The Armory: The Forgettable Fair

by Paddy Johnson on March 3, 2016 Art Fair


It’s hard to imagine a more art boring fair than this year’s Armory. Looking back at yesterday’s photos there’s virtually nothing to say about any of it. The fair is filled with generic art market standards: neon, monochromes, mirrors. If you’re looking for an art genre, the boilerplate version of it is on view here. At least last year’s iteration was bad enough to warrant ridicule. This one will be instantly forgotten.

That’s too bad for the fair’s exhibitors, but maybe we should take for the sign it is: New York could use fewer mega-sized art fairs.  Or maybe just smarter fairs. The day before I spent the evening at the ADAA’s Art Show, a smaller-sized fair that leans towards historically-minded blue chip. It was a far more fulfilling experience (even though, it too had its fair share of conceptually vacant work.) Seemingly every booth had installed custom lighting and floors—it was actually transformative—though oddly, I ended up thinking about how small these booths were relative to the show rooms where this art normally gets shown. There may be no bigger spectacle in this city right now than real estate.

As for trends, the Armory is probably the best place for that activity, though even that revealed precious little: ceramics is still hot, figuration is still making a come back and according to one attendee I met last night paintings with stacked horizontal lines are in. Woo. A few highlights below.


Anton Kern

A nice install by Andrew Kreps which includes Annette Kelm’s collages of bullrushes and money. They’re aptly called “Money Tree”.


Sebastian Stoehrer’s ugly-pretty ceramic figures at at Carl Friedman Gallery. Individually, I’m not sure these would hold up—most end up looking like some stereotypical sickness is infecting clay—but as a group, they look at little more lively and thus substantial.


Galerie Guido W. Baudach shows the work of Yves Scherer. Kinda funny. Does this remind anyone else of Elizabeth Jager bent over figures titled “Maybe We Die So Love Doesn’t Have To” at PS1 and Jack Hanley last year?

Klaus Von

Klaus Von Nichtassagend Gallery showed the spray paper works of David Scanavino. Undoubtedly the most colorful booth in the fair and easily photographable. It’s a bit process-heavy for my tastes—the work has to be manipulated in a single session and I’m not sure what content there is past various formalist references.

Marianne Boesky

Claudia Wieser at Marianne Boesky. Basically a selfie mirror. The piece is little showy, so not something I’d want to own unless I was already a collector of the artist. She can find line in virtually any landscape, so it’s unsurprising she’d want to literalize her drawings and sculptures.

David Zwirner

Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner. These things are the equivalent of designer handbags at this point in that both are all but mass produced, but hey, it’s a nice looking vegetable with holes.

Tony Oursler at Lisson Gallery. I wouldn’t call this a highlight. Mostly it’s here as a reminder to collectors that this artist makes a lot of really bad work.


Hernan Bas

This Hernan Bas screen at Lehmann Maupin stood out as exceptional. Bas can be a bit inconsistent, but a close look at the painting here reveals a real mastery of brushwork.

Whoever this is - 303

Nick Mauss is only 35, which makes him a pretty young artist in the ADAA crowd. He completely transformed the booth at 303 gallery and infused a bit of life into what might have otherwise been an typically safe showing for the Art Show.


Add Mary Bauermeister to the group of older female artists whose work is now finding a market again. Pavel Zoubok’s obviously helping with this by giving her a solo booth. I can’t say I was totally sold on the work—the box works above seemed to create their own world, but there were a few too many formulaic pieces on the wall that were simply stones piled and arranged in simple patterns. Zoubok tells me Bauermeister had a thriving career in the US until she married and moved to Germany. While there, she spent time with a lot of Fluxus artists, though Zoubok says she was “with them, but not of them”.  For whatever reason, being offered that level of detail on an artist made me like the work much more. Which is to say, Zoubok is a great sales man, so be careful in that booth!

David Zwirner

An enlarged resin replica of a sticky gooey hand toy by David Musgrave. This gets a nod mostly because it looks like elegant blown glass. Available at Luhring Augustine.

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