New art, new voices

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Nearly 200 galleries from 31 countries will exhibit at The Armory Show


  • Jose Carlos Martinat, "Morning in America. Distractor #4," 2017, Motors, LED's, arduines and LED screen .Courtesy of Revolver Galería (Lima)

  • Vik Muniz, "Metachrome The Abaporu, after Tarsila," 2018. Courtesy of Galeria Nara Roesler (Sao Paulo)

  • Mariah Robertson, "062," 2017, C-print. Courtesy of Van Doren Waxter (New York)

  • Seydou Keïta, Untitled, 1958-1959. Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels)

  • Gerhard Richter, "Grün - Blau - Rot 789-76," 1993, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Ludorff (Dusseldorf)

  • Yayoi Kusama, "Mantis," 1981, Collage, pastel and ink on paper. Courtesy of Omer Tiroche Gallery (London)

  • Nicole Berry, executive director of The Armory Show. Photo: Teddy Wolff, courtesy of The Armory Show.

It’s big and sprawling, yet manageably compact. It’s international, yet local. It’s rigorously intellectual, yet fun. It’s established, yet evolving, carefully crafted, yet riotously unpredictable.

It’s refined, inclusive, challenging, passionate, individual, unique and wildly creative. It’s for billionaires and museum directors, dog walkers and school kids. The Armory Show, which opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 11 at Piers 92 and 94 on 12th Avenue at 55th Street, is a lot like the city that hosts it.

“The Armory Show is, and has always been, New York’s Art Fair,” said the newly appointed executive director, Nicole Berry. “Founded in 1994 in New York City, 24 years later it is the most widely attended art fair in New York.... Having the unique benefit of being so ingrained with the city of New York means we’re really able to engage the creative landscape here — from artist studio visits to large-scale commissions at the fair, to an extensive program of talks with the world’s foremost artists and thinkers.... The Armory Show has taken bold steps to innovate in accordance with the contemporary landscape, and our landscape is New York, the world’s cultural capital.”

Berry, who came to the fair in 2016 and took over in 2017, tinkered with the formula to make it a more meaningful platform for art and a richer experience for viewers. She’s added a curatorial leadership summit, bringing the global museum and gallery community together to discuss, debate and decide the rules of an ever-changing art world. “The inaugural summit, chaired by Naomi Beckwith, will address questions of cultural appropriation, censorship and representation,” Berry said. It’s an issue that’s forced some museums to remove works from display or even destroy them, while others stood their ground, and it’s sure to be contested again soon.

Close to 200 galleries from 31 countries will bring artworks to Piers 92 and 94 that represent different styles, eras, cultures, techniques, media and visions. There will be sculpture, painting, photography and more, including, from Gagosian Gallery, a never before exhibited installation by the father of video art, Nam June Paik. Within the fair, galleries and works have been selected and grouped by themes. “Galleries” is the core, and, to keep things fresh, there will be 66 that are new to The Armory Show. “Insights” brings international galleries showing art made before 2000. Yayoi Kusama, whose “Infinity Mirror Rooms” led to round-the-block lines at David Zwirner recently, will be represented by two-dimensional works at Omer Tiroche Gallery. “Presents” groups younger galleries and younger artists, while “Focus,” curated by the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Gabriel Ritter, is showing artists from 28 international galleries addressing ideas of how technology transforms the body, either visually, conceptually or physically.

The Armory Show’s “Platform” brings large-scale works, many commissioned for the show. Several will be installed outside for all to see. New York artist Tara Donovan is creating a site-specific piece made of tens of thousands of clear plastic tubes. Donovan’s work utilizes everyday materials to create undulating clouds, rippling tides or delicate pictures out of things like straight pins, Styrofoam cups, or here, plastic tubing. Her work awakens us to potential beauty all around.

The anonymous French street artist JR posts super-sized black-and-white photographs filled with political undertones on city walls. Here, in “So Close,” he’s plastering the outside of the buildings with huge historic images of Ellis Island immigrants, merging in faces of Syrian refugees.

“I am thrilled that this year, JR, known for his politically provocative works that engage industrial spaces, will present a newly commissioned work that embodies both an excitement and a seriousness,” Berry said. “The work is both relevant to the current cultural and political climate, and an example of an artist directly engaging our location in the heart of Manhattan. The fact that people will see it, driving along the West Side Highway and wonder what is going on, in addition to people who are entering the fair, that to me is a powerful point of dialogue.”

More than 65,000 visitors are expected this year. If you’re a museum director, movie star or mega-rich, this is where you shop. For everyone else, The Armory Show is where to go to see a world of art in a weekend.

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