The Armory Show Bingo

by Will Brand on March 3, 2011 · 4 comments Art Fair

Print it out and play along!


If there’s one thing the Armory’s good for, it’s spotting trends. Sales come and go, and the overall quality varies from year to year, but pack enough art in one room and you’re guaranteed a few patterns will show up. Armed with our generous sponsorship from 20×200, the Art Fag City staff scoured the booths yesterday, and here’s what we found:

Clockwise from top-left: Jeppe Hein, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Laurent Grasso, Ivan Navarro, Leo Villareal, Stefan Brüggermann, Martin Creed

Neon. The Armory has a shit-ton of neon: old neon; new neon; white neon; colored neon; black neon; neon words; neon shapes; neon that hung, stood, and levitated; obscured neon (a nice touch to a Peter Liversidge at Ingleby Gallery); obscuring neon (the Ian Hamilton Finlay piece above managed to cast such a glow that it turned the painting next to it green);  just a shit-ton of neon.  Why? Most likely just because they’re eye-catching. Most of the neon works around the fair don’t reflect anything new for the artists who made them, they just happen to all be on display at once.

From left: Tony Cragg, Richard Jackson, Los Carpinteros

Shiny Things. Particularly mirrored steel and aluminum sculptures. If you have any doubts about this one, count the number of metal sculptures that aren’t mirrored, whether they be brushed or painted or just left alone; they’re well outnumbered. Mirrored paintings and mixed-media works are all over the place, too. This isn’t a new development – shininess is a pretty well-worn contemporary art trope by now – but it’s striking to see so much of it.

Kinetic Sculpture. Northern European booths were full of this stuff, which resulted in some impressive piles of electrical equipment. The creepy Warhol head next to the food sticks out, mostly because it serves to remind you of how long you’ve been standing in line. Art fair concerns seem to have kept most of the works to pedestrian-safe Duchampian spinning and Oldenburg-esque inflating, unfortunately, so there’s little here we haven’t seen before.

So what’d we notice at the Armory? Bright lights, reflections, and motion – which is to say, the same things a cat would notice. Advertisers have known about the irresistibility of those things for ages, which raises some questions, mostly: is this an actual shift in the work being produced, or are dealers just getting better at presenting the most retail-friendly works? I’m not sure which of those options I’d prefer. The Bingo board above seems to be a suitable response.

Previous post:

Next post: