaining the video, “so they were walking around in this atmosphere, and a few sculptures came out of that film.” Dobson described the flick as having a “dystopian, abstract narrative,” and although actual actors donned the suit in the movie, at the Independent the monster was merely stuffed.
In order to reach the piece, one has to navigate a series of very small sculptures by Sam Anderson (on display at Tanya Leighton), a perilous path guarded in part by Dobson and a very attentive security guard. The guard stationed in front of Anderson’s miniatures is probably in for a very long shift. “I’m gonna have a heart attack myself,” she said after seeing a visitor nearly stomp a small sculpture of a dog wrapped in some sort of sheet. (Canada Gallery’s Phil Grauer, perhaps noticing a reporter’s slack-jawed fascination with Tcherepnin’s monster, offered a pithy explanation of the work his gallery had on display: “This booth is very serious art, it might not work for you, move along.” The art in question was from the deceased first generation conceptual artist Gerald Ferguson, hailing from—incidentally—Nova Scotia.)
A less stressful installation came from Karma, tucked in a corner by a window, showing photographs by the sculptor Robert Grosvenor—sexy cars, large-scale toy ships, a gorgeous pair of green doughnuts floating, Ophelia-like, on water. Another piece, not on view, unfortunately: a rat surfing on a life preserver. The works are a kind of preview for a show opening Friday at the gallery, “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE ARE FLOATING IN SPACE,” which features Grosvenor and some of his contemporaries, like John McCracken, Brice Marden, Charlotte Posenenske, Robert Smithson, Ken Price, and Anne Truitt.
Speaking of floating around up in space somewhere, there was Jose Martos, owner of Martos Gallery, displaying Jory Rabinovitz’s copper installation, EEB. Trimmed in oxidized-green fabric tubes, copper squares missing penny-sized holes are mounted as a sort of conceptual shrine to the lowest denomination of the American dollar. The missing copper, like indulgence change, is scattered just below the Ur-plates of metal. Martos was quick to summarize the history of the American penny to a willing listener—how it was once made of pure copper, until the government switched to a bronze alloy of copper and zinc and the actual material worth of the coin dropped. He compared a set of white steps scattered with pennies to Fascist architecture, and his eyes lit up.
“I love Fascist architecture,” Martos declared. “And Futurism.” We also learned that he admires Alfred Hitchcock’s fastidious eye for design, particularly the cavernous theaters in Spellbound; periodically, he goes through and rewatches Hitchcock’s entire filmography. The James Bond series receives equal attention. He asked if we’d like to meet his assistant, claiming she was much better at talking than him. That’s doubtful.
Tyson Reeder, represented by Canada Gallery, had a few paintings on view courtesy Brussels’s Office Baroque; one of them, Untitled, depicts a spirited longhaired rock band jamming out in front of an artificial brick wall. Elsewhere, Matthew Higgs, director of White Columns and one of Independent’s co-founders, was discussing a forthcoming vinyl LP produced by White Columns of the noisy and not entirely musical Piano Party—pretty much exactly what it sounds like—Reeder threw at Canada earlier this winter. (Today, however, Higgs was selling records out of his booth by Emily Sundblad and Matt Sweeney, which were, according to Higgs, “Much more conventional.”) Higgs also had a work on view by the dealer Gavin Brown. Brown was a floor above, selling watercolors by the German, L.A.-based artist Silke Otto Knapp. Brown’s piece was a rendering of his own hands, one spray-painted neon pink and the other black, each mounted on a circular mirror. Small world.
The V.I.P. promenade of the 15th iteration of the Armory Show, taking up the bird filled halls of Pier 92 and 94 alongside the frozen Hudson River, opened today with a seasonal flurry of sales.
Leaner and meaner this year with “just” 199 galleries from 28 countries, the larger and more heavily trafficked contemporary component aptly demonstrated that art fair fatigue has been placed on hold or those still suffering from it have entered rehab. Before a line was formed for checking coats and bulky bags, sales were clicking along at Paris/Salzburg Thaddaeus Ropac.
A handsome, woven, glass beaded and patterned abstract canvas by Liza Lou, “Ixube 3” from 2011, sold for $495,000 and Jules de Balincourt’s rather edgy and new protest scene at a posh ski resort, “US as in you me and them” in oil and acrylic on wood panel, measuring 82 by 55 inches, sold for $175,000. On a smaller scale, Robert Longo’s “Study for Chevalier” from 2013 and part of his shiny armor series, as in Medieval Armor, and scaled at 18.5 by 15.8 inches, in ink and charcoal on vellum, sold out of the back room (aka closet) for $48,000.
Nearby, at London’s Victoria Miro Gallery, a large-scale and exotic landscape by Chris Ofili, “Last Light, First Flight” from 2008, in paper collage on canvas, sold in the high six figures. “It sold right off the bat,” said director Glenn Scott Heron, noting that the recent New Museum Ofili survey “finally got people past the dung paintings of the ’90s.”
Museum exhibitions definitely stoke the market for recently featured artists as also evidenced by Kehinde Wiley’s “Portrait of Natasha Zamor” from 2015, at New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery, which sold for $125,000. It was scaled at 72 by 60 inches and features one of the street found models Wiley sources and celebrated at the current Brooklyn Museum show of 40 paintings. The gallery also sold Antony Gormley’s standing, 74 inch-high figure “State XIII” from 2012, in cast iron for £350,000 and Marina Abramovic’s horse mounted “The Hero I” from 2001, a framed color photograph for €90,000.
Still in the relatively low price point video/photography sphere, David Claerbout’s edgy “Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home form work, caught in a torrential rain” from 2013, a single channel video projection, HD animation, color, silent endless (as the description goes), sold two editions at €65,000 each.
At New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery, another new gallery artist, the Iraqi painter Hayv Kahraman, currently enjoying a solo there in Chelsea, was represented at the stand with “Hapool Meshkhor,” a new painting scaled at 100 by 79 inches in oil on linen and exclusively focused on a female figure, went for $75,000. The more established and first-rate Kerry James Marshall, ”Study for Bed Man” from 2013, done in ink wash and collage and depicting a nude black man on a fur covered bed with an African flag, in a kind of brilliant reprise of the famed Goya “La Maja desnuda,” c. 1797-1800, quickly sold for $42,000. The gallery also sold Nick Cave’s spacey and post-Spock-like “Soundsuit” from 2011, in mixed media including shopping cart, buttons, upholstery, metal, and mannequin, for $125,000.
In those early V.I.P scouting hours, the general atmosphere was calm and bubble like, without much hysteria, apart from one observed moment in the wake of an upset collector who very much wanted dibs on a hard to source Mickalene Thomas painting at LA’s Suzanne Vielmetter, where Thomas’s “Portrait of Qusuquzah #6” from 2015, set in rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and silk screen on wood panel, sold to an otherwise unnamed American institution for $65,000. It was one of the standout pieces in the fair, showing the artist’s expanded use of collaging and painting on the surface in a kind of Cubist styled approach, capturing a woman in profile. The dejected suitor made a loud fuss but moved on.
The mood was lighter at New York’s 11 Rivington, which experienced a small avalanche of early sales in the comfortable price range of approximately $5,000-20,000 and ranging from unique, small scaled laser toner on paper abstractions by Marsha Cottrell, such as “Spectral Sun” from 2014, to Volker Huler’s large-scale, 74 by 52 inch etching “Lost in the Stars V,” from 2014, and Evan Nesbit’s acrylic, dye, and burlap abstraction “Untitled,” from 2015. The Lower East Side gallery also sold works by Mika Tajima in spray enamel and thermo formed acrylic in the $13,500-20,000 range.
Concentrating on more emerging artists, at least on this promenade, there was more activity at New York’s Fredericks Freiser, as recent Yale grad Mark Thomas Gibson, currently better known as Kara Walker’s ace studio assistant, had three text based paintings on view, including “Search Light” from 2015, which sold for $8,500. In stenciled-like letters and mashed up with other poached images, the painting reads “Some monsters loom large,” a great phrase for the current market. The gallery also sold photo-realist styled, faux Surreal works on canvas by Jocelyn Hobbie in the mid-$20,000 range, including the sexy “Kitten,” from 2015, at 36 by 24 inches.
Fitzrovia dealer (as in London) Josh Lilley enjoyed great success with his stand of still underknown artists, including a sassy, Louise Bourgeois-like floor sculpture by Kathleen Ryan, “Bacchante Reclining” from 2015 and aggressively potent in concrete, marble, and stainless steel. The silvery blue grouping of balloon-like forms tethered together like convicts on a chain gang sold for $18,000. Lilley also sold a group of figurative paintings by Aliza Nisenbaum, who was recently featured in a White Columns show, with works depicting Central American families the artist befriended in Queens. The evocative portraiture mix of Diego Rivera and Alice Neel, perfumed to the plight of paperless but hard-working immigrants, injected a heady gravitas to the work. “Gloria, Angelica, Jessica,” executed in oil on linen from 2014 and scaled at 51 by 33 inches, sold for under $10,000.
Amidst the low-octane hubbub, a performance artist gracefully skateboarded along the aisles on an electric contraption resembling a flying carpet, complete with fringe — the performer was decked out in a skull cap and caftan-like costume. It added a light and enjoyably Surrealist touch to the Armory Show.
The Modern section will be covered here on Thursday.
The 10 Best Contemporary Artworks At The 2015 Armory Show
The VIPs were out in force at the preview of the Armory Show on the Hudson Piers on Wednesday. We spotted Neil Patrick Harris, fresh off his Oscars hosting performance, chatting with none other than George Lucas in the aisles. REM’s Michael Stipe was seen picking up lunch with Bill Arning, director at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and some other friends. Museum directors like Glenn Lowry were on the prowl.
Aiko Hachisuka’s large sculpture Couch caught our eye at Eleven Rivington (New York). It’s a large, comfy-looking couch covered with stuffed clothes, all bought at a yard sale from a single family. It brings to mind Mike Kelley’s work with stuffed toys, as well as Yayoi Kusama’s furniture sculptures covered with soft phallus shapes. The gallery’s Augusto Arbizo (see 14 Young New York Art Dealers To Watch) points out that it’s actually more closely inspired by early works by John Chamberlain. By the time we got back to the office, it had sold to someone for $20,000. Only that person will get to sit on it, so don’t try to sit down.
An array of ceramic sculptures by William J. O’Brien, each on a custom-designed stand, makes for a dramatic presentation at Marianne Boesky’s booth. The Ohio-born artist lives in Chicago and he’s 37. These zany sculptures in all sorts of colors dominate the booth to great effect, each standing a couple of feet high. Some depict partial figures, some are angular and abstracts, some show crazy heads. In one, showing a figure from thighs to elbows, the hands sport fingernail polish.
I don’t know the work of German artist Michael Müller yet, but you can’t help but be drawn into the stand of Aanant & Zoo/Thomas Schulte, in town from Berlin. The artist has lined the floor with pink carpet and the pink wall with text of his own writing. There are sculptures throughout the booth, including a creepy one showing a man sitting in a shower stall, with nothing where his genitals should be. Another, Relaunch at the Museum Shop, has an aluminum cut-out of German artist Albrecht Dürer atop a plinth, with a Louis Vuitton–style handbag emblazoned with the artist’s own logo of a D nestled within an A.
I can’t get enough of Martin Wong. His painting Iglesia Pentecostal, 1986, shows the whitewashed façade of a church on Avenue B on New York’s Lower East Side, with the metal security gates closed. Wong, a Chinese-American artist who died from AIDS, has been deservedly in the spotlight in recent years, with the Museum of the City of New York mounting a show of his street art collection and Danh Vō devoting his Hugo Boss Prize show at the Guggenheim to a display of other items Wong collected. This painting, to me, delightfully plays with the notion of a flat picture plane and of shutting the viewer out, while depicting a bombed-out Lower East Side that’s unimaginable today. It’s showing at P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.
Edge of Arabia Projects (EOA), London, hosts an endearing project by artist Darvish Fakhr, who is dressed in a flowing garment and a fez, like a whirling dervish (yes, his name has the same root), and is riding a magic carpet around the fair. It sits atop a motorized device and, echoing the motor’s sound, is called Whirring Dervish. He won’t be hard to find. Just watch for everyone smiling and directing their iPhones his way as he cruises by. On a break at EOA’s booth in the Focus section, devoted to galleries from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, he told me he hopes to lighten things up and deal with a troubled part of the world with some humor. When I asked if I could try it out, he said, “I don’t know, can you ride longboard?”
London’s Moving Museum, one of the nonprofits accorded a tiny booth, introduced me to a fine project by Soheila Sokhanvari, an Iranian artist who somehow managed to smuggle some crude oil out of Iran. She used the substance to create monochromatic drawings based on photographs from pre-revolutionary Iran. The works couldn’t be more timely, with Iran’s nuclear capabilities on the front page as Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was invited by Congressional Republicans to give a campaign speech in Congress this week, slamming Obama’s still-in-negotiations arms deal.
Ryan Gander has a fine sculpture at Berlin’s Johnen Galerie that gooses Donald Judd, which can only be a good thing. He’s arranged a series of IKEA shelves in a column, just like Judd’s iconic “stack” sculptures. Atop them rests a potted plant, as if to turn some of the most beloved exemplars of minimalism into nothing more than interior decor. (It reminded me of a fine piece by David Scanavino at Marlborough recently that similarly tweaked the famously prickly artist by treating his chairs in ways that probably wouldn’t have pleased him.)
Wael Shawky’s drawings at Lisson Gallery (London, Milan, and soon New York) are a delight. He’s shot a series of videos that use marionettes to tell the tale of the Crusades, as he puts it, from the Arabs’ perspective; they’re now on view at MoMA PS1 (see Puppet Jihad at MoMA PS1 Puts Burlesque Into Extremism), along with the marionettes. The drawings are subtler, but the fancy that infuses the puppets and the videos is also on display here.
Nara Roesler, with galleries in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, has a great sculpture by Julio Le Parc, with hundreds of little yellow panes of plastic hanging in a giant globe from the ceiling, making a mesmerizing avant-garde sun in the fluorescent-lit gilded trenches of the piers. The artist, born in 1928, has been showing at biennials since Venice in 1966 and São Paulo the following year, and has stood up to repressive military regimes in Brazil and participated in collective artistic acts of protest against fascist movements in Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
El Anatsui has received plaudits for institutional solo shows like the recent one at the Brooklyn Museum, which opens soon at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. A giant wall hanging at Jack Shainman’s booth is tagged at $1.5 million and incorporates hundreds of aluminum remnants from liquor bottles to create a great, swirling black curtain. (See El Anatsui’s Exciting New Work Is Even More Majestic Than Ever.) Roberta Smith, in the New York Times, once wrote of his sculptures, “Their drapes and folds have a voluptuous sculptural presence, but also an undeniably glamorous bravado.” That bravado is on plentiful display here.
Darvish Fakhr, Whirling Dervish, 2014. Photo Brian Boucher.
Aiko Hachisuka, Couch (2011). Photo: Courtesy of Eleven Rivington Gallery.
Michael Müller. Photo: Courtesy of Galerie Thomas Schulte.
Julio Le Parc at Galeria Nara Roesler.
Martin Wong, Iglesia Pentecostal, 1986, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of The Estate of Martin Wong and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York
Ryan Gander, I Am Broken, 2011. Galerie Johnen, Berlin.
Soheila Sokhanvari, drawings in smuggled Iranian crude oil, at the Moving Museum, London. Photo Aaron Sherman.
William J. O’Brien, Untitled (2014). Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.
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The NY Observer Guide An Opinionated Guide to the Art Fair Avalanche of NY’s Armory Week
By Alexandra Peers and Ryan Steadman | 03/03/15 7:00am
An illustrated guide to the fairs of Armory Arts Week 2015. (Photo: New York Observer)
An illustrated guide to the fairs of Armory Arts Week 2015. (Photo: New York Observer)
Don your Prada and grab your sunglasses, the art world is coming. Over the next few days, you won’t be able to walk around Manhattan without stumbling into an art fair. A dozen of them showcase their wares through March 8, in neighborhoods all over town.
Here’s our guide:
Art Dealers Association of America: The Art Show
Now in its 27th year, this jewel box of a show on the Upper East Side is one of the first of the week to open, and it features a curated slate of 70 veteran powerhouse galleries like Acquavella, 303 and Brooke Alexander. There’s some fine young art here, but, at its core, this elegant fair offers blue-chip art for blue bloods.
Park Avenue Armory
Park Avenue at 67th Street
Open March 4-8; VIP preview March 3
Wednesday-Friday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
The Armory Show
The largest Modern and Contemporary art fair in New York, and one of the largest in the world, this year’s edition boasts big-time galleries like David Zwirner and Victoria Miro as well as a host of hot young spaces like Various Small Fires and Bischoff Projects. You’ll spot all the big collectors (Eli Broad, David Geffen), the alleged-but-beloved art flippers (Aby Rosen, Peter Grant) and the MoMA folks (director Glenn Lowry, drawing followers like the Pied Piper), all shopping a century’s worth of paintings and sculpture—plus a conga line of art advisors.
Piers 92 & 94
12th Avenue at 55th Street
Open March 5-8; VIP preview March 4
Thursday-Saturday 12 p.m.-7 p.m.
Art on Paper
Brought to you by the team behind the popular Miami Project, the inaugural Art on Paper Fair just south of the Williamsburg Bridge provides a mix of drawings, photographs and prints, so there may be bargains. The opening night party benefits the Brooklyn Museum.
299 South Street on the East River
Open March 6-8; VIP party March 5
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. -6 p.m.
Usually one of the more interesting fairs, this one for cutting-edge heavy-hitters (Gavin Brown, Balice Hertling) opens the old Dia Center space up to well-considered installations rather than sales booths (or so they say). If past is a predictor, expect big crowds and bigger sales at the Independent’s last appearance in this historic space.
548 West 22nd Street
Open March 6-8; vernissage March 5
Friday-Saturday 12 p.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
New City Art Fair
And now for something completely different: New York’s only fair for Contemporary Japanese art, now in its fourth year, will bring a tight-knit group of Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagoya galleries from their island to ours.
529 West 20th Street
Open March 5-8
Thursday-Saturday 12 p.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
Still lively and experimental in its 15th year, this fair bills itself as a venue for “the discovery and acquisition of cutting-edge Contemporary art.” Its preview brunch on Thursday is among the more crowded see-and-be-seen events of the week.
The Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West 18th Street
Open March 5-8; preview brunch March 5
Thursday 1 p.m.-6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
This well-established satellite fair, which was showcasing emerging and performance art before some of its rivals were even paying attention, moves to a new and convenient location this year not far from the blockbuster Armory Show.
639 West 46th Street
Open March 6-8; preview March 6
Friday 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Spring/Break Art Show
If an art fair can inspire affection, this scrappy, sometimes delightful and often inexpensive one, with a “hang it on the wall and see what sticks aesthetic,” can be said to be loved. Here, curators choose the art, not galleries, which results in some of the week’s most interesting projects.
Skylight at Moynihan Station
Northwest Corner, West 31st Street & 8th Avenue
Open March 4-8; preview March 3
Wednesday-Sunday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
Moving Image Fair
Here, video art is taken seriously by those who know and love it. This critically acclaimed fair is back with the promise of “allowing moving image-based artworks to be understood and appreciated on their own terms.” This fair is a good, thoughtful, even restful, choice when the sales buzz of its rivals overwhelms you.
Waterfront New York Tunnel
269 11th Avenue between 27th and 28th Street
Open March 5-8; opening reception March 5
Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Volta New York
Now on Pier 90, snuggled up next to its corporate big brother the Armory Show, this is a generally smart and particularly thoughtful invitational fair of solo artist presentations. (Carribbean artists are particularly strong this year.) Shoppers take their time here, and the “Volta Salon” also generally offers a good lecture/panel program.
West 50th Street at 12th Avenue
Open March 5-8; vernissage for the public March 5
Thursday 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.-7 p.m.
Possibly the smallest fair you’ll go to this week (six galleries), this LES salon actually takes place within the gallery space of one of its exhibitors, Galerie Zürcher. If you’re someone who gets easily overwhelmed, then this might be the place for you.
33 Bleecker Street
Open March 2-8; Opening March 2
Monday 5 p.m.-8 p.m; Tuesday-Saturday 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
(un)Scene Art Show
There are many ways to draw attention to your art fair, but free ice cream is perhaps the most laudable. That’s what the folks behind this event did at their last venture (the unFair), and this time they promise a “happening.”
549 West 52nd Street
Open March 4-8
Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Armory Show, New York’s leading modern and contemporary art fair, opens to the public tomorrow at Piers 92 & 94. As the extravagant centrepiece of the city’s Armory Arts Week, it plays host to the world’s most influential dealers, and some highly significant works of art. Highlights this year range from Barbara Hepworth’s polished abstract sculpture Six Forms on a Circle (1967) at Osborne Samuel (the modernist sculptor is the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain this June) and On Kawara’s I WENT at mfc-michèle didier – a great example of the obsessive conceptual cataloguing for which the artist is famous. Chantal Joffe’s recent portrait of a Woman in a Blue Coat on Green (2014), and Alex Katz’sOona (2006) are eye-catching, enigmatic images of women; while American modernist Marsden Hartley’sFinnish-Yankee Wrestler (c. 1938–39) and Jim Dine’s Self-Portrait from 1970 are no less arresting explorations of male identity. We’ve picked out a few of our other favourites below.
The 2015 Armory Show delivers pretty much what you’d expect of the 2015 Armory Show: some quite good art, some pretty bad art, and a lot of completely harmless stuff in between. The long-running fair feels, for better or for worse, quite set in its ways, and its ways are those of the traditional art fair; no secret bars or booths-turned-totally-wacky-installations here.
There can be a certain charm in that — or, if not quite “charm,” a certain amusement, predicated on accepting the fair for what it is and letting it entertain and wash over you. In that spirit, I decided it might be nice to hand out accolades this year, to salute the galleries and artworks that — for better or for worse, among the hundreds of others (in the Contemporary section; I did not visit Modern) — moved me to stop and take their pictures. Here they are.
Most Bookish Booth: mfc-michèle didier
Given that mfc-michèle didier is a publisher, it’s not entirely surprising that the booth focuses on printed objects like books. Still, it was a good booth. In addition to Allen Ruppersberg’s binder book The Novel That Writes Itself (which collectors could buy their way into for the right price), the booth has a wall of imposing tomes by On Kawara, comprising a documentation trilogy of the artist’s daily conceptual exercises: I GOT UP, I WENT, I MET. In sharp relief to these precious objects is a funny photo series by the artist Muntadas, which documents the interchangeable nature of some of our beloved bookstores.
Best Booth to Linger In: Gallery Espace
Gallery Espace has, I think, put together one of the best booths at the Armory Show. It could be easily missed, because there’s nothing very flashy in it, but if you visit, you’ll be rewarded. Quirky, imaginative collages from Chitra Ganesh’s Cat Women series (2013) hold court in one corner, resonating with nearby Ritual Drawings by Manjunath Kamath — who also has a series of Miniature paintings (2014) on view around the corner. The artists share a playful surreality grounded in traditional figuration, and their work in small series connects them to Zarina Hasmi’s eye-catching black-and-gold collages that dominate the back wall.
Best Art-Fair Art: Zipora Fried at On Stellar Rays
On Stellar Rays is exhibiting in the Armory Presents section of the fair, which features solo or duo displays by galleries less than 10 years old. Artist Zipora Fried gets the whole booth, but this work is really all you can see. Nothing says “art fair” like a gold-tinted mirror propped up by a shitload of baseball bats.
Best Art Object Likely to Be Mistaken for Trash: Gavin Turk at Ben Brown Fine Arts
… Because, you know, it’s a lifelike trash bag! This one had all the eyebrows raising and the smartphones shooting today. Good thing it’s probably too heavy for security to accidentally throw out.
Best Ass and Air-Conditioning Combination: Andrew Kreps Gallery
The painting is Robert Overby’s “Summer Fram” (1977–86). The air-conditioning unit I couldn’t find wall text for. Is it art? Your guess is as good as mine.
Best Recycling Project: Bade Stageberg Cox, Street Seats
This is the fourth year that the Armory Show has asked Brooklyn architects Bade Stageberg Cox to design the fair. One of their standout projects — not new this year, but still great — is Street Seats, for which the firm salvaged pieces of furniture from the the sidewalks of New York City, repaired them, and painted them taxicab yellow. The chairs and tables would be cute regardless of their origin, but their recycled nature and connection to the city make them excellent design.
Best Oversize Christmas Ornament: Berta Fischer at James Fuentes
I couldn’t quite figure this thing out. I’m going with Christmas ornament because it’s colorful and hanging, although you’d certainly need a big tree. Barring that, maybe it’s hospital art? It does resemble a tangle of in-patient wristbands blown up and gone haywire.
Best Art That Looks Textured but Isn’t (Got Ya!): Amir Nikravan at Various Small Fires
These paintings by Amir Nikravan seem to be one of two things: either tantalizingly textured paintings or extremely well-Photoshopped prints. They are neither! In fact, Nikravan has a very elaborate process that involves using objects to create a pattern on a wood panel, then stretching fabric over it, then vacuum sealing the whole thing, then spray-painting the fabric, then removing it and mounting it on aluminum. Photoshop is so 2004.
Most Underwhelming: Michael E. Smith & Franz Erhard Walther at KOW
There is a place for both of these men in art, but that place is not here, together, comprising a booth so dull it makes your heart hurt.
Best Amalgamation of Things You’d Find in Your Home: Rachael Champion at Hales Gallery
Champion injects new life into a category of art I thought had been laid to rest in 2009.
Best Art Befitting Its Gallery’s Name: Nick van Woert at OHWOW
How do all those rocks stay balanced? How does this thing not topple over? Wait, wait, it’s made of copper? Oh wow!
Best Art That Is Also a Functioning Slot Machine: Andrew Ohanesian at Pierogi Gallery
Those who can’t buy, gamble.
Most Photogenic Art with No Discernible Meaning: Glenn Kaino at Honor Fraser
According to the explanatory materials on offer at Honor Fraser, “the form [of Glenn Kaino’s ‘A Shout Within a Storm’] appears to change relative to our experience of the position of the viewer, suggesting a set of contingencies that reflects our experience of the world.” I really couldn’t tell you what that means, but this thing sure is fun to photograph. See?
Best Lumpy Ceramics: Benedetto Pietromarchi at Josh Lilley Gallery
Surprisingly, I didn’t see any other lumpy ceramics on view at the fair, so this may be an unfair contest. But I do enjoy these pieces by Benedetto Pietromarchi; they strike just the right balance between beautiful and weird.
Best Immersive, Color-Coordinated Booth: Michael Müller at Aanant & Zoo/Galerie Thomas Schulte
I didn’t honestly have enough time to spend in this booth, reading all the text and taking everything in. But a short walk through suggests that it’s worth spending time with. The booth feels like a rarity at an art fair: a complete presentation that foregrounds the artist’s vision.
Best Thing Sewn Together from Other Things: Aiko Hachisuka at Eleven Rivington
The only thing wrong with this is that you’re not allowed to sit on it.
Best Selfie Bait: Jeppe Hein at Johann König
I’m not sure what reason this could possibly have for existing besides selfies. Editions for every night-club bathroom in Chelsea!
Best Donald Judd Remake for the 21st Century: Ryan Gander at Johnen Galerie
Because Ikea shelves are the building material of the 21st century, and if their assembly is DIY anyway, why not stack them? The plant is an especially nice touch — a domestic rejoinder to the austere machismo of Minimalism.
Highest Art: Jessica Stockholder at Kavi Gupta Gallery
There are most certainly fewer women than men represented at the Armory Show, but at least the women who are there will not allow themselves to be limited by silly things like booth walls. From afar, this nifty sculpture by Jessica Stockholder seems to climb over Kavi Gupta‘s wall; close up, it dangles madly. I appreciated that it was literally the highest art I could find.
Most Striking Photographic Portraits: Valérie Belin at GalerieNathalie Obadia
Best Thing Masquerading as Art: Gilles Barbier at Galerie Vallois
It’s certainly some kind of sculptural super-someThing.
Best Kehinde Wiley: Kehinde Wiley at Galerie Daniel Templon
With an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and his work on offer in at least three booths at the Armory Show, Kehinde Wiley is the man of the moment. I often feel like, once you’ve seen several Kehinde Wileys, you’ve seen them all, but this piece feels a lot richer and more thoughtful than his mega-portraits.
Biggest Abstract Painting: Secundino Hernández at Galerie Forsblom
When you can’t paint better, paint bigger.
The 2015 Armory Show continues at Piers 92 and 94 (West 54th Street at Twelfth Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan) through March 8.
No Art Fair Lull as One Gallery Sells $1 Million in Three Hours
William J. O’Brien Sculptures
Glazed ceramic sculptures by William J. O’Brien at Marianne Boesky gallery sold for $12,000 to $16,000 in New York. Photographer: Katya Kazakina/Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) — Sean Kelly Gallery sold more than $1 million of sculptures by British artist Antony Gormley in less than three hours on March 3, as a week of art fairs in New York opened with a flurry of purchases by wealthy collectors.
The gallery pulled in another $1 million for works by blue-chip and emerging artists the next day at the Armory Show, the city’s largest contemporary art fair that anchors about a dozen concurrent shows and countless exhibition openings.
“These Gormleys go up 20 percent to 25 percent a year,” Kelly said about the cast-iron blocks evoking human figures shown in his booth at the Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory. “You can’t get 2 percent from a bank.”
New York is the first major stop this year on the global art fair circuit that continues in Hong Kong; Maastricht, the Netherlands; and Dubai later this month. In recent years, fairs have become one-stop shopping malls for the mega-wealthy seeking to diversify their stock portfolios with paintings and sculptures by brand names and hot young artists.
Many galleries are participating in five to 10 art fairs a year, hopping from one time zone to another, according to dealers and fair organizers.
“It gets more intense every year,” said Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel, the contemporary art fair whose Hong Kong edition opens next week. “The time-crunched new wealthy collectors aren’t going to spend weekends going to every gallery in town. They go to art fairs.”
In 2014, 204 fairs specialized in fine art and design, up 32 percent since 2007, according to Skate’s Art Fairs Report, with 80 events representing 95 percent of all business. Last year, 65,000 people attended the Armory Show, which has 199 galleries from 28 countries.
On March 3, 2,600 people braved the snow and sleet to show up for the gala opening of the Art Show, which featured 72 top American galleries. Select guests included ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Jonathan Sobel, AllianceBernstein Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Kraus, and Barnes & Noble Inc. Chairman Leonard Riggio.
Petzel gallery mounted a minimal installation by Wade Guyton with small, black-and-white prints displayed on a bright yellow surface inside five long, custom-made vitrines. A set of 15 vitrines with 146 prints was reserved for a U.S. museum, the gallery said. Asking price: $750,000.
Dominique Levy gallery exhibited works by Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Maekawa, whose roughly textured, creased oil-on-burlap canvases looked like a cross between painting and sculpture. The largest one, “Work” (1963), priced at $425,000, sold within the first 10 minutes of the opening.
Droves of collectors hit the Armory Show at two hangar-size piers on the Hudson River on March 4. Guests included CIT Group Inc. CEO John Thain, Tishman Speyer Properties chairman Jerry Speyer, this year’s Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris and actors Tobey Maguire and Mike Myers.
“The Armory Show has officially turned a corner,” said New York dealer James Fuentes, who sold a neon Plexiglas sculpture by Berta Fischer for $15,000 to New York collectors Zoe and Joel Dictrow. “It doesn’t have the baggage of a fair people aren’t interested in anymore.”
Several prominent galleries including Metro Pictures, Galerie Lelong, Andrew Kreps and Kamel Mennour returned to the fair after years of absence.
“We stopped because it wasn’t sexy,” said Kamel Mennour, the owner of the Paris-based gallery that mounted a solo show of Daniel Buren, whose signature vertical stripes have appeared on pavements, palaces and paintings. Like other dealers, Mennour said he was persuaded to give the fair another try by its director Noah Horowitz.
“He has a precise vision,” said Mennour. “He sees it as not only the market, but also the content.”
Mennour returned with Buren’s works from every decade starting in the 1960s. There were paintings on wood, canvas and plastic. A sequence of black and white stripes on marble sold for 150,000 euros ($165,405) during the first hour of the opening.
First-time participant OHWOW gallery from Los Angeles did brisk sales throughout the day, said partner Al Moran.
“We are testing it out,” he said. “So far it has exceeded our expectations.”
The gallery’s sales included Luis Gispert’s assemblage made with glossy black rocks and fake gold chains for $24,000 and two large canvases covered with bark by Nick van Woert for $35,000 and $40,000.
Actor Christian Slater joined a mob of collectors snapping up glazed ceramic sculptures by William J. O’Brien at Marianne Boesky. The gallery sold 18 of O’Brien’s 27 pieces, priced at $12,000 to $16,000. An ephemeral wall sculpture made of fiberglass by Diana Al-Hadid went for $85,000.
“We could have sold it three times,” said Adrian Turner, the gallery’s senior director.
Jack Shainman’s booth, anchored by a large, shimmering, black tapestry by El Anatsui, attracted New York collectors Susan and Michael Hort and Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker director of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Canadian collector Robert Rennie, who has a private museum in Vancouver, inquired about a work on paper by Kerry James Marshall depicting a nude black man in an odalisque pose. Priced at $45,000, it was already sold. So was Nick Cave’s white sound suit, priced at $125,000.
While lower-priced works went fast, pieces at about $1 million were a tougher sell.
There were no immediate takers for the Anatsui tapestry priced at $1.5 million at Shainman; for Buren’s 1966 canvas, offered at 850,000 euros at Kamel Mennour; or Chinese artist Yue Minjun’s $800,000 signature smiling man painting at Galerie Daniel Templon.
“There’s no frenzy, but very consistent traffic all day long,” said Augusto Arbizo, director of Eleven Rivington, where the Horts picked up an abstract painting by Evan Nesbit priced at $16,000 and Dallas-based collector Howard Rachofsky bought Aiko Hachisuka’s multi-patterned couch sculpture for $24,000. “There was no lull.”
Six years ago, when it started out, the art fair called Independent really was sort of that. It had a cool guerrilla buzz. In the former Dia headquarters on West 22nd Street in Chelsea, it was tiny compared with the cattle-call Armory Show. More rebelliously, admission was free. And the look was new. Instead of booths the size of stockyard stalls, there were wide-open prairies of exhibition space on all three floors. Within these democratic vistas, you could hardly tell where one gallery ended and another began.
Democracy is fine and independence is fun, but they don’t pay for the farm, so things changed. Now there’s an entry fee ($20) and many more partition walls than there were of yore, enough so that some gallery spaces are all but self-enclosed. Despite such bows to convention, though, one thing is the same: Independent still feels more like an art experience than a shopping experience, and that sets it apart from the competition.
What accounts for the atmosphere? For one thing, less-is-more is the prevailing style. Sparsely hung spaces at least suggest that you’re looking at art, not inventory. Traces of neighborliness linger on. You have to pass through galleries to get to others, which means you see pretty much everything in the show whether you mean to or not.
The relatively relaxed and uncompetitive vibe encourages a degree of visual subtlety. The black-on-black North Atlantic landscape paintings of Silke Otto-Knapp at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, for example, might have been swallowed up on the Piers: Here they do just fine. So do the abstract, delicately detailed sculptures of the young Los Angeles artist Matt Paweski at Herald St., one of six London galleries this year.
Possibly the geographic breakdown of the fair’s 50 participants might make a revealing study in art fair demographics. New York, of course, dominates, but Berlin, with 11 galleries, comes in a strong runner-up. Is it significant that Los Angeles has only three galleries and Mexico City the same? Or that no African, Asian or Australian galleries are in the mix at all? To my eye, at least, such statistics mean little, since, in an era of global pluralism, everything here could come from almost anywhere within a Euro-American sphere. This gives Independent a somewhat clubby look — there may be galleries from 14 countries, but everyone speaks the same visual language — which is the not-so-fabulous flip side of neighborliness.
Anyway, in the end you’ll come away with memories of what you liked best (or least), some of it familiar, some not. On the second floor, JTT, a young gallery from the Lower East Side — and one of 16 first-time Independent exhibitors — opens the show on a solid, no-nonsense note with a beaconlike sculpture made from a truck tire balanced on a column of stones by Charles Harlan. Nearby, Elizabeth Dee, who founded the fair with Darren Flook, has strong pieces by three veteran artists Mac Adams, John Giorno and Julia Wachtel. And the Box, from Los Angeles, highlights 1960s work — tiny, vaguely sinister assemblages of seashells, broken dolls and severed bird wings — by Barbara T. Smith, an early West Coast feminist artist who should be far better known in New York than she is.
Further on, at Canada, another undersung figure, the conceptualist painter Gerald Ferguson, who taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for decades and committed suicide in 2009, has what amounts to a full-fledged show of late abstract landscapes done in black house paint on plain canvas. Galeria Agustina Ferreyra Gallery, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, goes for high color and high energy in a wraparound installation of paintings by Adriana Minoliti, from Buenos Aires. Closer to home — Greenpoint, Brooklyn — Real Fine Arts, a stimulating place, mixes intensely marketable abstract painting (Jon Pestoni, Ned Vena) with more interestingly kooky and no doubt harder to sell sculpture: a life-size, purple, faux-fur Cookie Monster-ish figure by Stefan Tcherepnin and bust-length heads combining alpaca wool, metal spikes and “nonorganic garbage” by Mathieu Malouf.
Plan B, a gallery with branches in Berlin and Cluj, Romania, has made an impression at the Armory Show in the past and is worth a visit on its first Independent appearance. The gallery has brought just two artists. Navid Nuur, originally from Tehran, now living in Europe, makes both modular sculptures and crusty, glowing paintings that swirl with calligraphic lines. These are complemented by the paintings of a younger artist, Achraf Touloub, born in Morocco, who turns similarly swirling lines into tree trunks and branches that look both realistic and unnaturally continuous, like arabesques.
Old and new, alike and different, are braided together on the third floor. Labor from Mexico City and Supportico Lopez from Berlin — share a space and a single artist, Jan Peter Hammer, with Labor also representing the estimable Pedro Reyes and Nicholas Mangan, who is in the New Museum’s 2015 Triennial. Two other galleries connect “outsider art” dots both from across the Atlantic and from opposite sides of the fair’s third-floor space. Galerie Susanne Zander/Delmes & Zander in Germany are showing cosmic diagrams by the psychologically troubled German artist Harald Bender (1950-2014), while Chelsea’s own White Columns has a cache of erotic Rapidograph fantasies by the New Yorker Anthony Ballard (1945-2008), who was schizophrenic and exhibited at Fountain House in New York.
Mendes Wood DM, a gallery from São Paulo, has a solo by the Brazilian artist who uses the gender-free moniker f.marquespenteado (full first name: Fernando). He says that he works best when permitted “to occupy an entire space.” And so he does here, creating an environment of paintings, drawings, embroideries and collages that serve as a stage set for a multicharacter narrative about masculine stereotypes and how they thwart the path of true same-sex love.
A debut Independent appearance by the Mexico City gallery Kurimanzutto brings a rare visit from the long-expatriate American artist Jimmie Durham in the form of a 2007 installation, “The Sacred, the Profane and Everything Else.” The piece, which incorporates seven metal oil drums, suggests a combination of altar and industrial no-go zone and refers to, among other things, death, Rome (where it was first shown) and the worldwide battle for fuel. A couple of battered suitcases folded into the mix read as stand-ins for the artist himself, politically alienated from his homeland and always on the global move.
On the fourth floor, you’ll find some of the quietest work, and some of brashest. Ms. Otto-Knapp’s penumbral landscapes are here. So is a geometric corner mural painting by Lydia Okumura, its form made three dimensional by strings stretched, like drawn lines, between two walls at Broadway 1602. Not that a sculptural extension in painting is necessarily abstract. The same gallery has a 1963 Pop picture by Marjorie Strider (1934-2014) of a pinup model with a seductive smile and 3-D breasts. Directly across from it, at Thomas Erben, is a large pieced-together text painting by Mike Cloud, color-rich, rough-surfaced, annotated and argumentative. And not far away in a niche-like area occupied by the Modern Institute from Glasgow, murals by Nicolas Party — huge Modernistsquiggles and a gargantuangrisaille version of Picasso’s 1904walleyed “La Celestine” — cover the wall from floor to high ceiling and are themselves covered over by superimposed pictures of stilllifes.
What Mr. Party’s installation is exactly about, I can’t say, but I remember with some pleasure another he created at Salon 94 Freemans on the Lower East Side in 2012. That one was called “Dinner for 24 Dogs” and featured a big round table with two dozen customized place settings in an every-inch-painted room. With respectful nods to Matisse, Judy Chicago and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s cooking-as-art, the piece was artful, eye-catching, conservative and companionable, all of which Independent is, too.
Many other satellite exhibitions will take place during March Fair season. Here are a few recommendations:
ART ON PAPER, featuring work by artists who use paper as a major influence in their sculpture, drawing, painting and photography, runs through Sunday; Pier 36, 299 South Street, Lower Manhattan; thepaperfair.com.
PULSE NEW YORK, a showcase for cutting-edge contemporary art, runs through Sunday at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, Chelsea; pulse-art.com. 212-255-2327.
VOLTA NY, which focuses on solo-artist projects, runs through Sunday at Pier 90, next to Piers 92 and 94, the platform for the Armory Show; ny.voltashow.com/index.php.