That’s a wrap. Armory Arts Week 2017 came to a close on Sunday. This year’s art fair-filled festivities featured a retooled Armory Show, NADA’s Armory Arts Week debut (the fair had previously taken place during Frieze Week), and the absence of Pulse, whose New York presence is now Pulse360. We made the fair rounds, scoping out the wares. Usually an overwhelming experience, overall 2017 was more austere than previous years. Below you’ll find our thoughts on each fair experience.
Armory Show – The Anchor
The Armory Show is the main event. The big kahuna. Its focus continues to be 20th and 21st century artworks. For 2017, the art world staple underwent a significant renovation under the direction of Benjamin Genocchio, who became the fair’s executive director in January 2016. The most significant change was doing away with the Armory Show-Modern section and replacing it with Insights. Residing in Pier 92, Insights consisted of galleries that presented solo-artist, dual-artist and thematic exhibitions of 20th century artworks. Among the exhibitors in this newly dubbed section were Carl Hammer Gallery, Michael Hoppen Gallery and Richard Tattinger Gallery.
Another addition for 2017 was Platform, a section similar to Frieze New York’s Frieze Projects. Curated by Eric Shiner, Platform featured site-specific large-scale artworks, installations and performances under the theme of “An Incident”. Among the works found in this program were Abel Barroso’s Emigrant’s Pinball, Yayoi Kusama’s Guidepost to the New World, Lawrence Weiner’s CAREFULLY BALANCED ON THE EDGE OF A HOLE IN TIME (1999), and a work by Sebastian Errazuriz which found a large piano suspended over the Champagne Lounge at Pier 94.
Curator Jarrett Gregory took the reigns of the Armory Show’s Focus section. In past years, Focus has highlighted a particular region such as Africa or the Middle East. For 2017, Focus took on a more global theme of “What is to be Done?” and featured 12 artists who are grappling with some of the world’s most pressing social and political issues.
We unfortunately didn’t attend any of the talks in the Armory Live program, but notable panelists included David Salle, Dominique Lévy, Alex Katz, and Jeffrey Deitch.
Highlights of the fair can be found in the gallery below.
Spring/Break Art Show – The Most Unconventional
We deem Spring/Break Art Show to be the most unconventional of the Armory Arts Week fare. For the last couple of years, it had set up shop at the former James A. Farley Post Office, but for 2017, it inhabited two floors of empty office space in Times Square. Spring/Break is a curatorial-driven fair, where independent curators are given space to come up with a show around a unifying theme. This year, over 150 curators participated developing exhibits around the theme of Black Mirror. In dealing with this theme, we found many of the artists were commenting on technology and/or nature.
Below are highlights from Spring/Break.
Art on paper – The Prettiest Artwork
Art on Paper returned to the Pier 36 for its third year. As the title implies, the fair focuses on paper-based artworks, and for 2017, brought together 80 galleries from the around the world. Of all the Armory Arts Week fairs, Art on Paper featured the largest collection of beautiful artworks. The pieces are quite intricate, so it’s a fair that deserves some time investment. Highlights included booths hosted by Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, ex-chamber museum, and Electric Works. Below are a selection of works from this year’s fair.
The Art Show – The Best Presentation
The Art Show is the most polished art fair of the Armory Arts Week lot. Organized by the Art Dealers Association of America, this year’s fair returned to the Park Avenue Armory and featured all the major US galleries including David Zwirner, Marion Goodman, Hauser & Wirth, Petzel, Paula Cooper, and Pace. Among the highlights were Pavel Pepperstein’s thematic show for Julie Saul Gallery, The Secret Drawings of Jacqueline Kennedy; Rodney Graham’s Antiquarian Sleeping in His Shop presented by 303 Gallery; and the paintings of Elisheva Biernoff showcased by Fraenkel Gallery. View highlights from The Art Show below.
NADA – The Most Community-Minded
NADA, the art fair of the New Art Dealers Alliance, changed things up for 2017. Since launching in New York in 2012, NADA was one of the fairs orbiting Frieze New York’s universe in May. This year, the fair moved to Armory Arts Week and sprung up in a new location, Skylight Clarkson North. One of the signatures of NADA is that they offer a range of booth sizes, thus allowing smaller players to take part. The layout of the fair allowed for a “town square” in the center where performances took place. It gave off a very community-minded feel. Highlights from NADA can be found below.
Volta – The Place to Discover Up-and-Coming Artists
Of all the Armory Arts Week fairs, Volta is the easiest (and thus the best) place to discover up-and-coming artists. The boutique art fair is an invitational solo project show for contemporary art that feels like you’re making a series of studio visits. The show isn’t overwhelming, and as you move through it, you really get to know the work of each artist. For 2017, VOLTA NY’s Curated Section returned with Wendy Vogel at the reigns. She organized a show inspired by Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Your body is a battleground). Other highlights included Federico Solmi’s animated video works, the paintings of Armand Boua presented by Ethan Cohen Gallery, and Kathleen Vance’s traveling landscapes. See below for photos from Volta.
Independent – A Gallery Crawl
For 2017, Independent returned to Spring Studios. An art fair founded by gallerists, a visit to this fair feels like you’re on a gallery crawl. The space is lofty and each exhibitor puts together a cohesive show of mostly mid-career artists. Standouts at this year’s edition were David Shrigley’s installation for Anton Kern, Galerie Francesca Pia’s booth which came complete with one of Stefan Tcherepnin’s furry monsters, and Sam Anderson’s sculptures presented by Tanya Leighton. A few photos from Independent follow.
Scope – For the Shock & Awe
Scope New York moved downtown to the Metropolitan Pavilion for its 17th edition. Presenting 60 international contemporary art galleries, this fair focuses on emerging artists and tends to contain artworks that illicit shock and awe. Among this year’s more scandalous were a series of photographs by Alison Jackson that featured a Trump look-a-like in compromising positions; Scott Scheidly’s punk rock Abe Lincoln; and Niloufar Banisadr’s images of scantily clad women wearing hijabs. Highlights from Scope are below.