The Art Show, the Art Dealers Association of America’s annual fair in the Park Avenue Armory, opened to VIPs and press on Tuesday (28 February) but it is fitting that the public opening fell on the first day of Women’s History Month in March. Female artists have a strong showing in the fair, with a number of dealers dedicating their booths to works by women.
Betty Tompkins, Cow Cunt #1 (1976) (Image: courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W, New York)
P.P.O.W.’s entire stand is given over to the work of the feminist artist Betty Tompkins, including examples of her Cow Cunt series of paintings that depict docile cattle grazing above a field of pubic hair. And of course there is a Fuck Painting—one of the eight original examples, dating from 1972—but even more interesting for long-time fans is a small side display of preparatory works that show how Tompkins cropped and framed pornographic photos to transfer the images onto her large-scale paintings.
At Peter Blum, visitors can see pages from a 1947 artist book by Louise Bourgeois that pairs engravings of imagined architectural spaces with darkly comic micro-stories written by the artist. Copies of the book are in the collections of MoMA and the National Gallery of Art.
Paul Kasmin is showing a group of late works by Lee Krasner that masterfully mix paper collage, oil painting and lithography. And Leslie Tonkonow has a solo presentation of works by Michelle Stewart, including a richly mineral wall scroll, El Florido, Guatemala II (1978-79), made by rubbing natural graphite and earth onto a sheet of rag paper.
Important examples of historic work, especially from the 1960s and 70s, can also be found throughout the fair. At Sperone Westwater, there is a collection of objects encased in resin by the French artist Arman, including the delicate charcoal of a burnt violin. Hauser & Wirth has brought together a series of drawings by Arshile Gorky, Nighttime, Engima and Nostalgia, in which the Armenian-born artist experimented with automatism, riffing on the same images over and over again, and playing off the work of artists like Picasso and Uccello.
Matthew Marks Gallery has a slew of works by Modern masters, including a small but perfect 1961 Fountain Pen by Jasper Johns, mounted on wood and painted over in monochromatic encaustic and plaster, which would look equally at home next to a collector’s desk or displayed in a museum.
The collection of vivid green landscapes by George Inness on Thomas Colville’s stand might be the most historical works on show in the fair, but they bring a breath of spring freshness to the Armory’s drill hall.
Collectors will also find top-quality contemporary works. Near the entrance at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, a mirrored glass sculpture by Larry Bell, originally commissioned by GE for its Fairfield, Connecticut headquarters, comes onto the market after spending 30 years at the corporate site, which closed last year.
Tanya Bonakdar has a suite of watercolours by Olafur Eliasson made with pieces of melting glacier, as well as a concrete cube sculpture that was cast around another chunk of glacier, with the disappearing ice leaving the crater-like hole in the middle. A stunning lightbox triptych by Rodney Graham takes up most of 303 Gallery’s stand, with the artist appearing at the centre of the work as the Antiquarian Sleeping in his Shop (2017), surrounded by the accumulations of his career.
And a wonderfully fantastical suite of watercolours by the Russian artist Pavel Pepperstein with Julie Saul Gallery are the imagined Secret Drawings of Jacqueline Kennedy, made as a form of art therapy. A member of the gallery’s staff was fully immersed in the narrative the artist has created, wearing a Jackie-O themed dress painted by Pepperstein on the fair’s opening night.