March in New York comes with more sunshine and an overdose of contemporary art. In just a couple of days one has to try and take it all in.
It was The Big Apple’s turn to show to the world that global recession doesn’t affect the art market. Or so it seems. Could it be that in times of crisis people become more creative? Is it a fact that people trust the arts more than the banks to invest their money? Whatever the case, there was plenty to see and spend your money on at the Armory Show. And even if you didn’t bring your hard earned cash or platinum credit card, the show remains a feast for the senses.
The layout of Piers 92 and 94 make it an easy walk up and down the booths of all the galleries that show off their resident artists’ work. But finding your way through the immense offer can be a drag sometimes. As an avid devourer of art you try not to miss out on anything. Also because you think that every work of art, every expression of an artist is worth a minute, a couple of seconds or at least a glance. Soon enough you realize that this pace is impossible to keep up with. So you try to concentrate on what really appeals to you. It’s the only way to make it through. Not only do your legs start to protest, your head can only take this much of impressions. Watching and feeling art is a demanding brain activity.
I was lucky enough to get in before the crowds. But slowly the halls were filling up. And soon there was always someone standing in front of exactly the painting I wanted to look at. So, after I had my fill of art, I started to shift my attention to the onlooking masses. I think that for an artist it is always interesting to see the reactions of other people. When someone is holding still in front of a work, focussing on one particular point, almost zen-like meditating on a canvas, you can’t help but wondering what it is they see. What is going on there? I don’t want to miss out on it neither.
There’s these two young ladies watching this painting, from a safe distance. “What is this? What are they doing? Is this possible?” They are commenting on an overtly erotic painting where more than four legs are involved.
It’s always funny to see people react in front of more than life size breasts on canvas or photo. The connoisseur will approach. The girl will lead her boyfriend to the opposite booth. The boyfriend will peep back. And genitals, especially the male ones, are again a completely different story. Children. They are the best! They watch everything with the open-mindness that we, smart adults, have lost somewhere along the way. I saw a dad with his child talking about some paintings: “What do we see here?” And a woman with three kids and she asked them: “What painting do you like most in this room?” I think it was wonderful. And come to think of it, it’s a pity that not more children were there.
After a while, I again tried to focus on the art itself. This time around, it was the most simple works that won my attention. In an ocean of overwhelming color and form, it was a relief to rest my eyes on more modest work. It’s a straining exercise to try and overlook the paintings that are crying for attention by means of flashing color, shocking content or dazzling form. I zoomed in on the smaller frames, the natural colored canvases or works on paper. Delicate minimal drawings with colors used in their most subtle hues, those were the ones I was inevitably drawn to at the end.
As if the Armory Show were not enough, some side events are organised on different locations. Like VOLTA, a much smaller hall with, let’s say, the less established galleries. But nonetheless also here there was great work te be seen and discovered.My last stop during this art filled weekend was at THE INDEPENDENT, three floors of gallery space in the Chelsea district. No big names to be mentioned here neither, but the quality was outstanding. Is it the smaller scale venue? Is it the smaller doses? Or was it the art itself afterall that made that I enjoyed the Armory Show’s side effects the most?
Les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas!