Hurricanes and snowstorms don’t stop New Yorkers and this week’s art week is full on. I trekked through the snow to 7 collection visits this morning and did 2 art fairs. Yesterday, I did the Independent, Scope, and Volta fairs, going from Moynihan Station to Soho to Chelsea to uptown in a span of 6 hours plus several other stops to galleries and auctions. And the weekend hasn’t even started yet…
So, what’s my take on New York’s art week and all the fairs? I’ll start with the big elephant in the room–ADAA vs. The Armory Show. To start, they are hard to compare as they are two entirely different fairs with their own unique attributes. The ADAA with it’s more charming venue and glamorous gala preview (tickets start at $150) benefiting the Henry Street Settlement, has a tight selection of some of the art world’s most respected galleries like Acquavella, Pace, and Marian Goodman. There I spotted Leonard Lauder, Adam Weinberg, Christiane Fischer, Alberto Mugrabi and many other art world insiders, not surprisingly.
ADAA members are generally recognized for their ethical way of dealing so it’s a great distinction for a gallery and although it seems a little chummy you can find Art Basel-quality Modern art treasures that you wouldn’t be able to find at the more contemporary-focused Armory Show. I spotted many beauties including works by Milton Avery, Wayne Thiebaud, Henry Moore and Roy Lichtenstein. All galleries must be recommended before applying for membership and are accepted based on how well they adhere to a high industry standard.
Unlike the ADAA, The Armory Show is not a membership based organization but there is a jury that votes on which galleries are allowed to participate. The way galleries are selected changes year to year but generally they get a balanced group together (that is until Frieze came to town!). The Armory received more funding this year, experienced a change in directorship, embraced Art.sy as their online platform AND it’s their centennial so rightfully, they are getting great reviews this year (plus the food concessions are more impressive too, if that matters to anyone). Highlights at the Armory for me were solo shows for emerging artists Julia Dault at Galerie Bob van Orsouw, Jung Lee at One and J. Gallery and Rashaad Newsome at Marlborough Chelsea. They are amazing young artists and their prices are not ludicrous.
For the print collecting community, I was happy to see several printmakers given prime real estate: Two Palms, Mixografia and Crown Point Press are among the best, and provided a fresh selection of limited editions by leading artists. I wonder why Shark Ink wasn’t there with them.
As for the small fry, my favorite by far is the Independent Fair curated by Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook, which this year is dedicated to the non-profit institutions in New York that were hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. I spotted some familiar artists like Pae White, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Leigh Ledare and some unfamiliar ones like Kim Fischer and Mark Barrow that I really liked. I am contemplating on buying a (limited edition) work from Ledare’s latest “An Invitation” series which explores “human agency, social relationships, taboos and the photographic” which incidentally is on view Columbia University’s Leroy Neiman Center, a much respected but underrated arts program. My only criticism of the fair is that it’s always too crowded, especially the tiny winding stairway and the exhibition format makes it more difficult to know which gallery the artists are with.
That is why I love the Volta fair. If you are looking to discover new, up and coming artists they have the best, most user-friendly format of all the fairs. One artist is selected by each gallery and given a solo show so their work is presented in a more focused context allowing visitors to easily understand the artist’s process, use of materials, and grasp the concept behind the work not matter what kind of college degree you have. I have discovered several young artists at the Volta fair thanks to their brilliant layout and design. Artists to look out for are: Mauro Giaconi, Regina Scully, Hung Liu, Balazs Kicsiny, Aleksandar Duravcevic, Brian Dettmer, Steve Viezens, and Babak Golkar.
The biggest surprise was the Spring/Break show, the only curator-driven fair. The venue was also the most impressive (think MoMA’s PS 1) but it reminded me more of a thesis exhibition than a fair. The sprawling show is on view on at the 4-story Old School in Nolita, a kinda creepy elementary schoolhouse that recently closed probably for asbestos. I was especially taken by installations by Sarah Bereza (virtual lawnmower), Melissa Godoy Nieto (like a LSD trip to Mexico), David Alexander Flinn (apocalypse in a men’s room, image above), and Matt Parker/Albert Hwang (a glimpse of the center of the universe). Oh, and Annabel Linquist’s paintings were pretty awesome.
With this, I leave you with some snapshots to better illustrate my travels. Hope you enjoy!