The best thing about the Art Show, the annual fair sponsored by the Art Dealers Association of America in the Park Avenue Armory, is that ticket sales benefit the Henry Street Settlement, which has been bringing art and culture to the Lower East Side since 1893. The second best thing is that all 72 exhibitors are in a single room, albeit a large and drafty one: You can take it all in with a leisurely stroll.
What you’ll find this year is a program dominated by uncompromising female artists. The very best of them are two joint presentations: the painter Judith Linhares with the sculptor Annabeth Rosen at P.P.O.W. and Anglim Gilbert, and Alice Neel’s paintings with photographs by Diane Arbus, brought together by David Zwirner and Fraenkel Gallery.
Be on the lookout as well for a survey of work by the turn-of-the-century African-American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner (Michael Rosenfeld, A16); the mysteriously magical paintings of Markus Lüpertz (Michael Werner, C8); Gordon Parks’s amazing color photograph of a tightly packed, jubilant crowd at the 1963 March on Washington (Howard Greenberg, A12); Rackstraw Downes’s pocket-size oil painting “Vent Tower and Salt Shed,” in which two Department of Sanitation structures become found abstractions in a quiet city scene (Betty Cuningham, D18); and the disconcerting spot where Seth Price’s large-scale, lightbox images of human skin (Petzel, B4) face off against Roberto Cuoghi’s bird corpses cast in agar-agar and pork gelatin (Hauser & Wirth, B3).
Here are some especially notable booths.
P.P.O.W. and Anglim Gilbert
Judith Linhares, who uses thick, glowing lines to depict titanic female figures, brings out the color in Annabeth Rosen’s work — wire-wrapped ceramic assemblages that evoke seashells, ballast or construction sites on the moon. In this presentation, both artists present a muscular and unapologetic femininity that feels not only welcome right now but necessary.
Fraenkel Gallery and David Zwirner
San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery and New York’s own David Zwirner, which co-represent the estate of Diane Arbus, mount an extraordinary pairing of Arbus’s portrait photographs with paintings by Alice Neel in these conjoined booths. Uncanny formal similarities, such as the way Neel’s “David Sokola,” from 1973, and Arbus’s “Norman Mailer at home, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1963” both sprawl in their armchairs, make for a fascinating typology of posture and performance. One juxtaposition, of Neel’s 1932 “Danny Lasser” with Arbus’s “Boy in the subway, N.Y.C. 1956,” goes even further: The two little boys with blank stares, one sadder, one more distant, suggest an infinite continuum of emotion.
Susan Inglett Gallery
The fair’s most stunning display is at Susan Inglett Gallery, where four large paper cuttings by William Villalongo, a Brooklyn-based artist working in painting, printmaking and installation, neatly fill the booth’s gray walls. Each features a storm of decorative slivers cut into black velour paper. Accented with collaged-in photos of jewels and African sculptures, or painted arms and legs, these storms become ingenious summations of black American identity: They’re bodies composed of innumerable traumas that somehow hold together — and even look good.
A full booth at the Washburn Gallery is dedicated to the painter Alice Trumbull Mason (1904-1971), with a focus on drawings and paintings from the 1940s, whose surfaces are broken into rhythmic showers of narrow shapes. In “Bearings Charted With Yellow,” from 1946, the overlapping rhombuses have a dizzying effect, suggesting a teasing motion that doesn’t actually get anywhere, while “Bearings in Transition,” beside it, is as still as the grave.
Six large oils by Jordan Casteel, painted from snapshots taken on the subway, manage to capture the M.T.A.’s loud colors and distinctive surfaces without overlooking its moments of hidden repose. Though her subjects’ faces are cropped, hidden or turned away, the artist’s sympathetic interest imbues them with life.
Alexander Gray Associates
Two large oils by Joan Semmel at Alexander Gray overpower diffident abstractions by Betty Parsons in another compelling two-woman presentation. A precisely rendered view of Ms. Semmel’s naked body anchors “Beachbody,” 1985, a windblown scene of unruly brush strokes and tilting horizon. In the almost identically composed “Weathered,” 2018, the artist lets this torrent of visible strokes invade her arms.
The small gouaches by Maira Kalman that ring Julie Saul’s booth are illustrations for a forthcoming reissue of “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” by Gertrude Stein. Starting with a portrait of Toklas, her chin sharp and uneven, her nose hanging down like a bloated sardine, they continue through scenes of the couple’s famous friends and glamorous life abroad to a portrait of Stein seated under Picasso’s portrait of her. You can’t help but be charmed by Ms. Kalman’s detailed, slightly wonky drawing. Her palette of dark greens, pale blues and rosy pinks, meanwhile, is like German Expressionism made friendly.
The 62-year-old Castelli Gallery, which helped found the Art Dealers Association of America but hasn’t shown in its fair for two decades, reappears with a brilliantly minimal group of notebook-size colored-pencil studies by Roy Lichtenstein. The chance to see hand-drawn lines by an artist known for clean edges feels like an illicit pleasure.
Venus Over Manhattan
Here are six decades’ worth of boxes made by 17 artists, from Joseph Beuys’s 1968 “Intuition Box,” a shallow wooden tray that hangs on the wall like an empty frame, to Damien Hirst’s cheeky 2005 “Pharmacy,” very much like a medicine cabinet but more expensive. John Dogg’s 1986 “Untitled (Classic Belted),” a round tire circumscribed by a square box, and a 1975 paintbrush in a box by H.C. Westermann express a similar insight, somewhere between banal and profound. John McCracken’s 1988 “Alpha-6,” a mirror-polished steel block, is hypnotizing.
The Art Show
Through Sunday at the Park Avenue Armory, Park Avenue at 67th Street, Manhattan; artdealers.org.
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