Connoisseur-Worthy Highlights From the ADAA’s 30th Anniversary Art Fair
We select the most captivating highlights from the ADAA fair.
America’s longest-running fair, the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA)’s The Art Show, kicked off yesterday evening—a bit earlier than usual. Although the Park Avenue event normally coincides with the Armory Show, a scheduling mixup caused the two fairs to open a full week apart. The result was a less packed VIP preview and, some said, a slightly slower pace of sales. But there were plenty of heavyweights browsing the aisles, including Steve Martin, Woody Allen (with Soon-Yi Previn), and top local collectors such as Donald Marron, Peter and Jill Kraus, and Andy and Dana Stone.
“You have the honest-to-god collectors here,” Adam Sheffer, a partner at Cheim & Read and president of the ADAA’s board, told artnet News. “The flippers aren’t here.”
The fair’s 30th anniversary offered a mix of old and new, with 10 galleries that had shown at the original 1989 event mingling with first-timers including Altman Siegel, Chambers Fine Art, and Maccarone. “It’s an art fair put together by art dealers,” Sheffer noted. The result is an event less focused on Instagram photo ops and booths-by-numbers and more on art-historical deep cuts and new directions taken by established artists. It is very much a fair for grownups.
Below, we’ve picked six of the most fascinating works at the fair to give you a taste of the offerings.
1. Nicole Eisenman’s Saturnista (2017)
Found at: Anton Kern Gallery
Why It’s Fascinating: Roughly a year ago, the gallery and the artist dreamed up a project that would allow the contemporary-art star to explore her fascination with Andy Warhol‘s drawings—specifically his ink-blotting technique. Eisenman created a series of drawings as part homage, part experiment, and the end results are displayed in a horizontal line inside the gallery’s booth at the 2018 ADAA Art Show, flanked on either side by walls filled with Warhol’s original 1950s and ’60s drawings. The gallery’s owner called the works thought-provoking, noting that Eisenman is a “master draughtsman” in her own right.
We thought the booth, and this work in particular, made for a particularly compelling highlight of this year’s ADAA show, and apparently we’re not the only ones: the Morgan Library has already snapped up the piece. – Eileen Kinsella
2. Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Two Girls Sitting in Landscape (1905)
Found at: Galerie St. Etienne
Why It’s Fascinating: For decades, the German expressionist painter Modersohn-Becker was better known for her tragic life story—documented in her own diaries and letters, which became a bestseller after she died of a postpartum embolism at age 31—than for her art. Her paintings number in the hundreds, according to Galerie St. Etienne’s Jane Kallir, but rarely surface on the market in the US. (Asked how many others were available in America, Kallir said, “I think I could safely say none.”)
Modersohn-Becker created this painting two years before her death, when she was traveling back and forth between Paris and Northern Germany. The influence of the French Post-Impressionists is visible in her handling of paint to create flat planes of color, while the subject—two girls in a landscape—is pure German countryside. The work has been in the same family since before World War II, and though it has been included in several St. Etienne exhibitions over the years, it has never formally been available for sale. Modersohn-Becker’s auction record, set in 2013, is $714,000, according to the artnet Price Database. – Julia Halperin
3. James Wines’s Ghost Parking Lot Model (1977)
Found at: Fredric Snitzer Gallery
Why It’s Fascinating: Although Wines is best known as the creative force behind the renowned architecture firm SITE, he was also a member of New York’s environmental art movement in the 1970s—a group that included his close friend Vito Acconci, with whom Wines says he spent much time going to conferences, “defending artists to architects and architects to artists.”
Ghost Parking Lot Model (1977) served as the precursor to an environmental installation executed in a Connecticut shopping center the same year. There, Wines buried 20 donated cars at varying depths before paving over the entire group, simultaneously transforming the vehicles into sculptural objects and fusing them with the landscape. In Wines’s words, this ensured Ghost Parking Lot could never be removed from its surroundings “without a total loss of meaning.”
The installation and the model are both worthy capsules of Wines’s artistic practice, which Snitzer says “bridges the gap between sculpture, architecture, and environmental work.” While the installation itself is no more, the model survives it (and was still available at press time). – Tim Schneider
4. Catherine Opie‘s Stump Number 4 (2015)
Found at: Lehmann Maupin
Price: The artist’s sculptures are $8,000–12,000
Why It’s Fascinating: Famous as a photographer, Opie has been quietly experimenting in ceramics the past few years, taking advantage of the proximity of the dark room and the ceramics studio at UCLA, where she teaches. This is the first time she’s shown her sculpture in public, and she’s only done so at the insistence of her dealer, David Maupin.
“She actually uses real trees to make the imprints on the sculptures themselves,” the gallery’s director of communications, Marta de Movellan, said of the log-like works, which accompany the artist’s photographs of the forests in California’s Yosemite National Park. Another print, Stump Fire 1 (2015), captures one of the ceramic works surrounded by a glowing flame. “Catherine wanted the sculptures to be displayed as kind of a charred, burned forest, because with fire there is the potential for regeneration,” De Movellan explained. – Sarah Cascone
5. Jose Dávila’s Untitled (2018)
Found at: Sean Kelly
Why It’s Fascinating: The Mexican artist’s crafty appropriation of Alexander Calder‘s iconic hanging sculptures stands out for its clever manipulation of one of America’s best-known modernists. By including the work, Sean Kelly directed a nod towards the ADAA’s typically conservative, apartment-friendly offerings from an innovative and refreshing perspective. Dávila, who was present at the booth, explained to artnet News how he made the work: “I took a photograph and cut out the recognizable forms. The floating shapes are suspended between two pieces of plexi to give the piece a multilayered perspective that incorporates the shape and shadow of the original work.” – Henri Neuendorf
6. Ann Craven’s Yellow Canary (Stepping Out in Pink Sunset, in Snow) (2018)
Found at: Maccarone
Why It’s Fascinating: Ann Craven’s lush paintings of wildlife, like singing birds and lingering fauns, bring to their seemingly kitschy subject matter a heady engagement with seriality, mechanical and painterly reproduction, and the legacy of Pop art—not to mention an unabashed exultation of the medium of oil paint. The little critter perched in the middle of Yellow Canary (Stepping Out in Pink Sunset, in Snow) (2018) warmly eyes the viewer but also seems, in a delightful coincidence, to peer across the aisle at the Joseph Cornell boxes at Philadelphia’s Locks Gallery, in which similarly humble birds appear. Flatness and three-dimensionality duke it out in a joyous battle on the painting’s surface, while Craven, as she told this writer, “tweaks the cheek” of Pop while also looking back to Marsden Hartley and Gustave Courbet, as well as at black velvet paintings. There’s an increasingly dark context for all paintings of nature, of course, as the world warms and as our president champions a destructive reliance on fossil fuels. Those colors, though! – Brian Boucher
ADAA’s The Art Show is at the Park Avenue Armory, on Park Avenue at 67th Street, from February 28 to March 4.
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