NEW YORK — The Armory Show is the place to find some of the best and most current contemporary art.
Our little Nasher Museum contingent attended the VIP opening yesterday (“vernissage”), and while we were hungry for art, we each had a slightly different agenda.
Duke alumnus Mike Levine, a dedicated collector, wanted a painting to really grab him, and he would not break out his checkbook unless a painting really grabbed him. Trevor Schoonmaker, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, wanted to reconnect with art dealers, artists, curators and other art world luminaries. Another Dukie in our party, Mariel Strouse, who graduated in ’08, wanted to spot celebrities and fashion trends. And I wanted to see how many works of art I could identify on sight (by artist).
All our dreams came true.
To set the scene, I’ll steal a quick line from Lindsay Pollock’s Bloomberg story: “The 12th annual Armory Show brings together 289 international dealers through March 7 on Manhattan’s West Side piers, hoping to shore up what has been a rocky period for art sales.” Each gallery sets up a temporary shop that reflects its own personality, in white-walled booths that stretch seemingly forever in all directions in an orderly grid. Round and round we went, strolling the gray-carpeted paths for three straight hours.
Mike found his gem of a painting, an arresting work by Xiomara de Olivier. Like the Supreme Court justices, who know pornography when they see it, Mike said, happily, “I know it when I see it!”
Mariel spotted her celebrities: Bjork wearing a unique V-neck shirt with the neckline trimmed in what appeared to be long strands of human hair, standing with her husband, artist Matthew Barney. Sofia Coppola was wearing a cute black-and-white striped top and sneakers, hanging out in a little group that included actor Jason Schwartzman. Fashion trends, according to Mariel, included lots of rhinestones, fur, tights, anything provocative, a phone in every hand and at least two cases of purple hair.
Trevor was stopped every few feet by someone he knew and kept his camera at the ready, chock full of pictures of his wife, Teka Selman, and their beautiful new baby.
And I was happy to spot familiar artists’ work like old friends in the crowd: a dreamy large drawing embellished with gold leaf by William Cordova, a monolithic sculpture made of black clothing by Shinique Smith, new paintings by Noah Davis, a stunning 1974 portrait by Barkley L. Hendricks, photographs by Carrie Mae Weems, a large-scale painting by Kerry James Marshall, new “Sound Suits” by Nick Cave, a large-scale photograph by Hank Willis Thomas, works on paper by Kara Walker, a series of photographs by Robin Rhode, an intimate collage by Mark Bradford, a new video by Eve Sussman, a lively installation (using magnetic tape) by Zilvinas Kempinas.
We left the fair, feet nearly numb and utterly happy.
IMAGE: Mariel Strouse, who graduated from Duke in ’08, checks out one of Nick Cave’s “Sound Suits.”