FORTIFIED ART VAULT
Timed to open the same week as The Armory Show on the piers, the ADAA’s long-running fair is Blue Chip city, with high-end historical and contemporary offerings. The name confusion between the two fairs is an ongoing source of befuddlement to the general public—and probably part of some larger, intentional strategy.
ROLLING OUT THE GRAY CARPET
A preview and press conference kicked things off, with remarks from Mayor Bloomberg. Whisked in to the assembled, he responded to a heckler: “Am I here to buy art? Not today.” He went on to cite the economic facts: a projected $44 million in activity for the fairs overall, including some $1.8 in tax revenues. He estimated some 60,000 visitors for the combined events, with 60 percent of those coming from out-of-town.
Charles Long, idiosyncratic sculptor of biomorphic follies, was on hand, overseeing the installation of his solo exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar’s booth. This comprises three wall-mounted Saarinen-inspired tables that have undergone surrealist transformations, their tops facing viewers, hiding strange agglomerations behind. Long says he’s giving us an “alternate reality” of “displaced gravitational force,” playing off of the modernist tables and chairs found ubiquitously in surrounding booths.
“Optimistic” is how gallery employee Allana Strong categorized the Vivian Horan Fine Art booth, with its mirror-surfaced words by local artist Rob Wynne. I asked Strong if she felt her own “invisible life” or “destiny” in their presence. “My destiny, I hope, is to have my own gallery in a few years,” she mused.
Tibor de Nagy’s booth is given over to the remarkably sophisticated and exuberant abstractions of Shirley Jaffe, a true “American in Paris” expatriate working at the top of her form at age 87. The artist was in town for Tuesday evening’s planned festivities, to be followed soon by a proper show at the 57th Street gallery.
SPERO’S LIFE LINE
Another strong solo consisted of Nancy Spero’s 1996 piece, “Sheela-Na-Gig at Home,” a clothesline installation strung with unique prints of a female fertility god and various undergarments, accompanied by a video of the artist (1926-2009), which finishes with her saying, “I have to get the dishes done.” Asked if she could relate to Spero’s wry feminist predicament, Lelong director Sabbatino responded, “I have a dryer.”
Greenberg Van Doren mounted a fine 1950s-1960s survey of works from the estate of still-underrated ab-ex master James Brooks. The lush brushstrokes of his earlier canvases are pared down to gorgeous graphic Matissian elements in later cut-paper collages.
HEADS YOU WIN
Gallery Michael Werner, of Cologne and New York, juxtaposed modernist works of Francis Picabia with the neo-expressionism of Georg Baselitz and Eugene Leroix and a contemporary work by Thomas Houseago, an emerging talent from Los Angeles. The results are authoritative and convincing.
GERMAN SPOKEN HERE
GESTURE AND FORM
The survey of Roxy Paine drawings and sculptures at James Cohan’s brings a personal response to our post-industrial landscape. His artificial take on nature is showcased not only in “tree” studies, but also in the products of his sculpture and painting “machines.” Gallery employee Goodson spoke of the “accresive process” of dropping heated “low-density polyethylene” on a conveyer belt to pleasingly accidental results. Here’s hoping that fair attendees will make the natural connections to Brancusi and Arp.
This is Blue Chip, after all.print