The inaugural edition of NADA New York, May 4-7, 2012, may seem a peculiar setting for design. But wedged in among the 66 dealers from 11 countries set up in the former Dia Center for the Arts Building in Chelsea, also the home of the Independent art fair two month ago, is a surprising amount of design- and function-focused material.
The New York-based Cumulus Studios, founded in 2008 by Nathalie Karg, sports the most design and all of it destined for outdoors. At my visit early in the show’s run, three sets of the stainless steel benches by the Thailand-based artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, which spell out “IOU,” were sold at $28,000 each. The edition numbers 20.
Also available at Cumulus is an Ugo Rondinone cast bronze birdbath, Hurry Up! I’m dreaming, complete with a bird perched on the edge. The artist populated his recent exhibition at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich with oiseaux of a similar feather. The birdbath is $40,000, in an edition of ten.
Most appealing of all at the booth are the colorful space-age benches by Jim Drain, done in bright magenta and lime green in powder-coated stainless steel and aluminum. “More clients are seeking artist-designed seating for their terraces and gardens,” said Nathalie Karg, a landscape designer who founded Cumulus.
The booth of Company, the gallery in Los Angeles directed by Anat Egbi, is sporting a table by the upstate New York artist Elias Hansen. Constructed with four birch trunk legs and topped by a sheet of steel, the table — a sculpture, might as well face it, which the artist describes as inspired by “the crystal meth industry” — is set with his signature hand-blown vessels. Its title, Like a lemon to a lime (2012), is sadly timely, coming from No Sleep Till Brooklyn by the Beastie Boys, whose Adam Rauch has just died. The price on the work is $9,000.
Sharing the booth is Thomas Duncan Gallery, another visitor from Los Angeles, featuring textile-based work by the Brooklyn artist Lucas Knipscher. “For him textiles function as image with both social and historical references,” said Duncan. One hanging seems to combine east and west via a blue and white ikat centered on red and white gingham.
At Galerie Jacky Strenz of Frankfurt is Eva Berendes’ handmade screen of wood strung with evenly spaced rows of cotton string in yellow, black and green. “Clients are drawn to them as they are more sculpture than functional object,” said Strenz, who has placed the artist’s work in the Federal Art Collection of Germany. The price for the delicate and colorful object is 9,500.
On hand with the New Galerie from Paris is an inkjet-printed carpet by Aurelien Porte, with a large image of a kind of driftwood sculpture — not unlike the actual sculpture also in the booth. The carpet also carries its title, the elfin slogan, From Raw Memory, I Pray for a Branch.
Up on the roof is the Artis Shuk, an open-air shop run by a nonprofit whose name means market in Arabic and Hebrew and presents work by Israeli artists. One highlight is Naomi Safran-Hon’s Straining Mixing and Grating, a series of kitchen utensils ladled with cement. Strangely appealing, they’re $100 each, or $500 for the set. Jewelry and crochet hats are also available.
BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.