Armory Week: The Armory Show New York City

Art Scene

Armory Week: The Armory Show New York City

On the cusp of spring each year, New York City hosts a week of art fairs along with a slew of art enthusiasts, artists and culture brokers from around the world. The anchor of this far tamer version of something akin to Art Basel Miami is The Armory Show. Held at Piers 92 and 94 on the west side of the city last week, blue chip galleries, artists and collectors made up the core crowd at the fair, while up-and-coming artists, medium-specific, and lesser-known galleries populated a host of others.

Art at The Armory Show. Photo by Anders Jones

Visitors at The Armory Show. Photo by Anders Jones

Downtown, Art on Paper featured 80 galleries focused on paper-based art. In Midtown, across two floors of office space formerly inhabited by Conde Nast Publications, SPRING/BREAK Art Show had independent curators imaginatively respond to the theme, “A Stranger Comes to Town.” In tricked out office spaces that dazzled, several of the mini-exhibitions had feminist or politically tinged installations. VOLTA, a quasi-sister fair of The Armory Show, with the tagline “Art for All,” took place at Pier 90 and featured a similar setup and ethos as The Armory Show, but on a much smaller scale.

Art at VOLTA New York art fair. Photo by Anders Jones

The massive amount of space that Pier 94 takes up has an airplane hangar feel to it. Its extremely high ceilings were put to full use by the ”Platform” exhibition series scattered throughout the fair. An installation by the artist Jeffrey Gibson featured larger-than-life ceremonial clothing inspired by the histories of Ghost Dance Shirts worn across Native American cultures. The work echoed the Northern United States Dakota Access Pipeline protests that took place from April 2016 to February 2017. Another work from the “Platform” series, by the artists Alex Schweder and Ward Shelly, playfully explored the question, “How might one’s personal gain directly impact others?” In a large scale Ferris wheel with built in Ikea chairs, the two men participated in the work, which was characterized as performance architecture.

Alex Schweder and Ward Shelly at The Armory Show. Photo by Anders Jones

The gallery WHATIFTHEWORLD featured a solo presentation of new work by the artist Athi Patra Ruga. The collection of works mixing portraiture, textiles, embroidery, sculpture, color, texture and more was a standout. Ruga’s intention with the body of work was to pay tribute to the Senegalese dancer, Francois “Feral” Benga, who became a sought-after model of the Harlem Renaissance, and performed at the Follies Berge in Paris in the 1920’s.

Work by Athi Patra Ruga at The Armory Show. Photo by Anders Jones

Without question, there was something for everyone to see during Armory Week. From the upper echelons of the art world to wild experimentation, it’s more than likely that galleries from all of the seven continents of the world had work on view in what could be considered the city’s most international celebration of creativity.