March Madness happens in the art world every two years when the Whitney Biennial coincides with the annual international art fairs. It’s way too much art for anyone to digest, but it’s party time, with the tribes gathered, congratulations all round, and in the case of the fairs, SALES, which make the world go round. Louder than ever this year, the globalization of the art market showed. At almost every turn we said “We’ve seen work like this in Philly!”
The Armory Show
We visited the Armory Show on Piers 92 and 94. The huge monster on the Piers seemed tame and more Blue Chip compared to previous years (no rogue performances, no grand-standing installations, well ok, maybe one). It was already crowded on Wednesday when we went, so look out this weekend — we predict heavy crowds.
Pierogi’s booth on Pier 94 was a rare representative on that pier of the kind of quirky/anti-art/street aesthetic we love.
Home team and artblog favorite Fleisher-Ollman on Pier 92 also sprinkled street influenced work with the self-taught artists in their elegant and spare (for the Armory) booth. West Coast street artist Barry McGee, whose work is on F-O’s wall, will be having a show at the gallery, says Gallery Director Alex Baker. In other people sightings, we ran into Jayson Musson at Postmasters Gallery‘s booth. He had ducked out of the studio for a moment and told us that he was preparing for a show at Salon 94 this May. He’s working on paintings. The most interesting and new to us artist, Ahmed Mater, was at Athr Gallery’s booth on Pier 94. Mater’s large aerial photo of a new mosque in Mecca accompanied by camera videos of the destruction of a neighborhood near the mosque to build accomodations for the 4-5 million pilgrims they are expecting in the future are gripping photo-documentation of a phenomenon that boggles the mind — the journey to the holy city of so very many each year. The Jeddah gallerist told us she had never been to Mecca, by the way. In the Icelandic i8 Gallery booth, we saw an intriguing video by Ragnar Kjartansson, S.S. Hangover, in which a brass band sitting in a sailboat plays a slow dirge for people on shore. Kjartansson was in the Due North exhibit at the Icebox a few months back.
Here’s a video of how the Egill Saebjornsson purses look when in motion.
Meanwhile, across 11th Street from the fair, Cate had spotted work by friend of artblog, Shelley Spector at La Boite, a spice and biscuits emporium. We stopped in and took a couple pictures. Shelley’s works appear in their biscuit boxes. Very cool!
ADAA Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory
Maybe it was the fresh flowers in each booth, or the fact that each booth’s walls were painted a different, cool, calm color. But more likely, it was the preponderance of work by artists we love — lots of women artists! — that makes The Art Show classy and great to look at.
Imagine seeing not only artwork by Martha Wilson, but Martha Wilson herself at P.P.O.W’s booth, with her two-tone hair and a dry sense of humor–much like her art. And Sarah McEneaney, there with a bunch of new paintings on display at Tibor de Nagy, tipped us off to check out the terrific Barbara Krugers hidden in a little alcove behind the great Laurie Simmons works at Salon 94. We loved seeing the Zanele Muholi photos at Yancey Richardson, which we’d seen several times before, and enjoyed Dana Schutz’s large charcoal drawings at Petzel. The one sour note, we thought, is the Petah Coyne taxidermied birds’ nest and flower installation at Galerie Lelong (click link for picture), which seems confused in its message (animal/bird love? eco-catastrophe?). The piece is total rococco and unlike a Della Robbia, it left us cold.
Across the gender divide, Charles LeDray knocked our socks off at Sperone Westwater with his miniature clothing displayed on walls and on a clothes rack. At Feigen, a youthful Claes Oldenburg–a slumpy plaster fireplug in bright red (edition of 100)–looked fresher than a paintbrush!
It was right next to a fabulous Peter Saul and surrounded by great Ray Johnson collages. A painting by Philly’s Moe Brooker looked jazzy against a dark wall at June Kelly. And at the very next booth, at Sean Kelly, a series of small Kehinde Wiley icons were pure merch!
More to come soon on the Whitney Biennial, a show crammed to the gills with works. In sheer quantity alone, the WB2014 seems to be competing with the art fairs!