Independent fair expands to examine overlooked modern art
Independent 20th CenturyNew York’s 12-year-old independent art fair’s new sister fair aims to prove that many discoveries await in the blind spots of the canon of the last century.
“Many artists were central to the zeitgeist of the movements of their time, but they were women, gay, people of color, or were born in geographic areas without a developed art market,” said Independent co-founder Elizabeth Dee. “There is such a schism between what we see in galleries today and their precedent,” she adds. “Contemporary artists cannot maintain a political or cultural position without understanding what existed before their time.”
The inaugural edition (September 8-11) invites visitors to the Armory Week fair to the Battery Maritime Building, a historical monument offering a breathtaking view of the port. The venue’s 9,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts-style carpeted venue hosted the first post-pandemic independent last year. After the main fair returned to its previous Tribeca location in May, Dee saw the potential for the old-world charm of the waterfront venue to house art made between 1900 and 2000, which, he notes, she, “constituted 30% of the art at the last Independent”.
Market demand to revisit overlooked (and undervalued) artists, as well as continued curatorial interest in exploring movements such as Surrealism and Arte Povera in more detail, exemplified in particular by the central exhibition of the This year’s Venice Biennale, curator Cecilia Alemani The milk of dreams— highlight the topicality of the new dedicated lounge.
The Milan gallery Tommaso Calabria, which specializes in the post-surrealist era of Italian art, responds to the collective atmosphere of discovery of the archives. At Independent 20th Century, the gallery presents the post-war dreamscapes of Stanislao Lepri, who was in a love triangle with his longtime companion, artist Leonor Fini, and writer Constantin Jelenski.
Luxemburg + Co also goes deep cuts, focusing its presentation on Joan Miró’s lesser-known Masonite paintings from the 1930s, which he created with tar and sand on hardboard. The works are exhibited on easels in a nod to the attempt of the Spanish surrealists to “assassinate painting” with this series. To accentuate the interplay between genres and materials, Miró’s works are associated with the contemporary cardboard sculptures of tin cans by Peter Fischli.
Partner gallery Alma Luxembourg is part of a group of dealers, many under the age of 40, who sit on the new fair’s advisory board. She sees this as “an opportunity to engage with collectors who have so far focused on contemporary art, but who would like to connect with equally exciting aspects of 20th century art using this contemporary lens.” . She adds: “The fair’s galleries seek to open up this field to a wider public, which has perhaps been hesitant until now to think of the contemporary moment through historical precedents and vice versa.
The Gun Fair Addenda aren’t exclusively sourced from the US and Europe, either. The late Haitian-born painter Paul Gardère produced energetic multimedia paintings of his native country’s complex relationship with colonialism, becoming the first Haitian artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1989. Although Gardère lacks gallery representation , the non-profit organization Flexible network has partnered with his estate to show paintings from the 1990s, which burst with glitter, find objects and appropriate colonial iconography.
“We’re breaking generational shifts with galleries showcasing work in a more fluid way,” adds Dee. “These ‘a-ha’ moments will hopefully mean more museum engagement and gallery attention for many artists and fields.”
- Independent 20th CenturySeptember 8-11, Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street, New York.