I know that many of you reading this do not live here and would love to learn more about New York City’s art and culture scene beyond the headline events that are amply covered by the major media. It’s primarily for you that I write this blog, which will focus on important and interesting art happenings and institutions that major media tend to overlook or pay scant attention to.
This past weekend (Oct. 24-27, 2019) the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair held its 28th edition at the Javits Convention Center on the west side of Midtown Manhattan. This was my first time in attendance, which happened accidentally when a woman in a Chelsea elevator gave me a pass for the VIP opening on Oct 23. I went and liked it so much that I thought: This is reason to finally start my art blog, which has been ruminating in my head for years since I left Bloomberg and The Art Newspaper, (where I wrote for 12 years as a correspondent).
Here are my 8 favorite art works at IFPDA’s 28th edition. Why “8”? No particular reason. The overall quality across the fair was exceptional, and these art works are merely my favorites. A very big thank you to photographer Natalya Nabochenko for taking such wonderful shots of the art works at the fair.
1) “In Full Cry” (1931; 29 by 42 cm) by Sybil Andrews (1898-1992) at the stand of Osborne Samuel Gallery, (London). This magnificent modernist work is hand-printed from three blocks. It’s signed and numbered from an edition of 50. Nothing can compare to Andrews’ exquisite and novel artistic vision. This work, as well as the next one, were by far my favorite pieces at this art fair.
2) “Speedway” (1934; 32 by 23 cm) also by Sybil Andrews was at the stand of Redfern Gallery (London). This extraordinary depiction of motorcyclists so vividly and skillfully conveys the power of their motion speeding down the track. Andrews made this work, as well as “In Full Cry,” during the decade when she cooperated closely with her mentor, Cyril Power.
3) I couldn’t be indifferent to “Woman ta King Coffee” (1774; 28 by 23 cm) by Louis-Marin Bonnet (1736-1793), which was displayed by R.S. Johnson Fine Art (Chicago). Why the strange name? “This gold application on the print was an illegal procedure in France,” said a gallery official. “The artist tried to create the impression that it had been made in London, but his English wasn’t so good, and therefore, the mistake in the title.” Yes, it should have read: “Woman Taking Coffee”.
4) Isselbacher Gallery (New York) had a large poster by legendary Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). Created in Paris in 1898, where it would have been displayed on city streets as an advertisement, this work is titled “Job” – the name of French cigarette rolling paper. While very famous and successful during his lifetime, Mucha faded into oblivion after his death because post-war leftist Europe found him too bourgeois. He’s enjoyed a revival since Czechia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989, but still, he remains an outsider for the international art world, and one rarely sees his works at major art fairs and auction houses.
5) “Jewelled City” (1931) by Gerald Geerlings (1897-1998) at Catherine Burns Fine Art (California) depicts the magical effect of the Chicago skyline in the 1930s. This work had an original print run of 32, and is signed by the artist. “This is a special impression in blue ink and it’s his most famous work; usually, he used brown ink,” said a gallery representative. “This is Michigan Ave at night in Chicago. The Magnificent Mile.”
6) David Tunick Gallery (New York) had a wonderful work by Jacob de Gheyn II (1565-1629; 40 by 32 cm). You can’t easily walk past “The Archer and the Milkmaid” because he’s pointing his crossbow right at you. Experts say this work is charged with erotic meaning, and the archer is akin to Cupid. The milkmaid on his right wears his hat, indicating a rather intimate relationship. Indeed, in 16th century Europe milkmaids had a certain ‘easy reputation’.
7) “Harbor Skyline” (1930) by Howard Cook (1901-1980) at Catherine Burns Fine Art is a bleak but poignant work of urban poetry — an extraordinary silhouette of Manhattan as the Roaring 20s came to a close, and the Great Depression began.
8) Finally, two existential works from Norway’s Edvard Munch (1863-1944): “Separation II” (1896) and “Woman/Sphinx (1899), both at John Szoke Gallery (New York). The artist, who is most famous for “The Scream”, was obsessed with the deep issues of life and existence, especially eager to depict anxiety and separation.