Art in March
arts & entertainment
by James Gaddy, 02/08/2011
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Art is omnipresent in New York City—it's a part of its lifeblood. From solo exhibitions in galleries to blockbuster retrospectives at venerable museums to public installations that interplay with parks and buildings, art is a living, breathing, vital presence—a magnetic attraction for visitors and locals all year round. But for a true, high-octane, trenta-latte-size art fix in NYC, block off your calendar for the beginning of March, which brings the arrival of a citywide celebration of visual experiences of all kinds, including sweeping art fairs and deeply immersive solo shows.
The Armory Show, taking place March 3 to 6, is arguably the largest of the week's activities: with nearly 300 galleries represented from all over the world, the 13th annual show is expected to draw about 60,000 visitors. This year, as before, the show will be divided into two sections. The Armory Show – Modern, on Pier 92, will focus on international dealers specializing in historically significant modern art, while The Armory Show – Contemporary, at Pier 94, includes galleries that contain a more up-to-the-minute understanding of artists on the cutting edge.
The Armory Show is also retaining two of its most popular offerings from last year. Open Forum is a series of eclectic panel conversations among artists, dealers, critics and organizations, and Armory Focus will bring a mix of 18 up-and-coming and established galleries from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela to highlight artists in Latin America. To complement the latter, The Armory Show selected Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri, who uses found objects and commonplace materials in unexpectedly poetic juxtapositions, to create the show's identity this year.
Another virtuoso with a reputation for using commonplace objects, Jessica Stockholder, will be a featured artist at The Art Show, a long-established fair held from March 2 to 6 at the Park Avenue Armory, on the east side of Manhattan, and organized by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). Now in its 23rd year, The Art Show includes about 70 top US galleries in a more intimate setting that can be absorbed in the course of a few hours. Many of the galleries showcase one- and two-artist exhibitions this year: Marian Goodman will feature the work of Mexican superstar Gabriel Orozco, while Friedrich Petzel will show a much-anticipated collection of 92-year-old Czech painter Maria Lassnig's works. Other booths feature similar star-powered punches: Luhring Augustine will show new sculptures from British artist Rachel Whiteread; David Nolan will focus on '60s enigma Richard Artschwager; and David Zwirner highlights American painter Alice Neel. In a way, they'll function as a collection of separate mini-exhibitions, amassed under one roof. (For more on the curatorial process involved in the show, read our interview with ADAA President Lucy Mitchell-Innes.)
Running March 3 to 6 is Volta NY, a fair that has been using single-artist, solo presentations as its organizing principle since it began in 2008. This year, the fair will complement the Latin-American focus at The Armory Show (featuring, for example, single-booth exhibitions from talents such as Costa Rican performance artist Mauricio Miranda and Argentinean painter Amadeo Azar) while also including a diverse selection of contemporary work. Surefire highlights are installation artist Joyce Hinterding, hosted by Australian gallery Breenspace; sculptor Darren Foote, organized by Lower East Side gallery Dodge; and ADA Gallery's collection of 3-D photographic works from filmmaker George Kuchar.
Both Volta NY and The Armory Show will collaborate with Artprojx for a series of artists' films; the first such screening took place at last year's Armory Arts Week. "The art fairs do a great job of getting audiences to flock to a large variety of international art galleries selling contemporary art," says David Gryn, the project's founder. "But screening the relatively harder-to-sell artists' films and videos—and in a way that is acceptable—is a challenge." Enter Artprojx, which will host screenings at the SVA Theatre on West 23rd Street throughout the week.
Outside of the fairs, there are many opportunities to see artists' films during the week. Andy Warhol's film Sleep (1963) is screening on March 2 as part of Motion Pictures, an extensive exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art of the artist's infamous screen tests that featured Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, Nico and others. That night, the museum will also host a performance by British pop star Kate Nash for the official Armory opening party.
Elsewhere, an exhibition of the work of 34-year-old American artist Laurel Nakadate at MoMA PS1 will include her two feature films, The Wolf Knife (2010) and Stay the Same Never Change (2009), which focus on the tension surrounding the fragile, adolescent female body. Earlier works on view, such as the short video Good Morning Sunshine (2009), challenge contemporary notions of voyeurism even as they unfold into absurd situations. At Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea, Sue de Beer will exhibit a series of short videos and sculptural works that use the physical properties of light to affect viewers' vision as they move. Meanwhile, The Studio Museum in Harlem hosts artist-on-the-rise Leslie Hewitt, who is collaborating with cinematographer Bradford Young on a dual-channel film installation, Untitled (Level), that creates a portrait of Harlem.
On March 3, the New Museum will offer free admission from 7 to 9pm to its exhibition of Lynda Benglis, an artist whose biomorphic forms have influenced younger artists to put color back into sculpture. It's an approach that Irish artist Eva Rothschild will embrace on March 1, with the installation of Empire, a gateway entrance to one of the busiest sections of Central Park, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 60th Street. The piece, in collaboration with the Public Art Fund, doesn't feel planted, à la Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates (2005), so much as grown, sprouted fully formed from the ground. Which, come to think of it, is a natural in New York City.