Ben Austin Brings On Day Two Of His Armory Week Diary
As a storm threatened to engulf New York with a blizzard of snow, it was comforting to get out of the wind and the sleet into the rarified and warm environment of the Park Ave Armory. This is a class act of a fair, manageable and a real treat to walk around, far cry from the crazy chaos of the Piers. The venue itself speaks of tradition and old money. Here the atmosphere is genteel and sophisticated, where there is a healthy and refreshing mix of the old and the new. Modernist work is not banished to a separate Pier, which is somewhat overlooked when compared to its’ younger and brasher neighbour.
The Park Ave Armory is for the more discerning collector, whose collection may take in a Milton Avery, yet might also be interspersed with Cindy Sherman. The booths are elegantly curated with refinement that only comes with established galleries.
So it was at Mitchell-Innes and Nash the first booth, who like many other galleries had dedicated their booths to solo presentation, here was a fine display of Jean Arp. Next to them Munchin Gallery had a collection of Warhol’s Chairman Mao (perhaps with an eye on the strength of the Chinese market). James Cohan had a striking series by Fred Tomaselli, front pages of newspapers graphically worked into. The big Uptown dealer Acquavella had a marvelous portrait by Lucien Freud priced at $5M and a pair of amusing Rosenquist at $320K. Alexander & Bonin’s booth featured the powerful work of the Lebanese artist Mona Hatoum with her signature spiky bed (I forget the actual title) on at $210K. Skarstedt Gallery had a strong but top dollar Cindy Sherman at $1.3M and a second rate Condo on at $250K. There was a rather nice Julian Opie at Barbara Krakow at $37,500 and over at Petzel the booth was dedicated to the work of Troy Brauntuch, I liked these monochromatic ghostly black images and a large piece would set you back $180K.
Further down at the rear of the fair, I found an arresting series of collage work at Pavel Zoubok and was taken by their centre fabric piece by Richard Lindner. High-end photography could be found at Pace/MacGill, who had a cracking Gursky priced at an eye watering $2M and a fine William Eggleston.
Cheim & Read pulled off the show-stopping booth with a piece by Jannis Kounellis entitled, ‘All or Nothing at All’. This in the round, free standing piece, blocked off the whole booth and incorporated brick work with an installation of sewing machines. The piece was apparently under consideration by a major museum and was priced at $500K.
Van de Weghe gallery, another major New York player had opted for Hirst, offering up at ‘Spin’ painting for $685K, a cigarette but cabinet at $850M and rather good ‘Butterfly’ piece for $1.25M. They had sold a ‘Spot’ piece for $600K. So it would appear that the market for Hirst is holding up.
Marian Goodman had a solo presentation of the brilliant Tacita Dean. Sean Kelly had curated their booth with a series of artist portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe. I particularly liked the images of Warhol, Haring and Lichenstein. The prices ranged from $8,500 to $100K being an edition of 10 with two APs.
At Anthony Meir there were some strong paintings by Kirsten Morgin ranging from $8K to $100K. While at Blum & Poe who were showcasing thick impasto paintings by Jhu Jinshi, which were quite gorgeous.
There was a minimal series by Mary Corse at Lehmann Maupin, the gallery staff informed that in spite of being an important Chelsea gallery they felt more at home showing Uptown.
Another stand out booth was Sperone Westwater, where I adored the work of Wim Delvoye, who is apparently a pig farmer and had tattooed the porkers before turning them into art and no doubt tasty ribs. A complete inked pig was priced at $250K, while framed skin were at $165K and $80K for a smaller piece. Crackling!
Anton Kern had a couple of fine Wihelm Sasnal, priced at $47K and $120K for the larger piece.
Laurence Miller had a striking booth devoted to the pioneer of motion photography and even cinema – Eadweard Muybridge.
Finally I was taken by the work the subversive and somewhat grotesque work of May Stevens showing at the Mary Ryan gallery.
So, in conclusion if you want an antidote to the fair frenzy of the Piers, the Park Armory is the perfect remedy and of course while Uptown one can visit The Guggenheim, The Met, The Whitney and an old school favourite – The Frick Collection.
We headed off though Downtown to SoHo to see the Volta fair. I will be report back on that fair in my next instalment as I need to rush off now to check out the galleries in Chelsea and the Independent Fair. Although before I do head out into a raging blizzard, I will say that Volta was extensive and in part brilliantly bonkers.
Words/ Photos: Ben Austin © for Artlyst 2013
Julian Opie : Barbara Krakow Gallery