Video still from “Homo sapiens sapiens complex” by Pipilotti Rist
This is where I’ll be next week:
The Armory Show
February 23-26, 2006
Pier 94 (12th Avenue at 55th Street)
New York City
It’s not as glamorous as Miami Basel has become but it’s sort of the original major art fair and an important stop for contemporary art collectors. It’s also not going to be quite as warm as Miami! I really enjoy the fairs because seeing so much art all at once has helped hone my eye for art. I especially enjoy the sattelite art fairs that have popped up around the major fairs. Not only is the art usually more affordable, it’s an opportunity to discover the next big artist.
When we went to Miami Basel in December, we vowed not to buy anything. It was supposed to be a “learning experience” where we would educate ourselves about the art market. We came home with two major works (the Lisa Stefanelli and the Patrick Wilson). We’ll see what happens in New York . . .
Here’s an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the Armory Show and the satellite art fair phenomena.
Wall Street Journal
New York Art Fairs, Miami Style
By KELLY CROW
February 16, 2007
Collectors of contemporary art have long descended on New York in midwinter to attend one of the world’s pioneering fairs for new art, the Armory Show. Next week, the fair’s warren of 150 gallery booths will again take over a cruise terminal stretching into the Hudson River. But as newer, rival fairs in Miami and London quickly become art-world juggernauts, the Armory Show is aiming to make a bigger splash.
Art Basel Miami Beach’s dozen satellite fairs have proved that there is strength in big numbers of booths when it comes to buzz and profit. So this year, the Armory Show decided to move its date two weeks forward so it could run at the same time as the Art Show, an older fair across town known for selling modern masters to a Park Avenue clientele. The shift appeals to the Art Show, which has worried about what it calls its increasingly “sleepy” reputation.
This year, the two fairs are dovetailing their mailings. So far, 10 dealers have said they’ll have booths in both shows. “By synchronizing us all, we can compete with Miami and the rest,” says Katelijne De Backer, the Armory’s director.
The Armory’s six satellite fairs also adopted the all-for-one collegiality, moving their dates to match. One, Scope, decided to quit leasing space in rough-and-tumble warehouses and picked a place that fits in better with the upscale Armory ambiance: The show put its 65 contemporary galleries in a park pavilion next to the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.
A united front makes sense, fair organizers say, because their audiences have merged. Collectors, especially newcomers, are buying across a broader swath of art styles and periods. Home-design trends advocate mixing in Old Master icons with art-star paintings and spongy, orange Marc Newson chairs.
This anything-goes aesthetic has boosted demand and prices for trophy pieces in recent years, but critics say it also has encouraged mega-fairs to mimic one another’s art offerings. Even the VIP perks are similar. For example, tours of collectors’ homes come standard at major fairs now. But the Armory upped the ante this year by hiring chef Danny Meyer, of New York restaurants such as Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café, to play caterer at its site on Pier 94.
Established fairs still are figuring out how to keep their identity, says Roland Augustine, who oversees the 19-year-old Art Show. Mr. Augustine, who also serves as president of the Art Dealers Association of America, says he’d love to get some of the Armory show’s 50,000 fairgoers — five times his own fair’s foot traffic. He has urged his 70 exhibitors to avoid some of the grab-bag, group show look of some art fairs. Instead, he wants more to focus on one-man shows for artists. The New York alliance also involves a bit of organizational culture clash. The dealers’ association, the type of nonprofit group that ran most fairs of decades past, runs the Art Show, while a profit-making venture runs the Armory.
Mr. Augustine’s fair will hand out 70,000 free “collector’s guides” featuring tips on how to buy, sell and appraise artwork, rather than hand out a catalog like the Armory’s. And he says he may forbid Art Show dealers from exhibiting at next year’s Armory Show, to further strengthen the distinction.
That would be a mistake, says New York contemporary dealer Rachel Lehmann, whose Lehmann Maupin gallery is exhibiting in both shows. She sees the need for today’s dealers to be everywhere at once. Next week, her Armory booth will be showing edgy video art and paintings by upcoming Turkish and Japanese artists, while her Art Show exhibit will feature a solo show of bright abstractions by new Taiwanese artist Suling Wang. She also is keeping her regular gallery in Chelsea open.
The New York fairs’ shifts have provoked other doubts in the art world. Philadelphia art adviser Clayton Press says the spread-out nature of the shows, over several miles, could cause fair fatigue: “It’s asking a lot of consumers to ping-pong all over Manhattan.”