Armory Week Round-Up By Artlyst New York Contributor Ilka Scobie

Armory Week 2016

Exhilarating, eclectic and exhausting, New York hosted seven art fairs from March 3-6. Ranging from blue chip venues like AADA to intimate bohemian spaces like the tiny and international Salon Zurcher fair, it’s a time when art lovers, collectors and the curious flock to a diverse artistic panorama.

The lynchpin is the two cavernous spaces at the West Side Piers, The Armory Show. Pier 92 hosts Modern, and Contemporary is housed in Pier 94. On the VIP day before the public opening, the well dressed crowd was apparently in a buying mood. First day sales had Kehinde Wiley as a frontrunner, with at least four reported sales.  Another first day sale was the Ivan Navarro’s “Come to Daddy” at Galerie Templon from Paris.  Modern highlighted work like Frank Stella, Yayoi Kusama, David Hockney, outsider artist Henry Darger and drawings of Plains Indians.

Henry Taylor @ Galerie Eva Presenhuber at the Armory Show

Speaking with Eva Presenhuber whose two Zurich spaces are greatly influential,  she commented, “It’s a chance to see American clients, and to introduce new positions and new program artists. We’re happy to be here, and this year there’s a focus on painting.” Henry Taylor, the Los Angeles based painter and new addition to the program, was represented in her booth, which was anchored with an iconic Ugo Rondinone stone sculpture. Dealer Tim Bratton of London commented, “I like the work a day atmosphere, and you can do business here. Did you notice all the European galleries are in one corridor?”

This year’s Armory focus was ”African Perspectives,” with fourteen international galleries specializing in African art. The Cape town gallery, What If the World? presented Dan Halter, whose fabric sculptures and wall works included a compelling figure made of the ubiquitous plaid carrier bags symbolic of worldwide displacement.

Carolee Schneeman’s “Meat Joy” vintage print at P.P.O.W @ AADA show

Across  town, The Art Dealers Association of America (AADA) offers 72 top quality exhibitors. Venerable and intimate,  AADA is the country’s oldest art fair and opens with a festive affair benefitting the Henry Street Settlement, which is one of the hot social events of the season. I especially appreciated P.P.O.W.’s display of Carolee Schneeman’s vintage performance photos, collage works and rare colored diagrams. Co-owner Wendy Olsoff, who has worked with Schneeman for over twenty years, told me, “We did London Frieze and I loved it. AADA is a unique and special fair, it’s so humane here. Being small, there’s no bad location, we’re all peers.  There’s a comfort level for viewers, and it’s a serious place to look at art.”

Gallerist Julie Saul showed photographer Bill Jacobson paired with Richard Artschwager, their work demonstrating a similar and provocative use of rectangular planes. African American artist Beauford Delaney was highlighted at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery and Salon 94 repped Marilyn Minter’s earlier eroticized works.

Gallerist and Independent founder Elizabeth Dee with Phillipe Decrauzet paintings

My next stop was Independent, newly housed in the glamorous downtown Spring Studios, with sweeping Tribeca views and floor to ceiling windows. In April, Independent will open their first installation in Brussels. Founder and New York gallerist Elizabeth Dee’s booth focused on 24 paintings by Phillippe Decrauzat, taking full advantage of the architecture, while invoking proto-cinematographic devices. Elizabeth, who is moving her gallery from Chelsea to Harlem, said, “Independent is an opportunity for the galleries to self organize, and develop projects specific for this presentation model. It’s a great community showing phenomenal work.”

Karl Holmqvist’s site specific installation at Gavin Brown Enterprises (also newly opened in Harlem) consisted of piles of black and white used clothing with sloganed wallpaper.

London’s Sim Smith Gallery with Canadian artist Bradley Wood (see top photo)

Right near the newly opened Barney’s, Pulse is a young, energetic fair housed in the Metropolitan Pavilion. Free popcorn, made in front of a re-created Dyke Bar, greeted fairgoers. In a cooly black and white striped gallery space, I spoke to Tim Garwood, of London’s Sim Smith Gallery who told me, “It’s our first time at Pulse, and we’ve had a fantastic success.” The vivid paintings of Canadian Bradley Wood had almost sold out, and he’s was a nominee for the Pulse prize.

My final stop was at the small Salon Zurcher, conveniently located in my Noho neighborhood. Two of the six represented galleries are European, and both artists and gallerists were present. Evocative textile work by Marie Rose Lortet and Jill Gallieni were shown by Parisian gallery Marie Finaz. Brussels gallery Mathilde Hatzenberger showed New York based Belgian artist, Marc Van Cauwenbergh’s beautiful opaque brushy paintings. 

On the same stretch of the West Side Highway, Volta is an invitational fair of solo artist projects, this year curated by Derrick Adams. Art on Paper focuses on paper based art.  The cavernous waterfront tunnel space in Chelsea hosted Moving Image, with twenty eight international galleries presenting video work. Clio is an art fair for artists without gallery representation. Lastly Spring Break, housed in a historic midtown post office, is a themed fair of emerging artists, and generated enthusiasm for it’s scrappy, unmanicured atmosphere.

And now Armory Week has come and gone, the piers deserted and  out of town galleries have packed up and dispersed. But for New York art lovers with resources and interest, don’t despair. Asia Week opens on March 10.


photo is Ugo Rondinone @ Galerie Eva Presenhuber @ Armory