EXPO CHGO

Despite being a relative newcomer to the art scene, Chicago’s Art Expo, held from September 19 – 22, 2013 at Navy Pier, has all the hallmarks of the more established fairs, as well as a few surprising twists. Blue chip galleries from around the world were at Expo Chicago in full force, showing their latest and greatest.

Snarkitecture's conical masterpiece, 2013.

Snarkitecture’s conical masterpiece, 2013.

A personal favorite, London’s Max Wigram Gallery, had an impressive new piece from artist Jose Davila, entitled Topologies (III), 2013. Wigram showed another Davila work, Monuments, at the Armory Show back in March, which also employed his sort of anti-collage technique of cutting out central figures. In Topologies, Davila turns his focus to light rays reminiscent of Flavin and the other minimalists. To my mind, this piece summed up Expo Chicago– a smartly edited version of the classic, well-heeled fairs.

 

Topologies (III), 2013, by Jose Davila at Max Wigram Gallery, London.

Topologies (III), 2013, by Jose Davila at Max Wigram Gallery, London.

In an innovative and bold move, Expo incorporated the online art site Artspace as partners, signaling the growing importance of online fine art markets. Artspace co-hosted several events intended to highlight the Chicago art scene, including a tour of collectors Larry and Marilyn Fields’ home as well as participation in the Dialogues program.

 

The NRDC also had a booth featuring works of art that highlighted environmental issues and engaged fare-goers in a participatory manner. In perfect harmony to the NRDC booth, Chicago’s own Kavi Gupta Gallery displayed a perfect counterpart, a large recycled material piece, which mirrored the environmentally conscious sensibilities across the aisle.

 

Atmosphere at EXPO CHGO, 2013.

Atmosphere at EXPO CHGO, 2013.

Perhaps the most notable distinction at Expo was the prevalence of Chicago-based attendees. Despite the presence of international galleries, many of whom can be found at Basel, Frieze, and the other New York shows, Expo maintained a truly accessible and distinctly unpretentious feel. In fact, Expo is so collector-friendly that some galleries even dared to reinstate prices, as well as the largely considered “gauche red dot” to signal a sale.  Perhaps these changes signal a larger shift in the artworld, but either way, Expo is a fair for industry-insiders, in addition to casual art enthusiasts,

An Art-Filled Fourth in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

This year I celebrated the Fourth of July in Philadelphia, a city rich with American history and culture.  In addition to stopping by the grounds of Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross house, my boyfriend, our dog, and I paid visits to the acclaimed Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art.  Below are some highlights from our trip.  Enjoy!

Ellsworth Kelly, November Painting, 1950, Oil on wood, from the collection of the artist, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Ellsworth Kelly, November Painting, 1950, Oil on wood, from the collection of the artist, Philadelphia Museum of Art

While living in France, Ellsworth Kelly explored a variety of different approaches to making art, many of which set intentional limits on his ability to control the creative process.  To make November Painting, Kelly tore up a black-and-white drawing that he had discarded and randomly scattered the pieces onto a board.  The resulting composition was then copied in paint.

Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même), most often called The Large Glass (Le Grand Verre), 1915-1923.

Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même), most often called The Large Glass (Le Grand Verre), 1915-1923.

‘The Large Glass’ is a famously complex piece, which does not lend itself to simple interpretation. the notes and diagrams he produced in association with the project – in theory as a sort of guidebook – further complicate the piece. It is generally settled, however, that the top rectangle of glass is known as the Bride’s Domain the bottom piece is the Bachelors’ Apparatus, or “La Machine Célibataire.”  Breathtaking and not to be missed!

Robert Rauschenberg, Estate, 1963, oil and screenprinted inks on canvas.

Robert Rauschenberg, Estate, 1963, oil and screenprinted inks on canvas, a gift from the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1967.

John Crotti, Squared Composition, 1917, oil, sequins, beads, and lead wire on glass, on loan from a private collection

John Crotti, Squared Composition, 1917, oil, sequins, beads, and lead wire on glass, on loan from a private collection

At the ICA, we particularly enjoyed White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart, which occupies the first floor gallery space, and Karla Black’s installation on the second floor (unfortunately no photography is permitted upstairs).  Both exhibitions are on view until July 28th, 2013.

A view of the exhibition entitled White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart at the ICA

A view of the exhibition entitled White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart at the ICA

Zoe Leonard, Mirror #2 (Metropolitan Museum), 1990' Courtesy of the artist, Murray Guy, NY and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Zoe Leonard, Mirror #2 (Metropolitan Museum), 1990 Courtesy of the artist, Murray Guy, NY and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

An excerpt from Wayne Koestenbaum’s Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon is appropriately paired with the Leonard piece and reads:

“Jacqueline Onassis, in her essay on Diana Vreeland, quotes Vreeland discussing Sartre’s No Exit and the problem of lost identity: “‘Do you remember at the end, those three characters are standing in a room?  There is glaring light, no shadow, no place to ever be away.’  She turned her head and placed her hand to shade her face.  ‘This forever, this is hell.  And there is no mirror and you lose your face, you lose your self-image.  When that is gone, that is hell.  Some may think it vain to look into a mirror, but I consider it an identification of self.’”"

A still from the video YSL F/W 2010, 2010.

A still from the video YSL F/W 2010, 2010, by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.

Another mesmerizing piece included in White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart is YSL F/W 2010, 2010, a digital video (color and sound, 3:47 minutes) by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, courtesy of the artists and Gagosian Gallery.  In the context of the exhibition, this video demonstrates how fashion has opened the “business of dialectical exchange between woman and ware– between carnal pleasure and the corpse.” Watch the video featuring the stunning Daria Werbowy on the artists’ website:

YSL F/W 2010, 2010, by Inex van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

 

A Selection of Museum Store Favorites

Bubble Necklace' by Italian designers Marina and Susanna Sent, available at MoMA; $115.

‘Bubble Necklace’ by Italian designers Marina and Susanna Sent, available at MoMA; $115.

With Mother’s Day coming up in the U.S., I thought I would depart from my usual visual art and design- related posts, to focus on the affordable and unique items I have found in museum stores around the globe.

A hand-woven, limited-edition bracelet by Julie Rofman, similar styles available at the Guggenheim store; approximately $200.

A hand-woven, limited-edition bracelet by Julie Rofman, similar styles available at the Guggenheim store; approximately $200.

Although some in the museum community object to the “commercialization” of museums through a retail presence, museum stores are an important source of revenue and sometimes, incredible finds for lucky visitors. I had the pleasure of working in Business Development at the Guggenheim while finishing my Master’s Thesis and saw firsthand the level of care with which buyers select merchandise, keeping in mind the museum’s educational mission, visitors’ preferences and featuring contemporary craftsmanship.

A silver and pearl wrap necklace from the Philadelphia Museum of Art that I received as a birthday / Hanukkah gift in 2010 (the picture doesn't do it justice!).

A silver and pearl wrap necklace from the Philadelphia Museum of Art that I received as a birthday / Hanukkah gift in 2010 (the picture doesn’t do it justice!).

As a regular museum-goer, I often peruse museum shops for interesting merchandise and have found some incredible pieces over the years, particularly jewelry, books, and exquisite catalogues.

A selection of my favorite books and catalogues from various museums and foundations.

A selection of my favorite books and catalogues from various museums and foundations.

Purchases from museum stores support the collections and exhibitions of our cultural institutions and often serve as a treasure trove for cool, unusual, and artistic gifts, whether for yourself or others!

I especially recommend: MoMA; The Guggenheim; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The de Young; The Jewish Museum; and SFMoMA.

4 Tips On Building Your Contemporary Fine Art Collection

Complementary colors and figuration unite pieces in my living room.

Complementary colors and figuration unite pieces in my living room.

Leah Harmuth on Contemporary Fine Art Collecting, and How to Start

1. Start with a Theme

When starting a fine art collection, come up with a theme or find something of particular interest to you— it does not have to be overly philosophical or deep.  You really just want to identify some sort of unifying concept, for example a color, figuration or abstraction, or merely the purpose or feel of a room.

John Baldessari, Two Sunsets (One with Square Blue Moon), 1994, 10-color screenprint 48" x 32" edition of 49. This tranquil and romantic work is featured in my bedroom.

John Baldessari, Two Sunsets (One with Square Blue Moon), 1994, 10-color screenprint 48″ x 32″ edition of 49. This tranquil and romantic work is featured in Leah Harmuth’s bedroom.

2. Begin with One Piece–Don’t Collect Everything in One Day

Start with one piece and build a collection around it. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) buy everything at once.  A well-curated collection that reflects your taste level takes time and patience, and could be a balance between new emerging artists and more established ones.  However, once you begin identifying artists and galleries that appeal to you, buying art becomes addictive.

3. Let the Collection Evolve

The way you choose to group works of art changes the feeling it evokes.  Seek inspiration on how to arrange your collection in vintage coffee table books, magazines and blogs (some of my personal favorites are Lonny and Table+Teaspoon), as well as visiting established collectors’ homes.

Don't be afraid of bold art in small spaces-- I love my salon-style hanging.

Don’t be afraid of bold art in small spaces– I love my salon-style hanging.

4. Ask Questions

Gallerists can sometimes seem intimidating, but feel free to ask questions and don’t worry about an “incorrect” interpretation of a work—it’s all part of the dialogue.

As cliché as it sounds, collecting art is extremely personal, so buy only what you love and experiment with placement.

Questions?  Feel free to contact me, Leah Harmuth.

Jose Dávila’s A Brief History of Sculpture, 2012

Photo taken at the Max Wigram booth, Armory Show 2013

Photo taken at the Max Wigram booth, Armory Show 2013

Leah Harmuth: Artist Jose Davila at Armory Show 2013

One of my personal favorites from The Armory Show 2013 in New York was this conceptual work by artist Jose Dávila, who challenges the viewer to test their knowledge of art history.

For more information on on this piece, or Jose Dávila’s CV, contact the Max Wigram Gallery in London.

Scope 2013 New York Art Fair Highlight: Andréa Stanislav’s The Vanishing Points (2008); As videoed by Leah Harmuth

A mesmerizing and compelling piece, Andréa Stanislav’s The Vanishing Points (2008) was featured as a special curatorial project by Catinca Tabacaru at the Scope Art Fair, 2013 in New York. For more information contact Tinca Art.

Armory Art Fair Comes to New York with Next Edition of Contemporary and Modern Fine Art in Early March 2013.

Contemporary and Modern Art Line the Piers for the 2013 Armory

The Armory Art Fair, Leah Harmuth

The Armory 2013 Art Fair, March 7-10, New York

The art world will focus on New York as the Armory art fair launches its next edition of contemporary and modern fine art March 7-10, 2013.

This current incarnation of the mega art fair spanning two piers in the East River is planned to be especially large since it’s the Armory’s centennial.  In celebration, the fair will highlight both contemporary fine art as well as landmark modern work. 

Major Galleries

Participating galleries are the “movers and shakers” in the art world.  They include major dealers such as David Zwirner, New York, London, and Victoria Miro, London, as well as lesser known or emerging galleries from New York and around the world including Dirimart, Istanbul, and Pierogi, Brooklyn.

Key photography galleries are also showing at the Armory art fair in 2013, and include Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

In total, about 100 galleries line pier 94.

Modern Art

Pier 92 is focused on modern art.  There, about 90 galleries showing work from the so-called “secondary market,” or art by non-living artists or significant 20th century works. Galleries here include Marlborough Gallery, New York, Alan Cristea Gallery, London and James Goodman Gallery, New York.

Usually, about fifty thousand visitors make the trek to the West Side, and pay $30 to view rows and rows of contemporary art.  Held concurrently are several other art fairs such as SCOPE, and Volta.  Thankfully, shuttle buses are available from mid-town but are usually not very frequent.

Prepare Ahead

The best advice is to come early, and come back several times if possible, because the experience can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Since lines can be long and the quality is not stellar, try eating before attending the Armory.  Water fountains are non-existent too.  Consider purchasing the “Run of Show Pass,” for $60 or the Armory Show/Volta NY Pass for $40.  Art tours are also available.

“Armory Focus” On U.S.

Different this year is the Armory Focus on the United States.  Here the curator, Eric Shiner, director of The Andy Wharhol Museum, selects over 20 artists from 17 established and emerging fine art galleries.  These works are displayed through out the show.  Talks and lectures will also be organized.  Started in 2010, previous Armory Focus’s have been on Berlin, Latin America and Nordic countries.

Related Shows

As part of this years show are two satellite shows that will be running in area museums.  One, at the Montclair Art Museum opens on February 17, 2013, and is called “The New Spirit: American Art in the Armory Show, 1913.”  At the New-York Historical Society is “The Armory Show at 100,” which will take place later, from October 18, 2013 through February 23, 2014.

If that is not enough art, in addition to Armory programming taking place before and during the art fair, the Museum of Modern Art will present Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925 (December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art will exhibit African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde (November 27, 2012–April 14, 2013), exhibiting African artifacts collected by New York artists during the 1910s and 1920s.

Armory Preview: Warholian Homage!

Courtesy of ArtInfo

Courtesy of ArtInfo

Eric Shiner, the Director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA and curator of Armory Focus: USA selected and commissioned several site-specific installations as a celebration of the Armory’s Centennial. Of the many planned pieces, the two I am most excited about are Charles Lutz’s tower of Brillo boxes, an appropriate follow-up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Regarding Warhol exhibition, which closed in December of last year.

Brillo Box, Charles Lutz, Courtesy of C24

Brillo Box, Charles Lutz, Courtesy of C24

Additionally, Director Shiner and the Andy Warhol Museum will present Factory Film Portraits, an interactive “screen test,”  which will allow fair-goers to experience Warhol’s unusual portraiture methodology first-hand.  After its debut in August at the Warhol Museum, Screen Test Interactive will be seen for the first time outside of the Museum at the Armory Show.  Using studio lights, a computer touchscreen, a movable backdrop and a re-fitted vintage style camera, participants will be able to create their own videos, to be uploaded onto a customized website, as well as various social media platforms.  I certainly hope to have the opportunity to channel Edie Sedgwick, the ultimate “factory girl” — look for me here or on Twitter @leahharmuth!

Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick Screen Test, (1965)

Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick Screen Test, (1965)