A little over a year ago, thousands of New Yorkers lined up outside the sprawling Jacob Javits Convention Center to get vaccinated. In a sign of how much the world has changed since then, yesterday at the opening of the Armory Show at the same venue, white-coated nurses and camouflage-clad National Guard members were swapped for iPad-wielding art fair assistants with interest in checking VIP passes instead of vaccination cards.
The show, traditionally held at Hudson Piers, officially debuted in its new home on Manhattan’s far west side last year, but this year’s edition felt significant, not least due to a much larger base of international exhibitors no longer affected by Covid – Security logs.
“I feel like this is our real debut,” General Manager Nicole Berry told Artnet News as the crowds poured into the fair’s early hours, adding that it was iteration corresponded more to the vision of what the full fair can and should look like in its new home. Early visitors included artists such as collectors and private museum founders Don and Mera Rubell, as well as celebrities such as Paul Rudd, Jared Leto and Anderson Cooper.
Amid last year’s uncertainty, some 55 mostly European galleries downgraded their participation to virtual only and postponed their IRL participation until this year. Almost all of the 240 were present Exhibitors this year, around 40 percent of whom came from outside the USA The larger attendance and international flair reflects “what the Armory Show will bring forward, with the quality of the exhibitors, but also with the size of the show,” said Berry. “It’s bigger but manageable because of the space.”
Other important changes compared to last year’s event were: a a streamlined, improved layout that allowed for better visitor flow through the stands and special areas – many visitors found they had difficulty navigating through last year’s more compartmentalized layout.
A whopping 90 more exhibitors took part in the fair this year than in 2021. One of the first visitors was Larkin Erdmann from Zurich, who was very pleased that his gallery of the same name was included for the event. Erdmann has been open about the lackluster results he’s seen from attending virtual fairs during lockdown, stressing that there is no substitute for the physical fair in terms of exhibiting works and interacting with collectors.
By the end of the VIP preview on day one, he had sold a $150,000 sculpture by Ken Price, works by March Avery, Agnes Martin and Alighieri Boetti to US collections and placed a painting by Gaston Chaissac in a museum.
“We are thrilled to be attending the Armory Show for the first time,” said Ricardo González Ramos, Director of Mexico City’s Galería RGR. “The organization is excellent; Already on the first day we experienced a lot of attention from collectors and institutions,” he said. The gallery featured a range of Latin American artists who mixed abstraction with modern and contemporary work, including works by Julio Le Parc and Carlos Cruz-Diez, among others.
The curated areas of the fair have also been added. Solo and Presents (for galleries less than a decade old) were joined by Platform and Focus, which were notable for the range of artists and works on display. The Platform section, entitled Monumental Change, curated by Tobias Ostrander, explored how recent revisionist practices, including in relation to large public monuments, are influencing artistic engagement with sculptural forms.
Meanwhile, “Focus,” curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and titled “Landscape Undone,” highlighted Latinx artists and works “that explore the intersectionality of issues surrounding the environment and focus on the personal and political climate, when they interact with race, gender and energy.” Among them, New York gallerist Cristin Tierney presented a standalone stand featuring works by Chilean-born artist Jorge Tacla, who was one of the first artists she brought to her gallery after founding her gallery in 2010.
Tierney was pleased to present Tacla at the show in this context. “He’s from Santiago and has lived in New York for many years and lived this back and forth like many artists of Latin American descent,” she said, recalling the different ones political situations and associated social burdens. Until the end of the first VIP preview day including sales breaking news 2 (2022) for $50,000.
For veteran dealer Sean Kelly, who exhibited in both the main gallery section and Focus, sales in the latter section included all three major works by Hugo McCloud at $200,000 and four floral still lifes at $25,000 each.
A delighted Kelly said the gallery has been busy reconnecting with clients, friends and colleagues. “The start of the trade fair was very well attended and a complete success,” he said. Sales included paintings by Landon Metz ($29,000); IDris Khan ($57,400 / £50,000); Sam Moyer ($40,000); John Guzman ($37,500) and Wu Chi-Tsung ($45,000).
Business was also good in the main part of the fair. In the fair’s opening moments, San Francisco gallerist Jessica Silverman sold works including a ceramic sculpture by Woody De Othello, Unbound, for $60,000; sculptures by Rose B. Simpson for $55,000 and $65,000 respectively; three works on paper by Sadie Barnette for $28,000 each; a pastel on paper, Fully expanded, by Loie Hollowell, sold for $60,000.00; and titled an acrylic painting A color image IV by Luke Butler for $24,000.
Silverman said the booth was visited by eminent collectors and museum curators during the first hour of the fair, and the steady stream continued throughout the day. “The immediate response to our presentation confirms the focus she places on artists and those who are pushing both their own practice – and art making in general – into new exciting forms and expressions,” she said.
By the end of the day, other sale highlights were included, according to Armory Show organizers: a $350,000 Huma Bhabha sculpture at David Zwirner; a series of paintings by Vaughn Spann (between $100,000 and $300,000) at Almine Rech; a $260,000 stainless steel George Rickey sculpture in Kasmin; a $200,000 piece by Omar Ba at Galerie Templon; a series of works by Guillaume Bresson valued at $130,000 to $180,000 at the Nathalie Obadia gallery; a $110,000 work by Marco A. Castillo at Galeria Nara Roesler; and two paintings by Jenna Gribbon that sold at Fredericks & Freiser for $90,000 and $100,000.
The Armory Show runs through September 11th at the Javits Center, New York.
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