Friday, March 8, 2013

Observations on Art 3.8

Of art shows and Brillo pads ....

Every year the Armory Show brings something that everybody falls over themselves to rave about and I just don't care for at all. A couple years ago it was Ivan Navarro's glowing neon "Armory Fence" that was sold for $40,000 per seven foot section. This it was Charles Lutz’s massive pile of cardboard Brillo boxes, literally hundreds of them. A supposed homage to Andy Warhol the boxes were free for the taking so Brillo boxes fought for space in the aisles already crowded with art lovers, art collectors, and wannabes of both varieties. It wasn't so much that I didn't get it, what wasn't to get, but I couldn't fathom the waste of space. A good piece of art should inspire an artist, give them ideas, but all I was inspired to do was paint the inside of a Walmart warehouse. I also felt totally sorry for the cabbies that had to deal with the boxes.

The Brillo boxes are better explained by the show's review in this morning's New York Times. I knew about the changes to the format, what the Times calls a sudden desire to please, and I get that. There is so much competition now with shows and fairs all over town this week and the second Frieze New York in May. The Focus section of the Armory Show is normally dedicated to new markets and their artists, last year it was the Nordic countries, but this year the Focus was on America. It's pretty much an art show in the middle of an art fair with nothing especially new about it. What I didn't know was that Eric Shiner, director of Pittsburgh's Warhol Museum, was the Focus organizer and that explains a lot.

Personally I think that if competition is the Armory Show's biggest worry they would be better off not toying with the makeup of the show but just moving it back a few weeks. Looking out the window at hopefully winter's last gasp, it has been snowing on and off for two days, that seems like a good idea. If I were an art tourist planning a trip to the city for a big art show and I had to choose between the Armory in March or the Frieze in May it wouldn't be much of a decision. Or maybe I would just plan a trip to the Warhol Museum instead, it's probably much cheaper trip but than again it's in Pittsburgh.

This video is a walk through from the first day of the Armory Show by VernissageTV. VTV is an online art channel founded in 2005 and is also free as a podcast on iTunes. Their website has a huge archive of videos worth a look on a rainy or snowy day. Watch for those ever present Brillo pad boxes.


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