Armory Show Opening Night 2020

Armory Show Opening Night at Pier 94. (Photo: Clanci Jo Conover).

Every March, Armory Week dominates the New York art scene with its numerous art fairs and special events. Its namesake, the Armory Show, features a myriad of dealers specializing in 20th and 21st-century artwork across two massive piers on Manhattan’s west side. In the past, the contemporary art fair Volta took place at the piers alongside the Armory Show, but, in 2019, due to structural issues at Pier 92, the fair was canceled roughly one week before it was scheduled to open. This year, both the Armory Show and Volta return with a vengeance.

Armory Week 2020 marks the return of Volta and strong showings at the Armory Show

MAGNIN - a booth at the 2020 Armory Show.

MAGNIN-A booth at Armory Show. (Photo: Clanci Jo Conover).

The Armory Show occupies two venues to accommodate its numerous participants and enthusiastic attendees. Pier 94 hosted high-end galleries like the Paris gallery MAGNIN-A and the international Sean Kelly, Galleria d’Arte Maggiore g.a.m., Cortesi Gallery, and others, along with a subsection of the fair called “Presents,” which included galleries founded in the last 10 years.

The Armory Show paid tribute to the fair’s regency as Armory Week’s flagship event. 


Perspectives exhibit looks back on the history of the Armory Show..

Perspectives at Pier 92, Armory Show. (Photo: Clanci Jo Conover).

South of it, Pier 90, featured the show’s two main subsections— the first, titled Focus,  offered to consider how “artists construct a version of reality or self where the boundaries of fact and fiction are indistinct.” The second was called Perspectives and intended to evoke the “early days of the fair when booths featured daring, gritty and even whimsical presentations.” Overall, the attention to curation and booth design present throughout the show paid tribute to the fair’s regency as Armory Week flagship event. 

While the Armory Show is the bedrock to the New York fair circuit, most of the vibrant works offered are reserved for high rollers. The sheer size of the fair is enough to exhaust any mere mortal, and if you’ve never attended an art fair before, it can be an overwhelming place to start.

Volta exhibit at Metropolitan West.

Volta at Metropolitan West. (Photo: Clanci Jo Conover).

Volta’s new director envisions the fair’s purpose in placing artists in the spotlight

Enter Volta. Volta is a modestly sized fair that found its roots in New York 13 years ago at Armory Week. Since the mishaps at the piers last year left Volta without its usual home, it took up residence on 46th and 12th at Metropolitan West. This more intimate venue represents new director Kamiar Maleki’s vision for the fair to return to its original purpose of spotlighting artists and their work, bringing galleries together from different parts of the globe to create grounds for them to be discovered.

Volta offers a worldwide range of artists waiting to become the next big thing

Jae Ko art at Roger Katwijk, Volta.

Jae Ko at Roger Katwijk, Volta. (Photo: Clanci Jo Conover).

With the  Armory show around the corner, Volta offers an escape from the busy mega fair. Dealers from Memphis to Accra and Kyoto showed cohesive, curated booths. Many exhibitors chose to feature just one artist, as did, for example, Roger Katwijk from Amsterdam, who showed work by Jae Ko (some might remember his installation from 2018 Art on Paper).

Mark Hachem booth full of bold, colorful, geometric paintings and sculpture at the Mark Hachem booth at Volta.

Mark Hachem booth, Volta. (Photo: Clanci Jo Conover).

Others compiled a selection of works— Mark Hachem assembled a geometric playground of Kinetic art by creatives like Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, René Ugarte, Ghazi Baker, and Michelangelo Bastiani. As Maleki intended, there was much to discover throughout the fair, which included 53 galleries from 35 cities. Besides, price points at this fair were more accessible, whether you’re a newcomer to collecting, want a unique work to be the focal point of your living room, or are looking for the next up-and-comer with explosive potential.