The Armory Show 2009 opened today. artcritical editor DAVID COHENwas there with his iPhone
Armory, First Day Weigh-In
What’s the best way to cope with a Recession–if you’re in the artworld? Expand. And how must you behave? With utter nonchalance, of course.
Hence the Armory–not content simply to be the behemoth fair of contemporary, primary-market work, now has added many mre thousand square feet of secondary-market work (“Modern” and “historically significant” are the official terms). All installed at Pier 92.
Think of this as the ADAA Fair for the ADD set. I, for one, found it much harder to concentrate on a sweet little Vuillard and a sort-of-fierce Jean-Michel Basquiat (both hanging in Boulakia of Paris’ booth) knowing the hooplah of Pier 94 beckoned nearby. For this critic, the splendor of the Armory on Park Ave (not to mention the classier air of Sanford Smith’s house management!) makes all the difference. That said, let me feed you a little “footage” from the artcritical Armory-Cam, as it does a 360-degree pan from the aisle: a Louise Nevelson on the wall of Locks of Philadelphia’s booth; a Sean Scully hard by at Hackett-Freedman of San Francisco; an (always-welcome) Philip Guston (from his later Woodstock years, of course) at James Goodman. No, our camera doesn’t exist; but if it had X-ray vision, you could also include a Wesselman or two, no doubt.
No big surprises.
Still, a nifty video installation from the Starn Twins at Stockholm’s Wetterling Gallery did delight. In it, you’ll watch a massive bamboo structure get built, then climbed-over–only to be dismantled from behind; all the better for the structure as a whole to expand forward, without taking up too much material. A good metaphor, that.
But, ahh, Pier 94 is full of buzz. And indeed, if there is a market bust, the work looks better than in recent years. White Cube of London’s booth bristles with the sort of high-end-ware-energy you want from the Armory Experience: a Damien Hirst dot painting; a Sarah Morris abstraction (which never does much for me, sorry); a Sam Taylor-Wood photo. Latin-American artist Doris Salcedo’s stainless steel chair is crumpled has no back; Antony Gormley’s metal lounge/bench is tortuously poked through with spiky holes. Ouch. Well, collectors are feeling a certain discomfort these days. Best to put it out in a cathartic way, and see if they can make themselves at home. Call it furniture for our uncertain times.
Thanks to Mexico City dealer Patricia Ortiz Monasterio for speaking with us so candidly in her (impressive) OMR gallery’s booth. “I’m not fooling myself,” she said of her expectations for sales. As for her wares, Peruvian-born artist and editor Aldo Chaparro’s text sculptures said what was on our mind. “Chaos” reads one; “Vertigo” another. The former, made of carpet, was colorless and somehow calming. Unrest is underfoot for sure; but there are shades of grey to every situation.
postscript: a couple of snaps each at Pulse and Volta