Uttering words I couldn’t agree with less, dealer Paul Kasmin expresses his thoughts on the fairs to ArtInfo. “The [ADAA] fair uptown is now the one that's going to have to find its way again. [The Armory Show is] bright, colorful and noisy, while uptown they've got smaller, quieter pictures and, to be honest, they're looking a little too quiet.”
Now, I’m not an exhibitor so I can’t speak to sales, but having attended both of these fairs two years running, I can tell you that this year’s ADAA show not only far out weighs the last, but exceeds the quality of the Armory by a level of magnitude. Without a doubt, the best work I’ve seen this week was exhibited at the ADAA fair, (a sentiment that appears to be in contradiction to my post on Pulse, but let’s keep in mind that this blog focuses on emerging art, and thus displays a bias.) As is the case with the secondary market, there are times when there are better works of art available on the market than others, so certainly that plays into the success of the fair, but not entirely, as many members deal in the primary market, and further, a good show is always determined by a lot more than who has what.
Jim Hodges at CRG Gallery. Left: Detail, Right: Installation view.
In the case of the ADAA, sometime between this year and last, their members really improved the look of their booths, which for me marks the most interesting aspect of the fair phenomenon – the developing aesthetics of exhibition design. CRG gallery for example, treated their booth as though it were the same as their chelsea space, and custom designed a plinth to display the sculptures of Jim Hodges. The work couldn’t have been exhibited successfully without the lift, and even though Hodges work has never bowled me over, I had to admit that his chain cobwebs appealed more to me both as a material of gay culture, and as an object of beauty than they ever had previously.
And this to my mind indicates that the closer these booths come to approximating exhibition spaces the better. I suppose on some level it’s all personal taste. I’ve never been the kind of shopper who likes rooting around in a bin to find the item I’m looking for, so it stands to reason that I wouldn’t be overly interested in walking around a giant art fair filled with crap, in the hopes of finding a needle in the haystack. Simply hang the art well, curate it carefully, and you’ll have my attention.
Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2006
Mirrored plexiglass, 69 x 69 aperture
87 x 81 x 21 overall
In any event, for those who just want to know what I liked in the show, I will say that I particularly enjoyed the Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery. Having the outward appearance of a sheet of plastic produced at Canal Plastics, this sculpture actually sits 21 inches into the wall, and reflects the sound of your voice back to you. For me the experience was fairly disorienting as you sound as though you are elsewhere, though I asked one of the salesmen at Gladstone if he had this trouble, and he assured me he found it a pleasure to work beside the piece all day. What a surprise.
*Roland Augustine opined that the Armory and the ADAA were not in competition during his opening remarks to the press last Thursday at the Armory fair.