The medium-specific fair Art on Paper has returned to Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan this Armory Week, showcasing a cavalcade of prints, sculptures, paintings, and foldable finds in every imaginable iteration.
For its ninth edition, the fair has lined up 100 Modern and contemporary art galleries to showcase paper as a limitless, under-sung substrate. The fair’s artistic director Nato Thompson has arranged a robust special projects programme that includes Proposal for a Future Forest, a site-specific, in-process pulp sprawl by artists Stephen B. Nguyen and Wade Kavanaugh, and a live printing workshop by Brooklyn-based studio and workshop Shoestring Press.
The fair stands out on the Armory Week circuit both for its medium-centric approach and for the intimate viewer experience it cultivates—while many of its features cut a monumental figure, the fair’s heart lies in the fine print. Art on Paper offers ample opportunities to inspect minuscule mark-making and deliciously detailed work.
The stand of New York gallery Harman Projects, founded just last year, features a suite of tiny graphite confections by UK-born Instagram darling Miles Johnston. His fine, gentle gradients and phantasmagorical compositions transcend the viral hyperreality camp with which he is typically associated, achieving a queasy, surreal softness that demands a viewer’s full attention.
Nearby, at the stand of Philadelphia-based Commonweal Gallery, visitors can explore the psycho-sexual reveries of Anne Minich, an 88-year-old artist who has used autobiography as a site from which to trace the intersections of desire, trauma, violence and religion since the 1960s. The survey of 17 works on paper spans pieces dating from the early 1970s to 2022, providing a fascinating cross-section of Minich’s emotional terrain and restrained, lugubrious relationship with line. Her stand at the fair coincides with a solo exhibition of her work at Commonweal, Containing Multitudes: Anne Minich’s Head Series, 1974 – 2023 (until 28 October).
It is unusual to see a trailer parked inside an art fair, but that is not the only unexpected aspect of Free Film, a presentation by Brooklyn-based art space Worthlessstudios in partnership with the Lower Eastside Girls Club. The small, silver pod represents an extension of Worthlessstudios’ Free Film photography project, an initiative that provides photographers with a free roll of 35mm film in exchange for their time and creativity. On “Camera Day”, which takes place Friday through Sunday, visitors can board the trailer, take some photos with a roll of free film, and learn to develop that roll in the dark room on site.
At Booksmart, the artists’ book fair launched this year within Art on Paper in partnership with the Center for Book Arts, viewers can enjoy the tactile wonders of book art from eight institutional stewards of the genre.
Among the tomes on view is a tender, magical offering by the Book/Print Artist/Scholar of Color Collective, founded in 2019 by book artist and printmaker Tia Blassingame. The collective, now 40 members strong, links Black, Indigenous and people of colour (Bipoc) book artists, papermakers, curators, letterpress printers and printmakers with collaborative resources and scholars of book history and print culture with the aim of building community and support networks for marginalised voices in the sector. A lush pop-up book by artist Colette Fu, Kaifuna, highlights the rich cultural heritage of ethnic minorities across China and exemplifies the power of the collective’s efforts.
- Art on Paper, until 10 September, Pier 36, New York