I know I’m sounding like a broken record these days, but I’ll say it again: the NY Art Book Fair, which opened last night and runs through Sunday at MoMA PS1 in Queens, is just the best.
The vibe is low-key and low-pressure—one dealer last night hadn’t even figured out the price for her hot-off-the-presses artist book by the start of the opening (she was waiting for the artist to show up)—and there’s always something wonderful and affordable for any budget. (When you lose control with your credit card at an art fair, you can be out of house and home, but at the NYABF, unless you get really out of hand, you just wake up the next morning feeling a little awkward and having to dine at home for a few weeks.)
As usual, there are some incredible offerings in the booths. A few of them follow below. (Disclosure: I bought a few of them.)
Laura Owens: Twelve Paintings at Ooga Booga
Laura Owens’s six-month-long 2013 show of 12 huge, new, immaculate paintings at 356 Mission Rd. in Los Angeles is every day looking more and more like one of the great art events of the decade—a major development in art, a reckoning. As Gavin Brown (her dealer) writes in this luxe catalogue, “Like all great art it had an inevitable feeling—as if the future had suddenly arrived and we all recognized it without ever having seen its face before.” The paintings have found homes, but we at least can at least all own the book, which has juicy detail shots, juicy installation views, and more juicy essays. Worth every penny.
Many things at Ratstar
New York artist Ryan Foerster was representing his Ratstar imprint in PS1’s dome last night, selling his scrappy $1 newsprint zines, hand-fashioned $20 zines with sandpaper covers (an old Guy Debord trick), a little 336-page book of jokes by Ira Wolfe (Foerster’s joke-obsessed neighbor in Brighton Beach), and $1 shots of perfectly mediocre whiskey. Lots of great stuff.
Martin Kippenberger’s first art book at Sims Reed
This is an aggressive purchase, to be sure, but money is no object for the true Kippenberger fan. Self-published in 1977 by the artist, along with Achim Duchow and Jochen Krüger, it’s an edition of 100—who knows where the other copies are?
War Pickles at Karma
Yes, I know, this is a jar of relish, not a book, but there is text involved. These bottles of pickles, adorned with rather dystopian writing and metal-flavored graphic design, have recently popped up in shows featuring Bill Hayden, Sam Pulitzer, and Antek Walczak (and, once, Mathieu Malouf). They’re great-looking objects, strange amalgamations of artisanal production and apocalyptic sensibilities. The blood-red/purple cabbage—I think it’s cabbage?—looks especially sinister.
Art-Rite at both Art Metropole and 20th Century Art Archives
Primary Information will soon reissue this classic Downtown Manhattan newsprint magazine, which was published from 1973 to 1978 by Walter Robinson, Edit DeAk, and Joshua Cohn (until he decamped for the legal world), but sometimes it’s nice to have the original. And here it is, at two separate booths! Think of it as a slightly unhinged, freewheeling, occasionally argumentative punk cousin of Avalanche.
Joshua Abelow & Gene Beery at Bodega
They’re separated in age by a few decades, but Joshua Abelow and Gene Beery really seem like bosom buddies—two artist rapscallions whose prankish work often barely veils darker feelings. This modestly priced book—an edition of 1,000—features install shots of their work overlaid with Beery’s typically bizarre texts. It’s also a nice little aperitif for the show the two are having together next month at Bodega on the Lower East Side.
William Crawford at Fulton Ryder
No one knows who William Crawford is, but that’s the name—along with Bill and WM Crawford—that was signed to a trove of very, very erotic drawings that were discovered in a disused Oakland, California, house in the mid-1990s. Popping up at art fairs and galleries in recent years, they generally show very attractive, amply proportioned men and women engaged in a variety of sex acts. There’s nothing else like them, and Ryder has a nice set in its room on PS1’s second floor.