Armory Week Diary Day 1: Erró and the Hort Family Collection
From the Met Breuer to Galerie Perrotin.
Armory Week is not for the faint of heart. The list of openings, events, and fairs at times seems never-ending, and, accordingly, artnet News has a full dance card each and every day. Enjoy a peek into our Armory Week diary:
A Private Collection Opens Its Doors
Every year during Armory Week, the Hort family shows its expansive collection to a select group of invited guests at their Tribeca home (just a few feet from the new venue of the Independent art fair, which opens Thursday). Curated each year by Jamie Cohen Hort, the annual viewing highlights both newly-acquired works and old favorites brought together by Susan and Michael Hort along with their son Peter and his wife Jamie.
Their holdings include established artists like John Currin and Nicole Eisenman (whom the family collected early in their careers), but there’s a focus on emerging artists like Berlin painter Tom Anholt. His abstract paintings garnered interest from several dealers from New York, where he doesn’t yet have gallery representation.
Peter Hort said that the artist jokingly called this “his first retrospective.” He also has a solo show at the Volta fair this week.
Hort pointed out a juxtaposition, in the penthouse, of older works by painter Ellen Berkenblit along with more recent acquisitions that show both continuity and progression.
Seen making the rounds were former Armory Show director Paul Morris; New York dealers including Lisa Cooley, Gabrielle Giattano, Sean Horton, and Jane Lombard; Anton Kern Gallery director Courtney Treut; and artist Ellen Harvey, who had a recent exhibition at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
Pop on the Upper East Side
Much of the early Armory Week activity centered on the Upper East Side, with no less than three press previews being held on Tuesday before 12:30 p.m. The first stop was the eagerly anticipated Met Breuer, where the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s new logo was out in full force.
There, in the absence of a large enough auditorium or lobby, eager crowds spilled out over two floors to listen to remarks from Thomas P. Campbell, Sheena Wagstaff, and artist Kerry James Marshall, who voiced his excitement over being, for the first time, “in” the Met, rather than going “to” it.
We walked through the inaugural “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible” exhibition (March 18–September 4, 2016), where curator Kelly Baum was spotted next to Robert Smithson‘s Mirrors and Shelly Sand recounting to visitors the challenges of installing the 50 mirrors in the small mountain of beach sand.
After that, it was down to Galerie Perrotin, two blocks south.
Ahead of the opening of “Erró: Paintings from 1959 to 2016,” (which is on view through April 23), Icelandic pop artist Erró spoke with independent curator Bartholomew Ryan about his work and career. Though his brightly-colored canvases are dense with familiar imagery culled from American comic books, the 83-year-old quickly admitted that he has never read one.
To Erró, the exploits of Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and their ilk, are of purely visual interest. After carefully cutting out the drawings—”I have extremely good scissors,” he noted—Erró creates collages, which he then projects onto massive canvases and paints using enamel.
He came to the US in the early 1960s, where he quickly fell in with the burgeoning Pop scene. “I slided into the movement without knowing why,” said Erró.
Of course, it helped that the scene was far more welcoming than that of Paris, where he remembers artists turning all their paintings to face the wall when he visited their studios, out of fear their work would be copied. In New York, he recalled, “I was extremely impressed how friendly all the artists were.”
The artist’s comic-based pieces are paired with older work, including a 1969 canvas originally created as cover for a Lucio Fontana publication that features 69 surreal couples (animal/human/machine hybrids) engaging in 69 different sexual positions.
Newer work includes Miley and Putin, a painting of Vladimir Putin, the Mad magazine mascot, and pop star Miley Cyrus in her notorious tongue-waggling VMA performance. The work was inspired by Pussy Riot‘s challenge to the Russian leader’s authoritarian rule. When asked where the Russian artist group appears in the work, Erró said, “I thought one of them was there but it was an American!”
The final stop of the day was the Park Avenue Armory, for The Art Show from the Art Dealers Association of America. Press normally get their first look at the ADAA during the opening night gala, but were afforded a special early viewing on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. This had both pros and cons.
While most of the fair appeared ready for prime time, some still had workers in them making lighting adjustments, or even hammering and drilling. In a few cases, the preparations offered a special treat.
At one gallery, Hirschl & Adler, which featured an artwork by Maria Elena Gonzalez, that incorporated a player piano, before the gallery staff could play the music that was part of the artwork, they tested it with a roll of music that you’d imagine hearing in an early 20th century saloon. Not accustomed to hearing music in an art fair, this reporter was beckoned summarily to the booth.
Going early, however, meant missing out on the fair’s generous spread of hors d’oeuvres (not to mention the wine bar!), which would come out later in the evening.
Already exhausted from a hectic morning, this reporter collapsed gratefully into an unattended booth for a momentary respite while contemplating the week ahead. It’s going to be a long one.
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