The End of the 2021 Season
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
As a self-styled art worker, I love this time of the year, mostly because watching almost the entire gallery system put itself into a state of suspended animation from now until early September is like observing a seasonal process, one result of which is that I also gradually wind down my own commitment to looking at art in galleries. Yesterday I checked Chelsea off the list until after Labor Day, and last week I did the same with Tribeca. At this rate, I'll be signing off on the entire Lower East Side by the end of this week.
Lauren Halsey, dis n dat, 2021, acrylic, enamel & metallic leaf on wood, Gagosian Gallery
One feature that stood out was the preponderance of summer group exhibitions at blue chip galleries that purport to address social issues rooted in racial inequity, in this case by prominently featuring young, mid-career & even venerated Black artists within a framework that seems calibrated to take the place of a more engaged attitude about these subjects in the world we lived in before George Floyd was killed. If it weren't for the fact that so many of these exhibitions seem to be interchangeable, it would be easy to say that such efforts at recognizing the results of structural racism within the art world are genuine, and I'd be the last person to claim they aren't. But what troubles me is why they all have to take place during the one month of the season when the art world's players are least likely to be in town.
Terry Turrell, Mouthful, c. 2012, paint & mixed media assemblage on panel, Andrew Edlin Gallery
In Nexus Singularity Takeover, Andrew Edlin pays tribute to a giant in the world of self-taught, primitive, folk, outsider or any other kind of label of art, Aarne Anton, who until last year ran the pioneering American Primitive Gallery, which he closed early in the pandemic. Now he's comfortable operating from the front porch of his upstate NY house and internet, and the title of the group exhibition at Edlin comes from Anton's name for his current venture, Nexus Singularity.
The beauty of the exhibition lies in its combining art by self-taught artists with objects made by anonymous artists and artisans, effectively putting into question what the use is of an exclusive category called "art" if the beauty of a carved wood cranberry sorter belongs alongside an oil painting by Terry Turrell. The underlying theme becomes a singular experience of connoisseurship that makes it possible to combine a wide range of fine art and objects within an aesthetic framework that holds them together organically.