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Art Chicago Wrap Up

April 30, 2008

The extravaganza that was Artropolis ended Monday so I hope everyone was able to check out Art Chicago, the Intuit Outsider Art Fair, The Artist Project, Next, and the Antiques Fair. This was a massive event so it was impossible to really see it all in one day, it took several visits. I overheard a lot of comments that suggested that people were getting worn out trying to do it all which is not surprising, especially if you only have one day.

I attended the preview of the NEXT fair on Thursday night. The purpose of NEXT was to showcase new and emerging galleries and artists from around the world, and in that they succeeded there were many galleries there from all over the world (though mainly from Europe). Interestingly enough these European galleries often showed their American artists, which left me wondering what the European artists were making. NEXT did well in focusing on contemporary art it felt different compared with Art Chicago, though neither was really edgy. The most flashy and talked about piece on display was Jonathan Schipper’s The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle, 2008, courtesy of Pierogi Gallery. It featured two Pontiac Firebirds crushed into each other at the rate of 1 cm. per hour over the course of the fair. At the beginning the cars just had a crushed bumper, but by the end they were lifted into the air, as you can see below.

Photo by There’s No Way Home (Flickr). Courtesy of the artist and Pierogi Gallery

Apparently this work has sold for $100,000.

Art Chicago by contrast was more subdued and perhaps appropriately, more conservative. There were the usual suspects of art fairs: Warhol prints, Picasso lithos and quite a few Deborah Butterfield horses that all looked as though they were part of the same series. Large scale photography seemed a noticeable trend with quite a few imitators of the style of Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall (as well as some actual work by Struth and Wall). Notably the Weinstein Gallery of Minneapolis stood apart from the sometimes monotonous parade of photography highlighting work by Robert Mapplethorpe (flowers and classical poses), and Alec Soth who really seemed to be the strongest photographer in the entire fair. Chicago galleries represented themselves very well, Richard Grey Gallery showcased excellent examples of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Philip Guston and rather humorously a Josef Albers that was duplicated on a much smaller scale across the aisle in a French gallery. Rhona Hoffman Gallery exhibited some classic minimalist works including Fred Sandback and a Mel Bochner text painting of synonyms for ‘money’ painted in green, that was recently featured in the April issue of ArtForum which examined the art market. The gallery also featured works by Kehinde Wiley, who has work up currently at the National Portrait Gallery. I believe that Wiley is one of, if not, the most successful artists incorporating hip-hop elements and influences into his work while at the same time keeping it smart and art historically rich.

The other Chicago galleries by and large had good offerings as well, with work by the Chicago Imagists prominently placed.

That’s all for now, perhaps I will return this later.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2008 7:47 pm

    .. someone smashed two cars together and called it “art”..?

  2. thebram31 permalink*
    May 1, 2008 6:36 am

    Yes. One thing I noticed was they weren’t really “smashed,” they were crushed together, so it didn’t look like a head-on collision. I suppose a measure of artifice is essential to any artistic production, but this piece seemed to be more spectacle than anything else. John Chamberlin used car parts for abstract sculpture, Warhol used images of cars as part of his interest in death and Charles Ray painstakingly reproduced an actual crashed car, so using cars has been done before. The question is what do you say with them?

  3. September 24, 2010 3:12 pm

    sweet site, I hadn’t noticed before in my searches

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