Art People by Vivian Raynor
The New York Times, Friday, October 17, 1980

   Though heralded by advertisements in art magazines and by posters on the flanks of buses, the latest art fair has nevertheless sidled quietly into town. Called “Art 1980 New York,” the show is “docked” at Berths 5 and 6 on Pier 92 (12th Avenue and 54th Street) and will remain through tomorrow. Featuring mainly dealers in painting, sculpture, prints and photography, the event was organized by Interart, an information service headed by Ellas Fellus. Mr. Fellus is a Washington art dealer who also calls himself an “agent for 20th- century vanguard tendencies” and who, since 1976, has been producing the Washington art fair, known colloquially as “Washart.”
    Operating in New York City for the first time, Mr. Fellus addresses his constituency in a foreword to the show's guide, pointing out that the advantage of joining an art fair rather than “cafe society” is that “you get a chance to sell what you are talking about.” Some 60 dealers, native and foreign, have seized the advantage and among those from New York are Martha Jackson, Louis K. Meisel and Jacques Kaplan, formerly a furrier of high renown.
    The exhibitors are ensconced with their wares in 10 foot by 10 foot cubicles that cost $725 for the week, including lighting. (Pier 92's vast space goes for $16,300 a day.) Art enthusiasts who dislike the formality of the conventional gallery scene will have nothing to fear here, after paying the $5 admission. Most of the art is hung casually on—or stapled to — ramshackle partitions that are covered in none-too-white fabric. Labeling is sometimes haphazard so that viewers seeking information are obliged, sooner or later, to approach the stall holder.
    A fair percentage of the work is poor, but none is as objectionable as the special exhibition of photographs by some vanguard Austrians. Two of them are pursuing “body art” that involves the slaughter of animals and humans wallowing in their blood. A genre that has had its adherence in the United States, it gains new and even more disgusting dimensions practiced here. Viewers with weak stomachs and/or short fuses are advised to forgo the display
    Among the items of interest at the fair is an enormous dollop of shiny brownish plastic that could be mistaken for a Lynda Benglis but in fact is the work of Cesar. This French sculptor, a famous crusher of cars in the 1960's, has not been seen here for several years. Other works noted randomly include decorative abstractions smaller than a commemorative stamp, by Max Ernst, and, not much bigger, an Albers painting of an orange square surrounded by a maroon one. A visitor also spotted a Philip Pearlstein print and paintings by Susan Rothenburg, Nicholas Krushenick and Sara Gilliam, as well as a display of portrait photographs by Karsh.
    Noteworthy among the unknowns is Ernest Ruckle, a Pennsylvania artist who paints small fantasies in acrylic and water color that are crammed with figures and incident and that, at a distance, look a little like paisley patterns.
    The fair is open today from noon to 10 P.M., tomorrow from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M.

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