Your Guide to Armory Arts Week

By Della Hasselle on March 7, 2012 7:59am 

An Andy Warhol print is shown at the Armory Show by Michael Schultz Gallery.
An Andy Warhol print is shown at the Armory Show by Michael Schultz Gallery.
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Armory Arts Show

MANHATTAN — It's New York City's Art Week, meaning the city is the official center of the arts world until March 11, drawing some 80,000 art enthusiasts seeking works of art from historic Cubist paintings to avant-garde installations.

Art enthusiasts may be left feeling a little dizzy when sifting through the catalogues of paintings, sculptures, sketches and other works that hundreds of exhibitors are displaying, from galleries around the world.

Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned campaigner, DNAinfo.com's guide will help you navigate the week's two major shows — The Armory Art Show and the ADAA Art Show — and the 11 art fairs that accompany them.

For the First-Timer: Armory Arts Show

March 8 – 11
Piers 92 and 94, New York

For first time arts fair venturers, the world-renowned Armory Arts Show is a good place to start. Divided into Contemporary and Modern sections, the show breaks down exhibitors by style and country. Although Armory Show directors are trying to recast it as a "boutique-style" event, the 14-year-old show is known for its breadth, and will be showing works by a whopping 120 exhibitors.

"The main fair is the largest," arts blogger Kosuke Fujitaka said of the Armory Show, which acts as an umbrella to several other fairs around the city. "It's the most established, so it shows a good combination of different kinds of art."

Pier 92 will show historically significant Modern art, which generally encompasses styles extending from the late 1800s to the 1970s. Represented styles include Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism, among others, with prints by famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Chuck Close.

Pier 94 features Contemporary art, generally defined as having been produced after World War II. Post-modern and avant-garde installations make up the bulk of the pier. Highlights include a site-specific installation by Michael Riedel at David Zwirner and a solo booth by 2012 Whitney Biennial artist Kate Levant at Zach Feuer Gallery.

This year, Scandinavian art lovers get an added bonus, as the show has added a new section called "Armory Focus: The Nordic Countries."

For the Collector/Museum-Goer: ADAA Art Show

March 7 – 11
Park Avenue Armory, New York

For art enthusiasts in love with New York's Contemporary and Modern art museums, the ADAA Art Fair is an ideal spot to be in during New York Arts Week. The oldest-running fine art fair in the nation, ADAA Art Fair features museum-quality Modern and Contemporary exhibitions created by established artists around the country.

Those new to the art fair scene will also find themselves rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest players in the city's fine arts scene. The city's top collectors are known to peruse some of the most historically important Contemporary works at the show, which this year will include Cindy Sherman's "Murder Mystery" collage series from 1976 and works by Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor, known for his hand-constructed sculptures that reflect the sites and sounds of LA streets.

"The Art Show is an opportunity for collectors to meet with experts and take in fantastic exhibitions in a range of genres," ADAA president Lucy Mitchel-Innes said, adding that the show allows purchasers to buy works in a "refined environment."

For the Star Seekers: Volta NY

March 8 – 11
Piers 92 and 94, New York

Knowledgeable art collectors hoping to become familiar with the next big name in today's art world will benefit from a visit to Volta NY, as the entire fair features solo projects by the industry's emerging painters and sculptors.

By developing a fair devoted entirely to a handful of artists, Volta NY's executive director Amanda Coulsen felt that she was able to bring a brand-new feature to the traditional layout of other art fairs, and also give newer artists a better chance of being discovered.

"I felt that at the major fairs, I very rarely made discoveries," said Coulsen.  "It was always great to go and I would see things that were really interesting at museum-level qualities, but I was rarely making a discovery of a new artist. I thought it would be good to have a fair that would offer that opportunity."

Noteable New York galleries include Chelsea’s Mixed Greens and Brooklyn’s Parker’s Box.

For Punk Rockers: Fountain Art Fair

March 9 – 11
69th Regiment Armory, 25th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues, New York

Often referred to as the punk-rock version of the Armory Arts Show, the garage band-inspired Fountain Art Fair is definitely fitting for art lovers looking to add a little edge to their collection.

"We definitely showcase works that you're not going to find at the Armory Art Show," founder David Kesting said. "What you're going to find are galleries off the beaten path. It's important that we have a showcase that doesn't fit into the myopic vision of what an art show is supposed to be."

With an emphasis on street murals, graffiti, performance art and off-the-wall sculpture, the fair strives to appeal to a much younger generation of art enthusiasts than the majority of the other fairs showcased in the city during New York Arts Week.

"We're really going after the collectors' children," Kesting added. "I've always felt that Fountain was strongest when we have lots and lots of young people get excited — when we're making or producing work that speaks directly to them."

 Some of this year's presentors include Cheap and Plastique, Evo Love and Zoom Gallery.

For the Gallery Guru: INDEPENDENT Art Fair

March 8 – 11
548 West 22nd Street, New York

For modern art enthusiasts who prefer viewing avant-garde pieces while sipping cocktails in funky SoHo lofts, rather than being shuttled about in more rigid museum exhibitions, the Independent Art Fair is the way to go. Designed by and for gallerists, the three-year-old fair takes a different approach than the traditional layout, using site-specific constructs and customized curations for each participating artist.

"INDEPENDENT strives to re-examine traditional art fair models and methods of presentation, in response to the changing attitudes and growing challenges for artists," the fair's site says.

Much like a salon, the fair features sprawling space for 40 or so galleries that are participating. The design leaves plenty of room for large-scale installations like Yorgos Sapountzis' metal pole and fabric innovation, which reaches almost to the ceiling of Freymond Guth Fine Arts, the gallery the piece hails from. The avant-garde approach also benefits group exhibitions, including one by Chelsea gallery Elizabeth Dee, which curated dark, almost cubist drawings by several different artists.

For Japanese Art Enthusiasts: New City Art Fair

March 7-11
hpgrp GALLERY NEW YORK, 529 West 20th Street

Japanese art lovers should not miss this year's New City Art Fair, the first and only fair dedicated to Japanese Contemporary Art in New York. The fair takes place in Chelsea, but features pieces by artists exclusively from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

Although many Japanese art enthusiasts may think of the "kuwaii," or cuteness, associated with pop art such as the famous black-bowed "Hello Kitty," the New City Art Fair features art that focuses on a more contemporary view of Japan. Examples include a photograph that resembles a coffin made out of people and paintings that resemble toxic waste.

"After the earthquake and tsunami, many Japanese artists have changed their practice to reflect their reactions to the disaster, as well as the resulting economic troubles in Japan," the fair's site explains.

For Performance Junkies: Moving Image Contemporary Video Art Fair

March 8 – 11
Waterfront New York Tunnel, 11th Avenue between 27th Street and 28th Street

Cindy Sherman's Murder Mystery, 1976 / 2000, is at teh ADAA Art Fair.
Cindy Sherman's Murder Mystery, 1976 / 2000, is at teh ADAA Art Fair.
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Metro Pictures

Manhattanites who prefer their art on a stage or moving across a screen, rather than mounted to a wall, will be excited about the newly launched Moving Image.

Initiated for the first time last year, Moving Image will feature contemporary and experimental films in the Armory Film section of Pier 94. The area will also include a live talk series entitled Open Forum, and Armory Performance, a series of live music, dance and theater performance art installations.

This year, Moving Image includes film by Ken Jacobs from Electronic Arts Intermix and performances by dancers staged as fluctuating architecture for the piece "Amorphous Assemblage."

For Treasure Hunters: PooL Art Fair

March 9-11
The Flatiron Hotel, 9 West 26th Street

Adventurous art collectors who are hoping to discover the next big artist themselves should venture to PooL Art Fair, an exhibit-like fair devoted entirely to unrepresented, independent artists.

Inspired by a French tradition of free-form art fairs, PooL shows sculpture, installation art and other avant-garde works from artists who apply to the fair themselves, rather than going through a gallery.

"If someone wants to see some artists never shown anywhere else, if that interests them, then PooL is good," added Kosuke Fujitaka, the writer of blog arts listing blog NY Art Beat and its iPhone app.

While edgy and daring, Fujitaka added that because the artists aren't represented, it's hard to vouch for their quality.

"I can't say the quality is really high, but if someone's interested in alternative art, they could look into it."

For Curators: SPRING/BREAK

March 6 – 11
The Old School, 233 Mott Street, New York

Aspiring art curators may be fascinated by the collections shown at this year's SPRING/BREAK Art Show, a fair that focuses not on galleries or individual artists, but on curators. 

The fair takes place in one of the city's oldest schoolhouses in NoLita, Old School, and  features the work of curators from the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Gowanus, and Bushwick.

This year, each curator must assemble works based on a theme about the end of the world, "Apocalist: A Brief History of The End."

According to the show's co-founders Andre Gori and Ambre Kelly, the fair 'aims to elucidate the sense of direction, disorder, celebration, or disdain generated by real or invented global or personal assumptions of calamity.'

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