Set up across town, fittingly enough, in the Park Avenue Armory, the ADAA Art Show offers a yearly counterpoint to the bright lights and dizzying stream of booths that occasionally plagues its cross-town sister on Piers and 94, incorporating a more carefully curated emphasis into the art fair booth format, and encouraging a certain degree of adventurousness among the attendant galleries.
This year, the ADAA celebrates its 27th edition, opening its doors again for an event that seems to attenuate the cavernous expanses of the Armory’s Drill Hall, and which is boasting an impressive series of exhibitions this year. Opening Tuesday night for its annual benefit Gala for the Henry Street Settlement, the fair once again staked its claim to the first hours of Armory Week, welcoming Ronald Lauder, Alberto Mugrabi, Haim Steinbach (who is the subject of the Tanya Bonakdar booth this year), and Tracey Emin (who is showing work at Lehmann Maupin).
Solo artist exhibitions have long been the fair’s strength, and this year’s offering is no exception, featuring a number of booths of both new and historically relevant pieces. But this year, the fair also seemed to be placing a premium on small-scale works, with a number of booths showing smaller canvases, sculptures or objects that gave the overall exhibition a distinctly stripped-down quality. Petzel Gallery is showing a series of recent Wade Guyton pieces, pages of text and photos printed over by the artist and displayed in a series of bright yellow vitrines, while the Sean Kelly booth was focused around a series of Antony Gormley sculptures, table-top sized pieces bringing his explorations on the human form down to a much more manageable size. 303 was also in on the trend, showing a series of miniature canvases by Maureen Gallace.
A number of galleries showing this year are offering particularly strong, historically focused exhibitions that have made the Art Show a prime place to discover often overlooked works and artists. Carl Solway Gallery is showing a rare series of works by Nam June Paik, riding on the strength of the artist’s excellent exhibition at The Asia Society last year, including a scaled-down version of the artist’s famous closed circuit TV Buddha sculpture, while Mnuchin Gallery is showing early abstract works, dated before 1975, a minimal booth that features the work of Morris Louis, two immense Frank Stella square works and a single Andy Warhol canvas that greets viewers passing by the booth.
Sperone Westwater also presented an interesting booth of works by Barry X Ball this year, including the artist’s recent project updating the iconic, yet unfinished sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Italian futurist Umberto Boccioni, as well as some of the artist’s busts, arrangements made to resemble the human head stripped of skin, yet executed in chipped, cracked marble.
A fitting counterpoint to The Armory Show’s broad palette of artists, focuses and scale, the Art Show remains a strong draw for viewer’s looking to dig a little deeper into the history books, with ample rewards for the inquisitive.
The fair closes on Sunday, March 8th.
— D. Creahan