Photo Essays

Armory Show 2014: Getting Better After Lackluster Years Past

Cajsa von Zeipel, "HOLES IN THE WALL - flat shoe portal" (2014), styrofoam, aqua resin, fiberglass, plaster, at Andréhn-Schiptjenko gallery (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
Cajsa von Zeipel, “HOLES IN THE WALL – flat shoe portal” (2014), styrofoam, aqua resin, fiberglass, plaster, at Andréhn-Schiptjenko gallery (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

This year’s Armory Show may have stopped the bleeding for an art fair that has suffered from years of lackluster energy and a major blow delivered by the Frieze New York art fair, which began two years ago on a bucolic urban island and in the far warmer month of May. But no one should count out the passion New York’s art world has for art souks, a place where collectors, art tourists, and dealers easily mingle and make deals.

A woman in the middle of mirror works by Michelangelo Pistoletto at Galleria Repetto in the Armory Modern section of the Armory Show. (click to enlarge)
A woman in the middle of a booth of mirror works by Michelangelo Pistoletto at Galleria Repetto in the Armory Modern section of the Armory Show (click to enlarge)

I’ve already discussed the welcome China focus for this year’s Armory, but the fair itself might be the most interesting in years for contemporary art fans. That’s not to say there aren’t a number of problems, including the Armory Modern section, which felt subdued and predictable, and the associated Venus Drawn Out exhibition of female artists, which resembled the visual equivalent of salon-style wallpaper for a sitting area.

Armory uses the same ratio that most art fairs stick to, with a preponderance of painting (collectors love painting), flashy sculptures, and witty juxtapositions that grab your attention from across the room.

A display of works by at Athr Gallery of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (photo by Tiernan Morgan for Hyperallergic)
A display of works by Ahmed Mater and Nasser Al Salem at Athr Gallery of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (photo by Tiernan Morgan for Hyperallergic)

There was a healthy selection of global galleries from every continent, and for the first time a gallery from Saudi Arabia, Athr Gallery from Jeddah, joined the fair, with a display by artists Ahmed Mater and Nasser Al Salem. I asked longtime Hyperallergic friend and Athr gallery representative Adnan Manjal why the gallery, which has also been exhibiting in Berlin and other European fairs, chose to come to Armory. “The Armory is one of the most important art fairs in the world,” he explained. “We believe our artists’ work and concepts will bring a new and fresh perspective to the audience in the US and those who attend the fair regularly. The art scene in Saudi Arabia is quite interesting, regionally and globally, whether the artists tackle social and political issues such as Ahmed Mater or spiritual matters such as contemporary calligrapher Nasser Al Salem.”

Manjal’s point is worth noting, because even in a city like New York, where there is art around every corner, you still encounter good surprises in a number of booths by artists you’ve never heard of at a place like the Armory — it’s a nice treat when it happens, though I wish it would happen more.

If there was one work that captured the spirit of the art fair better than others, it would have to be Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s “The Wedding Cake” (2008), at London’s Blain Southern gallery. Busting open Renato Bertelli’s 1933 Futurist masterpiece “Head of Mussolini (Continuous Profile),” Noble and Webster have filled the bust of the Italian dictator with a bouquet of penises. Mussolini is a dickhead, which seems obvious, but what’s more fascinating is that at an art fair there’s always going to be someone who wants to buy something like this and put it in their home (or at least in storage) — that really is more spellbinding than the object itself.

12961156623_139f35609b_b-640
Tim Noble and Sue Webster, “The Wedding Cake” (2008), white crystacal plaster, at Blain Southern gallery
12961481724_6f242bd6f2_c-640
Jack Pierson’s “The Eternal Questions” (2013), wood, metal, plastic, on the right, on the right with Tom Sachs’s “Untitled (United States)” (2014), painted plywood, on the left at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
12961126593_ee50fcf237_b-640
Paul Ramírez Jonas, “Ventriloquist V” (2013), cork, push pins, notes contributed by the public, at Koenig & Clinton gallery
12961086525_53cf8f79cc_b-640
Michelangelo Pistoletto’s “Senza Titolo 58” (1976), on the left, with Kendell Geers’s “Losing My Religion 24” (2007–13) at Galleria Continua
12961231013_03135498b5_z
Tallur L.N., “Obituary Note” (2013) at Jack Shainman Gallery
12961496114_d72be78508_b-640
Robert Polidori, “Enfilade, Salle les princes royales, (86) ANR.02.004, Salles du XVII, Alle du Nord – 1er Etage” (2010), Kodak Endura print mounted to Dibond, at Edwynn Houk Gallery
12961400514_3e4df0e3f3_b-640
Atul Dodiya, “Shakuntala” (2013), exterior: enamel paint, brass letters on morotized metal roller shutter with iron hooks, interior: oil on canvas, at Vadehra Art Gallery
12961147363_cde6cc79e0_b-640
Detail of Chris Martin’s “Cherry Pie” (2013) at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen
12961200113_2bd2671118_z-640
People in front of Maximilian Toth’s “White Wash” (2012), graphite, grease pencil, spray paint, oil on canvas, at Fredericks & Freiser gallery
Sculpture by Rael Yassin at Kalfayan Galleries in Athens
Detail of a sculpture by Rael Yassin at Kalfayan Galleries in Athens
Detail of Dawn Clements's "2 Tables in My Kitchen" (2014), ballpoint pen ink on paper, at Pierogi gallery
Detail of Dawn Clements’s “2 Tables in My Kitchen” (2014), ballpoint pen ink on paper, at Pierogi gallery
12960972275_3a22040b08_z-640
Detail of a work by José Parlá at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
12961278813_e88838ebce_b-640
Vicky Wright’s “Torment of the Metals IX” (2014), oil on wooden panel, with Yana Naidenov’s “How a stone learns to fly (II)” (2013), rammed paper pulp, polystyrene, wood, at Josh Lilley gallery
12961419624_3440cb3767_b-640
Works by Ron Gorchov, HC Berg, and Peter Halley at Galerie Forsblom from Helsinki
12961183645_d373932d42_b-640
Ceramic sculptures by Jeffrey Mitchell and paintings by Grant Bernhart at Ambach & Rice gallery
Andrew Ohanesian's "" (2014) with Jim Torok's paintings of Chuck Close and Fred Tomaselli (both 2014) in the background, at Pierogi Gallery
Andrew Ohanesian’s “Oceans” (2013), San Jamar Tear-N-Dry Hands Free Paper Towel Dispenser, Natural Kraft Brown Roll Towel, with Jim Torok’s paintings of Chuck Close and Fred Tomaselli (both 2014) in the background, at Pierogi Gallery
12961684613_5a2fac8c3b_b-640
Works from Romuald Hazoumé’s “Chantou” series (2013) at London’s October Gallery
12961505685_60e98fe5a4_b-640
Muntean/Rosenblum’s “Untitled (To fill empty…)” (2014), acrylics on canvas, flanked by two sculptures (ceramics, paint, drywall) sculptures by Cristian Andersen
12961759374_a40e52d234_b-1-640
A work by Abigail Deville from her “Invisible Women” series at Michel Rein gallery
12961176005_d55458d326_b-640
Scott Treleaven’s “Fountain 2” (2014) at Invisible Exports gallery
12961471754_46f936ef21_h-640
Moriko Mori’s “Renew II” (2013), fiberglass, hovering above Frank Thiel’s “Perito Moreno #17” (2012/13), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, at Sean Kelly gallery
12961668554_fe8b9027a5_b-640
People in front of David Wojnarowicz’s “Untitled (Man with Rifle)” (1983), acrylic on canvas, at PPOW gallery
12961525524_426f1aaa58_b-640
Detail of Do Ho Suh, “Specimen Series: Berlin Apartment Wieland Strasse, 18, 12159 Berlin, Germany” (2011), polyester fabric, 14 pieces, at Lehmann Maupin gallery
12961655814_94b2d9fe3a_c-640
William Powhida’s first stand alone sculpture, ” ” (2014) at Postmasters Gallery

The 2014 Armory Art Fair (Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street, Westside, Manhattan) continues through March 9, 12–7pm.

comments (0)