AO Onsite, New York – The Independent art fair Thursday March 3rd to Sunday, March 6th, 2011

March 7th, 2011

Hotel Diaries 2001-2007, John Smith. Tanya Leighton Gallery. All photos courtesy of Art Observed, unless otherwise noted.

The second annual Independent art fair took place on Thursday March 3rd to Sunday 6th on 548 W 22nd street during New York Art Fair Week.  The award winning temporary exhibition forum was created last year as an alternative to the Armory Fair and featured forty five galleries from across the globe.  Participants included New York’s White Columns, Anton Kern, and Feature, INC., London’s Hotel Gallery and Studio Voltaire, as well as China Art Objects from Los Angeles and Rodeo, an Istanbul based gallery.

Installation view of work by Jon Pylypchuk, China Art Objects, Los Angeles.

More text and images after the jump…

Installation view of Feature, Inc.

Installation view of entrance, featuring Rob Pruitt’s 2010 Art Award “Trophy” for Best Alternative Project of 2010.

Independent was developed last year by Elizabeth Dee, founder of X Initiative, and Darren Flood of Hotel, London.  Matthew Higgs of White Columns, NYC was also involved as the creative advisor. However, what makes Independent unique is that the gallery-run art fair and functions more as a collaborative exhibition forum between galleries and curators, rather than a centrally organized event.

Elizabeth Dee, in an interview with The Observer in 2010, stated, “Independent is not supposed to be [an art fair.] Independent is really supposed to be a response to the discourse,” she said, “It’s really coming out of a response to the discourse and this new energy.”

Unlike the gridded off and very segmented method of presentation employed by the larger fairs, the galleries involved in Independent worked together to curate and organize the fair as if it were a collective exhibition. The viewer was able to explore the vast and diverse landscape of contemporary art and view work that would not normally be included in exhibitions dominated by commercial endeavors.

Matthew Monahan at Anton Kern booth, Independent 2011.

“We’re really excited to be here, ” Courtney Truet, a representative of Anton Kern told AO. “It’s a great opportunity to show pieces that are more difficult or more aggressive. We enjoyed being able to focus more on the curatorial aspect of designing the booth as opposed to just on the commercial aspects.”

“Some pieces are new. For example, Anne Collier wanted to show a brand new series that she had completed just before the fair. But the Matthew Monahan is an earlier work from 2007. We had a recent show of his work at the gallery and that did extremely well, but this work is to show where the artist came from. The materiality of his work has changed very drastically and his works have a very different feeling to them.  But this fair is a good opportunity to bring out a work that needs some room to breath.”

“It’s a great group of galleries,” She continued, “The program was handled really beautifully. We really responded to the openness of the space and the layout of the building.”

Other prominent works in the show included a room-size cube that, reminiscent of a drawing or diagram, consisted of a network of attached metal segments and was exhibited by Bortolami Gallery.

Pièce Détachée,
Michel François. 2010. Bortolami Gallery.

Installation view of Andrew Kreps Gallery, featuring Large Dark Windchime, Klaus Weber. 2008.

On the third floor, a massive and ominous looking black windchime hung from the ceiling at Anton Kern, while a pair of opposing red and green felt letters took on architectural, or even figurative qualities at Sutton Lane Gallery.

Blake Rayne, Sutton Lane Gallery.

Also quite striking were a set of eight drawings by emerging Swiss artist Marta Rinker-Radich at Wilfred Lentz Gallerie, Rotterdam.

Marta Riniker-Radich, 2010. Wilfred Lentz, Rotterdam.

It’s no surprise Independent took Rob Pruitt’s Art Award for Best Alternative Project 2010 in its maiden year. The fair consisted of collaboration, collective, and curatorial edge, and, as each exhibition flowed seamlessly into the next, one had the sense of differentiation existing without boundaries.

Related Links:

Independent [Website for Independent]
The Observer
[2010 Interview with Elizabeth Dee]