Contemporary Art Dominates the ADAA Art Show

by Paddy Johnson on March 5, 2014 Art Fair

The ADAA hall

A view of the ADAA

Mercifully, this year’s ADAA far was absent of familiar pop art fair staples such as Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist. Many dealers brought contemporary art to the fairs, with familiar names such as Dana Schutz, Jacob Kassay, and James Turrell filling the booths. That, along with a series of in-depth solo booths, contributed to an overall sense of higher quality than in years past.

“Everyone’s saying this is better than last year,” Bortolami’s Raphael Lepine told me. As a gallerist, Lepine’s not exactly unbiased, but I heard those words repeated from attendees as well. “I love that you can see old masters next to contemporary art here,” artist Ryan Johnson remarked. His wife Dana Schutz, who is expecting in August, had a solo show of black-and-white drawings at Petzel.

Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz’s black and white drawings fill Petzel’s booth. They look like Picasso drawings from afar, but up close, it’s hard to miss the wry faces and figures that make Schutz’s work so distinct.

By and large, the stand outs at the ADAA show were solo booths like Schutz’s. PPOW showcased a booth of Martha Wilson work sold as one unit, David Zwirner bravely displayed a suite of six Ad Reinhardt prints (with a price tag of 3 million for the set), and Tibor de Nagy brought a booth of detailed Sarah McEneaney paintings depicting interiors and people in her life.

A smattering of dealers spoke of participating in both the ADAA and The Armory. Wendy Olsoff said PPOW will be in both, and spoke of the shows with both anticipation and dread. “Doing both fairs is exciting now. The show’s fresh and it will be exciting at The Armory tomorrow. It’s Saturday and Sunday that things get grueling.” Olsoff was quick to spell out exactly what makes the fairs difficult. “The human mind has a repertoire of only so many questions: ‘No, I did not make all of this work myself,’ ‘Yes, the work is all sold together,’ and ‘No, I can’t do that yoga position,’” she told me while gesturing to Martha Wilson taking a yoga pose in a video.

Sean Kelly will, as per usual participate in both fairs, while other galleries have simply changed locations. Bortolami had participated in The Armory and The Independent last year. “We did the ADAA this year because we were invited. It is a great honor,” said Lepine. She added, “We’re a small gallery, so we don’t do too many fairs.” The gallery brought three paintings by Richard Aldrich and two works by Daniel Buren.

As for the sales, no one was complaining. January into February can be slow months, and the fairs represent an end to that. As one anonymous dealer told me, “I’ve had more serious interest over the past 10 days than I have in the last two months.”

Our slideshow below.


Sperone Westwater

Sperone Westwater’s booth of Charles LeDray work is this year’s lead booth at the ADAA, and it resembles a clothing store front. Not the most inspiring start to the fair, but that’s fine. It performed better elsewhere.


Martha Wilson at PPOW

“To have composure is to be one’s own mirror” writes Martha Wilson in a statement about a series of images she took examining composure. In it, she found that the expressions she made without the help of mirror,  better expressed her emotional state than when she was attempting to do so with the aid of a mirror. This is just one of many works at P.P.O.W. in which Wilson deftly examines identity.  She is an easy win for this year’s Best in Show.

Martha Wilson - I'll take these over Cindy Sherman any day.

In this series of photographs Wilson adopts an identity, photographs herself, and explains how close the personality gets to “Goddess-dom.” In the case of “the Working Girl,” it’s only in so far as her budget permits. I’ll take these over Cindy Sherman any day.


Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons’s “Walking Objects”series take over the Salon 94 booth. This is some of my favorite work by Simmons—the images of women are both absurd and gorgeous—so it’s good to see them getting a little love. The work was executed in 1989.

Tibor de Nagy

This install shot of Sarah McEneaney at Tibor de Nagy fails to capture the detail that makes her paintings such a pleasure to look at.

Tibor de Nagy

You can get a better sense of it in this painting of McEneaney ‘s New Orleans studio, as it’s easier to see her careful depiction of the wooden floor and wrought iron window work. McEneaney paints pictures about her life, so the work feels very intimate. The faux-naive style only adds to this.

Kavi Gupta

Roxy Paine’s wood sculptures at Marianne Boesky look a million times better when they aren’t embedded in a wall and behind glass (as they were at Kavi Gupta in Chicago last October). I’m not sure what this mechanism is, but it looks like something Director David Chronenberg would make if he worked in wood. Needless to say, I approve.

Jacob Kassay

Jacob Kassay at 303 Gallery had all of his work hung on MDF. It’s a nice touch as the board mimics the particularization of the paint, though it’s hard to see exactly what collectors like about this work. My favorite part of the exhibition was the gallerist who politely avoided talking about why the artist had inscribed the word “Furniture” onto the side of one of his paintings.

Bortalami's Daniel Burren and Richard Aldrich. I visited that booth at least three times, and there was always a group of people standing in front of the Aldrich. It's one of the best paintings by him I've seen.

Bortolami’s Daniel Buren and Richard Aldrich. I visited that booth at least three times, and there was always a group of people standing in front of the white Aldrich. It’s one of the best paintings by him I’ve seen. The empty canvas on a canvas says more about painting  about painting than any of the exposed stretchers we’ve seen in the past. It’s a shell.

Ad Reinhardt

Hard to believe we’re looking at six black prints by Ad Reinhardt that are being sold as a set for 3 million. The show looks great and I recognize this artist’s historical importance, but this is one case where I’d be happy to purchase the Eric Doeringer knock-off.


James Turrell

James Turrell has been peddling these terrible holograms at Pace for at least ten years, and it’s time for them to stop. See that reflection of the booth in the image? That’s in everyone of of 3-D works; the image is always clouded by reflections of the room. It’s hard to believe these things have any other purpose than fundraising for Roden Crater.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: