Spring Masters Puts a Fresh Spin on the Art Fair
A tapestry from the 1700s hangs next to one from the '70s.
You might expect it to be more of a visual jolt to encounter a Damien Hirst spot painting immediately after a J.M.W. Turner work on paper, when you were just looking at a 14th-century Italian Madonna and child. But somehow it’s far more fun than disconcerting at the just-opened Spring Masters fair at the Park Avenue Armory, on New York’s Upper East Side. The fair’s sophomore edition runs through Tuesday, May 12.
From its unique hexagonal layout, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, to the vast array of works on offer, Spring Masters puts a fresh spin on the art fair concept. Along with antiques, Old Masters, modern and Impressionist paintings, sculpture, vintage photography, and contemporary works, the fair features design, ceramics, and vibrant textiles among its 61 international dealers.
At the opening preview party Thursday night, guests strolled through the honeycomb layout—which allows for surveying multiple booths at once—while sipping cocktails and discreetly munching on hors d’ouevres. Among the boldface names in attendance were collectors and taste-makers including Jill & Peter Kraus, Beth Rudin de Woody, Robbie Antonio, Princess Eugenie of York, and Renee Rockefeller (see Meet 20 of the Art World’s Most Innovative Collectors and artnet News Top 200 Collectors Worldwide for 2015).
Along with a range of Old Masters—represented by dealers including Richard Feigen (New York), Otto Naumann (New York), and Moretti Fine Art (Florence, London, New York)—Picasso ceramics are on view (courtesy of London’s Sylvia Powell). There are black-and-white vintage prints by Harry Benson including the Beatles clowning around in a Paris hotel room and his snaps of celebrities including of Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger (via Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach). New York’s Salon 94 is showing an array of colorful Sand Chairs by Swiss design duo Keung Caputo (Sarah Keung and Lovis Caputo). They’re made from cut blocks of Styrofoam, cast with a mixture of sand, mortar, and colored pigments (see What Are Top Dealers Bringing to Frieze New York and 10 Tips To Make Art Fairs More Fun).
Gabriele Caioni, director of Moretti Fine Art, told artnet News: “We haven’t exhibited in New York for a while and we thought that this fair could be a good chance to meet new clients. New York in these two weeks is the place to be, with a lot of things happening all around the city and many visitors and clients from everywhere are here in these days.”
Spring Masters also tends to bring out dealers who say they don’t normally participate in art fairs. “The great thing about Spring Masters is that it exhibits work of all disciplines through all centuries,” said Scott Krawitz, co-owner of New York’s Vojtech Blau, who is showing a antique and modern textiles. “We can show a tapestry from around the 1700s next to one from the 1970s,” he said. “Most other fairs are too focused and therefore too limiting.”
Among the eye-catching attractions at Vojtech Blau are an Alexander Calder tapestry, Les Vers Noirs (circa 1971), which the artist created at Atelier Pinton in Aubusson, France, and Op artist Victor Vasarely’s Dia Argent (1971), created at Atelier Tabard Freres & Soeurs, also in Aubusson.
Philadelphia gallery Dolan/Maxwell is showing work including a vibrant abstract painting by Judith Rothschild, a gouache abstraction by African-American artist Paul Keene, and new landscapes by Irish painter Donald Teskey. Director Ronald Rumford told artnet News the gallery is familiar with the top-notch collecting crowd that the Park Avenue Armory draws to its shows, having exhibited at fairs there previously.
Designer Jamie Drake curated an arresting booth using objects from various fair exhibitors that included a circa 1765 gilt wood carved armchair, a circa 1070-718 BC bronze torso of King Osiris and a 1983 John Opper acrylic on canvas Untitled 185j among other unique objects.
Drake described the response as “hugely enthusiastic.” He added that viewers were “fascinated by the common threads in the pieces I selected, such as the scrolling forms between contemporary photography (Kim Keever 2014) and a gilt wood frame from the 17th century, or the connection between the rich red slash in John Opper painting from the eighties and the red velvet table cover in the 17th century portrait by Lavinia Fontana that hangs adjacent.”
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