From today through Sunday, The Armory Show is returning to New York’s west side, at Piers 92 and 94 on 12th Avenue at 55th Street. The Armory Show is a massive art fair at which over 300 galleries from around the world exhibit works by the artists they represent. The fair has both admirers and detractors. Some people like the opportunity it provides to see a large amount of contemporary art in one place and get a view into what the art scene looks like at the moment. Others criticize it as a crass trade show that emphasizes market values at the expense of more noble concerns such as aesthetics and intellect. (For the record, I fall in the former camp, but sympathize with the latter.)
The Armory Show has an interesting history. Though its current incarnation only goes back a decade, it follows in the wake of a series of art fairs that trace their origin to the notorious 1913 exhibition at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Organized by The Association of American Painters and Sculptors, the original Armory Show was the first large-scale display of European avant-garde art in the U.S. Audiences used to more traditional figurative painting were shocked by what they saw, and the press had a field day criticizing it as a mass outbreak of quackery and/or insanity. Today the show is probably best remembered for its inclusion of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, a piece that was singled out as a subject for parody by cartoonist J. F. Griswold of the New York Evening Sun. More information about the 1913 Armory Show can be found at these links at Ask ART and Edwardian Promenade. The Show’s Wikipedia page also has images from the exhibition and a good discussion of its legacy within the larger world of art fairs.
In addition to the Armory Show, several satellite fairs will be up throughout the weekend at various venues throughout New York City, including SCOPE, Verge, VOLTA, and PULSE. Regular readers of this blog will remember that VCS student Maddy Gentile is a PULSE intern, and traveled to Miami in December to work at PULSE Miami during the run of Art Basel Miami Beach. The various fairs have different schedules, entrance fees, and policies on student discounts, so it’s a good idea to check out their web sites for information beforehand. A list of most of the major fairs in New York this weekend can be found at this site.
Finally, a lot of galleries and smaller venues are holding their own events to coincide with the Armory Show. Notable among these is an exhibition running from Friday through Sunday at Local Project at 45-10 Davis Street in Long Island City. The exhibition includes works by VCS student Elektra KB. For more information on the exhibition and its opening reception Friday, you can visit this entry at Elektra’s blog and the Local Project event page on Facebook.