It was pretty crazy. I hardly slept, came down with a cold, ate ferociously to fill a stressed void, and traumatized my eyes with the visual overload. In the midst of it all I did enjoy attending most of the fairs and being witness to a vast array of mediocre art with a sprinkle of eye popping treats. I spent many a evening out in the town attending opening parties that were too crowded with pumping barfable music and overpriced drinks with not so interesting people. I also spent many evenings attending opening parties that were full of great minded creatives and free drinks. So all in all I had an exhausing albeit enlightening experience all thanks to art fair week. There is a lot of information that have been consumed, I’m going to try to spill it all out as cohesively as possible but be aware there will be glitches and imperfections to my humble review of the week.
As far as the actual art fairs go, they were all middle brow with the exception of Scope who I think deserved the best art fair of the week award for their perfectly manageable size, variety in style, concept and medium between artists and booths, and spacious and clean layout that was a perfect balance between the over commodified commericalistic quality of Armory and the youthful avant garde experimentalism of Fountain.
Second prize for best art fair would have to go to Volta. All art fairs should be either solo or two person booths, although I do understand the whole point of having an art fair is to be as representational of an entire gallery’s artist program. Still, I enjoyed the simpler, more thoughtful and curated form of Volta and there were some booths that were definitely more spectacular than others.
Bronze medal will have to go Fountain for their kick ass unconventionality, their I don’t give a damn hardknox attitude of carefree decrepit layout, manipulating the scenic old school abandonment vibe inside boats off the dock and haphazardly displaying works in a salon style of overloaded makeshift walls rife with imperfections and crooked offsides that certainly should have been distractions but somehow complimented the works displayed. There were some fantastic works here as well.
As for Armory and Pulse, they were both equally mediocre with many interesting working that were worthy to look at but weren’t special enough to get all googly eye about. Armory definitely had your staple establishment artists with a good dose of stifled safe art in preparation for the non-rush of sales. Pulse was an imbalance of second tier works that made efforts to reach a top notch glitterfied status.
A few themes that I saw resonating in and out of all these fairs were disturbed adolescence and abstracted representations/representational abstractions. Whether they be crying babies or teenage angst ridden temper tantruming monsters these images of disturbed youth were found everywhere. Perhaps this is a reflection of the economic crisis and how we are needing to be comforted, a longing for maternal support that was unconditional and full of carefree comfort. There were also many medium scale paintings that were either border line abstract or border line representational that were on the safer side, probably easier to sell, but just splattered all over the place.
These patterns also made obvious what kind of art draws my attention the most, psycho-sexual infant neurosis art and ambivalent abstractions are my specialties. Needless to say I am biased in my take of the fairs as is any person writing about art. This is a completely different topic that’s been running through my mind after reading all about the state of contemporary art criticism, the end of art journals and art history as we know it, and the miseducation of soon to be curators. There was also an amazing art blogger panel discussion that took place that really opened my mind and allowed me to really think more about my role as an art blogger and how my judgment and tastes affect judgment and taste of a reader or the general public. We will be discussing that further.