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Single Artist Presentations Shine at the ADAA Art Show

By Sarah Cascone


The ADAA Art Show, the annual outing from the Art Dealers Association of America, struck first this Armory Week, hosting a press preview at the Park Avenue Armory on March 1, as exhibitors scrambled to complete last-minute installation details.


One noticeable trend among galleries this year is the rise of single-artist booths, such as the selection of Milton Avery works at Santa Fe's Yares Art Projects, or the paper deli bags transformed into intricate doily-like creations by Jasmine Sian for her "If I had a zoo…" series at Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco.


Also impressive were Gillian Wearing's "My Polaroid Years" photography series at New York's Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, the diminutive Alex Katz works at Peter Blum Gallery in New York, and the strong suite of Jules Olitski paintings at New York's Paul Kasmin Gallery, including Other Mother, a large canvas covered in thick folds of multicolored acrylic paint.


Danese/Corey of New York offered a striking presentation of two large-scale sculptures by Deborah Butterfield—what appear to be fragile horse-shaped constructions crafted from fallen branches are actually solid bronze casts, painstakingly painted to perfectly mimic the original materials—and New York's Mary Ryan Gallery showed three rare paintings by artist and activist Hugo Gellert, as well as a selection of the screen prints for which he is better-known.


For their first ADAA outing, Hauser & Wirth (which has locations in New York, London, Zurich, Somerset, and, this month, Los Angeles) featured Italian sculptor Fausto Melotti. "He was very prolific and worked with many different materials," said gallery director Susie Guzman of the artist to artnet News, pointing to works in brass, copper, and plaster, all united by their roughly square composition. "As early as the 1930s he was already working with the idea of encapsulating different narratives within a square."


Another standout is Hirschl & Adler Galleries, which showed María Elena González's "Tree Talks" works, based on the bark of a birch tree. After creating rubbings from several birch trees, the artist began noticing subtle patterns in the striations of the bark, almost as if they were notations.


González digitally scanned the trees, a laser-cut the resulting musical "score" onto a player piano roll. "Each tree has its own identity and sound," noted gallery director Shelley Farmer. The slightly cacophonous, haunting music will be performed on a player piano in the gallery booth twice each day, at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.


Several galleries used the fair as an opportunity to preview upcoming exhibitions, such as Lehmann Maupin, which has show of Hernan Bas's brightly-colored figurative paintings planned for its Chelsea location. Marta de Movellan, the gallery's director of communications, told artnet News that the artist is inspired by "the occult, and fairy tales, and 18th and 19th-century literature, especially dandyism." Several hours prior to the official opening, everything on view was already either reserved or sold.


Pavel Zoubok has dedicated its booth to German artist Mary Bauermeister, and will soon host her first New York show since 1971. Her works include hypnotizing collages of perfectly smooth stones carefully arranged by size, as well as multimedia lens boxes, featuring obsessively-detailed drawings.


In the 1960s, Bauermeister was one of a select group of women artists in New York who were "not only exhibited widely but being collected at the highest level," gallery owner Pavel Zoubok told artnet News. After she returned to her native Germany, Bauermeister, who is still active today, was widely forgotten, but Zoubok feels that the time is ripe for rediscovery of her work.

"Collage artists are a kind of weird fit in the canon of art history," Zoubok admitted, citing Joseph Cornell as an example.

Cornell is also represented at the fair, at the booth of New York's Richard L. Feigen & Co. Among several pieces, the showstopper is Crystal Cage (Berenice), a suitcase full of photos and papers collected by the assemblage sculptor that tell his invented story of a brilliant young girl. "He's kind of creating a universe in a very small box," said gallery president Frances Beatty of the piece, which is priced at $3.8 million.


Of all the work on view, however, the most strikingly museum-quality piece was undoubtedly Frank Stella's Severambia (side A), an "Imaginary Places" series collage work quite similar to the one that greeted visitors to the artist's recent retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. How is there space to show such a massive work within the confines of an art fair booth? In an impressive gesture of collegiality, Marianne Boesky Gallery and Dominique Levy, who both represent Stella, have teamed up with a single booth dedicated to the artist.

The ADAA Art Show is on view at the Park Avenue Armory, Park Avenue at East 67th Street, March 2–6, 2016.