Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Armory Show

Oh my. So many gallery, so much art, so many beautifully dressed people. My eyes are still itchy from staring so hard. I'm not terribly well positioned to comment on general trends, but here's what I noticed:
--lots of C-prints. Glossy, glossy, glossy. I'm getting a bit tired of C-prints; they feel almost manipulatively beautiful. It's as though any fool could take a picture of anything and make it luminescent with a c-print, although I know that there were some genuinely lovely and well-composed C-prints shown today. A trend I hadn't noticed before and don't like is the C-print photo of lines and shapes that look organically produced, as though the artist had made a charcoal sketch and photographed it. Many of these C-print are produced onto aluminum, making them even brighter. The ratio of C-print to other photographic techniques seemed almost ten to one.

--lots more works on paper than I've seen at other recent large exhibitions. Drawing, prints, paintings, etchings, some montage, but everything seemed portable. Some of this is probably due to the art fair-format: the galleries are marketing the work to collectors rather than to museums. Still, I noticed more excellent craftsmanship in smaller formats than I've been exposed to recently.

--relatively few installations. One German gallery had set up some sort of chicken wire and wood crate/jail cell booth, but it was so exceptional (and uninviting) that I avoided it without a qualm. Another gallery had a smaller version of the now ubitiquous walk-in, stand-up video installation. There were a few installed sculptures: White Cube of London had a flashing chandelier and flatscreen room, another gallery had a nice golden wire sculpture that was attached diagonally across two walls, but these were also unusual. Again, the art fair format would limit this sort of work, so it's perhaps not a real trend.

--I'm starting to see much more explicitly political American art. Political as in "Bush and you republicans I hate you" rather than as in "people are suffering." Pierogi Gallery of Brooklyn showed a couple of drawings/rants that read almost exactly like despairing comment posts from Eschaton or Billmon--and, strange to say, instead of feeling jaded by such language, I was moved to see it enshrined in an artwork. Another Brooklyn gallery--I've now forgotten which--showed maybe 2' by 3.5' oils representing fantasy versions of the NYT's front page. A cri de coeur, yes, but perhaps also copyright infringement? Who knows.

--A fair amount of neon art, some minimalist (shapes), some conceptual (snarky comments), which surprises me, as I would have thought that neon art would either be incorporated into other sculptural trends or would die out. As much as I dislike much of the neon art I see in major art fora, there is some that I dearly love.

For the record, some names, mostly in drawing, to keep track of:

--Zak Smith (Fredericks Freiser Gallery in New York)

--Ralf Ziervogel (Barbara Thumm Galerie in Berlin)

--Yehudit Sasportas (Sommer Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv and Eigen + Art in Berlin)

--Jokum Nordstrom (all over the place)

--Dinos and Jake Chapman (White Cube in London and another gallery...they're already huge, though)


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