NYC Armory Show: Sour Times, Bright Colors

March 13, 2009

This past weekend we sent intrepid FADER intern Alex Frank to the Armory Show, an international art fair in the West Side of Manhattan. Like everyone everywhere, artists and their galleries are hurting, but to infuse their own pep artists and their works came out in style. Alex was most drawn to the boldest of the bold, check his some flicks and his rundown after the jump.

This year's gigantic Armory Show, on a westward pier by the recently dreary Hudson River, seemed a little downcast itself. News reports talked in mournful tones about how no one was buying any art, and whether by deliberate reaction or merely by accident, the general mood of the art at the show was a bit colorless. But I've always hoped that art's vitality wouldn't be based on America's financial health. So while I walked through the fair, my eyes instinctively honed in on the random bursts of color. Mickalene Thomas' rhinestone portraits were as proud as they were detailed. Amanda Ross-Ho's knit were comfortable and provocative at once and Nick Cave's wild mannequins seemed prepared for some kind of crazy battle. They were all wildly different, but they're exactly the kind of color you need when everyone else seems to be feeling blue. So here's my picks for the brightest, boldest work at this year's Armory Show.

I love work that combines creative tradition with fresh ideas. Amanda Ross-Ho uses the culture of quilts, with its history of female workmanship, to broadcast a message about her own femininity. But what does "Pregnant Again!" mean? Good or bad, I'm not sure, but I noticed.

This Thomas Bayrle piece literally popped out at me. He uses intricately detailed images to compose 3-D portraits, that look nothing like those ugly 3-D holograms from the ’90s, and everything like the future with its near-digital precision in design technique. It looks almost computer-made, but just messy enough to show his hand.

Kehinde Wiley's work makes old-fashioned paint portraiture seem as real and current as any other medium. I found this painting to be especially floral and awesome.

If you were engaged, heavens forbid, in some weird arty version of Braveheart, you'd want Nick Cave's army on your side. I've read critics say they pick up on a fashion sensibility in his mannequins, but I see colorful soldiers.

I sort've queened out a bit when I saw Mickalene Thomas's portrait of this jeweled, proud diva. Leopard print, floral patterns and the dopest hat I've seen since Aretha's on Inauguration.

Posted: March 13, 2009
NYC Armory Show: Sour Times, Bright Colors