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The Wrong Gallery
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2006. All rights reserved.

Hidden in the midst of the museum's collection, The Wrong Gallery's mini-exhibition Down By Law, curated by Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni, and Ali Subotnik (also curators of the Berlin Biennial) promised an adventure into the nasty, but instead presented the work in safe salon style, pulling from the Whitney's collection with works by Andy Warhol, Chris Burden, Matthew Antezzo, Robert Mapplethorpe , and Dread Scott. Misbehavior is conventionalized here. As Cattelan has said: "Before we were pretending – now we are acting." What's next?

It's worth taking a glance at the paintings of Ed Paschke (a favorite of Jeff Koons), the much talked about Kelley Walker, and the up and coming Gedi Sibony, a second generation Richard Tuttle or Tom Sachs, using scrappy left-overs. As for the rest of the evidence, the only certified forensic photographer in the Biennial is Angela Strassheim. Her images include a photograph of her grandmother in a casket and her brother-in-law combing his son's hair in a mirror. Her work is reminiscent of Nan Goldin, Gregory Crewdson, and her contemporaries Dana Hoey and Malerie Marder.

Angela Strassheim, Untitled (Father and Son), 2004

As they say in CSI: "Hand me the magnifier." One look at a venue won't be enough. You'll need a moment to stop and really gaze beneath the surface of these exhibitions, not to mention spotting the artists. The art world was simply on the move, and then the crime scene shifted full force to the Armory. The trail of artists seen at the Biennial, from Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovich, and Doug Aitken to Gedi Sibohny, Pierre Huyghe, and Rirkrit Tiravanija, as well as curators, collectors, and dealers seemed to have all taken cabs across town to the Armory. At one point, I overheard a grown man say: "It's so confusing, where's mother?" (He soon faded into the crowds.)

And then the talk shifted from Whitney bashing to who's missing at the Armory. Everyone wondered why Marian Goodman, Sadie Coles, Daniel Reich, The Gladstone Gallery, Luhring Augustine, Andrea Rosen, and Tanya Bonakdar weren't participating. But truth be told, Barbara Gladstone was visiting – I spotted her peering at White Cube/ Jay Jopling, and Tanya Bonakdar was walking through.

Armory Show: at Joplings White Cube Gallery
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2006. All rights reserved.

The Armory Show is, after all, about business, and Matthew Marks was in full swing. It's always a time for collectors, dealers, and cell phone companies at the Armory. Think of it as the New York leg of art fairs in Miami, Cologne, Basel, and London. Pat Hearn and Colin de Land, both of whom died of cancer, co-founded the show with Matthew Marks and Paul Morris; the Armory originated as The Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair in 1994. The first night of the Armory is always a gala event; hosted by the Museum of Modern Art, it is an annual fund-raiser for MoMA.

Armory Show: Alex Katz at Thaddeus Ropac
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2006. All rights reserved.

The Armory, occupying the two large piers 90 and 92 at the Hudson River, felt more filtered and concentrated on painting, or maybe it was just easier to see the painting. It also felt like every other booth had an Alex Katz, in addition to his work at Pace Wildenstein and Thaddeus Ropac. Still, there were lots of beaded curtains seen at the Whitney as well as one too many candelabras. Video was represented largely in the form of still photographs, such as Eve Sussman's print from her recent video Rape of the Sabines, though Chloe Piene, whose work also made a dent at the last Biennial, featured a small video installation that was barely noticeable. Jay Jopling showed Dinos and Jake Chapman's Goya series as a larger sampling than last year as well as a familiar medicine cabinet by Damien Hirst. Jeffrey Deitch featured a large series of video monitors by Barry McGee à la Nam June Paik .

Barry McGee at Jeffrey Deitch at the Armory Show
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2006. All rights reserved.

Lisson showed Rodney Graham's solid silver screen door – a moment of glorious understatement to be rivaled by Anish Kapoor's 3,000-pound silver sculpture. Emmanuel Perrotin showed an extra-large Murakami sculpture that jutted out from the wall and looked like an imposing hunting trophy in Takashi Murakami's classic comic format. This heroic style seemed in stark opposition to more elegant, subtler sculptural works at the Armory. For those still able to stand, the tour continued at Scope and Pulse at a much-reduced interest level. Especially at Scope, where booths were crowded together, the hallways narrow, and the lighting annoyingly unprofessional. Scope felt more like a post-graduate exhibition than a carefully selected opportunity to see new work by lesser known artists. Pulse was more conservative, though presented more graciously. There, dealers were spending more quality time talking to possible collectors about the work rather than hard selling. At the Armory, it was all business – at a very fast clip. Private dealers were also escorting clients, but those in the know were simply calling home for permission to buy. The clue: keep the magnifier handy at all times and look twice – you never know what you'll find or wish you had found.

Takashi Murakami
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2006. All rights reserved.

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