The Top Solo Booths at The Art Show
There’s a lot to love about The Art Show, hosted by the Art Dealers Association of America. Founded in 1989, The Art Show is one of the longest-running fairs in the country and highlights remarkable historic and contemporary artworks from ADAA-member galleries. Located at the historic Park Avenue Armory, The Art Show is undoubtedly one of the most consistently exceptional fairs in the city. Another special component of this fair is its charity: all admissions proceeds are donated to Henry Street Settlement, the social services organization that has aided New Yorkers, which has helped raise $36 million to date.
This year, which marks the 35th year of the fair and the 130th anniversary of Henry Street Settlement, many galleries chose to bring solo booths by artists, providing opportunities for viewers to immerse themselves in the artists on view, while also providing a bit more scholarship and in-depth reading of each artist, and Whitewall picked its five favorite solo presentations. Plus, we asked New York-based art advisor Anne Bruder to pick one of her favorite works from the fair.
Lehmann Maupin at The Art Show
Liza Lou’s presentation at Lehmann Maupin is definitely a stand-out this year. The fair preempts what seems to be a busy few months for the artists: installations on view at Des Moines Art Center and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as a solo exhibition at the Gallery in 2024. At The Art Show, Lou presents works from a never-before-seen series, In Medias Res which comprises 17 assemblage works meant to capture a moment in the artist’s studio on July 6, 2017. Formed with glass beads, thread, and ink on naturally stained fabric mounted on wood, these works offer an improvisational and organic component to Lou’s conceptually-driven practice, which are fantastic to see and examine up close. These works are shown alongside more works from the artist’s archive that have never been exhibited prior to this.
What’s On View with Nicelle Beauchene Gallery
A newcomer to the fair, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery has a lovely presentation by Louise Despont. The gallery’s serene environment allows for a meditative space to examine these intricate, detailed works. Often taking inspiration from astronomy, literature, and architecture, Despont seems to focus more directly on the natural world. Botanical elements commingle with abstract or geometric forms, carefully inscribed by the artist. With a mix of small- and large-scale works, the artist demonstrates an incredible aptitude for working across scales to create compositions that are both immersive and intimate. A recent move to Mallorca seems to have allowed Despont to expand her practice, not only in terms of scale, but through an evolving visual language and approach to artmaking, and these new works are thrilling to see. It’s hard not to think about Hilma af Klint, who had also created a series of botanical drawings, but also through both artists’ shared ability to create otherworldly, mystically-inspired compositions that transport the viewer to entirely new realms.
The Art Show Booth by P.P.O.W
Ceramic works are out in full force at the fair this year, and Ann Agee’s booth at P.P.O.W is one of the many highlights celebrating this remarkable medium. The solo presentation includes works from her ongoing series, Madonnas of the Girl Child, which reimagines the classic Madonna and Child motif as Mother and daughter, instead of Mother and son. Imbuing reverence to women and girls, instead of men, Agee subverts the meaning and ideological significance of this ever-present, and oftentimes propagandistic qualities of this universally recognizable visual motif. The effect of the installation is arresting: the mother and daughter face outward towards the fair hallway, drawing the audience inward. Beyond the conceptual ingenuity and captivating framework of the series, Agee’s abilities in working with ceramics are astonishing to experience in person. The ease with which she sculpts and works with her chosen materials further demonstrates Agee’s significance as a preeminent ceramic artist working today.
Gavlak Gallery’s The Art Show Presentation
Lisa Anne Auerbach presents a poignant selection of works from her new series, Illicit Libraries at Gavlak’s booth. Comprising knitted textiles that depict the shelves of libraries filled with books, the works raise questions and awareness around the danger of book bans, and how ideological differences can lead to dangerous forms of censorship and withholding of information from the public realm. Each composition is framed by a curtain, demonstrating a pulling back to reveal these texts thought to be immoral in the minds of those hoping to ban them. Each composition groups books together by a theme assigned by the artist, focusing on topics of race, gender, sexuality, American culture, and so on. Throughout her career, Auerbach has interrogated mainstream conventions through her knitted works by using language and familiar images from culture to underscore the ways in which modern American values are influenced by our surroundings. This also isn’t the first time Auerbach has used the bookshelf in her work: in the past, she has used bookshelves as a means to decipher one’s personal tastes and preferences through the books they own. Here, the motif takes a political turn, hoping to expose the hypocrisy and long-term risks that banning books has on society as a whole. On the series, the artist notes: “Behind all book bans is the idea that a work can have great power. So, optimistically speaking, these bookshelves are a celebration! In this internet-crazy world, a book can still matter!”
Sikkema Jenkins & Co. at The Art Show
Sheila Hicks, whose instantly recognizable works and installations have captivated the art world for decades, gets the solo treatment at Sikkema Jenkins’s booth this year. Including a mix of recent works by the artist, the booth centers around an impressive, monumental bas-relief of pure linen, silk, and cotton “lianes,” which the artist made using more than seventy elements and spans sixteen feet in length. The work, Ondine, celebrates the artist’s ability to create immersive, technically complex works in a wide variety of contexts. On the side walls that flank Ondine are incredibly special: small in scale, these delicate works demonstrate the artist’s abilities across scales, as well as her excitement and exploratory nature, which is wonderful to see up close.
Art Advisory Pick by Anne Bruder: Paris Table by Betty Woodman at David Kordansky Gallery
“Betty Woodman (1930 – 2018) was one of the first artists who elevated the status of ceramic to fine arts, and her work has made a lasting impact on contemporary artists working today. I love this body of work because it combines both painting with her practice of ceramic-making, and demonstrates the ways in which Woodman expanded upon the potential and possibilities inherent to the materials she employed. In Paris Table, I love how the two-dimensional and three-dimensional components of the work are united through the artist’s continuation of certain motifs on patterns throughout these different planes, blurring the line between sculpture and painting. This work aptly demonstrates Woodman’s forward-thinking, inquisitive approach to material, pattern, and color, and the impact of seeing this work in person was astonishing.” – Anne Bruder