Tuesday, March 9, 2010

nyc art fair roundup

Going to the Armory Show (not to be confused with going back in time) is like walking through the ads in ArtForum. The place is packed with the highest of the high end galleries from New York, London, Berlin, etc. Some stuff was good and some stuff was weird, but much like ads, everything had to compete to break through the clutter before your eyes.

Marc and I spent Thursday and Friday scoping out "armory week" around the city. We went to the Armory Show, VoltaNY, Scope, Red Dot, and Verge. This way we saw a range of exhibition spaces, from hotel rooms (bathroom art! art in sock drawers!) to a booth showing only one painting.

VoltaNY and Scope are great antidotes to the exhausting competition of the Armory. They attract similar crowds, though - combination of the museum-going-public with real deal collectors. They show some edgier high end stuff, fostering more of a fun-vibe than an impress-you-to-pieces vibe. But this still isn't art buying for amateurs - everyone is in the business of art stardom.

Red Dot was pretty sleepy early Thursday afternoon. Seemed like the gallerists exhibiting there made a last minute decision to jump on the armory boat, figuring that being anywhere in NY would present opportunities that don't exist in their home cities (including Boston). That's got to be the idea that fuels a lot of these small offshoot fairs. At Verge, each gallery set up in a hotel room. There was a lot of Brooklyn art, and I was often distracted by the creativity in space-usage.

New York is always packed with art. During Armory week, it's packed with even more. Experiencing the range - from $95k paintings at the Armory, to $10, 2" x 2" drawings in a cramped hotel room - is the best way to take an accurate snapshot of the art world. Big events like this offer art lovers who frequent museums, but shy away from galleries, to cross over into the commercial world. I hope people don't get scared off by the high end atmosphere and price tags though, because the art world extends far beyond that.