The Armory Show presents the world’s leading international galleries showcasing works from both modern masters and cutting-edge contemporary artists, and helps the art market thrive through making buying, selling, and discovering art more accessible. Here’s a guided tour through the fair.
One of the most influential photographers working today, Wolfgang Tillmans has captured sweaty nightclubs, taken close-up shots of unclothed friends, and mastered the contemporary still life. The artist’s frames are often playful, intimate, and uninhibited; altogether, they conjure a youthful, messy utopia. Tillmans is famous for his omnivorous approach to both his subject matter and materials—he’s made sound installations, set designs, and photocopy prints. He’s also experimented with directly exposing photographic paper to the light. In 2000, Tillmans became the first photographer and the first non-Brit to win the prestigious Turner Prize. He has also received the Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie and the Hasselblad Award. At auction, his work has sold for six figures.
Turner Prize-winning sculptor Tony Cragg emerged in the late 1970s with a bold practice that questioned and tested the limits of a wide variety of traditional sculptural materials, including bronze, steel, glass, wood, and stone. “I’m an absolute materialist, and for me material is exciting and ultimately sublime,” he has said. Eschewing factory fabrication of his works, Cragg has been known to merge contemporary industrial materials with the suggestion of the functional forms of mundane objects and ancient vessels—like jars, bottles, and test tubes—resulting in sublime, sinuous, and twisting forms. One of his best-known works is Terris Novalis (1997), an enormous, enigmatic public steel sculpture of engineering instruments. “When I’m involved in making sculpture, I’m looking for a system of belief or ethics in the material,” he says. “I want that material to have a dynamic, to push and move and grow.
Leila Heller Gallery
Anton Bakker is a contemporary artist specialising in sculpture and its digital possibilities. He has been influenced by the people and experiences of his life in the Netherlands, France, and in the United States, where his artistic practice has been based for more than 30 years. While growing up in the Netherlands, Bakker met mathematician and artist Dr. Jacobus “Koos” Verhoeff at the suggestion of his sister’s classmate. What began as a simple introduction over a shared interest in computer technology turned into a 40-year artistic collaboration. Koos was a professional acquaintance and informal advisor on mathematical matters to the famed M.C. Escher. As an expression of his gratitude, Escher gifted Koos one of his prints. It was through Koos that Bakker became influenced by Escher’s unprecedented approach to perspective.
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Drawing inspiration from the decorative patterns of Islamic art and the American abstract painting of the mid 20th century, painter and mixed-media artist Nabil Nahas makes innovative use of organic materials, including seashells and starfish, which he casts in acrylic paint and mounts on a support (typically canvas). His works have an all-over composition suggestive of biological growth and the patterning of nature, as in Full Spectrum (1999). In his more recent paintings, including Untitled (2007), Nahas has introduced imagery referencing the trees and other plant-life of his native Lebanon.
Robert Koch Gallery
Josef Koudelka, born in Moravia, made his first photographs while he was a student in the 1950s. About the same time that he started his career as an aeronautical engineer in 1961 he also began photographing Gypsies in Czechoslovakia and theater in Prague. He turned full-time to photography in 1967. The following year, Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his photographs under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family. In 1969, he was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for those photographs. He has won significant awards such as the Prix Nadar (1978), a Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1989), a Grand Prix Cartier-Bresson (1991), and the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1992). Significant exhibitions of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; the Hayward Gallery, London; the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam; and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in 1955, in Lagos, Nigeria to a prominent Yoruba family before moving to England following the outbreak of civil war. Fani-Kayode is a highly influential figure in the history of art who, despite a tragically brief career, produced a complex body of photographic work that explored themes of race, sexuality, spirituality, and the self. Adebiyi (1989) is a meticulously crafted portrait in colour and is from one of the final bodies of work Fani-Kayode created. The chromatic work shows a refinement of technique and marks a coalescing of ideas and sensibilities. Fani-Kayode had developed an exceptional aesthetic approach that embraced a constructed mise-enscène dense with references to Yoruba cosmology. The Black male body was the focal point for an imaginative ‘exploration of the relationship between erotic fantasy and ancestral spiritual values.’2 In richly saturated colour photographs, Fani-Kayode illuminates figures against dark backdrops, recalling the chiaroscuro of baroque painting. The staged compositions draw direct reference to the masterpieces of Caravaggio in his use of light, muscular bodies, gestures, and fruit. Adebiyi is a Yoruba name meaning Royal or chosen one. Fani-Kayode drew parallels between his practice and Osogbo artists of Nigeria, whose artworks celebrate their personal connection to Yoruba cosmology and ancestral past.
Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M.
Devoted to representing the human figure, Giacomo Manzù’s (Bergamo, 1908 – Roma, 1991) emphasis on design and simplified form set his work apart from his more traditional contemporaries. He sought to create sculptures that were not simply representational, but also acted as symbols of universal meaning for all viewers. Manzù was the son of a shoemaker and at age thirteen, he learned to carve and worked with wood, stone and plaster. In 1938 he began the series of “Cardinals”, that stay as iconographic theme during his entire career.
In 2003, Alexandre Arrechea left the artist collective Los Carpinteros to pursue creating his multimedia art under his own name. His earlier works explore common themes of surveillance in contemporary society, the loss of privacy, and sources of power, though more recent works deal with contemporary social and economic issues like the stock market and migrants in Latin America.
Sean Kelly Gallery
In his research-based practice, Julian Charrière uses sculptural objects and images—both moving and still—to explore the connections between human activity, ecology, the environment, and time. Working in such far-flung locales as Kazakhstan and the Southern Cone, the Berlin-based artist performs site-specific actions inspired by the social and natural sciences, using biological and earthen substances as materials.
Donavon Smallwood (born in New York, 1994) is a self-trained photographer based in New York City. He received his BA from Hunter College in 2016 and is the 2021 Aperture Portfolio Prize recipient. Smallwood grew up in a household that emphasised literature and deeper engagements with the tradition of art; thus, he developed an understanding of photography as a communion with the divine. For Smallwood, the photographic medium is his means for exploring humankind, imagination, essence, and nature. His first monograph is “Languor”, published by Trespasser (2021).
Info is sourced from the press releases of the galleries.