Hair and Therapy: What’s Trending at NY Art Week
by: Kate Messinger & Bianca Ozeri
March 11, 2014
The Armory Art Show and the surrounding fairs that make up the New York Art Week is enough to send us to the couch, pulling our hair and confessing our narcissism, trying to find ourselves in the reflection-less mirror of art. Luckily this year’s art trends have saved us the psychiatrist bill with work that should be found in the self-help section of your local bookstore. From augmented mirrors to revealing materials, hair art to hoarding art, celebrity obsessions and even a riff on the Normcore anti-trend, art got heady. The WILD visited Volta, Scope, The Armory, Independent, Spring Break, and UNfair reavealing, as always, the good, the bad, the boring, and the just plain psychotic of this year’s work. Here’s our round-up of all that’s trending.
Mirrors are nothing new to the art fair scene, for years they have been a helpful way to check our bowties and top knots while pretending to contemplate the reflective piece, but this year mirror art got a surrealist makeover to make us take a second look. Fogged up, painted over, broken and inverted, these reflections are a chance to question our narcism, check our egos and (quickly) check our lipstick before continuing on with our inner art journey.
Cheap Wood and Cork
Art is not dead, but it has gotten cheaper…to produce at least. Sculptures have gravitated to a more natural feel with a surprising amount of plywood, cork and driftwood replacing the metal and marble of more decadent times. We’ve been using wood for ages but these days, the cheap materials are heightened rather than hidden, displayed rather than painted over. Perhaps it’s our desire to see the true insides of a structure (i.e ourselves) or our tendency to root for the underdog, that less regal substance, but whatever it is, this wood is giving us wood.
Being “normal” is all the rage right now. Although documenting normal people doing normal things, like reading or standing or doing their job, has always been relevant in art, “Normcore” is not only a thing, it’s a cultural phenomenon. So here’s a nod to all the normals out there, finally it’s YOUR time to shine.
We lost our hair but found it here, on sculptures and paintings and woven into artwork to remind us of the balding, greying, hairless years ahead, or maybe to predict the full, thick future. For some, it’s the fear of having none, for others, the horror of pulling too much out of a drain, and for most, it’s the obsession of showing our hair off as a perfect, glossy, full and voluminous version of ourselves. Whatever it is, these fibers are an important extension of our souls. So if art imitates real life, than things are about to get hairy.
Layers were as ubiquitous in art as they were in dress this week. Everything from painting to sculpture to collage screamed at you, “Touch Me! I’m three dimensional!” Obviously, that was not allowed, but the physical depth in certain pieces were still highly entertaining to the eye. Paint was conglomerated into abstract mounds of color, canvases were sliced and reconstructed into stratums of material, arbitrary objects jutted out of bright backdrops, it was even conceptual as quotidian scenes were set against bizarre, curious counterparts. Whatever condition, minimalism moved aside this year for artists that just wanted to keeping going and going and going.
Hoarding Found Objects
A flash back to the trash art trend at Miami Art Basel it felt like artists at the NY fairs sorted through their household detritus and hoarded everyday objects for the ultimate inspiration. Everything from paper bags to defective tires, light bulbs to expired credit cards and every type of cleaning material made its way into the art world this year. However underwhelming some results were (like a jersey on a branch), others proved that our trash is simply waiting to be re-imagined into our living room’s next great contemporary art piece. Meticulously assembled (Satoru Tamura’s metal pieces were even mobile), the sculptures were caught between the esotericism of art and the normality (and neuroticism) of the everyday.
Portraits of Celebs and Other Famous Peeps
In direct opposition to “normcore,” art depicting famous people has dominated the art fairs like Bieber on the newsstands. No matter how much we pretend to hate it, we alwasy click the like button, lean in closer just to make sure we saw it right. The truth is, there’s something about roaming the florescent booths, lonely and over-cafinated, and suddenly seeing a familiar face that keeps us going. “Do I know you?” you might ask, racking your memory for that one time introduction, or maybe a TV cameo, or late night familiar face. We hope to find an ally amongst the foreign faces and so we wonder, “Are you famous, or are you my friend?”
At least for today, they are your friends.