All Our Blurbs from Art Fair Week, March 2017
Monday, February 27: Salon Zürcher at Zurcher Gallery, 33 Bleecker Street
Salon Zürcher is to fair weeks what New Hampshire is to primary elections. Armory Week 2017 kicks off Monday with the 16th edition of this boutique fair, an early bird special that hands the keys to Zürcher’s Bleecker Street premises to six galleries from Paris, Brussels, Oslo, Provincetown (MA) and Hangzhou, China, whose Inna Art Space’s booth is pictured here.
Tuesday, February 28: Moving Image New York at The Tunnel, 269 11th Avenue
Jefferson Pinder’s Afro-Cosmonaut/Alien (White Noise) is, according to his gallery, Curator’s Office of Bathesda, Md., “an escapist video narrative that ends in destruction when the protagonist plummets back to Earth after a mystical space journey. Like the doomed Icarus of Ancient Greek myth, the epic fall comes after reaching a brilliant zenith that is both mesmerizing and lethal. This white-faced Butoh-inspired performance is a crude metaphor of the civil rights legacy. Taking cues from experimental films, Pinder plants himself within the work, asking the viewers to watch the images of propulsion and power.”
Wednesday, March 1: Spring/Break Art Show, 4 Times Square
Spring/Break was the most anarchic and exuberant of the fairs back in the days when it was staged in the old USPS administrative offices – a David Lynch-like time-capsule of New Deal bureacracy. Now Spring/Break has been given a break in the form of two floors of a glass and steel high-rise 22 stories above Times Square. But there is no corresponding corporateness in the resulting display. The organizing principle remains: each room has its own curators who sometimes include the exhibiting artists themselves. It was gratifying for artcritical to see some of its own writers among the curators. Eric Sutphin, for instance, has brought together an inspired coupling of New York School painter Rosemarie Beck, who was active from the 1950s onwards with classically sourced, abstractly composed multi-figure compositions, and contemporary mannerist, Angela Dufresne, with her swirling, voluptuous, cinematic scenes. Each display has a neat little office of its own, with spectacular views of the midtown skyline. Too spectacular, sometimes, as it can overwhelm what’s on view. Inspired, therefore, was the decision to hang works in the blinds-drawn windows in one mini show, Thing Gap Method, selected by artcritical writer Megan Liu Kincheloe and featuring Sophia Flood, Sascha Ingber, Kelly McCafferty, Sarah Tortora and Kincheloe herself, whose Dice (2017) is pictured here. DAVID COHEN
Thursday, March 2: The Armory Show at Piers 92 & 94
It’s a good year for texture. Well, so is any year probably, and a good year for anything else if all you want to do is scatter evidence for some such glib hunch amidst the labyrinth that is the city’s biggest art fair, conceptual bread crumbs, so to speak, to trace your way back to the front door. But as the first piece to grab my eye was a fabric work by Jayson Musson at Philadelphia’s Fleisher-Ollman texture became my trail. Next stop, a cunningly camp “salon” for Florine Stettheimer, presented by Jeffrey Deitch, showing latter-day acolytes of the society heiress pioneer of the American avant garde where a 1990s shlock horror wedding cake of impasto by the unjustly forgotten Thomas Trosch abstractly emulated Florine’s Harlem beach scene that presides over the display. From there it was texture everywhere, whether the geological encrustations of Bosco Sodi, preponderant in the fair and to be seen, for instance, at Galeria Hilario Galguera of Mexico City, Blain Southern and Paul Kasmin; the very 1950s-looking sculpted netted grids of Michelle Grabner at James Cohan; or the painterly reliefs of Miguel Barcelo at Thaddeus Ropac. The tactility can even manifest vicariously, as in the Vik Muniz Isis print of a strangely mottled version of Picasso’s The Dreamer, at Edwin Houk. Haptic experiences grounded the gaze amidst the accelerating flow of spectacle. DAVID COHEN
Featured item from The Armory Show 2017: Mernet Larsen at Various Small Fires
Various Small Fires, the Los Angeles gallery, has a solo show of preparatory sketches by Tampa, Florida-based painter Mernet Larsen in the Presents section of The Armory Show 2017. Larsen, who also has a work on view at James Cohan Gallery’s booth at the same fair, has only recently come into her own since retiring from a distinguished career in art education, memories of which pervade her frequent return to the motif of the faculty meeting. Rooted in an earlier abstract practice as well as explorations of Japanese prints, Larsen’s jocular imagery thinly disguises her fascination with unconventional perspective systems. She pursues radical spatial solutions that eschew conventional single-point perspective in favor of parallel perspective, reverse perspective and eccentric, seemingly improvised but in fact rigorous fusions of different systems within the same work. By destabilizing the location of the viewer, sometimes indeed to the point of inducing vertigo, she forces us to know, rather than merely see, the situation. DAVID COHEN
Ruth Hardinger’s striking Volta display at David&Scheweitzer Contemporary draws together disparate forces: the artist’s passionate environmental activism, her longstanding affinity with Mesoamerican culture, and historically informed, critically sharpened investigations of working methods. These are all felt in works such works as Bundle of Rights, a sculpture in plaster and rope, and Reading the Clouds, a tapestry collaboration with Mexican weavers, seen at the Piers. Meanwhile, back at the rancheros, that is to say 56 Bogart Street, the same gallery presents an ongoing retrospective overview of Hardinger work in different media. There are tapestries, a calendar, hanging works in paper and assembled sculptures. Obsessive-compulsive minimalist hatch drawings worked on varyingly rough and smooth surfaces are installed in a grid that conforms to the Golden Rule. Dating from the 1970s, this work manages to resonate with a recent, altogether more robust and spontaneous cast concrete and found slate sculptural arrangement. What binds these efforts across the decades is the humble yet inventive presentness of their maker. DAVID COHEN
Saturday, March 4: The Art Show at Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue @ 66th Street
The New York art fair scene can be confusing to the uninitiated: the most prominent fair, The Armory Show, takes place at a convention center on the Hudson while the Park Avenue Armory hosts an unrelated fair of its own, The Art Show by the Art Dealer’s Association of America. The work shown in the actual armory tends to be more conservative than the offerings of most of the other fairs, but there can be some surprises. PPOW’s booth this year is devoted to the work of Betty Tompkins, an artist who has been painting portraits of the pudendum for over forty years. Today she is best known for her colossal coital canvases, but her smaller works on paper, such as “Censored Grid #1” from 1974, provide a more intimate view of an intimate act. ROMAN KALINOVSKI
Independent (Art Fair) at Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street
Memo to Independent Art Fair, organizers and exhibitors alike: Enough already, put up some labels.
In the early days of the Basel Art Fair (the real one, in Basel, Switzerland) galleries would get an official reprimand from the all-powerful committee if the labels didn’t include prices. Dealers complained that having to ask was an icebreaker with collectors. But to have to ask who the artist is – never mind the title, medium, date? This is elitist, pretentious and anti-intellectual. To the innocent “general public” this says, this isn’t for you folks. To professionals it is impertinent and irritating, putting one in the humiliating position of asking when you half-know and gobbling up precious time in doing so. For new, unknown artists with foreign names it is a total downer: who is going to remember it, next time? And for collectors, having to beg for basic information has all the novelty and subtlety of a robo-telecall.
Despite this mishegas. Independent is still one of the most pleasing visitor experiences, thanks in no small measure to the gorgeous venue. My epiphanies on this visit were mostly three-dimensional for some reason: Beverly Buchanan’s shack constructions at Andrew Edlin; a bafflingly kinky saddle mounted on a scaffold “horse” by Magali Reus at London’s Approach; and a dynamically voluptuous bronze by the late Hungarian-born Norwegian sculptor Ervin Løffler, exquisitely installed by Oslo gallery VI, VII with works in dye on canvas by young New Yorker Landon Metz (Photo: Sebastiano Pellion) DAVID COHEN
Sunday, March 5: NADA New York at Skylight Clarkson North, 572 Washington Street
A work by Brenda Goodman presented by Jeff Bailey at NADA, the New Art Dealers Association, 2017 fair. NADA was founded in 2002, launching its first fair that year in Miami. This year sees some changes in its New York outing: the time slot has switched from Frieze Week to Armory Week, and they have a new venue in west Soho. In tune with the self-styled progressive profile of the association, half of ticket sales are to be donated to the ACLU. DAVID COHEN
This year’s iteration of the NADA fair was probably the most visually exhausting of the art fair week group, with dozens of galleries competing for attention in micro-booths that barely allowed one person to stand comfortably inside. Most of the galleries were from around New York but there were some international standouts, such as a selection of digital prints by Chris Dorland, courtesy of Super Dakota gallery from Brussels. Dorland’s glitchy work, made using a broken scanner and printed on eight foot tall aluminum panels, offered something monumental and digital in a fair that leaned towards the modest and traditional. Pictured: Untitled (corporate cannibal), 2017. ROMAN KALINOVSKI
Monday, March 6: Spring/Break Art Show, 4 Times Square
As befits the most youthful of the fairs, Spring/Break has an extra 24 hours of energy and determination than the others: it is the one fair in Fair Week that makes it to the Monday of the next. And here is an artist who knows how to capture zest. Aneta Bartos, whose dad Zbigniew Bartos has a lifetime of competitive bodybuilding behind him. Naturally, it was to her that he would turn, aged 68, to capture his musculature in its last glory. A room of buff, nicely toned father-daughter photographs takes home trophies for audacity and composure. DAVID COHEN