This is a selection of fairly unassuming but still wonderful pieces that might easily get lost amid the noisy appeal of bigger, brighter, bolder works. The problem with art fairs is that, as in parties, the extroverts stand out. Not that some of them don’t deserve to do so; but this selection is an encouragement to look more deeply into the booths for works like this—and there are many more—that deserve close looking (and are likely to be less expensive).
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Le Duel (The Duel. I), circa 1915, at Adler & Conkright Fine Art
With the big Futurist exhibition at the Guggenheim, which tells us that the graphic work is probably better than anything else, works like this are likely to be very popular.
James Castle, Untitled, n.d., at Peter Freeman, Inc.
I love James Castle’s houses and interiors; however, this unusual work is so special—a hanging suit that is a surrogate figure, it reminds me of beautiful, late etchings by Richard Diebenkorn of the same subject.
Fairfield Porter, Still Life with Stapler, 1970, at James Reinish and Associates
Is this the first still life with a stapler in it? Probably not; perhaps Stuart Davis painted one. But it is a lovely, unassuming thing. The English painter and critic once wrote of the inferiority of the pictures of all but the greatest artists, as compared to their sketches. Porter’s informal, sketch-like compositions are very much to the point.
Anthony Caro, Table Piece CIX, 1972, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Tony Caro, who sadly died recently, regularly made such wonderfully exquisite table pieces, treating the table top like the ground on which his larger sculptures were composed, but with always a keen sense of the change of scale and the difference in viewing height.
Vija Celmins, Untitled, 1995, at Susan Sheehan Gallery
It is hard to know whether to prefer Vija’s oceans or her skies, but this piece is a strong argument for the former: movement stopped but seeming to move as your eye moves across it; fluidly aquatic but fixedly wooden like the medium into which it was engraved.
Jackson Pollock, Untitled, circa 1943, at Washburn Gallery
My sense is that, as time passes, the best of Pollock’s compositions with pockets of tormented, quasi-figurative elements are going to rise in interest to join his now iconic allover compositions without distinguishable centers of interest. This beautifully bizarre little drawing, and others like it, point the way.