By Carol Sims
NEW YORK CITY — A singular vision is not imposed on , an eclectic annual showcase for the Art Dealers Association of America. The show took place at the armory on Park Avenue February 21-25, and complements the much larger Armory Show, which comprises international contemporary art galleries. (Close to 70 New York City galleries are a minority at The Armory Show, while about 60 of the total of 70 dealers at the ADAA show are from New York.)
Works at this year’s Art Show dated from the Sixteenth Century to the week before the show opened. No one type of art was represented, although the exhibit floor was close to being monopolized by modernism, especially American Modernism. It was certainly a good year to be shopping for Marsden Hartley. Pop Art by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein was popping up (yes) in many booths, too. Twentieth Century American art had a good showing all around.
In the home-sweet-home of the beloved Seventh Regiment Armory, which was until recently not available for the usual show schedule, art was lit with individual spots in the somber environment of the historic building. The museum-like presentation of the works kept voices quiet with decorum. One has to be invited to join the ADAA, vouched for by peers who are already members. Not every ethical and excellent American dealer has been inducted into this exclusive group, but as ADAA showgoers will note, the standards are high all around.
Sperone Westwater, New York City, had a one-person show for Jonathan Lasker. It was his first show in four years. Shown along with his large oil on linen paintings were the small studies he did beforehand of oil on marker paper. The studies measured about four by six inches, while the end results were dominating. “Infinite Love – Love of the Infinite” measured 84 by 72 inches. The works had unabashed color, texture in painterly globs that were left on the sides of the tracks of a labyrinth of brushstrokes, negative space within the brushstrokes and around his planned shapes, and contained spontaneity.
Rachel Foullon of Sperone Westwater said, “Our one-person exhibition of Jonathan Lasker’s work was very successful. People enjoyed being able to enter the booth and be immersed in [his] work. The crowd was excellent…the children loved the work because it was so tactile and colorful. Many people had never seen Lasker works in person and were stunned by their textures. That week a new monograph had just been published on the artist, so it was timely that we could put on a Lasker show.”
Certainly no one could accuse veteran dealer Allan Stone, New York City, of playing it safe. His stand at was a one-person show for Kurt Trampedach. Huge canvases with textured and built up surfaces showed with sculptural effect grotesque images of baby-like figures with staring eyes, the right arm torn from the shoulder as if it were a doll limb. Part of a series, each challenging painting had a different background, the first a slaughter house, the next figures of women, then Hades and so on. No need to defend these intelligent but horrific pieces against being decorative. The artist was en route to the show with several smaller pieces to round out the exhibition. Issues of inhumanity and growth could be sensed from the first piece to the most recent.
In yet another one-person show, Carroll Janis Inc, New York City, had a striking display of several life-sized figures by George Segal (1924-2000). The George and Helen Segal Foundation has appointed Carroll Janis as the exclusive representative of the artist’s work. You knew you were looking at a magnificent display, an abundance of excellent pieces by this late great.
Sculpture peppered the entire show. You could find pieces by Rodin, Jean Arp, Leonard Baskin, Henry Moore, Lichtenstein and Jean Masayuki Nagare, among others.
Mary-Anne Martin is known for Latin American artists like Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. She also represents a contemporary Panamanian artist by the name of Isabel De Obaldía. The artist’s impressive glass sculptures of torsos start out as shards of glass, which are then fused together in a kiln. The translucent and delicately colored busts have a feeling of antiquity and possess Twenty-first Century aesthetics at the same time. Each piece is hand polished and is labor intensive – limiting her production to about ten pieces a year.
One of my favorite displays was that of Matthew Marks, New York City. He showed early and recent works by Terry Winters (1985 and 2001), Willem de Kooning (circa 1938 and 1983), Ellsworth Kelly (1959 and 1984), and Brice Marden (1964 and 2001). It showed loyalty to the artists’ vision on the part of the dealer, and continuity on the part of the artists.
Joan T. Washburn, New York City, had fascinating and rare early works by American icons Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Mark Rothko and Georgia O’Keeffe. The well-conceived exhibition showed the early development of each artist’s work before they reached their signature styles.
Kennedy Galleries, New York City, brought a broad selection of American artists, including Leonard Baskin, Charles Burchfield, Horace Pippin and Childe Hassam.
Pace Prints featured work by Braque, Picasso, Goya, Matisse, Rembrandt, Dürer and as well as a small selection of discretely displayed Japanese erotic art from the 1700s.
Jason McCoy had a stunning Lee Krasner oil and paper collage from 1955 entitled “Color Totem.” Part of a series of about a dozen works that incorporated torn-up cast off drawings by Jackson Pollock, the piece was also featured in the Krasner catalogue raisonné written by Ellen Landau. Krasner’s use of oranges, yellows and greens and other colors in the collage was magnetic.
George Adams Gallery, New York City, featured “A Bird in Hand” by Roy De Forest, 1965. Measuring 72 by 60 inches, it had a narrative quality that is sometimes associated with self-taught or visionary works. Adams does not agree with the distinction between regular artists and “outsider” artists, and was careful to point out that De Forest is “totally trained.” The artist had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974.
Galerie St Etienne put Henry Darger and Grandma Moses side by side in their display and the combination worked surprisingly well. Both were self-taught artists, with Darger a reclusive visionary and Anna Mary Robertson (Moses) pure folk.
There was a striking photograph by Edward Burtynsky “Shipbreaking #49,” a 2001 c-print measuring 40 by 50 unframed. The same gallery, Charles Cowles Gallery, Inc, New York City, also had collages made of puzzle pieces by Al Souza. “Mountain Falls” 2001 measured 48 by 41 inches unframed. Small ceramics by George Orr, the “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” were also on hand.
On a different scale, Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York City, brought an enormous ceramic urn, assemble from 26 different pieces. It was made by Viola Frey, a 68-year-old artist from Oakland, Calif. They also showed work by photorealist Don Eddy of New York City. He has been working in this vein since the 1970s and uses acrylic paint applied by airbrush onto canvas.
Fischbach Gallery brought extremely tight realistic still lifes from Denise Mickilowski. Her good-enough-to-eat “Blue-berries and Blackberries with Acorns” was scaled ever so slightly larger than life. At the same booth, Victoria Gitman’s detailed paintings made Mickilowski’s work look brushy in comparison. Gitman makes her own brushes with just one or two hairs and proceeds to reproduce museum postcards of women painted by other artists in her trompe l’oeil A Beauty series. She has completed about 30 pieces in the series so far.
Martha Parrish & James Reinish Inc, New York City, had works by Maurice Prendergast, Raoul Dufy, John Marin and Milton Avery as well as Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove. Precisionists were spotlighted too. George Ault and Charles Sheeler took up the better part of the main wall.
is about connoisseurship. Founded in 1962, the ADAA “seeks to promote the highest standards of connoisseurship, scholarship and ethical practice within the profession,” according to their printed statement. This lofty goal applies to both the new and the old art. Dealers who discover new artists are keeping the art world rolling along, while dealers in the secondary market have the sacred trust of keeping art alive after the artists have passed from the scene. At there were incredible ownership possibilities of old and new art.