We Went to NADA

by Art Fag City on May 8, 2012 · 1 comment Art Fair

Whitney Kimball: As we discussed in our last post, the maiden voyage of NADA NYC was jam-packed. The old Dia building housed over seventy exhibitors in the traditional booth format, which felt like twenty booths too many.  It’s not an ideal place for art-viewing, but, well, whatever; it was a three-day art fair. Here are some fun things a handful of galleries did with the closet spaces.

Paddy Johnson: Actually, neither Corinna nor I thought NADA was *that* crammed full of art. This may have been the difference of when we saw the fairs—you visited Friday during the opening, and we visited Sunday, when it was pretty quiet. Sure, there were a number of über narrow booths, but I don’t think the situation diminished the fair in any way.

Anthony Espino: Well, a lot of the galleries wanted to show several artists rather than one, and often the space that they had didn’t suit that decision.

Corinna Kirsch: Sure, some of the hallways, like that corner for Regina Rex, were narrow, but it’s not like I couldn’t move around. And given these restraints, the galleries knew how to handle issues of scale. I mean, The Journal brought only one painting. That was a good idea.

Will Brand: One size-based problem I noticed was with the few galleries that brought neon; you just can’t read neon from five feet away. Certain types of work that are super common at the big fairs—I think of neon, but also of large-scale painting—don’t work as well in a space without long sight lines or big spaces. The counterpoint might be Martos Gallery, who brought a rainbow of large-scale monochromes that covered their booth from top to bottom. Those looked good.

John Riepenhoff at Western Exhibitions

Whitney: John Riepenhoff at Chicago’s Western Exhibitions seems to have installed a wall in the middle of the booth to create a hallway, next to the emergency exit, so there were some galleries that benefited from the small space. For obvious reasons, this was a fitting spot for paintings held up from behind by legs in work pants and sneakers. The legs are sold separately.

Paddy: Yeah, that’s because these are casts of Riepenhoff’s legs by Riepenhoff; they’re meant to literally demonstrate the artist and gallery director’s support of artists. I dunno. You really have to care a lot about one person’s work as a director to buy their legs. The work’s funny, but I don’t think the self-aware navel gazing totally clears the navel gazing.

Will: Pffffft. Which is to say, I concur. I don’t think the wall in the booth was Western Exhibitions’s idea, though—I’m betting that was just sold as a small booth.

Clearly, the C L E A R I N G booth could have been cleaner.

Whitney: C L E A R I N G jammed a table in their booth, and now we can’t see anything.

Corinna: I just walked past this booth because I wasn’t floored by their exhibition design. Although Corbett vs. Dempsey didn’t have a table, that gallery did have one of my favorite elements of domesticity: Diane Simpson’s muff-covered mahoghany rod was one of the best perspective-altering things at NADA.

B Wurtz surrounds a Richard Kern at Feature Inc.

Whitney: Feature Inc. combined a variety of artists with Richard Kern photos of girls smoking pot; the one above was flanked by B. Wurtz yoghurt lids. The spontaneous arrangement feels like a stoner move. It makes the Wurtz’s feel like stoner items, which fits with the other artworks in the booth. I like that. Wurtz may be one of the bigger names at this fair, but this is still strung-together recycling. Similar to Wurtz’s repurposed detritus, Sam Gordon’s “Sweepings,” which hangs directly above a Kern smoker, is a collage of sweepings mounted on plexiglass.

Paddy: That woman in smoke is fantastic and I overheard several people at the fair talking about how good it was. There’s something totally badass about being asked to model and then blowing so much smoke in the photographers face that a clear shot can’t be had. She doesn’t care.

This B. Wurtz/Kern arrangement isn’t bad, but honestly, that woman could held have that wall and then some all on her own. I guess it’s harder to sell the Wurtz, though, if you don’t hang it.

Klaus von Nichtssagend's booth, and a caffienated gallerist.

Whitney: Klaus von Nichtssagend opted for complementary pairings of similarly-sized images. This served individual works really well. They all held their own on the wall, and they didn’t compete with each other.

Paddy: I thought David Gilbert’s tacked-up photographs of blobby things inside his studio was a  bit sloppy given the fastidiousness of the photographs, but I maybe changed my mind on this when I was told that he does this as a means of conceptually keeping them in his studio. Collectors just frame them anyway, but it’s nice to see that there’s a back and forth at play in the way the artist addresses his work. Anyway, I enjoyed that so much time was put into photographs of pretty ugly stuff, and I liked that they were hung beside Jonah Koppel’s geometric abstractions, which despite all their textured painting somehow end up looking like they were run through a printer. What a success.

Corinna: If nothing else, I liked that black-and-white Glen Baldridge work you can see in the left-hand corner of this photo. It had the type of all-over sumptuousness that kept me looking, trying to find rhythms and patterns in that little galaxy.

Ben Schumacher at Croy Nielsen

Whitney: I wasn’t sold on the bookish aesthetic at Berlin galleries Croy Nielsen and Aanant & Zoo, where it’s all about black-and-white, stripes, grids, and moire patterns. From afar, it looks like a bunch of Mousse Magazine and e-flux pages silkscreened together to make something that vaguely resembles reading, or sheet music. I have the feeling that if there’s more to it than the impenetrable surface, it’s an extravagant inside joke.

Anthony: I couldn’t help but think of Seth Price’s Dispersion pieces while looking at these. Also, I think Schumacher is exhausting the splashes of airbrushed plaster. The work is ubiquitous and starting to give off a one-trick pony vibe despite the fact that Schumacher’s oeuvre promises an eclectic use of materials.

Will: Yeah, there’s absolutely some Seth Price in there. They’re really appealing text-gloop-thingies; I want one, and I’m sure plenty of collectors do, too. I liked Schumacher’s sculpture at Croy Nielsen much better than the very similar ones he showed at Stadium and Jason Alexander Gallery recently. We should also note that in addition to being at NADA, Schumacher was also at Bortolami’s booth at Frieze; apparently they just added him to the stable. Dude is blowing up right now.

Corinna: I liked Schumacher’s work. As Anthony mentioned, there’s a bit of a one-trick pony thing going on with his splashes, but he does it better than a lot of other people. And what he’s doing with these splashes is important: he’s tricking your perception by playing around with what’s real and what’s hyper-real.

Thomas Kovachevich, "a portrait of this room, (blue)," 2012, gummed white packing tape and grosgrain ribbon, Callicoon Arts

Paddy: Oh man, I LOVED this piece. It’s a nice nod to Daniel Buren, and that the shadow from the tape completes the form of this work makes the material use very satisfying.

Anthony: I saw a Daniel Buren at Frieze and it was almost the same exact color palette as this Kovachevich piece, making the experience somewhat serendipitous.

Derek Eller and Ten Haaf Projects

Whitney: This year’s Life of the Party prize goes to neighbors Derek Eller and Ten Haaf Projects, who are showing Keith Mayerson and Andrew Gilbert, respectively. Both artists’ paintings don’t suffer too much from being packed together in shallow spaces, and there’s a sensitivity about their work that makes these really appealing amidst the grids. It’s not just figuration. It’s qualities like Mayerson’s loving attention to mundane moments and Gilbert’s decision to string a bunch of carrots over the threshold that makes these feel human.

Corinna: No, those booths were just too crowded. I’ve never seen salon-style hanging work well at an art fair.

Paddy: I have. SEVEN’s trademark in Miami is their giant salon-hung wall, and it’s done perfectly. You want to look at the work for long periods of time; Eller and Ten Haaf did not inspire the same impulse in my opinion.

The Alden Projects booth

Whitney: Alden Projects managed to find a Chamberlain small enough for a closet.

Corinna: I was not impressed with a poster booth. It’s funny that the only Warhol I’d find at an art fair this weekend would be at NADA.

Anthony: This booth felt like MoMA’s gift shop—old works, vintage posters, and sloppily arranged frames. The Baldessari photographs aged the booth even further; who hasn’t seen those Baldessari ball-throwing images?

Mariah Robertson's wiener on optical illusion

Whitney: There: dick art. Happy, people? Still, there’s something about a wiener photobombing perfect digital images that always earns a point in my book.

Corinna: As far as dick art at the fairs, I prefered Tony Matelli’s dust paintings at Leo Koenig. His dust paintings usually have some trace of dick on them.

Agnes Martin and Rita Ackermann at Franklin Parrasch

Whitney: Whatever you put next to Agnes Martin will automatically look more expressive, but that works tenfold in Rita Ackermann’s case at Franklin Parrasch. On their own, these charcoal figures drawings are not much more compelling than B-grade student work. After staring into an Agnes Martin for five minutes, though, they start to look explosive.

Paddy: Possible curatorial process here:  gallerist looks around gallery for work to hang at the fair, realizes he only has enough of similarly themed work by Ackermann and Martin to put together a two artist booth, throws them together for lack of better ideas. Granted, I’m biased—I really don’t care for Ackermann’s drawings—but still, why put them together with Agnes Martin? These photographs make the booth look waaaaay better than it actually did.

Corinna: Agnes Martin and Rita Ackermann have nothing in common. Still, it’s pretty interesting to find an old Agnes Martin sprinkled within NADA’s newer work.

Anthony: I have yet to completely understand why anyone cares about Ackermann’s charcoal works, but I also  feel a bit of guilt while guzzling down the Ackermann Haterade because her new work at The Journal Gallery is really beautiful—a step towards abstraction is a smart choice for the artist, since the formalism is the most interesting trait of this work.

Hilary Harnischfeger at Rachel Uffner

Paddy: On the other hand, this photo doesn’t do justice to the sculptural qualities of this work, which somehow now looks like a poorly-organized watercolor. There’s a lot of depth and detail to this work that’s just lost.

Corinna: Harnischfeger is so good at creating space and depth. All the stuff she piles on a single canvas could easily turn into chaos, but her use of swirls and lines allows for something orderly to take place. I’m a fan.

Sadie Benning at Callicoon Arts

Anthony: I really enjoyed this painting by Sadie Benning at Callicoon Fine Arts. It’s located in the lower corner of the booth, yet it’s impossible to miss. I usually dismiss neon monochromes, but there’s something about the pairing of red with this particular hue of orange that really worked. I believe Benning spraypaints over plaster to achieve this smooth, porous texture.

Corinna: I loved the fuzzy, leathery texture of these paintings. You really need to get up close to see these little joys.

Painting at Lisa Cooley

Paddy: This painting by Alan Reid was hung the outside of the gallery booth, and I liked it so much I actually went searching for the gallery. Reid is part of Lisa Cooley’s stable, and it was, in my opinion, the best part of their booth. Do you know what was affixed to the front of the painting?

Anthony: Not sure. A small, three-dimensional, yellow picket fence? It’s really perplexing either way. They have a lot of amazing painters to choose from—Michael Bauer, in particular, and also Frank Haines. I don’t know why those two particular paintings were casted out into exile on the outside of the booth, and where the hell was Jon Pestoni’s work? At Frieze, David Kordansky gallery chose to single out Pestoni’s large, colorful paintings and it was an amazing collection. Lisa Cooley could have had an eclectic booth filled with contemporary painting—I had to look at Andy Coolquitt’s lighters instead.

  • guest

    Alan Reid, not Alex Olsen. I loved that piece too.

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