The reality of art fairs is that they are the visible organs of the art market exposed for view. Plenty has been written about the way this Frankenstein’s Monster of a beast lumbers forward for a week and grinds to a halt until Hong Kong or Basel or whatever the next ink and pixel worthy event happens to be. I tend to approach art fairs (for viewing, not buying) the same way I approach a museum that has a minor collection, I look for good things, hidden treasures.
At the ADAA I was enamored with Zarina Hashmi’s show at Luhring Augustine. I haven’t yet seen the show at the Guggenheim so I was glad to get this preview. I saw stripes everywhere I looked (and was pleased to) with Mary Corse at Lehmann Maupin, Sean Scully in the 70s at LeLong, Daniel Buren at Barbara Krakow and a tiny but luminous and fragile Agnes Martin at Manny Silverman. My favorite moment of all was the pairing of a Suzan Frecon work on found paper from this year and a James Castle landscape also on a reused surface (cardboard I think) at Lawrence Markey. The work is so different but the paper was enough to draw a lovely parallel. It was not an obvious choice and I found it inspired.
The Armory fair is a behemoth. I won’t claim to have seen more that a third of its offerings. I looked for favorites, ignored the obvious and the too loud or strange. I moved swiftly and missed lots. Some of these artists are now my old favorites that I have come to expect an annual visit with them. Susan Hefuna at P Istanbul and Rhona Hoffman, Callum Innes at Sean Kelly and Kerlin Gallery are artists I know of because of the fairs and I am grateful for it. Duke Riley’s booth at Magnan Metz was old timey and exhilarating. The Armory Contemporary fair is like the Opera and the Armory Modern fair is the Ballet. Over at Modern I saw a tiny Sol LeWitt gouache paired with a Alighiero Boetti in James Goodman’s booth that made me incredibly happy. Michael Rosenfeld had some understated but magnificent Burgoyne Diller works on paper that would be a wonderful extension to the Inventing Abstraction show at MoMA.
If it weren’t for my day job, I would have tried to spend more time doing a thoughtful walk through or seeing the smaller fairs.
Still, among all the noise and brillo boxes there is plenty worth seeing.