Photo Essays

Going Contemporary at the Armory

by Hrag Vartanian on March 3, 2011

The entrance to Pier 94, Armory's contemporary wing

I shared some of my favorites from the Armory Show‘s Modern wing earlier today and now it’s time to sift through the contemporary aisles.

I could’ve wandered this area for days and kept finding something new but I settled for four hours.

I’ve included a number of works by South American artists I don’t know because of the fair’s Latin American theme, and I added some images of works I’m still a little unsure about in an effort to share a wide-range of the art on display.

If the art world has been about globalism for quite a while I can say that is more true now than ever — if that’s possible.

Here are my dozens of photos for your pleasure. I apologize that many of them don’t have titles listed but a great many booths didn’t have them on display and most dealers were busy talking up collectors to bother with press questions.

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc. booth was quite a showstopper. The reflective curtains added a sci-fi edge and inside artist Sam Van Aken’s New Eden show was being explained to visitors, collectors and the press. The trees inside are examples of the artist’s project, which is combining different varieties of trees so that they can give multiples types of fruit.

/ hv

This is an computer image of what San Van Aken is aspiring to achieve in a few years’ time, namely a tree that can grow 100 different fruit simultaneously.

/ hv

Works by Daniel Arsham at Amsterdam-based Galerie Ron Mandos — (left) “BC” (2011) and (right) “Sculpture” (2011), which was commissioned for the booth.

/ hv

Raise your hand if you didn’t realize that Kehinde Wiley painted people who weren’t black. This work, “Bonaparte in the Great Mosque of Cairo” (2010) is very timely and grapples with the issues of Western colonialism. I have to say that the young men in the painting look far more South Asian than North African.

/ hv

Canada gallery’s booth was carpet-i-licious — a trend I noticed throughout the fair — and this display features the work of (clockwise from left) Carrie Moyer, Jess Fuller and Michael Williams on the left side wall.

/ hv

More color and pattern galore at Alexander Gorlizko’s “It has come to our Attention” display at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery.

/ hv

Jota Castro’s inflatable sculpture at the Chilean gallery Gonzales y Gonzales must be about something very relevant to today … but … I … can’t … remember … exactly … what …

/ hv

What’s an art fair without galleries capitalizing on a hot trend? Marina Abramović was everywhere, including at Lisson Gallery, where we see 20 framed prints of “Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful” (1975-2010).

/ hv

I was entranced by this “Endura Ultra” photograph — whatever that means — by Isaac Julien, titled “Hotel (Ten Thousand Waves)” (2010).

/ hv

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is having a show at the Studio Museum in Harlem right now but you can also see some of her Manet-inspired works at London’s Corvi-Mora Gallery. Here you see “From Here Until Never” (2011). There is a stiffness to her figures that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. This is an example of a work where, in my opinion, it works rather well.

/ hv

This display at Sao Paolo’s Baro Gallery features all Brazilian artists with the exception of the neon sculpture in the middle, which is by a Chilean artist. Apologies that I lost the list of artists names — art fair casualty.

/ hv

Pieter Hugo’s photo of a electronics graveyard in Ghana was originally taken for The New York Times and now hangs in the booth of Yossi Milo Gallery. Photojournalism becomes art.

/ hv

David Wojnarowicz’s “Heads” (1984) at Andrew Kreps Gallery.

/ hv

Vicky Wright’s (left) “Guardian LI” (2011) and “Guardian LII” (2011) look like contemporary versions of Baroque painting.

/ hv

The hilarious trophies of Tim Davis’s “The Upstate New York Olympics” series. The competitions including “Lawn Jockey Leapfrog,” “Headstone Exercises” and “Snowman Jiu Jitsu.” The series included videos of performances and digitally altered images of ancient Greek olympic images from red/black pottery.

/ hv

Paul Kasmin gallery has Iván Navarro’s “The Armory Fence” (2011) on display. I guess we know who thinks the art fair is a gated community.

/ hv

Rashaad Newsome’s new work is frame heavy and youth culture obsessed. I like the bling of “Grand Marquis of Brooklyn” (2011) on the left but it was hard to watch “Untitled (New Way)” (2009) in this space. I believe the latter was in last year’s Whitney Biennial.

/ hv

I could have easily included Craig Kauffman’s “Untitled” (2001) in my 20th C moderne post but I thought it fit better here. This is what Constantin Brancusi’s “Bird of Space” would’ve looked like if he was thinking about donuts and not feathered creatures.

/ hv

I’m a sucker for a Michelangelo Pistoletto mirror work, even though he’s been doing these forever. Though, let’s face it. The earlier ones are better.

/ hv

WTF is this? It’s Luis Gispert’s “Arriviste II” (2011). Actually, that doesn’t explain anything. Honestly, WTF is this?

/ hv

This one is for my brother since it contains some of the things he likes most, dogs and guns. This is Armen Eloyan’s “Untitled (Dog with the Guns)” (2010).

/ hv

This is Li Lihong’s “Absolut China” (nd) at Hollis Taggart Galleries, and while there is an actual bottle of Absolut vodka in the display, each of the other bottles are created in the style of a major Chinese dynasty. And no, this is not a commissioned work by Absolut. Part of me doesn’t want to like this work but it’s actually quite thought provoking and makes me think about the notion of period styles, consumerism and what is a brand historically.

/ hv

Easily the most affordable work at Armory, artist Reed Seifer’s “New York Is a Lot of Work” (2011) is an edition of 1,000 real US dollar bills stamped with the title of the piece. Each is signed, numbers and available for $25. If you don’t want to do the math, that means Seifer is hoping to turn a $1,000 investment into $25,000. That’s art people.

/ hv

A mountain of Cordy Ryman’s at DCKT gallery looks oh-so-trendy. I prefer Ryman’s more rough-hewn objects.

/ hv

A salon-style wall at the Pierogi Gallery booth featuring Tavares Strachan’s “The Plunge #4″ (201) in the middle.

/ hv

Large works at the Yancey Richardson Gallery booth by Rachel Perry Welty, “Lost in My Life (Silver Twist Ties #1 and #3)” (2010), that walk a fine line between figuration and abstraction.

/ hv

Jen Denike’s ballerina piece at Mendes Wood Gallery of Sao Paolo was absolutely hilarious to me juxtaposed in front of the man carting a garbage can through the aisles of the fair.

/ hv

I think Flavio Favelli’s “America (poste italiane)” (2011) is kind of kitschy (detail is inset), but it made me wonder if this is an example of a common meme going from the pop of the online world being translated into contemporary art.

/ hv

I think I would’ve understood (top) Kira Kim’s “I Love U” (2009) and (bottom) Gimhongsok’s “People Construction – Horizontal Three” (2011) much more if they were connected. Alone I don’t really get them.

/ hv

I included Ryan Gander for its awesomely loooong title, “Ftt, Ft, Ftt, Ffttt, Ftt, or somewhere between a modern representation of how a comtemporary gesture came into being, an illustration of the physicality of an argument between Theo and Piet regarding the dynamic aspect of the diagonal line and attempting to produce a chroma-key set for a hundred cinematic scenes” (2010).

/ hv

Another work I’m undecided on but stuck out for me. Maroa Nepomuceno at Brazil’s A Gentil Carioca.

/ hv


The 2011 Armory Show (Piers 92 & 94, Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street, Manhattan) is open Thursday, March 3 – Saturday, March 5 noon to 8pm, and Sunday, March 6 Noon to 7pm.

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.
  • Viv

    exciting coverage. thank you for the pictures and the amazing comments

    my one pet peeve is the fact that so many art websites misspell the city name “São Paulo”. It is NOT São Paolo. It is a major global art city and it is astonishing that this mistake keeps getting made in so many of the art blogs I read.

Previous post:

Next post: