Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Girls Just Want to Have Funds"

Rema Hort Mann Foundation panel at PPOW Gallery.

On Tuesday night, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation sponsored a fantastic panel on the not very Cyndi-Lauperian topic of why women artists fail to achieve anywhere near the prices that men do, especially at the upper echelons of the market. To standing-room only crowds, the dedicated director of the Foundation, himself markedly not a woman artist, explained the need for the focus on women artists, and promised to have a similar panel in exactly a year to see where things stood. Indeed, the evening was full of numbers and near-scientific figures, a way to measure and gauge success over time. The moderator, the enlightening and clear-voiced Sarah Douglas, introduced the discussion with statistics that clarified that through all strata of the artist's career arc, men out-earned women, and were disproportionately represented in galleries. She noted that at the height of the market, in 2007, of the top 100 earning artists, only 4 were women, and the highest price for an American woman was $7 million for Joan Mitchell. And while 50% of all MFA students were women, even those galleries that showed emerging artists were already more focused on men in their roster.

Right: Marilyn Minter, "Parted", 2010, 30" x 24", enamel on metal, $35,000.

Indeed, Douglas said that several dealers complained that they were hard pressed to find the talent among women, which of course the mostly-female audience booed under their breaths. A more likely excuse was suggested by the younger artist on the panel, 20-something Xaviera Simmons, who said that women needed confidence, and a business-like approach, in order to succeed. When Sculpture Center Director Mary Ceruti was asked by trustees why her shows were mostly of women, she had to explain that the opposite was true: so many men who were talented already had weighty exhibition histories, while mature talented women were left out, and ripe for a non-profit museum. Amy Capellazzo, the head of Contemporary Art at Christie's, had the most "go-get-'em" approach of all: what women were missing was a sense of entitlement that men seemed to automatically have. If women just believe that they deserved more money, higher salaries, bigger studios with assembly line production, more critical acclaim and approval, then they too could break the $1 million dollar auction price barrier, and be a more saleable brand. Her advice had some resonance, as in her example of the change in women's attitudes over the past 30 years concerning their sexuality, and certainly it was refreshing to hear voices of encouragement and not empathetic coddling of the "woe-is-me" variety. Capellazzo even ended the evening with a reiteration of her call to arms: if you decide you want economic parity, you can achieve it, she coached the crowd. Still, to some of the audience, certain questions remained - for instance, the fact that some of the discrimination and insistence on male supremacy came from women in power. Marilyn Minter, a raucous addition to the roster, and an artist whose rise in economic power has been well-documented, mentioned that even a woman collector had questioned whether her prices were prudent, while dealer Tony Shafrazi claimed only men earned "that kind of money".

Right: Amy Capellazzo, Head of Contemporary Art, Christie's.

In fact, Minter was a good case study in success: her tenacity- creating art even when it was unpopular and not as rewarded -- won her a long wait-list of collectors, and the enviable position of having a studio with 6 assistants. Yet even she portrayed some traits that were a perfect example of why differences still remain, and why the path to success is perhaps slower (if not fully erased) for women: while Jeff Koons, Murakami, and Damien Hirst were well-known for having huge factories of assistants and therefore were able to earn disproportionately massive amounts of money, Minter had to be persuaded to increase her studio to 10 people, and she needed to know them personally, so that she could have a mentoring role. On the other hand, she spoke honestly and humorously about how hungry she was to get higher in the earnings department, and do her personal best to achieve parity with men.
Left: Suzanne Valadon, Self Portrait, 1927.

While the audience clapped most heartily when it was cruelly lured into thinking Cyndi Lauper herself had shown up to perform the titular song of the evening, the end of the panel's discussion beckoned the audience members to stay and dish about the topic of the night. Was pregnancy and motherhood adequately addressed? If Capellazzo claimed that biology wasn't destiny, then what else could women count on as definitive markers of lesser value? Prejudices that exist about the very nature of art made by women and men were not touched upon, and perhaps those very powerful ideas, found in both men and women, are the real reason behind the lack of financial potency in women's careers. I recalled the thesis I wrote on an artist of the turn of the century, Suzanne Valadon, and how her art was interpreted by critics and peers as uniformly "male", and not very saleable. Yet her son, Maurice Utrillo, with his run-of-the-mill paintings copied from postcards, went on to become a much higher earner, and today is a far more marketable name. Of course most women on the panel shared anecdotes about how times had changed from even 20-30 years ago. Let's hope that looking forward will define both progress in actual earning power and the underlying attitudes behind lesser representation.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Opening Pix of Asya Geisberg Gallery

"Angelina Gualdoni: Shadows Slipping" opened last week, and I have finally sat down long enough to post some opening night pix.

The images below were photographed by an assembly of "Asya Says" devotees, as Asya herself was distracted by "Saying" plenty in person.

Left: View onto 23rd street.

Right: The calm before the storm!

Warm weather and a smashing reception made for a great opening, followed by a lovely after-party or two.

I am so grateful for everyone's support and warm wishes!

And if I didn't have the opportunity to speak with you, my was quite the turnout!

Left: Michele, Asya, and Diana.

Right: Pre-opening preparations...

Right: Angelina Gualdoni.

Left: Jerry Saltz perusing "Porosity".

I had to include at least one obligatory shoe/fashion shot, photographed on my behalf, so that the ethos of "Asya Says" endures.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Introducing Asya Geisberg Gallery!

New Gallery Opening in Chelsea --- Asya Geisberg Gallery

537B West 23rd Street New York
Inaugural Reception September 23rd from 6-8pm
Angelina Gualdoni: Shadows Slipping

ASYA GEISBERG will open her new gallery on West 23rd Street in Chelsea on the ground floor of the Tate Building, joining Leo Koenig, Daniel Reich, Perry Rubenstein, Margaret Thatcher Projects and Pavel Zoubok.

Ms. Geisberg will present a conceptually focused program of young international artists working in all media. The inaugural exhibition will showcase new paintings by New York artist Angelina Gualdoni. Future exhibitions will include Israeli artist Melanie Daniel, winner of the 2009 Rappaport Prize for Young Israeli Painters, and British artist Annie Attridge, whose most recent work was featured in "Grand National-Art from Britain", Vestfossen, Norway.

Asya Geisberg brings her talents as a curator, writer and artist to her new gallery. She has worked with many artists, most recently in "Freedom's Discontents: Resistance, Subversion, and Survival" at Visual Voice Gallery in Montreal. Her coverage of art fairs and international exhibitions can be found at, as well as, on her blog "Asya Says"

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Geisberg has lived in the US since 1977. She studied literature and history at Wesleyan and received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts.

Ms. Geisberg looks forward to being part of the Chelsea neighborhood adding a challenging new group of international artists to this rich arts environment.

Asya Geisberg Gallery | 537B West 23rd Street | New York, NY 10011 | +212 675 7525 |

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Freedom Week Art Auction--Please donate!

The last week of September is Freedom Week, to bring attention to human trafficking, and we are organizing an art auction benefit. It's an under-reported cause, and one that I think deserves all the attention it can get. The benefit will be held on September 30, at Tele Design Studio, an event space in the Meatpacking District. It is sure to get press coverage, and will be the culmination of a week of events.

Please donate a work of art. The info on the project is below. If you are interested or have any questions about donation, please


Asya Geisberg, curator
Freedom Week Art Auction

We are pleased to invite you to participate in New York City’s second-annual Freedom Week, September 25-October 2, 2010. Freedom Week is a citywide campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking and contemporary slavery, which is now the third-largest criminal industry in the world. According to the U.S. State Dept., at least 12.3 million people are trafficked and enslaved around the world, and that number is growing fast. Human trafficking is expected to soon surpass drug trafficking in scope and profit because it is a shadow industry that works under the radar. Most people do not know that it exists, let alone that New York City is one of the major portals for trafficking within the USA; this includes U.S citizens, especially children.

Our goal is to open people's eyes to this horrific industry and inspire the public to take action. As such, we are hosting an art auction to both raise awareness and funds to fight trafficking. Proceeds from the auction will go to organizations dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and providing after-care to victims who have been rescued.

We would love to have you add your voice to those who are raising awareness by generously donating a piece of artwork to the auction. If you have any questions about Freedom Week, please feel free to contact me at Our website is below if you'd like to see a summary of last year's events, where we were able to feature such luminaries as Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Nicholas Kristof from the NY Times and the U.S. State Department's Ambassador Lou de Baca.

We hope you will join us in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking.


Ann Lien
Director, Freedom Week

Freedom Week Art Auction: Submission Guidelines

I am pleased to be curating this year's art auction benefiting Freedom Week.

The auction will be held at the Tele Design event space on Thursday, September 30th, from 6 - 9. For information on Freedom Week, please read .


Works can be in any medium, framed or unframed, maximum 36" in any direction including frame, and must be able to be installed on the wall. If you have a framed work, please supply wire Sculptors may include a small shelf for display. We recommend a minimum bid below $1,000.

Please prepare a 150KB jpeg, and the following information for the checklist.

Please email AND include with your artwork:

Name, address, phone, email, and website of artist.

Title, year, medium, edition number if any.

Estimated Value, and Minimum Bid (we recommend one third to one half of the estimated value).

Selected artworks must be delivered on September 29 and 30, we cannot inconvenience our host with individual deliveries or storage of artwork. Selected artworks are donations and all proceeds from their sales support the work of several important organizations working on human trafficking, including History Starts Now. Included artists are welcome to attend the event for free. Tickets to the benefit are $25.

Drop-off: September 29 and 30, at location to be announced.

Pick-up of unsold artwork: September 30 and October 1.

Questions or concerns should be directed to

Thank you for your interest and support of Freedom Week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Riding on the Back of a Pig into a Pool of Mud

"Defrosted: a life of Walt Disney" opens June 29 at Postmasters

A few days before the start of the New York art world's summer lull, Postmasters opened a stellar group exhibition forcing vacationers awake. A conceptually taut revisionist riff on the life of Walt Disney, the show is organized by Adam Cvijanovic and David Humphrey, and features 14 additional artists. Summer in the city beckons most galleries to throw group shows, but this one, planned for 2 years, has thrown down the gauntlet.

Right: David Humphrey and featured artist Inka Essenhigh.

The entire main gallery is covered with a wall painting by Cvijanovic, with figurative parts painted by Humphrey, and additional canvases by Humphrey playfully hung throughout. By the entrance of the gallery, a timeline of Disney's life creates a comical leitmotif that throws the otherwise fantastical show into sharp relief, the kind of truth that our current reality-TV modernity finds prickly and illusive at best. Related works by artists both known and Ebay-anonymous hang on a scaffold recreating Magic Mountain, itself based on the Matterhorn.

Left: artist Nika Sarabi.

Right: detail of Nika Sarabi's work.

The crowded opening emphasized the room-filling expanse lushly imagined by Cvijanovic. An artist who makes painting seem as easy as brushing one's teeth, Cvijanovic continues to push his style into a modern reinvention of history painting. Humphrey's cartoony tendencies are also a perfect fit for this thematic exhibition. In cohesive yet distinctive styles, both artists re-imagine a workshop ideal, even asking Nika Sarabi, an artist familiar with graffiti, to add detail to an abandonned spaceship from Disneyworld's Tomorrowland.

Left: "Addio", Eva and Franco Mattes, aka, hung on pedestal.

In the back room, several works were supposed to represent Walt Disney's crypt, and indeed it was a quiet somber room, with a video and giant Mickey sculpture. A truly ambitious undertaking, the entire exhibition concerned itself not just with the reinvention of biography and the collaborative process, but also the physical challenge of having imagery taking over the room. The exhibit placed the viewer in a warped Einsteinian time/space dimension, which particularly was pronounced during the packed opening. And yet as viewers looked up at the walls, they were brought back into the objecthood and subjectivity of each individual artist placing their work on the pedestal cum Matterhorn. A heady and yet perfectly summer-themed exhibit indeed--catch it before it closes on August 6!

Left: Paula Wilson, "After All", mixed media on wood, on pedestal.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Freedom Sparks in Montreal

"Freedom's Discontents: Resistance, Subversion, and Survival"

A triumverate of curators--Irys Schenker, myself and gallery director Bettina Forget put together a video exhibition at Montreal's Visual Voice Gallery. The show is up only through July 17, but viewable online at Visual Voice Gallery. My selections and essay (reprinted below) are viewable at LightCube Video.

The response to the Freedom Sparks open call for videos has been overwhelming, and has garnered submissions from all over the world. This is indeed the beauty behind a show such as this: curators from New York have looked at videos from Brussels, Japan, and Arizona, among others, and the works will be viewed in a gallery in Montreal. This process has informed the interpretation of the concept of freedom, and provided a range of reactions - personal, national, or abstracted, and with these examples we can glimpse the expanse of our world.

Biying Zhang abstracts black and white footage of the Pan Asian Games in China with abrasive editing and sound, into a reflection on the calamity and destruction behind the facade of governmental control. In a place where freedom has a nuanced history, a propaganda machine aims to portray a happy and modernized China, which the artist counteracts with his pointed video.

Elise Rasmussen similarly delves into local history: the disappearance of native culture in Newfoundland. Her poignant, meditative approach, combined with bilateral framing, gives a nuanced viscerally-felt evocation of place. In a free society, without overt warfare or pursuit of genocide, an ethnic group nonetheless slowly is eradicated. What can freedom mean when a groups survival itself is so tenuous?

Tobias Rosenberger investigates another disappearance: of landscape and its inhabitants, an erasure brought about by the results of commercial freedom. A development, the height of material choice, brings about a sudden death, and Rosenberger shows us the end result of deadening conformity.

Daniel Stitts provides a personal and hauntingly beautiful nugget of personal and sexual freedom. Motifs of hiding, disappearance, and even the use of recorded voice all create layers of obstruction to personal liberty. Simone Patterson's fun brightly-colored piece subverts her underlying themes of feminity submerged in domesticity, vanity, and modern womens forced juggling of roles. And finally, Robby Rackleff's humorous lecture, toying with the ease of home-made video fakery, posits freedom as something that each generation fears and resents.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cuchifritos: bootie-licious

Left: The entrance of Cuchifritos Gallery, Installation view: "Collected:Working Space 10". Courtesy of the artists and Cuchifritos Gallery/project space. Photo: Scott Taylor.

On yet another sweltering NYC day, while gallery-hopping through the Lower East Side, I decided to stop by Essex Market, a wonderful locavore outpost that reinvents a neighborhood paradigm from the turn of the century into a thriving food-based marketplace. Luckily for me, I wandered into the cozy corner space of Cuchifritos Gallery, just as the opening for its new exhibit "Collected:Working Space 10" began.

Right: Crocheted floor, by Olek.

Curated by Erin Riley-Lopez, the exhibit features work of the artists in the Lower East Side Rotating Studio Program, housed nearby. The show managed within a confoundingly small space to be a testament to the high caliber of the artists, as well as the range of conceptual work within. Although the works were in video, painting, sculpture and performance, the idea of mark-making outside the boundaries of conventional drawing was profoundly felt.

For instance, Chris Yormick used Connect Four checkers to create a blunt facial pattern, and Natsu's red filament-and-bead web took over a corner of the space. Echoing its organic/cosmic patterning was Olek's camouflage-meets-sportswear carpet, which covered the entire floor. The one actual drawing used marks to extend beyond the paper: Blane de St.Criox's "Gitmo: abandonned camp x-ray" pushed past political authority by using barbed wire's thwarted beauty as mark to suggest freedom's grand schemes unravelled.

Left: pile of used booties.

The artist Olek sat by the entrance offering slippers to all entrants, pantomiming as her mouth was embroidered shut. Her crocheted carpet effectively thrust mark-making into the three-dimensional realm, and labeled each guest as participant. The gallery was taken over by the mark, and within its womb-like space, a sea of pink and purple, each foot trod carefully on the art, each leg yet another mark, extending upward.

Right: Olek, at right, silently waiting to proffer slippers.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Painting with Pictures": loco con sabor!

I am very excited to announce the show I co-curated with David Gibson and Savannah Spirit, "Painting with Pictures", opened last night at the Casita Maria Center in the Bronx. The show of 32 artists revisits the concept of collage, and will have a follow-up "Part II" in the winter. Casita Maria is a gorgeous building, a few minutes walk from the 2, 5, and 6 trains, and the show is on the top floor, affording lovely views of city rooftops, sunsets, and the elegant stream of ever-present traffic on the Bruckner Expressway.

Right: Hector Madera-Gonzalez installation of collage on found posters.

Left: Artists Tim Rollins and Conrad Vogel.

After a lovely opening, the madding crowd assembled at a Mexican restaurant across the street, and supped on deliciosos Camarones a la Mexicana, freshly-chopped guacamole, and endless glasses of "apple juice" (code for beer). I could barely hear anyone as the jukebox regaled us with forlorn ditties in Spanish, and as I stumbled into the wrong door to have a breath of fresh air, I was pleased to be mortified by a posse of 6 decked-out gals, who clearly felt I had stumbled not only into the wrong door but perhaps the wrong neighborhood. I look forward to revisiting the show in the light of day, as the art changes in the daylight, and the neighborhood beckons with fruit vendors, vibrant graffiti, and a street culture that encourages interaction. Casita Maria has been a fixture in the neighborhood for over 74 years, but the building is only 2 years old and looks it, with gleaming floors, brightly colored walls, and kids energized by their exposure to art and culture.

Right: Director of Development for Casita Maria David Dean adjacent to a matching collage by Amelie Chunleau.

The exhibition continues through July 21, and features works by: Michael Anderson, Melissa Barrett, Chris Bors, Lesly Canossi, Amelie Chunleau, Nancy Drew, Chris Fennell, Carla Gannis, Liam Hanna-Lloyd, Halsey Hathaway, Daniel Kayne Scott, Kiernan, Isolde Kille, Elissa Levy, D. Dominick Lombardi, Hector Madera-Gonzalez, Leah Oates, Sarah Olson, Deborah Pohl, Alexander Reyna, Elizabeth Riley, Ron Rocheleau, Pamela Saturday, Raven Schlossberg, Kaeko Shabana, Jennifer Shepard, Mary Ann Strandell, thefactory101, Austin Thomas, Conrad Vogel, and Michael Zansky.

This exhibition explores the use of collage as an artistic medium, dissecting its impulses and agendas while providing a wide cross-spectrum of its usage in contemporary art. It addresses the role of material culture in mediating our shared view of reality, the notion of a borrowed aesthetic, and how specific visual agendas express differing cultural attitudes. It includes a variety of mediums and aesthetic agendas, presenting not only traditional collage, but works which establish a collage mentality in the liminal forms of photography, video, digital manipulation, painting, sculpture, printmaking, children’s books, commercial signage, portraiture, and others. In the end, it will posit collage as a cause, rather than a symptom, of both artistic style and generational meaning.

Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education; Casita Gallery, 6th Floor
928 Simpson St (Bet Fox/Baretto St & 163rd St)

For more information, check out their website: Casita Maria Center.

Right: Savannah Spirit, Lyla Rose, David Dean, and Asya Geisberg.

The Last Days of Chez Deitch, Part II

Line of people waiting to get into Deitch Projects, at opening night, Shephard Fairey, May 1, 2010.

Like his gallery openings with their crowds of people in the streets, Jeffrey Deitch himself is equal parts NYC and LA ,and always has been, sans silicone and fake tans. At Shephard Fairey's opening on May Day, Mr. Deitch wore a characteristically pastel pink suit, and (as seen on YouTube) caught swearing with a venom not unlike that of Ari Gold in "Entourage", Mr. Deitch will fit right into LA.

Left: barricaded at the entry, nervous people fret.

Shephard Fairey's opening, on a warm Saturday evening, was a scene straight out of "Exit at the Gift Shop". Crowds lined up hours before the start of the official opening, and the line was an event in itself, stretching around the block, 10 hipsters thick , and slow to move. Opposite the line was an unfettered block party, with fancy motorcycles whose shapes, colors and collaged naked ladies vied for attention with the staid flat graphic art within the gallery.

Posing and preening among the motos were a group of bedazzled, bejewelled, be-tatted, and sometimes bearded gents, presumably the owners of the bikes, though they could have been a bunch of models from the anti-Hell's-Angels department.

Celebrities abounded, including Tyson Beckford (left), quick to arrive and to depart. It all seemed strangely of another era--80's fabulous-- but sadly without the substance inside. I like the idea of Shephard Fairey much more than the reality: someone whose hard-working street art style has blossomed into a full-fledged commercial career, thanks to a certain Obama poster, and of course buoyed by Deitch's happy collaboration. Fairey was likable in "Exit through the Gift Shop", which I highly recommend as a parable about art-world hype. In that movie, an unlikely protagonist [thrift-shop owner-turned artiste] becomes a semi-celebrity due to a massive marketing campaign, yet his work rips off every other street artist and pop artist, including Fairey himself.

Fairey also recycles many a Pop and propaganda idiom, and happily admits to it, but inside a gallery his work suffers. So-called street art serves a purpose and attains a power that circumvent the Deitches of this world. The international nature of the art itself is even more fascinating, and its demographic is far wider than that of most "fine" artists. Mr.Deitch has had a long history of working with graffiti-based artists, and among these, Fairey's work is the tamest. And as for Mr.Fairey, who would turn down an opportunity at having Tyson Beckford, motorcycles, and fancy dogs at his opening, not to mention lines of eager beavers trying to get in?

Left: installation view of Shephard Fairey, "May Day" exhibition.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Last Days of Chez Deitch, Part 1

Left: Rosson Crow at Deitch Projects, 3/4/2010.

Jeffrey Deitch's departure from our fair city for LA has been much-chronicled, and although I've charted a 50/50 hit rate with his artists (still much higher than most galleries), the element I'll miss most is the medieval-pageantry aura of his openings. While I only caught Jules de Balincourt on a quiet Tuesday, I found the openings of Rosson Crow, held during the first day of Armory Week, and of Shephard Fairey, held last week on the heels of a currently-playing movie featuring Fairey [Exit at the Gift Shop], to be extravaganzas of glamor.

Right: Graffiti-top, brick wall pants, man about town.

Left: Keith Haring tunnel with contemporary urban texting dweller.

But to be accurate, the glamor was of a certain very democratically-accessible sort: celebrities, collectoristas [one part fusty collector one part fashionista], and young kids with neon colors and ripped t-shirts all co-mingled and pretended to ignore each other. With all the hubbub of a movie premiere but without the velvet ropes (although the long lines at the Fairey show necessitated a special VIP-only line complete with bouncers), each opening reminded one of a Fellini-esque fete--yes, not quite circus-like, but certainly I'll miss my little pinch of Deitch's Dolce Vita.

Left: photographer waiting to snap as Rosson Crow greets fans.

Right: Rosson Crow's ball gown, all poufs and trains.

Rosson Crow's paintings were in themselves a tribute to art-worlds past: titled "The Bowery Boys", each painting was an homage to Bruce Nauman, Keith Haring, and other 80s stars, as well as subway trains, and now-gone places such as CBGBs. The meta-celebration of "Better Days Gone By" was everywhere--but in the person of a confident young artist who seduces with vibrant splashes of paint (detail at right) and loud bangs of ambition, one felt a kinship, and a re-imagining, rather than a sad eulogy or empty envy of the glitz and grit of the 80s art scene. Deitch's desire to cycle through (some say devour and spit out) younger artists was at least for this one evening an example of a benevolent dictator throwing a bread and circus for his subjects; and what a wonderful circus it was. Among the crowd were the equally young prodigy designer Zac Posen, Rosson Crow and several other ladies wearing the bright warm hues found in many of her paintings, onlookers in baseball caps or high heels, all in a gleaming white space that one has to ascend into, as if into a privileged inner cloister.

Left: matching lady-in-waiting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Armory Fair: "Hang In There, Baby"

"Hang in there, Baby." (Left) Fans of Sean Landers’s onanistic career of would be proud of his latest endeavors—a booth full of work at Friedrich Petzel Gallery, and a perfect 2010 art market recap. Landers expressed not just what he, and by extension all self-involved artists (that is to say, all artists) are thinking, but what the entire art world is self-reflexively musing. "Ne me quitte pas", the kitten pleads: don't leave me, dear collectors!

Right: Jack Shainman's booth on Saturday.

But fear not, this year’s Armory Show was brimming with art, although crammed with smaller and medium–sized works rather than the giant warhorses of years past. The show was overrun by all manner of species: on opening day, the VIPs, VVIPs, and countless press and looky-lous roamed the stalls in their Wednesday best. By Saturday, at Pier 94 (the more contemporary of the two), security tried to manage the queue for the stairs to prevent trampling, clueless parents brought their strollers and carriages, and there was not even a spare bit of floor to rest a weary derriere.
One artist complained of spilling her $16 glass of Champagne due to the madding crowds, and many were heard to mutter not-to-silent screams of "MOVE!!".

Left: Artist Nick Cave, at Jack Shainman, with El Anatsui wall hanging behind him.

Right: Detail, Nick Cave sculptures.

Jack Shainman had a mobbed booth, but the art, all colorful vim and vigor, more than held its own. Nick Cave's soundsuits, a perennial art fair favorite, were pared down to a single element or color, becoming ever more mysterious, undermined by the smiling face of the artist himself.

Left: Rina Banerjee at Nathalie Obadia.

Galerie Nathalie Obadia had a museum-worthy dramatically lit staging of Rina Banerjee's works. By Saturday her sculptures' delicate protrusions had forced the gallery to tape the entire booth off, as the gallerists sat a table nearby, pleine d'ennui. Banerjee's cultural mishmash of references was submerged in the impact of the objects themselves, confusing yet evocative, and happy to display a reliance on old-fashioned visual "wow".

Right: Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, carpet.

Left: Nicole Klagsbrun's booth, with yellow swastika on right.

Nicole Klagsbrun's booth was a show-stopper as well, its all-over neon yellow-green so bright that gawkers didn't notice the swastika painting on the wall. The entire installation was by artist Adam McEwen, but the connection between all the works and the arresting color wasn't nearly as clear as the shrewdness of having a wide-open booth at an intersection that stopped viewers in their tracks.

Left and Right: Tony Feher at Pace.

The opposite effect occurred at Pace, where viewers plunged into an all-black room of Tony Feher table-top installations. His mundane object and recycled aesthetic worked best up close. Plastic water bottles, caps, bunched up aluminum foil, an old globe with a bow out of string, were not as gingerly arranged as Sarah Sze works, or explosively strewn as a Jason Rhoades installation, but rather the work of a bricoleur of midling ambition, which I mean as a compliment.

Left and Right: Isa Genzken at Hauser & Wirth.

The Armory was full of glitter, embroidery, festive color, and celebration, even if it came in photos of slums in Third World countries (i.e. Zwelethu Mthethwa at Shainman). Isa Genzken's "Disco 'Soon' (Ground Zero)" had a perplexing title, but its beads , ribbons, and red paint perhaps suggested that we can smooth over our tragedies by getting back to partying mode.

Right: Houseago head looking at another head.

Figuration also was prominent, mostly in painting and sculpture. With a huge work at the Whitney Biennial, Thomas Houseago showed several large primitivist bronze busts at The Modern Institute.

Tony Matelli's life-size epoxy girl in underwear titled "Sleepwalker"( left) found her way into a tightly packed Leo Koenig booth. Her hyper-realist body surrounded by clothed oglers made me think of her as exploited, suggesting everyone's Freudian nightmare of being caught in public naked.

On the other hand, some work seemed able to survive only within the art fair context: Jonathon Monk's instruction "Do Not Pay More Than $40,000" in neon had an effect that lasted exactly 2 seconds, by the third, one had moved on mentally and visually.

Right: Jonathon Monk at Lisson gallery.

As jaded and begging for entertainment as one is at the Armory, it was still possible to solicit a reaction. The first thing I heard upon entering the Fair was a German couple clearly scandalized by some naughty photos in Horton & Co.'s booth.
"Mein Got, mein Got", they gasped to each other--imagine how much it takes to shock our usually-less-sanctimonious European connoisseurs.

Among the VIPs were the usual celebs and art-celebs, though it was so crowded I only glimpsed one: a very jaded Tracey Emin glaring in boredom at her smartphone, but proud of finally being recognized she gamely posed for me (Left). Fashion-wise, fur coats and fur hats were positively wooly mammoth-like even though the climate was more like Bombay. One woman had a half coat, clearly too fashion-proud to take it off (hello, free coatcheck!)--(Right). Zebras were also in favor, in all black-and-white shoe, dress, and coat (i.e. Left).

And speaking of species, an explosion of ladybugs was unleashed mid-Saturday, to the disbelief and confusion of security guards-- "I guess we can vacuum??". Within an hour they were extinguished by lesser means: death by stiletto-squish. I thought it was a cruel gag, as if we needed more side-show distractions, especially at such a cute creature's expense. At least those were the only casualties, as the health of the art fair was pronounced "stable".