Best of NYC’s 2011 Armory Show: Street art, erotica and more

New York City’s leading art fair, the Armory Show, drew heavy crowds this month with its mix of contemporary and modern art.

Hundreds of people lined up at Manhattan’s Piers 92 and 94 on a sunny Saturday to catch the first day of the Armory Show. I was lucky enough to attend the event without paying the $30 entry fee, thanks to a friend who discovered a free offer on Twitter.

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That's me, in a reflection of a reflection at the Armory Show.

This was the second time I’d attended the Armory Show and I was mesmerized by the diverse collection of art, representing galleries from across the world. I’m not an art world insider, but several trends caught my eye at the 2011 show.

“Erotica, cutesy animated grotesque and a strong street art influence.”

That’s how Krista Saunders, curator of the G Train Salon, described this year’s collection. Words can’t do justice to the featured art, so scroll down for images of  the Armory Show’s contemporary wing.

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Artist Nick Cave created and wears this “Soundsuit”, a full-body suit made of crochet.  The style is reminiscent of New York City street artist Olek, who has covered bicycles, cars and even the Wall Street Bull in yarn.

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“Soundsuit” is an appropriate name, since Cave used metal noisemaker toys to craft the headpiece. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the artist perform in this suit, which was hanging on a mannequin.

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This next work reminded me of the socialist graffiti that covers streets throughout South America. It reads,

“La lucha es de todos. De todos es la lucha”

I did not write down the name of the artist, but this giant mural hung on the wall outside of the Galleria Continua booth. Looking at it brought back memories of living in Buenos Aires, Argentina!

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At first I was not impressed by this collage, which features pencil drawings and stickers on paper.

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However, after looking more closely at the work, my initial instinct to shout, “I could do this myself” was replaced by a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia for junior high school doodling.

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Jacques Villegle‘s “Rue de Thorigny” (1975) consists of ripped posters mounted on canvas. It looks like the poster-covered scaffolding I pass every day while walking through the East Village.

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Some of the street art references were obvious. I ran into this piece in the Latin American section of the contemporary wing.

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Galeria Casas Riegner, based in Bogota, featured this twist on the classic Coca Cola sign.

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American artist Mel Bochner created this series of “Monoprints” using thick layers of oil paint.

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1,000 of these signed and numbered dollar bills sold for $25 each at artist Reed Seifer‘s booth.

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The Armory Show was brimming with silly, sensual works of art. Several pieces paid tribute to sex toys, porno mags and bodily functions. I came across these titilating posters by Bjarne Melgaard at the Galerie Krinzinger Vienna stall.

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Death gets kinky in this painting by Gregory Forstner.

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I suspect this drawing was inspired by the horror film “Human Centipede.”

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Sex toys form a futuristic cityscape in this Armory Show artwork.

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This installation at the Gallerie Ron Mandos stall can be summed up in one word: cool. Although it appears lifelike, the figure is actually a mannequin, and it’s covered by a hard material that blends seamlessly with the wall.

More images

View more photos of the 2011 Armory Show on the Downtown Traveler flickr page.

Did you attend the 2011 Armory Show? Please share your impressions by leaving a comment below!

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About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded DowntownTraveler.com after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.