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Armory Week 2014: Spikes and Speckles

A few of our favorites that shared a similar structure, from the annual NYC art fair

by David Graver
on 11 March 2014

This year's Armory Show brought together a multitude of respected galleries, and the contemporary and modern artwork of the talent they represent. In its 15th year, the show displayed artwork that excelled—and surprises were around every corner. Quite a few pieces incorporated spikes, spears, speckles and splotches across both texture and structure. Here, we highlight those that most impressed and baffled.


American dancer and artist Nick Cave revealed three new figurative sculptures in his "Soundsuit" series. All constructed in 2014 from fabric, buttons, antique sifter and a vortex of wire, each piece feels hyper-futuristic and imaginative. Seen at the Jack Shainman Gallery booth, the latest work appeared equal part astronaut and medieval knight. While the body was speckled with buttons, it was the void where a face would normally be expected that swirled around with thin wiry spikes. Each of the three figures were over six feet tall, adding to the overall momentous impression.


With organic energy—despite its metal composition and an almost cactus-plus-planter form—Todd Siler's "Metamorphing NanoCrystals" (2013-14) alludes to science fiction. With a CD-like rainbow sheen glistening off of mixed media on a cut and welded aluminum plate, a base is formed. The rest of the sculpture (spied at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts's booth) is a series of starry spikes, barbed and protruding like the needles of thistles. While it may look like a plant, it's definitely a work of art.

ArmoryShow-DownSpike.jpg ArmoryShow-UpSpike.jpg

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle's "Birds in Space series" (2013) represent exactly as their title states, yet in the form of spikes. Either dangling or standing upright at Galerie Thomas Schulte, they're sleek and inspired sculptural works, with a magnificence and a scientific edge. One of the pieces, "Bird in Space MACH 10 Hypervelocity Test (Run 3680, 000188-000284)" features not only the mounted feather-like spike, but also the massive, symmetrical table upon which it rests—yielding additional depths to the piece's message.

AmoryShow-Bunny.jpg AmoryShow-Pig.jpg

The Postmasters Gallery booth evoked fantastical zoo vibes by way of Monica Cook's latest sculptures. An open thorax and fangs of a pig on a stool, as well as the claws of a nearby rabbit all invoked scary spikes. These grotesque animals—composed of various mixed media—jarred and warped the mind, with additional fear resonating from the bone and talons. Spikes, here, were used in the most natural sense, depicting actual animal body parts.

AmoryBottleCaps1.jpg ArmoryBottleCapDetail.jpg

Conceptual photographer Chris Jordan (who first caught our collective eye back in 2007) showcased 2011's "Caps Seurat." This large-scale archival digital pigment print, mounted at Robert Klein Gallery, has an even larger concept. The image depicts 400,000 plastic bottle caps (equal to the number of bottles consumed in the US every minute at its year of construction) placed in a formation that yields a woman holding an umbrella overlooking scenery. The visual is stunning, but takes on an entirely new meaning when considering its speckled, dot-art-like construction from plastic waste.


At Marlborough Gallery's booth, Spanish artist Juan Genovés's "Arido" (2013) offered a dual experience. From afar, the mixed media on a panel appeared to be many tiny figures walking on a desert landscape looked at from above. Up close, the work was a meticulous speckling of materials, sometimes one atop another. Altogether abstract and figurative, each figure appears to be a gemstone in rough terrain.


It's been two years since the death of sculptor Ken Price, and his work continues to mesmerize. "Fats," from 1999, features acrylic on fired ceramic, in the form of a speckled blob. The colors add celebratory character to a shape as liberally flowing as it is concise. This piece, seen at Vivian Horan Fine Art's booth, contains a very simple wonderment, rounded out with a smooth finish.


With "Beyond Blue" (2014), an oil on panel work, Kelly Reemsten speckles white dots within multicolored circles, all of which adds dimension to her image of a girl falling backward through nothingness. This work, found at David Klein Gallery's booth, relies on the speckling for surface texture as much as it does storytelling.

Photos by Alexandre Corda

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