The whale of the art season has arrived, and it’s a doozy. Check out our look at the annual Armory Show featuring 65 new and returning exhibitors across two piers.
The Armory is a good investment. At least that’s what the thousands of visitors and over 65 exhibitors thoughts as they filled up and poured into the weekend-long fair that serves as an anchor of several other valued fairs like Art on Paper, Scope, and NADA.
Established in 1994, The Armory has had a leading position in the art world, serving as a unique and valuable point of contact and leveling opportunity in the often unbalanced art world. Complaints against fairs have come and gone, but those that show at The Armory do so for one of two reasons: They truly want to show where art is. These gallerists may make a sale, but their chief interest lies in the exposure- letting average people see good art and get to know the name. These galleries to not internalize what art they show. It could be genuinely bad art. But if the public loves it…
The opposite end of this spectrum is a gallery motivated effort that buys more heavily into The Armory’s vision: show the very best, most thoughtful art, beautiful or not. An opportunity for the gallery to its best artists in an exposing venue. Soon it’s less about the artist and the reputation of the gallery. Fair game. Many galleries lie in the middle: showing good artists that are making work that is just flashy enough.
In our experience, The Armory is overwhelmingly vast and troubling in its scale. It is not to be completed in one day. The casual guest will wander through the whole of it not terribly concerned with layout. It is a pleasant walk in a very diverse park, moving toward and into space and nearer works that catch the eye. In the most dynamic way, even the smallest works serve in a perfect, self-balancing act against wall sized efforts (like Vanessa Baird’s single oil and pastel piece which occupies three whole walls, floor to ceiling, OSL Contemporary). Pair that against Nacho Carbonell’s organic staged studio space, complete with his original sculptural works, coming in all shapes and sizes (Carpenters Workshop Gallery).
Then there is perfectly good wall art, contained on a canvas, like Sojourner Truth Parsons’ paintings which deal with humor and loss, with puppies and poodles it’s their tongues out (Downs and Ross).
The good thing is that one day at The Armory does expose a viewer to a global range of talent. Galleries from all corners of the world make appearances here, from just starting out to well established global powerhouses like Gagosian. The fact remains: whatever your approach, an art fair is an opportunity to see all work in a normalized environment, free of distance and complex logistics of a gallery visit.