Reflections on The Armory Show 2010

4 Mar

The Armory Show 2010 located on Piers 92 and 94 in NYC is rather overwhelming. The sheer number of galleries from across the world represented in their Armory cubicles; the array of conversations in other languages one passes by; the art world people gathering en masse to see the latest trends and work. My aunt (who very graciously gave me a free admission ticket and then accompanied me) compared it to Fashion Week for art. Unfortunately, these are the factors of the show that I found overwhelming. The majority of contemporary works I found to be trying too hard to prove something to the art world, and in that respect unmemorable. On Pier 94 I was more impressed at the size of the artworld than with the works displayed.

Pier 92 was the “Modern” Pier and upon entering I was immediately drawn to the bronze sculptures of Dietrich Kinge, a contemporary artist showing with Die Galerie. His sculptures simultaneously reference both German expressionism and totemic creations, and appear to be directly carved from wood. Many of the other works show in Pier 92 were by artists such as Kentridge, Rauschenberg, Morandi, and Goldsworthy. I think there is a reason these artists become well established in the art world canon: their work resonates with a viewer. G.A.M. Galleria d’Arte Maggiore was the home of the Morandis, and of these I found his etching Grande Natura Morta con la Caffettiera, 1933 to be especially strong. It feels odd to use the word strong when talking about Morandi with his works of quiet grace, but there is strength to his compositions and choices.

Farther down the pier, there were several paintings by American artist John Button. His cityscapes such as Ford Plant, Dearborn MI, 1970 create an idea of light and space through basic shapes and careful consideration of color.  I also really enjoyed a work by Saul Steinberg; L.A. Goree, 1972. After a bit of googling, I found out he was a big illustrator for the New Yorker. Unfortunately, I can’t find the image online but he was able to portray so much with so little. A similar example can be found at the Adam BaumGold Gallery’s site, “Sixteen Island Views”.

A break from the typical gallery set up was found in booth 221, the Bruce Silverstein Gallery. They focused on a series of photographs on New York, from 1910 – 2010 by artists such as Barbara Morgan, Steiglitz, Marvin Newman and Randy West. A graphic timeline on the bottom of each wall enabled you to know exactly what time period you were in. Booth 221 was essentially a small scale museum exhibit and a welcome respite from gallery white.

A watercolor by the Dufala Brothers, similar in style to this one and a series of circular ink drawings by Hiroyuki Doi emphasize,( along with all the other works I paid particular attention to in Pier 92) that  small, almost delicate, intricate pieces can have a greater resonance than other larger, blatantly in your face ones.

Because I cannot skip over the Pier 94 entirely, I’d like to point out the works of Wei Dong, Dawn Clements, Florian Süssmayr, and Hiroyuki Masuyama’s J.M.W. Turner, Burning of the House of Parliament. Though the Armory focus was on Berlin this year, the only Berlin based artist I was truly interested in was Monika Baer.

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2 Responses to “Reflections on The Armory Show 2010”

  1. The Brunette March 5, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    I never would have known about this had I not read your post. Thanks for this, it sounds really interesting.

  2. Eliz March 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    I loved the Dufala brothers watercolors too. Those pieces really stayed with me. As well as their “Chainsaw” sculpture, which was totally different than the works on paper. I’d like to see if we can show them.

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