25th installment of New York’s iconic fair celebrates inclusion
The first week of March is THE week when New York City is living and breathing art. Sweeping hordes of art lovers, collectors, curators, and artists are trying to navigate the busy schedule of overlapping art events: art shows, gallery openings, performances, talks, and dinners. Hardly any of them would consider the week’s experience complete without visiting The Armory Show– the staple event of the week. This year The Armory Show is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Regrettably, the celebration was blemished by a few challenges, noticeably – the sudden need to relocate a third of its exhibitors just a week before the opening.
Structural problems at Pier 92 have forced the organizers to move the Fair’s Focus, Insight, and Project sections, along with roughly sixty of the exhibitors, to the adjacent Pier 90 and, subsequently, to cancel the Volta Fair, which was originally scheduled to open there. The reimbursement offered to the Volta exhibitors for the last-minute cancellation did not cover shipping costs and other expenses that out-of-town galleries would have incurred. However thanks to the “Plan B” proposed by art-dealer David Zwirner, collector Peter Hort, and Quang Bao, the founder of the New York’s 1969 Gallery, some thirty of the impacted Volta galleries were offered an alternative exhibition space in Chelsea, with nine more joining the Art On Paper Fair that was held at the Pier 36.
Relocation ordeal notwithstanding, the Armory Show didn’t disappoint its nearly sixty thousand visitors and made its anniversary edition well worth remembering. The Armory 2019, called a color-drenched dreamscape, presented a diverse list, with the emphasis on women artists and artists of color. The specially curated sections, Platform and Focus, have been seamlessly integrated within the exhibiting space, introducing new voices and relevant topics into its historical representation of 20th and 21st-century works.
An array of emerging artists was introduced to the public and received encouraging attention. Collectors representing institutions and museums were actively scouting for their new “favorites”. Nate Lewis’s solo booth at Fridman Gallery displaying his elaborate figurative artwork was undoubtedly one of them. Florine Demosthene, who was represented by Mariane Ibrahim gallery, was another figurative artist that has also experienced tremendous success. Her mysterious collages made with Mylar, glitter, and ink had remarkable sales from the first day of the Fair. Works of Alex Gardner (The Hole gallery) were also sold within the first few hours.
The Insights section of the show focused on the 20th-century artworks was also accentuating solo-artist, dual-artist, and thematic presentations. Hollis Taggart in collaboration with The Art Students League (Booth 206 on Pier 90), exhibited works by prior teachers and students and, to quote the League’s press release, “highlighting the dynamic conceptual and aesthetic interplay between the two and capturing a trajectory of artistic development.“ When art is brought out of storage and put into a new context, it tells a different story and provokes conversation.
Artists’ essential drive to communicate with the audience has resulted in numerous engaging installations, such as manipulated LED lights presentations or sculptures with reflective and mirrored surfaces that create an irresistible urge to take a selfie. The visitors could also enjoy the largest digital work ever to be on view at the Armory by Leo Villareal (Pace Gallery) – a 75-feet long LED installation that mimics the cosmos.
With 198 galleries from 33 countries featured this year, including 63 new exhibitors, The Armory Show has achieved impressive results with participants reporting excellent sales to private and public buyers.