Friday, March 5, 2010

Armory Portraits

I spent the day yesterday at the Armory Show in New York, which assembles the offerings of over a hundred galleries from around the world. The show will be up at 55th and 12th through March 7. The works, set up in white painted cubicles, include modern and contemporary painting, sculpture and video.

Barry Friedman, Ltd. of New York was one of two galleries presenting the work of Gottfried Helnwein (Austrian, b. 1948), who paints gigantic portraits of wan children. The skin and hair invited scrutiny for their soft, downy surface, painted with a sense of photographic realism, but painterly energy at a small scale.

The Forum Gallery showed new works by Robert Bauer (American, born 1942) another portrait artist whose works are on a much smaller scale, but equally compelling. He has been creating lighter images in egg tempera, more resembling drawings. He can create them faster than his oils, which he was producing at four per year. They're made from a combination of photographs and live sittings.

Both artists seem to have made a point of having the subject avoid eye contact with the viewer, which changes the chemistry of a close encounter with a realistically painted face.

There was much else, perhaps something for every taste. A single ticket gets you into all the satellite venues, including the Volta (across from the Empire State Building).

You can save the $30 entrance fee by following this link and signing up for complimentary passes. Use the code "TASGALLERY" in the promotional code. (Thanks, James)


Leenie said...

The Robert Bauer egg tempra looks a lot like a Wyeth. Except not so finished. I like that.

Chris Whetzel said...

Thanks for the pass! Cant wait to see the show!

Torbjörn Källström said...

Seems pretty cool :)

On a totally unrelated note... Do you perhaps hang out with Conan Obrien, or is there another explanation for this? :P

James Gurney said...

Torbjörn: Not sure what you mean. Do I have to be logged into Twitter to read it? But no, I haven't been hanging with Conan O'B.

Have fun, Chris, and Leenie, yes, I was thinking of Wyeth, too. Really patient observation.

Torbjörn Källström said...

Hehe. Ok. It's a picture of a bearded Conan with a monkey on his shoulder. Just thought he looked like someone :P

slinberg said...

James, my limited knowledge of Helnwein includes that he mostly paints over printed photographs(1). Were you able to see any sign of that from close inspection, or was it disclosed or described in the text? If so, did affect your experience of viewing it?

(I don't mean to put a value judgement on this practice, just wondering if it was apparent in what you saw.)

I remember seeing Robert Bauer's "Anna" at the Enchantment show last fall (where you and I met and chatted a bit). I thought it was a really lovely painting, although a touch too detailed for my stylistic preference (I kept getting lost in the hair, where he seemed to have individually painted every strand). I've been curious to see some of his other work; pity I won't be able to get to this show.


enb said...

I also enjoyed the show, but perhaps had a better time watching all the people, than I did looking at the art. Glad you made it over there and mentioned it on your blog-

Walt Morton said...

Walt Morton: I have been aware of Helnwein for awhile. He has had an amazing reputation in Germany for many years since being a star at art school. I think his very large realist landscapes are amazing. See: