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Armory notables

Post #1152 • April 3, 2008, 2:47 PM • 21 Comments

My overall impression notwithstanding, I saw some things to like if not love at the Armory. More specifically, as my fairgoing companion and I sauntered through, I occasionally muttered, "Wait, that's not obviously broken." It had come to that: things for which I couldn't think of immediate improvements stood out.

Grayson Perry and Varda Caivano at Victoria Miro. I have to admit to succumbing to the story of Perry, who has an alter-ego as a cartoonish six-year-old girl and defeated the loathesome Chapman brothers for the Turner Prize; he also is an amusing writer. I find his comics-covered ceramic vessels charming in a crude way, sort of an arch version of Henry Darger. Caivano can paint with great sensitivity in a style that recalls 1920s automatic surrealism.

Nicole Eisenman, believe it or not, looked pretty good at Susanne Vielmetter, which displayed a portrait of a kid in an Iron Maiden t-shirt that vaguely recalled Wayne Thiebaud and Alice Neel.

Jacob Hashimoto, who has become a regular standout at the fairs on account of his craftsmanship, at Rhona Hoffman.

Karsten Konrad at Arndt & Partner.

Carrie Moyer at Canada.

Noriko Furunishi at Murray Guy.

Liam Jones at Angles.

Bernard Frize at Patrick Painter.

Robert Crumb at David Zwirner.

Kees Goudzwaard at Zeno X.



Chris Rywalt

April 4, 2008, 9:38 AM

Wow, Franklin, you didn't seem high when I saw you Monday night, but apparently you were high as a kite. Nicole Eisenman? Come on. Eisenman just sucks.

About the only artist in your list I think we could agree on is Carrie Moyer, whose works online look really intriguing. I'll spot you R. Crumb because I know your heart's in comics. But a taper who does landscapes like Liam Jones?

I'm going to assume you were high and also so burned out from looking at crap that anything not completely stupid looked good to you.



April 4, 2008, 10:30 AM

Generally I don't like Eisenman's work at all, but this piece was pretty good. PL and I were saying to each other, Really? Nicole Eisenman? But there you go, and she earned it.


Chris Rywalt

April 4, 2008, 11:00 AM

Sorry, but you lost me at "Iron Maiden t-shirt". That just drips with art-world condescension and irony.



April 4, 2008, 11:29 AM

Not much there. Eisenman is in the classic badly painted dumb wan figure a la Peyton et al except she has no discernable skills. Frize might have something with those whizzing bright dayglo pix but the big-wipe stuff is a color disaster, and he needs to get a little further into the subtle mechanics of acrylic if he is going to do this kinf of thing. Goudswaard is more of that polite abstraction one sees at galleries like Haller. Jones seems like paint-by-number Thiebaud.

This market is interesting because allthese kids are coming out of grad school and the ones who have worked up something consistent seem to get shows but theres never anything that chases me to the studio.



April 4, 2008, 11:54 AM

People. I have to agree with Franklin here. Eisenman is very good. It's her surface: the paint is thick, juicy and the forms are more solid than they appear in representations. It wasn't always thus--her start was slight, with the scatter pieces and old master drawings, but in the last few years the paintings have gotten strong. They're real paintings, with material and surface. She's not a master draftsman--nor is Moyer--but she is a painter--and the paintings are direct and present.


Chris Rywalt

April 4, 2008, 1:17 PM

I saw Eisenman's show at Leo Koenig in 2006. She's not the worst painter ever, and she's got decent skills when she bothers to use them, but mostly her work just sucks. It's childish and shallow and repulsive. Her paintings do have material and surface, but I'm afraid that doesn't convince me a painting is any good. Her paintings are self-consciously gloppy, as if denying that she has any ability for putting paint down somehow makes her more serious. It's like a wealthy rapper keepin' it real by eating at KFC, or like Bill Clinton and his Big Macs: It's fake and condescending.



April 4, 2008, 4:49 PM

Judging by the www-images provided:

Perry's ceramics look like they were wrapped in wet newsprint, and their resulting surfaces crash into otherwise elegant forms.

Caivano's paintings look unsurely executed and vague in final impression.

Eisenman's look as poorly as ever.

Hashimoto's is the approach of an overwhelmist, which makes me leery.

Konrad's cubist assemblages are attractive (at least half of them are), and some few of those make me wonder if they're better viewed as objects or as pictures of objects.

Moyer's first image at the link strikes me as a very good painting (I like the triparate figures made of overlain colour and shape), while all the next are quite disappointing.

Furunishi's, I really couldn't say from the little pic.

Jones', well, I don't know. It seems to me a typically generic approach to image making by acrylic painters who've never learned any other medium.

Frize's "Rikhan" and "Gasp" could provide mileage (I like "Gasp" somewhat), but all the others are worthy only of shopping mall poster shops.

Crumb's I leave for the comic-mad.

Goudzwaard's could use a little more masking tape.

So say I, from here, for now.



April 4, 2008, 4:57 PM

Just read that the Clintons have made nearly $109M since 2000. I guess it's not good enough. Or maybe it's not so much a money thing as a power/status thing. Still, I'm sure Al Gore understands. Not to mention Jimmy Carter. Maybe when some people taste that kind of power, or get close enough to it, nothing else will do.



April 4, 2008, 8:34 PM

I missed Konrad, for some reason. They're not bad but way too dependent on Stella.

"Overwhelmist" is good, Ahab. I've been wondering what to call those artists who do little else but load every inch top to bottom with glitzy gimcracks.



April 4, 2008, 11:33 PM

Post 1975 Stella=overwhelmist. Glitzy gimcrackery abounds.



April 5, 2008, 7:48 AM

Jack (#8), Of course presidential types are enamored with power. They would not be very good at the job if they did not want power. On the other hand, $109M seemed a little excessive for "public servants" since most of it was made from Bill's "public service" activities and speeches. They did tithe, however, so they must follow the bible.



April 5, 2008, 9:06 AM

Catfish, some are obviously more enamored than others. As in, can't let it go and move on when it's over. But yes, I know politicians are what they are. Like lawyers, generally.



April 5, 2008, 11:30 AM

As for the comments above regarding Franklin's "Armory notables," I'm sure everyone knows they're largely irrelevant. The game is not about taste or quality but about sales figures, who's buying what, and who's showing whom. Eisenman, for example, doesn't need to impress any of us, as long as she sells to some major collector/s and gets picked up by some trendy curator/s. It's all about placement, image and buzz.



April 5, 2008, 2:43 PM

Hi there,

I responded well to the (JPEG) Grayson Perry and Varda Caivano. Caivano's seem to flirt with being almost too vague and careless/self-indulgent, but then...yes, they do offer goodies from the/a promised land...maybe. I like that.

Grayson Perry starts with a gimmicky idea that would be enough for current art expectations, but he does come to some interesting formal conclusions within that framework.



April 6, 2008, 10:33 AM

I also missed looking at the Caivano pix. I think there is such a satiety of bad painting out there I have become too much of a restless skimmer.

Anyway, they aren't bad. Nicely painted, pretty good color, an original application style. Some are way better than others but as always youy have to go with the good ones. I look forward to see more.



April 7, 2008, 10:30 AM

Caivano shows some promise, but I'm afraid it may be a case of looking relatively good by default. The competition is not exactly stellar. I've become leery of liking work just because it's better than the norm, since the norm is so debased. One's frame of reference makes a big difference. That's why there are often standing ovations at the end of utterly ordinary opera performances, for instance, because the people standing have little or no idea what a great performance is.


Pretty Lady

April 7, 2008, 11:25 AM

Chris, I saw the 2006 Eisenmann show with you, and hated it, as you recall, and I saw this Armory piece, and it didn't look like they were done by the same person. Franklin is absolutely right--the color choice and paint surface were reminiscent of Wayne Thiebaud, and the psychology was very Alice Neel. It was a really good painting. You would have loved it. Shut up already.


Pretty Lady

April 7, 2008, 11:31 AM

On the other hand, I just paged through all the images on Eisenman's gallery site, and they're gawd-awful. It seems that poor Nicole may, indeed, have produced One Good Painting, the way Daphne du Maurier produced 'Rebecca' and a whole pile of dreck.



April 7, 2008, 4:20 PM

Wayne Tiebaud? Alice Neel? Are we all looking at the same work?

This painting is the type specimen of the principle that if you have no skill don't fight it, go with it. I call it "crudifaction". I thought it would die with the '80s but it sure didn't



April 7, 2008, 4:31 PM

Are we all looking at the same work?

Actually, no. This was something far and away better than everything else on the site.



April 7, 2008, 4:53 PM

In that case, Franklin, it sounds like a fluke, or something due to emulating better models than usual.



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