The Armory Show has opened in New York at Piers 90 and 94, and the 20th-21st century art fair continues through March 8. VIPs swept through on Wednesday and snapped up their favorite works, including a massive mixed-media collage by nonagenarian artist Betye Saar for a reported $1.2 million from LA's Roberts Projects, yet much is to be seen and acquired from 183 galleries, including 33 new exhibitors.
Audio tours are available of highlights on the show floor. Don't miss Camille Morineau's commentary about women artists and the inaugural AWARE Prize, from the French not-for-profit organization AWARE (Archive of Women Artists Research & Exhibitions), which seeks to elevate women artists in the history of art.
The first-ever winner of the Armory Show's AWARE Prize is artist June Edmonds. The $10,000 juried prize was given for the excellence of the artist’s work and for the Luis de Jesus Los Angeles gallery’s courage to present a solo-female artist’s work in a market that has systematically undervalued art made by women. The prize's short list of five finalists also included Rina Banerjee, Yuko Nasaka, Aase Texmon Rygh and Alexis Smith.
AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau said, “Edmonds was unanimously selected by the jurors, who coalesced around the discovery of her new Flag Paintings—a breakthrough body of never-before seen work by the artist presented by Luis de Jesus Los Angeles at this year’s Armory Show.”
Edmonds began her Flag series in February 2017, following her Artist Residency in Paducah, KY. With these paintings, she explores the representation of the alignment of multiple identities including race, nationality, gender, and/or political leanings. Among the paintings on view at The Armory Show is Shadd Cary Flag, a work inspired by Mary Ann Shadd Cary who was born a free African American woman in Wilmington, Delaware in 1823, and was an American and Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. She was the first Black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. Shadd Cary was an abolitionist who became the first female African-American newspaper editor in North America when she edited The Provincial Freeman in 1853.
DC Moore has an exhibition of Whitfield Lovell's The Spell Suite, comprised of eleven works, and the Armory Show presentation is the first time they will be shown. For these large-scale assemblages, Lovell utilized conte crayon to compose exquisitely drawn anonymous African American faces, juxtaposing each with a found object. Also on view in their booth (Pier 90 - Perspectives Sector #302) are works by Jane Wilson and Duane Michals, whose photographs of eerily empty New York City places seem foreboding during this time of coronavirus cautions.
LA's M+B is in the Focus Section, curated by Jamillah James on Pier 90, at Booth F5, and featuring new ink on canvas paintings by Mark Thomas Gibson. Gibson’s personal lens on American culture stems from his multipartite viewpoint as an artist—as a black male, a professor, an American history buff and comic book aficionado. In this new body of work, Gibson describes the common factor of white supremacy that plays so much in the vision and violence of American society. From the Charlottesville riots to the governing body in the Senate, the paintings describe the flailing death throes of a system, which has marginalized people by race, gender and sexuality for centuries.
If you liked the large-scale vehicle concept of Red Grooms' $550,000 The Bus (1995) that London's Marlborough Gallery sold at last year's Frieze New York...well, there is a very interesting Cadillac-van to wrap your head around and it's on view in the Town Square section. L.A. Louver is offering Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz’s The Caddy Court, 1986-87, exhibited for the first time in the U.S. since 1997. The Kienholzes’ large-scale mixed media tableau reimagines the Supreme Court of the United States in one of its original functions as a circuit court.
The Kienholzes created the mobile tableau by splicing a 1966 Dodge van between the front and back ends of a 1978 Cadillac. A blindfolded Justice with broken scales comprises its hood ornament; a checkerboard “racing stripe” depicts portraits of all of the Supreme Court justices from 1790 to the year of the work’s creation; and on the car’s doors, the unofficial seal of The Caddy Court of America upholds the motto “Under God We Twist.” Upon entering a portico lined with a law library, the viewer enters the court chamber to discover the presiding justices portrayed by nine taxidermied animal heads and skulls in formal robes.
A quartet of artists on view at Ronchini Gallery's booth 620, include Rebecca Ward and Richard Höglund who each create distinct and subtly calming compositions.
Mariane Ibrahim (Booth #721) gallery has long championed work by female artists of African descent. New works are shown by four artists: ruby onyinyechi amanze, Zohra Opoku, Lina Iris Viktor and Florine Démosthène. Viktor's En Arche En Khaos, or In the beginning was chaos, marks a dramatic shift in nearly every aspect of her practice, from color to physicality. The reliefs operate as both painting and sculpture with multiple levels of tectonic architectures for the eye to engage.
CONNERSMITH has a select survey of work by Susan MacWilliam (b. 1969, Belfast, Northern Ireland) at Booth F24. In photography, video, neon and sculpture, MacWilliam explores overlooked histories in paranormal psychology. Using anecdote, reconstruction and detailed editing to expand methods of interpretation and forms of portraiture, the artist considers the lives, personalities and experimental apparatus of parapsychology from a female perspective. As MacWilliam delves into topics of hysteria, witchcraft and melancholy, she posits psychical research as an expression of patriarchal control over women’s autonomy.
A visually arresting mix of large scale works at Yancey Richardson's booth 615 include artists Olivo Barbieri, John Baldessari, Mickalene Thomas, Guanya Xu and more.
In the Focus Section, Anne Samat (b. 1973, Malaysia) will debut eight new works in her solo presentation for Marc Straus (booth F30). Held together by the South East Asian art of Pua Kumbu weaving, which Samat formally studied, these works juxtapose the hand-crafted feel of weaving with the hard aesthetics of industrial objects.