Sunday, March 6, 2011

Art fair fatigue

So many art fairs, so little art! Okay, I only went to the ADAA Art Show at the 67th Street Armory, Pulse, and the Independent…and that was enough to let me know I didn’t want to brave the crowds at the piers.  I always like the ADAA show because I see things of actual substance, and at Marian Goodman’s booth, a bunch of Gabriel Orozco’s delightful interventions on money and airline tickets (tiny, $35,000, and worth every penny) that knock my socks off whenever I’m lucky enough to see some.

The other two shows….arggh! I commented to a friend that it all looked like eighth grade, and he said worse, because eighth graders would be more adventuresome: here you can see the minds of the artists and the dealers at work, and it’s all very calculated. So many junky-looking watered-down versions of Rauschenberg’s brilliant Combines, which were made…wake up, art world!...OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO. Or stuff intending to be shocking when what, besides a David Wojnarowicz film from the 80s, could possibly be shocking—to adults, that is—in 2011? Then there was the plethora of paintings and sculptures decorated with glitter and sequins, as if glitter and sequins were the radical materials they might have been four decades ago.

However there is something that‘s truly radical for our times, and it is called development. For the uninitiated, this is when an artist finds a form and makes it his/her own to the point that it becomes new.  Try it!—but be warned, it might take more than five minutes.

Meanwhile I did, in recent weeks, see something that rang true—a drawing by Chuck Nanney at Invisible Exports on which is written: “Everything I do has been done before by a feminist in the seventies.”

Or Lucas Samaras, who did it all.

'Photo-Transformation', Polaroid SX-70 print by Lucas Samaras, 1973, Getty Museum


lxv said...

I am spared this spring due to a recent hip replacement which precludes all gallery and art fair crawling. (They said I'd be up and about right away, but don't believe'em). My husband has ventured forth as proxy and come back with reports which sound as dismal as yours. What's up with all this? Has the culture reached a tipping point; is this just an off-year; or do the fairs themselves engender a profusion of crap? Before I was completely sidelined, my disability created a sort of natural selection. I became increasingly limited and made cranky snap judgments about what I was willing to go see. Glad to know I'm not missing much, but as an artist, I am saddened.

Nancy Ewart said...

I review shows all the time here in Sf and the MFA shows sadden and discourage me. I don't want to say "back in MY day" but really, back in my art student days, we had to learn how to draw, learn all the technical details of our materials, even to developing our own photographs. Last year's SFAI MFA show was so horrible that I could only write "Words fail me. " I refused to go to any show that wasn't curated this year so it was better but I knew that the untrained were out there, clueless, arrogant and mostly untalented.

Mary Anne Davis said...

I love your comment about development. Yes! But it was fun to wander around some of that work, especially at the Independent, just absorbing the energy. Did you see Miriam Cahn's drawings at Jocelyn Wolf's Gallery? Exquisite. Nice to meet you!