Ten Trending Artworks at 22nd Street’s Leading Art Fair

On the heels of Frieze New York, with critics wondering whether the city could sustain yet another major art fair week this season, the Insider Art Fair opened to swelling crowds. While lines of regular people snaked around the block, VIPs slipped into the 22nd Street location and within minutes all of the top artworks had holds (fist fights ensued, including an unfortunate tussle between Stefan Simchowitz and the guy from Black Keys … or was it Black Eyed Peas?). Artsy, the exclusive online partner of the entire art world™, launched a preview of the fair—eliminating the need for anyone with an internet connection to wear pants to an art fair. To mark the opening, Artsy met with art world darling of the moment Mark Flood, the artist-curator-director-publicist of the Insider Art Fair, for an exclusive, after-hours walkthrough of the fair. Taking what the artist said into consideration and meticulously collecting data—à la NSA—from the most-followed artists and most-heart-ed artworks in our preview of the Insider Art Fair, we’ve generated a random list of ten trending artworks. Though gender, geography, and medium seem of no variation, each work is an absolute magnum opus.

10. Mark Flood, Historical Diptych [Ford/Fanta], 2014, at The Insider Art Fair

“These are the aged paintings,” the Houston-born art star revealed during our illuminating walkthrough, gesturing toward cracked, yellowed paintings that possess all the allure of centuries-old relics but are, in fact, brand new! Laced with nostalgia, works like Historical Diptych [Ford/Fanta] create a searing dialogue on decay, commercialism, and those nights you spent swilling Fanta in the back of your Ford Fiesta. “I’ve never shown them before,” Flood divulged. But, when asked how he achieved this extraordinary, cracklure effect the artist replied, “Really, you want me to put my secrets into print?” 

9. Mark Flood, PEPSI FUTURE, 2014, at The Insider Art Fair

This work is one third of a tripartite homage to the soft drink magnate, where Flood bestows the joie de vivre of Pepsi-Cola upon canvases that—like the ice-cold beverage—leave art-thirsty visitors wanting more. A poignant ode to what some may consider the second-tier American cola brand, realized in the nation’s patriotic colors, these works prompt a dialogue on Americana, consumerism, and sugary drinks. More resonant than ever at present as the company is currently under fire after an investor described it as a “culture of sycophants,” sycophants will have to duke it out to own one of these hot commodities.

8. Mark Flood,OUR BODIES OUR SHELVES, at The Insider Art Fair

“That’s a Victoria’s Secret ad that they hung in their store,” Flood revealed to Artsy in a candid moment, motioning to the image of a buxom blonde who joins Flood’s long legacy of stenciled, spray-painted text-based paintings. Reversing the gaze in an unflinching subversion of gender dynamics, Flood’s subject looks out at viewers searchingly, as if to ask, “Do you like my kimono-shrouded cleavage?” A note of gravity in his voice, Flood remarked on the work, “I acquired it on the black market for Victoria’s secret ads—which, does exist.”

7. Mark Flood, Saltz’s List Painting, 2014, at The Insider Art Fair

The bold, scathing quote painstakingly applied to canvas in this work—aptly displayed alongside a cat meme—cuts to the heart of the current art-world quarrel between Jerry Saltz and Stefan Simchowitz—pulled directly from Saltz’s incendiary New York Magazine takedown, enhancing the typography’s glaring immediacy. “The whole thing going on between Simchowitz and Jerry Saltz, I think that’s been the greatest thing in a while because it shows a deep chasm in the art world,” Flood insightfully remarks.

6. Mark Flood, Installation view, “The INSIDER ART FAIR 2014,” at The Insider Art Fair

In the midst of record-breaking auctions and skyrocketing price tags at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, speculation on high-dollar art finds its resolution in Flood’s pricey piñatas—literally stuffed to the brim with dollar bills. “We fill them with money before we smash them,” Flood says. After two collectors (who’ll remain unnamed) were restrained while running toward the works with blindfolds and baseball bats, armed men will stand guard over the paintings for the duration of the fair. While analysts have recently conjured that in this lifetime, we will see a billion dollar work of art, perhaps at the Insider Art Fair, such a price tag already exists. 

5. Mark Flood, Suck 2 Dicks, at The Insider Art Fair

Painted in 2014, Suck 2 Dicks is a study of the semiotics and popular culture of the moment. The subject of this painting is two stoic fellows dressed in floral red trunks, who might be strangers found through Google image, or the artist’s closest companions. While the subtle nuances of this striking pose promise to mesmerize, it is in the foregrounding of this handsome musculature that Flood’s virtuosity with spray paint shines. It’s Chippendale meets Abercrombie & Fitch in this timely and incisive examination of the collective unconscious. 

4. Mark Flood, Deutschebank 40, 2014, at The Insider Art Fair

“I bought all of these mattresses and these pillow cases just so that people can lay down. I also think it has like a sexual feel,” Flood notes seductively. And what better way to relax than reclining beneath the strong diagonal thrust of the Deutsche Bank logo? A newfangled concept Flood devised after visiting Frieze London last year, this work is now in a room with mattresses—which are strategically placed throughout the fairgrounds to help visitors battle the inevitable “fair fatigue”—as part of a series in which the artist has deftly manipulated the sharp motif to the point where its pixelated state dissolves into a sensual, intoxicating haze. 

3. Mark Flood, Spiderman [I Like Where This Is Going], at The Insider Art Fair

Even the amazing Spider-Man cannot escape Flood’s weblike wrath. Like Michael Jackson and E.T., the Marvel Comics superhero becomes fodder for Flood’s subversion of pop culture characters—challenging a cultural zeitgeist filled with internet superstars and pandemic memes. Sensitive to contemporary society’s lack of figures that embody heroism and mores of justice, Flood is at the rescue with his newly branded Spider-Man meme—though he’s not quite the lion-hearted hero we once knew.

2. Mark Flood,ATT YELLOW-RED MOON, 2014, at The Insider Art Fair

Behind hanging plastic lattice curtains obscured by billowing plumes of fog—emitted from the nearby smoke machine next to a sector where burlesque dancers perform atop a pedestal littered with Benjamins—a corner of the Insider Art Fair is dedicated to these works. “I like it to be kind of hidden, where you see it through the lattice and you have to come in and come to it, a little bit like going all the way out to Marfa to see Donald Judd,” Flood says of the fair’s secret rooms. VIP passes in hand, Artsy was privy to a booth littered with various states of the abstracted logos, recalling at once the brand’s oddly militaristic slogan, “Mobilizing Your World,” and its decreasing relevance in the world of cellular telephones.

1. Mark Flood, House of Cards [Naked Steeple], 2014, at The Insider Art Fair

Especially relevant given the hit Netflix series of the same name, Flood’s magnificent sculptures appear to be balanced preciously on the edge of collapse, but in reality, they are dextrously assembled with glue, an ingenious and counterintuitive approach to the very concept of the house of cards. An added layer emerges upon discerning that every card is an ace of spades—the death card!—boldly alluding to the unavoidable reality of human mortality.

For more coverage of the fair, check back hourly for new works, fresh from the studios. The Insider Art Fair in Your Pocket: Be sure to download Artsy’s iPhone app for to-the-minute updates on trending artists, artworks, galleries, and memes. 

The Insider Art Fair is on view at Zach Feuer Gallery through May 17th, 2014.

Portrait of Mark Flood, Director of the Insider Art Fair 2014, and burlesque dancer The Incredible, Edible, Akynos. 

*The Insider Art Fair is real. The fist fights and other related events described in this post are fictional.