Friday, April 21, 2006

Armory Show, Day 1

Here are some belated notes about the Armory Show, which I attended on March 10th and 11th.

This art fair, which started with 30 galleries at the Gramercy Hotel just 12 years ago, now presents nearly 150 galleries in two huge Manhattan piers. Sales are soaring, and one Los Angeles gallery owner described this fair as “the best in the past year.” For a viewer, though, the bigger the fair, the worse the experience. There are thousands of works to sort through, and the percentage of memorable work is staggeringly small. Entire countries, like France and South Korea, make a poor showing. Even if a work is decent, it can fade into the background. It's easy to miss things. I looked avidly, but came away with few photographs and not much longing. Here are some works I noticed on Day 1.

At Matthew Marks, a little 8" x 12" painting by Ugo Rondinone was eye-catching in its modesty (photo above).

At Corri-Mora (London), a C-print by Anne Collier showed five 1980s issues of Art News featuring women on the cover (photo above). Collier, who was visiting the booth, said that she made the piece because she was fascinated by how the women presented themselves, especially the hair styles.

At Metro Pictures, there was an installation by Yuri Masnyj titled “This Ship Is Listing” (photo above). It carried out a de-Constructivist theme that was also explored in his work in the Whitney Biennial.

Pierogi (Booklyn) had a bizarre (and amusing) piece by Tavares Strachan, “The Problem of One Thing Existing Simultaneously.” Inside a vitrine there were pieces of a shattered beer bottle, and lying next to each fragment was a duplicate (photo above, from the Pierogi website). At Peter Blum (NY), there was a beautiful orange/pumpkin monochrome painting by Joseph Marioni. In the Armory context, it looked so classical.

At Greenberg Van Doren (NY), a 48" x 72" oil painting by Benjamin Butler made me want to walk outside (photo above). All his paintings are based on trees.

At Mai 37 Galerie (Zürich), I liked John Baldessari’s “Prima facie (Second State): Scornful.” It’s an archival digital print on canvas, about 77” wide (photo above).

At 303 Gallery (NY), I noticed a trompe l’oeil work by Berlin-based British artist Ceal Floyer. A photo of a tiny nail sticking out from a white wall was slide-projected onto an actual white wall. The edges of the photo were darkened, vignette-style. (An interesting choice.) This piece could have been yours for just 35,000 Euros.

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