The Armory Show 2001, mounted on Piers 88 and 90 on the West side of Manhattan this year, showed some muscle. A gorgeous snowy winter's evening may have slowed attendance to the gala opening, a Museum of Modern Art benefit, but there was still plenty of action, with world-class collectors in attendance. This year seemed stronger than last with an expanded roster of galleries and a rough-hewn flooring that gave an atmospheric edge to the booths. Here are some Gotham Dispatch highlights...
The signature piece for this year's fair was YE$, a 10,000-watt sign by the hip art duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster, who had a fabulous show last season at Deitch Projects. This work epitomized the fair's atmosphere of brisk commerce, and Stuart Shave, proprietor of the London gallery Modern Art, was all smiles as the edition of three sold out at $37,500 a pop. Yes, indeed.
Tomio Koyama's Tokyo gallery had a ceiling-high white maquette of McDonald's arches in Japanese by Tom Sachs. It was a tough sell, as the piece, which needs ample space, was still available at closing time. The price: $50,000.
New York dealer Friedrich Petzel's booth featured a large, yummy painting by Richard Phillips as well as the more humorous color photograph of artist Keith Edmier with his recent muse, actress and one-time Charlie's Angel Farrah Fawcett.
Mina Yanagi, the photographer who stages strange scenes of young females dressed like flight attendants in cold corporate settings, is always popular at Kodama gallery from Osaka.
Anna Sew Hoy and Anton Vidokle showed well at Massimo Audiello, Sew Hoy with a dynamic set of sculptures and Vidokle with sleek all-in-one office desk. Suburban photographer Bill Owens was all freshness at Paul Morris and his recent show at the gallery among the best of the season.
Anthony d'Offay had a cheery Jeff Koons sculpture, Mound of Flowers (1991), and a recent Richard Patterson called Untitled (Kiss) (2001). Needless to say, they are now in fine collections.
Greene Naftali's booth included a new abstract landscape painting by Blake Rayne, portraying in sinuous slow motion the essence of movement with warm pink and blue oil. Rachel Harrison primed for an upcoming show with an ungainly, lopsided wooden crate-like sculpture with a framed photo of Pope John Paul II affixed to its backside, a piece that had a strange vaudeville effect.
Ugo Rondinone has become rather popular in the last two years and so had his own booth, where he installed a large figurative fiberglass sculpture called If There Were Anywhere but Desert (2000), courtesy of Hauser & Wirth and Matthew Marks.
Frank Schroeder, who is based in New York and Paris, is known for his scholarly collection of thrift shop paintings which he arranges in thematic groups. His installation of a 1950s lamp and coffee table with a found-art nude at American Fine Art was among the finest at the fair. Another wall had a row of small paintings of pinup girls -- works that could give John Currin something to think about.
Strong paintings were abundant: Inka Essenhigh showed some moxie in a recent work of garish green colors with her trademark headless and limbless biomorphic figures, one of her best works to date, at London gallery Victoria Miro. At Marianne Boesky, both Karen Davie's bright, happy, trippy, swishy, waves and Benjamin Edwards' huge and complex amalgamation of strip mall landscapes painstakingly rendered in overlapping textures, colors and shapes were impressive.
Leo Koenig, with the hottest emerging stable in town, sold out works by Lisa Ruyter (currently with a beautiful show at Koenig's Tribeca gallery), edgy hip-hop diarist Erik Parker and the hot painter Torben Giehler, who showed two small geometric gems. Needless to say, product moved.
Sam Samore showed a new inkjet on canvas work at Gorney Bravin & Lee and his classic black-and-white "Allegories of Beauty" looked fresh at Art & Public, Geneva. Samore made the scene with London's mega-curator and man about town, the handsome Max Wigram, co-curator of "Apocalypse" at the Royal Academy, in town for the Armory and opening of friend Gary Hume, who turned out his best work to date at Matthew Marks Gallery on 22nd Street in Chelsea.
It was a whirlwind few days, and now it's back to business as usual.