No matter how much the Independent tries to escape the profile of an art fair, it remains one, checking off the white walls, generally guarded gallerists, and expensively dressed visitors with frighteningly whitened teeth. But with only around 40 exhibitors, this fair is more manageable than your average one.
Often, we’ve found, fairs fall into trends; two years ago, Independent got a little raunchy. This year, however, the visions are multiple, with some galleries dedicating their booths to outsider and unknown artists, or art that is a bit more playful — sometimes, perhaps, too playful (what’s with the giant Elmo at Francesca Pia?).
Two standouts booths are Garth Greenan‘s and Andrew Edlin‘s, which took, for Independent, an unusual look back in time.
Garth Greenan Gallery is showing 12 prints by Howardena Pindell from her Video Drawings series (1974–76). They show stills from televised sports, which Pindell has superimposed with transparencies that she’s annotated with minuscule numbers and flying arrows. There is apparently no mathematical logic to her additions, though they vaguely correspond to the action depicted: boxing, a football game, lifting weights. Her cryptic marks are like an invented language that attempts to compute these athletes’ herculean movements. Pindell, who continues to make work and is currently a professor at SUNY Stony Brook, will be featured in the Brooklyn Museum’s upcoming exhibition, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85.
At Andrew Edlin Gallery, you’ll find Beverly Buchanan‘s models of shacks and houses that are often based on real structures she visited, usually in the Southern US, carrying histories of sharecropping and neglect. Buchanan, who died in 2015 and currently has an excellent solo show at the Brooklyn Museum, once said: “A lot of my pieces have the word ‘ruins’ in their titles because I think that tells you this object has been through a lot and survived — that’s the idea behind the sculptures … it’s like, ‘Here I am; I’m still here!’” Her models reveal extremely precarious yet creatively assembled structures, while her drawings of them, placed in lush landscapes, restore them to a sunny place.
Next up, at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, is James Castle, who, as one of the gallerists put it, is an “outsider artist, if you like to use that term.” Castle (1899–1977), who was profoundly deaf, drew prolifically throughout his life, though it wasn’t until the last 20 years of his life that his work gained prominence. His drawings of doorways, jackets, farmscapes, and horizons were often composed from unlikely materials: sticks, soot, spit, fruit pits, and other scraps he found in the trash, mixed in with watercolor and oil sticks.
Another curious story unravels at Delmes & Zander‘s booth. Fifty erotic drawings titled Disko Girls, while individually not all that notable, collectively are undeniably fun, depicting naked women who appear jubilant about their nakedness as they pose at the beach, play music, and make love to one another. The drawings are all the more intriguing because they were found in Germany in the late 1990s, and no one has been able to identify their maker, though their pop cultural references suggest they date to the 1970s or ’80s.
In another vein of fun, Andrés Eidelstein’s figurines at Karma‘s booth were especially popular on Thursday afternoon, with visitors eagerly picking them up for purchase. Depicting Disney and cartoon characters alongside political figures and well-known artworks, you’ll find absurd juxtapositions, like Matisse’s dancers next to the Clintons waving US flags. Jessica Rabbit and one of Jeff Koons‘s golden balloon dogs, on the other hand, somehow make a neater pairing.
For some chuckles, visit David Shrigley‘s display in the Anton Kern Gallery booth, where I overheard visitors murmur to themselves, “This is my life.” Shrigley’s illustrations capture our inner frustrations and desires (“stealing is very similar to shopping,” reads one), while his instruments, including single-string “problem guitars,” are available for playing.
Echoing Shrigley’s plea to “Please protect the fragile glass vessels and do not allow them to fall and break … Amen,” artist Patrick Van Caeckenbergh has installed multiple racks of bell jars at Lehmann Maupin‘s booth nearby. Today, in Brooklyn at least, these delicate, hand-blown domes would probably be used to house terrariums, but the ones on view here were once used to shield saints’ relics from dust. Van Caeckenbergh, who is Belgian, purchased the jars from a Flanders man who collected them after they were discarded as the Flemish region became increasingly secular. The installation is one of the more poetic works of the fair, as these empty containers appear to conserve the void the ghostly saints left behind.
The 2017 Independent Art Fair continues at Spring Studios (50 Varick Street, Tribeca, Manhattan) through March 5.
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.
Vatican Partners With Balenciaga on “Spiritual” Menswear Line
A spokesperson for the church cited “shared values” with the fashion brand.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Iran Issues Fatwa Against AI
A reinterpretation of the Quran through a queer lens, written by an AI chatbot, is said to cause the move.
Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme
Select A-list guests will be invited to wear any artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not yet been seized by the Manhattan DA’s office.