By: Claire McKown
March 15, 2012
This past week, the Armory Show, along with a number of satellite fairs took New York City by storm. After a busy weekend filled with rushing around to as many art fairs as I could, I can hardly tell you what artworks I saw, but I left with the overwhelming sense of the power of the contemporary art market right now. While the rest of the country might only be just emerging from the recession, people seem to have money to burn on art. While I didn’t make it to all the fairs, here is a run down of what I did see:
The Armory Show is at the heart of this week–a four day long show that overtakes two huge spaces to showcase art from 270 of the top dealers from around the world. I probably chose a bad time to go–Saturday afternoon on a particularly nice, sunny day–and the crowds were outrageous. While I know that there was some extremely impressive and interesting art on display, it was hard to see it without being shoved aside. As much as the crowds might perturb me and get in the way of my own viewing experience, it is wonderful to see so many people interested in contemporary and modern art. Particularly interesting was the live performance piece Bed for Human Use by Marina Abramovic at Luciana Brito Gallery, which featured a person lying down on a wooden board with a crystal structure around their head. My question is: if you buy it, does the person come with the sculpture?
Though the Independent Art Fair has been lauded by critics in general this year, I was frankly disappointed. There were a lot of found object sculptures and bland drawings–nothing that I found particularly inspiring or interesting in terms of art. However, the show, held in the old DIA arts building in Chelsea, was worth going to just to see the view from the roof and the permanent Dan Flavin installation in the stairwell.
My favorite fair of the week was definitely Scope. Held right across the street from Armory, Scope is geared more towards finding dealer from emerging and international galleries. The mood was friendly and relaxed, and I felt like there was more of an emphasis on the art itself, which was a nice change of pace from the other fairs. The first room you walk into is covered in mirrors with trophies lining the walls–it’s pretty weird, but in a very good way. From there, I was greeted by a dealer at A.M.F. Projects who invited me to climb into a pink tent/fort by an artist named Lanie Love Dalby, setting the mood for a much more fun and playful experience than the other fairs on view.
The last fair I made it to was the Dependent, which is in its second year and was held at the Comfort Inn on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Each gallery involved took over a hotel room and set out their wares, oftentimes with the dealers sitting on the beds (or in one case, under the covers of the bed). While I love that it was really easy to talk to people at this fair, the spectacle of the whole situation definitely overpowered whatever art was there.
While I know I missed a number of fairs, and even more parties, from what I saw, the art world is alive and well. And people don’t just love to see art, from what I hear, they love to buy it too, which are both good things in my book. If you missed it, not to worry, TEFAF Art Fair in Maastrict, Holland is taking place March 16-25, Art Dubai’s happening March 21-24, and Mexico Arte Contempraneo will be on from April 18-22. It’ll be important to keep an eye on how the international art fairs fare in comparison to New York’s Armory Week. And if you’re in New York come May, brace yourself for the British invasion, when Frieze Art Fair, a London staple, comes to the city for the first time.