Spring/Break Art Show opens this week and, like always, it is a fair in the truest sense of the word: a maze of visual excess which promises to immerse, astound, and confound.
Founded in 2012 by Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, Spring/Break first occupied St. Patrick’s Old School in Soho and has moved around various New York landmarks since. For its 2022 edition, 120 exhibitors are sprawled over two floors at 625 Madison.
The New York edition usually falls during Armory Week, and it distinct from the calendar’s blue-chip affairs in both vibe and model. For each edition, the organizers announce a theme and then pick the best proposals from a pool of unknown, emerging, and established artists. Each presentation is curated by a commercial art dealer, nonprofit organization, or an artist. There’s little to no exhibition cost for participants.
2022’s theme, “Naked Lunch,” strives to thrill its audience with unpredictable displays, of which there are many, including paintings made by a robot dog (which roams the fair), a facsimile artist studio occupied by a mannequin, and—always fun—art you can hold. The organizers also provided a Homeric description of the theme, “Naked Lunch”, complete with “required” reading, viewings, and listenings for applicants (Herodotus’ Histories, Party Girl, and MGMT are among the assignments). They put a call out for art that epitomizes “Neo Renaissance,” multimedia that subverts (but doesn’t mock) the tenants of the Old Masters — self-reference, vanishing points, voluminous forms.
The product is spicy: across the fair’s two floors, bodies abound in film, painting, and sculpture. Some artists took cues from the Impressionists, who re-imagined the pastoral as a place of unearthly color and illicit gatherings, like Manet’s Luncheon In The Grass, which is treated as a thematic lodestar. “Naked Lunch” also calls to mind William S. Burroughs’ seminal novel, whose protagonist hurtles through space and time in search of stimulation. It’s fitting description of an afternoon at Spring/Break.
Below are some highlights of the 2022 New York edition.