POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
Image via: The Armory Show
Will we stop calling the New York fairs Armory Week after this season ends? We’ve seen some large shifts in market share take place this year, so the early March fairs are likely to look significantly different. Let’s survey where we’re at.
New York’s largest contemporary art fair, The March 3-7 Armory Show, finally sees a bit of competition. Naturally, it would be Elizabeth Dee, New York gallerist and founder of X Initiative, together with gallerist Darren Flook, from Hotel, London who would provide just this. Their new fair, The Independent takes place at the former X Initiative this March, and plays host to quite a few Armory level galleries. These include, Bortolami, Andrew Kreps, and Johann Konig to name a few.
The website takes great care not to describe the event as fair — it is, instead a hybrid model and temporary exhibition forum, taking place at the former X Initiative and former Dia Center for the Arts — but as far as I can tell, that’s basically what we’re looking at. Galleries will display works of art in their booths. It will be for sale.
According to Lindsay Pollock’s In-N-Out posts detailing who’s joining The Armory Fair this year versus who’s leaving, The Armory Show likely has more than just the Independent to worry about. Amongst the larger New York players not returning are, Marianne Boesky Gallery, D'Amelio Terras, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash. All of these galleries however will be participating in Gallery Week, which will take place May 7-10th. Sure, it’s possible none of these galleries would have done The Armory this year anyway, but it’s hard not to see this event as an inexpensive alternative to the fairs. It’s also not without a track record elsewhere: Berlin’s Gallery Week is one of the largest events of the year for the city.
Still the Armory has landed at least a few punches. The ADAA Art Fair will take place the same time as the Armory — generally this increases foot traffic at both fairs — and the similarly timed Whitney Biennial always brings in extra visitors as well. It’s also managed to pick up a few good galleries, Lehmann Maupin and Yossi Milo amongst them. This latter point may be nullified by the number of mediocre Pulse fair drop outs the show’s picked up though. Sadly, Pulse New York is looking very thin this year — we may have to skip the Sci-Fi awards this time around.
Volta, the Armory’s sister fair lost a few exhibitors to, well, the Armory. I don’t know what this means, since they’re owned by the same people, though the art-fair-in-an-office is likely to suffer. It’s still looking a hell of a lot better than Pulse, at least by exhibitor numbers. Worse than Pulse is the always reliable Scope which still has it’s location up at Lincoln Center. It’s exhibitor list is sorely lacking. Meanwhile, Verge fair, the brainchild of Chicago’s Michael Workman hasn’t even announced their list of exhibitors. Workman founded Bridge, the failed uncurated fair launched in Miami. Not surprisingly, it was one of the worst fairs I’ve ever attended.