2011 Armory Show

Day three of the art fair marathon culminated with the sprawling Armory Show on Piers 92 and 94 on the Hudson River. One pier is contemporary, the other is modern, but we barely saw all of contemporary in the over 3 1/2 hours we were there. There were 274 galleries from 31 countries! What is the difference between modern and contemporary you might ask? Think Botero vs. the Exploded Astronaut shown above, and you should have a good model.

This was my second time to attend the Armory Show (you can read about my first expedition here), and this year I was more prepared for how hot it would be, and brought food. We got there early enough to beat most of the crowds, so we were able to actually stop and look at the art. As the day went on, it became more and more like a state fair for the rich, everyone staring at a video of Marina Abramović instead of the world’s tallest horse, Wichcraft sandwiches instead of fried oreos.

With that many galleries all packed into one airplane hanger-like space, we decided to be methodical and go up and down the aisles (although I am easily distracted by things like giant rocking horses and did a little meandering). I’ll try to be the same with this post, and go through some of the highlights (for me), although there may be some rambling.

I appreciated that a lot of the artists used humor, and not in a one-liner, phallic type of way. Like the above installation by Alexander Gorlizki, where there was a silver goat wearing a sweater in front of a gallery covered in wallpaper and miniature paintings.

This was also this model by Tracey Snelling of the house from Sunset Boulevard. You can’t tell from this photo, but the pool was  a video screen playing (*SPOILER ALERT*) the end scene where Joe is floating dead, facedown in the water. Next to it was another sculpture by Snelling called Somewhere in Ohio of the house from Silence of the Lambs, complete with a video built into it of the infamous pit.

For $25, you could buy a dollar bill with the words “New York is a lot of work” printed on it by Reed Seifer. I’m sure this was the cheapest art at the Armory Show (people come and buy paintings that equal my yearly salary), and probably the most photographed. Who in New York doesn’t like affirmation that their lives are exhausting, daily toils through a harsh urban maze? I certainly do.

A huddle of scared creatures was hiding in one gallery.

Ryan Gander’s installation of arrows shot into a corner of a wall was clever. Looking at his work online, it seems that he’s done entire galleries full of arrows, which would be awesome to see.

This installation seemed to be the periodic table with images of the scientists who discovered each element. Or at least, that’s what we deduced. (I can’t claim the whole deduction. I recognized the scientists, Eszter recognized the shape of the periodic table, together we had one coherent thought.)

An artist (whose name I didn’t note) had set up these videos of dogs on different televisions. Was this a recreation of the internet? Where were the cats?

There was one gallery that had works made from old books (again, sorry for missing the artist). The covers were the easiest to photograph, but I liked the whole wall of framed dedication pages the best.

At a certain point (perhaps at hour two), I got a little mentally exhausted and forgot to note every artist who I photographed. I think I kind of felt like there was a crab clenching my skull, holding a scalpel. Does that make sense? It’s kind of hard to visualize… I believe it was about this time that I saw David Byrne.

Despite the increasing crowds, there were a few spots of tranquility at the Armory Show, at least for the brain if not my jostled body. I liked the above neon Armory Fence by Ivan Navarro, if only because it created one of the few empty places in the building.  I think it was also the only neon art not making words on the wall.

Two different galleries had Wim Delvoye’s laser-cut steel vehicles resembling Transformers Gothic cathedrals. (Someone please make that movie.) One was a dump truck, another a concrete mixer. The detail was just amazing. If you looked through the truck, you saw a long nave with a peeked ceiling, like looking into a miniature church.

Sam Van Aken had created a neon orchard installation surrounded by foil curtains. The trees were genetically modified, grafted to produce different types of fruits, part of his Tree of 40 Fruits project. 

A relaxing photography forest even had a bench to rest on. This was post-scalpel crab, so I’m afraid I don’t know what artist to thank.

And you can never go wrong with globes! Any idea what the numbers signify?

My KidRobot obsession made me love this giant sculpture by street artist KAWS.

Okay, well I’m exhausted all over again. I hope that can give you a little of the experience of going to the Armory Show, without journeying through the well-dressed masses. It’s exhausting, overwhelming, often pretentious, kind of silly in the recession, but I enjoyed discovering some great art in the maze of white walls.

2 thoughts on “2011 Armory Show

  1. […] stopped by some of the Chelsea galleries to see some art, because I had finally recovered from the mental overload of the Armory Show. What's going on here?! Poor Mr. Monopoly seems to be being consumed by the […]

  2. […] fairs spawning off or contrasting with the massive Armory Show. (I didn’t go this year, but you can read my recap of the 2011 Armory Show here.) Fountain, held in the 69th Regiment Armory, was an edgier breed of art fair, with a lot of street […]

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