A sigh of relief seems to be sounding out across the booths of The Art Show, the 22nd Art Dealers Association of America, invite-only art fair held in the Park Avenue Armory building. And while Mayor Bloomberg may have quipped in his opening speech that he wasn't there to buy art but to discuss New York's cultural community, others certainly were, since sales had already been made. 55 New York galleries and 15 national dealers weathered the storm, as one gallerist expressed when discussing the last 14 months: "We made it through. We even managed to keep hold of all of our staff."


PHOTO COURTESY AMBER DE VOS


This prestigiuous fair relies on a strong showing of renowned early and mid-Twentieth Century artists, including Philip Guston and Jean Dubuffet, who feature at a number of booths. Other blue-chip galleries feature key artworks from iconic German painters, such as Max Beckmann, Martin Kippenberger and Max Ernst. A selection of Kippenberger's effervescent "Hotel Drawings" and oversized, wooden pill "Kippenseltzer" are on view at David Nolan Gallery while Ernst's sexually-charged painting La Fuite painting (1940) holds a prominent position at Richard L. Feigen & Co.'s booth.

PPOW focusses on Julie Hefferman's fantastical paintings which are dripping with a bygone decadence and investigate the mutation of the artist into various characters. While D'Amelio Terras Gallery, although tucked away in the back corner and taking a more conventional art fair tack with small, framed works on paper, features linear drawings and pastel gouaches which subtly play off each other, by artists such as Christian Holstad, Fred Sandback, Chloe Piene, Sol LeWitt, John Currin and Steven Parrino.

The multi-artist installation at CRG Gallery centers around Georges Bataille's essay "The Language of Flowers" which draws parallels between the primordial amorous response to the form of the flower and the human body. Ranging from Butt Johnson's ornate floral pastiches, Hannah Wilke's delicate flower drawing and sculpture, Bruce Conner's heady collages, Andy Warhol's gold leaf "Flower Arrangement," to Fairfield Porter's idyllic "Hawkweed" painting, the curious, ephemeral quality of this collection of works has a faint echo of the "Victorian Photocollage" exhibit currently at the Metropolitan Museum. LEFT: NANCY SPERO INSTALLATION. COURTESY LELONG.

Finally, Nancy Spero's "Sheela-Na-Gig at Home" grotesque yet humorous installation at the Galerie Lelong booth juxtaposes printed collages of the Celtic fertility figure, signifying primal female power, with a clothes line of sexy lingerie. It also, ironically, ties into the "Silk Stocking" nickname for the socially-prominent Seventh-Regiment, for whom the building was originally built for. Like the establishment itself, the glitz has faded, leaving instead a wry mark on the former hedonism while also presenting a refined, intelligent display of artworks.

THE ADAA IS LOCATED AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY AT 67TH STREET, NEW YORK. THE FAIR IS OPEN THROUGH MARCH 7.