By Lindsey Davis
New York, NY – A few weekends ago, I attended my first-ever international art fair, taking the train from Boston’s South Station to Penn Station in New York City to spend six hours walking through rows and rows of art at The Armory Show.
Split between two piers on Manhattan’s West Side, The Armory dedicated Pier 92 to modern art and Pier 94 to contemporary art. The modern works were created during and in the style of the Modernism movement which reigned from 1890-1960, whereas the contemporary art was generally made by artists still living — forward-thinking conceptually heavy works.
Truth be told, there was hardly a difference in the types of work between each pier, except for that the modern section held works by masters like Picasso and Chirico and the Contemporary pier was more than twice the size.
The modern works were held on the second floor of Pier 92, creating two long rows of art that viewers could easily follow front-to-back. But the contemporary works were held on the first floor, a giant open warehouse filled with sections of arranged rows of booths, leading the viewer around and around but giving them a grand choice of which hallway to follow when they first enter.
One of my favorite works was Kelly Reemtsen’s painting “Mixed Metaphor,” shown in the David Klein Gallery’s booth on the Modern art pier. It featured a woman wearing a multi-colored polka-dot dress, shown from neck to knees and holding a pink axe delicately between both hands. There’s a strong, warm sense of light that shines on her strapless, V-necked dress, and she’s shown against a thickly textured white background. Her right hand sits at the canvas’ center, wearing a bauble ring and a beaded bracelet, and gripping the axe’s handle.
I started with the Modern pier, which was a nice transition to the grand site of The Armory Show’s entrance at Pier 94. The work there varied in every which way possible, but I noticed a lot of political work, a lot of visually stripped down, simplified pieces, and a lot of struggle between new ideas and traditional media — some bending in favor of using iPads and others sticking to oil paint.