You know the art world is in trouble when the two things that attracted the most attention at the Armory Show yesterday were a nude woman who had painted her body and a mechanized talking raven on a tree limb. I actually saw people standing beneath the latter with their mouths agape (I kept hoping the raven would start dropping worms at them), as if they had never seen an automaton before. Walt Disney was smirking somewhere, “You see! Genius!”
The other takeaway from yesterday’s show: irony is really killing art. It’s as if artists are not brave enough to take themselves seriously anymore. Too much nudging, winking, and self-centered displays of cleverness (that weren’t really all that clever to begin with). Don’t get me wrong: a sense of humor is great in art. But, paintings with cartoon characters? Kind of been done to death. And way too many paintings with messages in type. Been done a thousand times over now. As for the sculpture and installations, it was craft fair time. Right, no one has ever thought before that using stuffed creatures in a piece is ironic. Brilliant. Genius. That display of kitsch almost attracted as much attention as the talking raven. Lots of iPhone cameras going off. Bloody e’ll.
The only upside was seeing new work by all the painters I discovered at last year’s Armory Show. Once again, the day was saved by interesting work from Gottfried Helnwein, Annie Lapin, Tom LaDuke, Adrian Ghenie, and Deborah Poynton, whose work is still stunning, despite the fact that she’s doing simple portraiture. The only new discovery was Natasja Kensmil, who happened to have a painting hanging on the outside wall of a gallery booth. I actually wish I could have seen more of her work, especially after looking for her paintings on the interwebs. Click on the images below to check out some of the paintings.