Boring Art Makes a Come Back at the Armory

by Art Fag City on March 27, 2008 · 2 comments Events

The Armory, Installation View, Photograph AFC

With even more boring art than usual hanging on fair walls, even those who typically enjoy The Armory Show are likely to find it stale this year. Flowing money may inspire ill considered risk taking, but at least there’s some energy to it. Catering to this year’s more considered collector, galleries bring their safest fan fare; lifeless corporate art variations now stretch across the pier as far the eye can see. Sikkema Jenkins, Lehmann Maupin, and Sean Kelly, was a particularly bad area of real estate, each featuring more than their fare share of mediocre art in expensive frames.

A partial shot of the John Armleder painting hanging on the outside wall at Massimo de Carlo, and it was done by veteran Swiss man-of-all-media John Armleder, Hiromiyoshii vrs, Greenberg Van Doren’s placement of Andrew Guenther’s We Don’t Believe in Gravity last year.

Entering the fair, an odd coincidence in hanging placed an unidentified John Armleder painting at Massimo de Carlo, in nearly the same spot as last year’s We Don’t Believe in Gravity, a similar though significantly better/less sparkle ridden work by Andrew Guenther. I won’t attribute any significant meaning to the observation since I doubt there is one, though I will say it wasn’t the best note to begin the fair on. Immediately adjacent to this, Heather Rowe’s wooden mirrored sculpture, Screen for the rooms behind, shows the artist’s better work to be at the Armory, not the Biennial. This work also appears on the Biennial website – perhaps misleadingly, since it was only previously exhibited at The Whitney Altria.

Gedi Sibony “Not Yet Titled”, at Greene Naftali, detail right

Notably, while overall I felt the show lacked energy, a large number of individual works stood out from the mediocre. For example, Gedi Sibony does a great job of combining seemingly banal textures in a piece that brings to mind net artist Guthrie Lonergan’s Carpet in Carpet. Both pieces use the aesthetics of the medium (ie the physical variation of texture found within the carpet, versus the different rates of gif movement) as a method of communicating meaning. Mitchell Innis and Nash also have sculpture of note; a great pair of Jessica Stockholder colorful wall mounted works on display. I’d actually forgotten how much I liked the artist until I saw these pieces.

Interestingly, this year’s non-profit aisle included the New Museum, the most high profile institution I’ve seen participate in the fair. The booth gives them an opportunity to talk to people about their latest shows, drum up new memberships, and promote the new space — mostly dull stuff I’m afraid for fair attendees. The publication booths have similarly held the little of my interest through out the years, but it seem an effective form of advertising for them, so there they are. Ultimately, it’s hard to begrudge free art magazines, even if their price comes in the form of having to carry them around all day.

Even these positive elements to the show however, don’t remove the shadow cast by the enormous amount of banal art currently for sale. I like to think that this presents an opportunity for one of the smaller fairs to gain some ground on the Armory, though the truth of the matter is that we all play it safe when we can’t afford to loose. I guess we’ll just have to see how these chips fall through out the course of the week.

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