Art Review Archives:
Your Guide to the ARTROPOLIS Art Fairs
The Merchandise Mart
The $20 daily admission ($25 for a multi-day pass) allows entrance to all five fairs of this international art extravaganza -- a splendid deal for seeing over 300 galleries and additional work by over 300 individual artists in one single, highly navigable place. Collectors and enthusiasts both will have much to enjoy. Thursday night's preview was thronging with attendees for all four art fairs, a promising sight. Here's the lowdown on the art fairs from the preview, and a wee sampling of some highlights:
Art Chicago 2008
Bigger and better, even, than last year's offering, Art Chicago 2008 is again an intriguing blend of modern masters and living artists, with enough blue chip thrown in to make it a museum-quality experience. Lovers of figurative art will enjoy Rose Freymuth Frazier's Woman Fighting Bull (oil on linen: 80 x 42) at Ann Nathan Gallery, Chicago or John Morra's Still Life with Vessels, Pestles and Red Masher (oil on canvas: 21 x 38 in: 2008) at Hirschel & Adler Modern, New York, or Changing Room by Michael Leonard at Forum Gallery (New York, Los Angeles). Abstraction fans will enjoy many choice selections, including the small Mural Sketch #3 (oil on masonite: 1938) and its companion Mural Sketch #4 (ca. 1938) by Esphyr Slobodkina at Valerie Carberry Gallery. A double treat of both a construction and a sketch by Lee Bontecou can be seen at Knoeder & Co. (the construction is Untitled (welded steel, canvas & wire: 31 x 27 x 27 in.: 1959)).
Photography makes a strong showing for the second year in a row. Check out the clever Nude Descending a Staircase, Rockport, Maine (gelatin silver print: 50-1/4 x 40: 2005) at Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, or Tokuhiro Sato's intently focused, slow exposure which contrasts the crisp pop logos of a Tokyo 'Times Square' with the ephemeral suggestion of passing traffic. Finally, Landau Fine Art once again presents a range of museum-quality classics, including small sculptures by Marino Marini, Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick; works by Picasso, Fernand Leger, and Jean Dubuffet; and a luminous painting by Rene Magritte, Les graces naturelles (oil on canvas: 31-1/2 x 39-1/2 in.: 1948).
With over 180 galleries, naturally, these selections merely scratch the surface of what's to be seen. Local, national and international galleries make this a world-class affair. An exhibition catalogue is available for $20.
Main web site: http://www.artchicago.com
NEXT: The Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art
The debut of NEXT marks the largest invitational exhibition of emerging artists in the world. Lots of variety here, and very even in its quality. Be sure to check out Claire Oliver Gallery, New York and their showing of works by Russian collective AES+F, a Moscow-based group of four artists whose large-scale collages of photographed figures of teens and young adults are based on classical compositions, interpreted in a thoroughly modern manner. Michael Cameron at Skew Gallery, Calgary, is equally confrontational with his Dog Fight, Banff (oil on canvas: 36 x 36 in.: 2008) in which the battling canines are both a disturbing element of aggression, and at the same time, monuments of the landscape. Also among the must-see works are the figurative paintings of Dan Hughes, including Staircase Series #1 (oil on canvas: 60 x 30 in.: 2007) and further works by the artist at Edward Day Gallery, Toronto. Over 120 galleries and participating exhibitors keep the action coming.
Main web site: http://www.nextartfair.com/
The Artist Project: Independent Artist Exhibition + Sale
Making the largest leap from last year's exhibition is The Artist Project, which has been given a fine presentation space all its own on the 8th floor and increased its roster of artists tenfold. This juried exhibition of unrepresented individuals allows the artists to present themselves and their work as they choose. A wide variety of styles, media and works are represented in this extensive offering of over 300 artists.
Main web site: http://www.theartistproject.com/
The Intuit Show of Folk & Outsider Art
This small show, about half and half Outsider and Folk Art, is located at the western end of the 8th floor, just past The Artist Project. Twenty-six galleries are on exhibit. French artist Michel Nedjar, represented by Judy Saslow Gallery, Chicago is always a must-see among the Outsider artists; a number of his works featuring ghostlike faces, rendered in earthy pigments, are featured in the gallery's offerings. JJ Cromer at Grey Carter - Objects of Art, McLean, Virginia, epitomizes the rhythmic and obsessive qualities that give much of this art its vigor. Folk art, including whirligigs and American primitive work, balances out this somewhat smaller offering of the visionary and the self-directed.
Main web site: http://www.art.org/intuitshow/
In addition to all of the above is The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair, also included on the same ticket. For more information, see http://www.merchandisemartantiques.com/.
With three whole floors of art, all centrally located in the Merchandise Mart, one can easily spend the day. Classic, cutting edge, contemporary -- it's all here in abundance. Come and see! Programming also includes lectures and talks on collecting, art criticism, contemporary trends, curation and more.
--Katherine R. Lieber