What’s Hot And What’s Not at The Armory

by Paddy Johnson on March 3, 2011 · 9 comments Art Fair

The Armory Show

Don’t expect an empty parking lot when visiting the Armory Fair. Even as I took this shot yesterday crowds were growing inside, and that was just the press preview. Brave the crowds this year. Even if The Armory Fair isn’t the best on the circuit, it’s much better than it was last year, or the year before. A run down of Pier 92’s highlights and lowlights.

BEST BLUE CHIP CONTEMPORARY BOOTH

Sies and Höke bring a mix of gallery stable artists

Here’s what I like about the Sies and Höke booth: It feels spacious. It’s filled with good art. Claudia Wieser presents a mirror installation, papered walls, and a number of geometric shaped lines over photographs.  They continue to impress. Also worth a look are Thomas Kiesewetter’s hand cut and bended metal sculptures. Tiny dints and sequenced screw heads mark the sculpture’s seams giving the objects a more personal touch.

BEST BLUE CHIP CONTEMPORARY BOOTH RUNNER UP

Pae White at Greengrassi

Pae White at Greengrassi

Two years ago, this kind of messy installation style would have been all over the fair, today, Pae White is one of a kind. A close look at some of the stenciling in these works pays off. The combination of smooth curving lines in some works and gridded circle stencils in others are very visually rewarding.

BEST ART WORK IN SHOW

Katharina Grosse, "Untitled", 2010, acrylic on canvas, 249 x 208 cm Galerie Nachse st. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwalder -

Hands down the best single painting in the fair. See the work in person — it’s impossible to communicate why this painting is great through reproduction.

BEST EMERGING CONTEMPORARY BOOTH

White wall sculptures: Sam Moyer, "Untitled Wood Drawing" watercololrs: Gianna Commito "Deck" at Rachel Uffner Gallery. Image via: Hyperallergic.

Rachel Uffner’s programming has been steadily improving since she opened two years ago, and this booth evidences the result of her work.  Sam Moyer’s sculptures play perfectly against Gianna Commito’s watercolor paintings. Do not miss this booth.

MOST ENTHUSIASTIC USE OF NEON

Ivan Navarro, The Armory Fence, 2011

Paul Kasmin has a known affinity for blinking lights: Exhibit A, Miami 2008; Exhibit B, Miami 2010; Exhibit c, The Armory Fair, 2011. Navarro takes this affinity to a new level, emptying the booth of all art, but for the fence. It’s eye-catching, but I have to wonder how well this piece will fare once the neon light trend expires (that can’t happen soon enough).  I also wonder how dealer Peter Blum feels about having his small Adrian Paci light boxes next to a giant electric fence. Kasmin had some good fortune with this piece as most of his neighbors aren’t exhibiting work that will be effected too negatively by the work. Paci was not so lucy.

BEST GENITAL-OBJECT COMBINATION

Robert Arneson, Untitled, (Blue Mountain tea from the Sweet Golden Rod), 1969, ceramic at Allan Stone (Pier 94)

Admittedly, when I took this photo I was still under a Mel Ramos haze from the nearby Hilger Modern Contemporary (please make him stop), so it wasn’t because I thought I was going to say good things. But the more I look at this Robert Arneson tea pot the more I like it. For one, it takes some skill to conceive an object that combines so many genitals and body parts: we’re talking, an erect penis, ass, and lips(/vagine?)! Also, the artist went to some effort to add details to the piece that benefit the work. I like the freckles. I like the hair.

A PALM TREE!

David Zink Yi, New Silver, 2010, Aluminum and stainless steel

Sadly, there’s no prize for this tree, but it is the most dominent object in the middle point of the show. It seemed worth including here too for that reason.

WORST IN SHOW

Sean Kelly Gallery

Kehinde Wiley, Cameroon Study, 2010, Bronze, 28 x 15 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches at Sean Kelly Gallery

Sean Kelly Gallery easily nabs the Worst in Show Booth this year, primarily through selecting bad art and exhibiting it. It’s hard to say what inspired The Kehinde Wiley shoe on head sculpture currently on view in his booth and it’s probably not worth guessing. Also a problem is the amount of bad work produced by good artists — the broken lamp and spilled stainless steel oil by Los Carpinteros a prime example. Joseph Kosuth’s, neon light “Three Adjectives Described” isn’t so bad, but amidst the rest of this crap its content is all but rendered meaningless.

MOST OFFENSIVE WORK OF ART

Nelson Leirner, Mapas, 2008 at Gabrielle Maubrie Gallery

Here’s a bad idea: covering the continent of Africa with GORILLA stickers. I just hope there’s no one out there hoping to play this off as ironic racism.

BEST LIPS

Warhol's lips

I’m happy to see all kinds of body parts animated, but Warhol’s lips and eyelids aren’t one of them. I pray this piece doesn’t influence other artists. I see a bleak future of bad animated GIF lip tumblrs ahead of me.

WORST NIPPLE PLACEMENT

Richard Stipl likes Juan Munoz!

Unlike most nipples I saw at the fair, these are on the part of the body they appear on at birth. FAIL. Art nipples go on vaginas.

BEST ACURA

Acura

Need a new car with your art work? There’s a new acura for sale behind a Gordon Matta-Clarke-eque cut wall. You can get a Volkswagon on artnet.

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