The early weeks of March in New York are notoriously packed with art. There’s the usual string of exhibitions and openings, coupled with the ever-growing number of art fairs taking up space across the city during Armory Art Week. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the ADAA might look outside this marathon week in hopes of reaching a broader fair-going public. That gambit seems to have paid off this year, as the ADAA Art Show opened its doors at the end of February, setting itself apart from the mass of exhibitors opening their doors in the coming days.
The fair’s usual home at Park Avenue Armory already welcomes a casual, meandering pace, with its gentle lighting and wide aisles, so with no other fair obligations for visitors, the fair felt even more relaxed this year. The result was a packed early few days of the fair, as scores of New York collectors, dealers and art lovers came out in force. Steve Martin was spotted wandering the fair aisles, as was Agnes Gund. Sales were equally strong, with many galleries reporting a number of sales in the early hours of opening preview.
With such strong interest, the work on view did not fail to live up to expectations, with a number of particularly commanding booths that mixed historical resonance with pioneering new concepts. At Casey Kaplan, one could view a series of paintings by artist Jonathan Gardner, which added a bit of both camps, drawing on the modernist stylistics of the European Avant-Garde and mingling it with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. At Tanya Bonakdar, one could peruse an impressive selection of pieces by Tómas Saraceno, pieces that drew on the artist’s delicate geometries and interest in natural forms, while at Michael Werner, the gallery had teamed up with Mary Boone to bring a body of new paintings by Peter Saul, including one particularly comical depiction of Donald Trump’s notorious hairline, swirling in a sea of brushstrokes and paintbrushes. In the Cheim & Read booth, one could peruse a series of works by Lynda Benglis, crumpled heaps of sculptural mass that seemed distinctly light and airy despite their hulking masses. Luhring Augustine was also presenting an intriguing booth, bringing together small-scale sculptural works and maquettes from a range of artists including Simone Leigh, Martin Kippenberger, and others. The array of works, hosted on a pair of tables, gave the booth a distinct sense of organized chaos, the multiple forms and aesthetics on view each competing for the viewer’s eye, while exploring how each artist responds to the challenge of scale in their own manner.
This sense of organized chaos is a fitting metaphor for the fair itself, clusters of varied artists and works each competing for the viewer’s attention, yet drawn together by the fair’s encouragement of curatorial rigor and focused exhibitions. Acting almost like a series of mini-exhibitions in their own right, this year’s edition of the ADAA show underscores the masterstroke of moving its proceedings outside Armory Week, a move that makes the show more of an expansive series of shows rather than a full-scale selling event.
The fair closes today, March 4th.
— D. Creahan