Not just to be traditional in hating the big ones, but just to be hands down honest, I have to say that the 2011 Armory show was pretty dull going. And that, despite Marjorie Strider becoming the new Tom Wesselmann even while the old Tom Wesselmann is still squeaking out dozens of tiny tin farts in the form of those homely little steelcuts.
I didn’t really hate Strider so much before I saw her tryptich and then wandered through a forest of Mel Ramos while contemplating the sad little Wesselmanns that were keeping lonely vigil on narrow, barely examined walls. The thing about Strider is that she’s on a tribute bandwagon but all I see when I look at her vapid models is the lack of design, something Wesselmann had going in spades. Mel’s just a boner machine and that’s swell, but, dare I ask, is it STILL art? I mean, at best this sort of thing was sort of politically, and socially clever, a way of “having your cake and eating it too” — but now, it’s just “eating it.”
Theme #2 this year was TEXTURE, with a good deal of the newer work being so irresistable to touch that there were signs warning one not to. I found that most of my photos of these works were awful, so I snagged this one, below, from the Galerie Thomas site.
A continued respect for Pousette Dart and Gerhard Richter were also indicative that a love of texture may be ongoing trend. So Holis Taggart had Strider, but also a Pousette Dart room as well, and it was salon full of those cakey little bakeys, old and new, most of them petite (oldies cranking out tiny newies was a subtheme, I must say, with many sub-sized John Chamberlains and not a few teensy Stellas clinging to the walls like exotic bugs).
Theme #3 would be Tricky Optics: A lot of wires and tubes played tricks on my eyes, (and my horrid camera), there were many lovely pieces of drilled and molded acrylic, and acrylic layered on canvas and also on enamel… chunky colorful and textural, these layered works were just about the only pieces that were flattered by the awful lighting and industrial feel of the Armory.
The cleverest work I saw was also the dullest. It attracted a good deal of attention due to Juan Genoves’ use of paint as a bas relief medium, creating weensy beensy people out of charming colored blobs. Very dear and eye-catching, but ultimately pointless.