I have previously lamented how intractably difficult it is to feel that I am keeping up with contemporary art, particularly without the means to travel to such international art events as the Venice Biennale. I’ve never even been to the Armory Show, despite it being in my hometown; I just haven’t been there at the right time. A colleague suggested signing up for and reading all the e-flux announcements, but the flood is just impossible to keep up with. And anyway, it’s a big commitment of time to read all those emails, on the off-chance that I might discover some new artist whose work I connect with.
All this considered, I was glad to see that Artsy, the new website billed to be like Pandora for art, was offering a full preview (ending soon, so act fast!) of the works at the Armory Show, which was this past weekend. I’d been meaning to but hadn’t yet explored Artsy in great depth, and this was a great opportunity. The nicest thing about it was how quickly I could peruse for new artists I liked–and I didn’t have to jot names down, just hit the favorite button and have that work saved for me for later, should I choose to go back and explore these artists and others like them in more depth.
Some of the new favorites I found, among many others: Kata Legrady, who evocatively combines everyday girlish and childish objects with weaponry; Jacob Hashimoto and Rashaad Newsome, who create three-dimensional wall works referencing Japanese and European/African-American material cultures, respectively; and Anoka Faruqee, whose optical paintings, much like the three-dimensional works, one can’t help but feel don’t fully translate into digital images. I was pleased to find so much new work I liked, when generally I’m not very attracted to the most contemporary art.
As I was discussing with a colleague the other day, Artsy is a fascinating hybrid. Like sites such as Artnet, it does provide a link to galleries, highlighting in particular art that is on sale. Nonetheless, this commercial function does not interfere with its more exploratory function. Given that the commercial art world is such an huge part of the art world as a whole, it is nice to see that barrier somewhat broken down; just because galleries are for-profit enterprises does not mean they can’t also cooperate in a somewhat educational venture.