More Than You Can Chew: Priorities for Armory Week in New York 2017

There are more than 6 1/2 Manhattan city blocks worth of art fairs to visit... Here are the essentials.

The Armory Show, 2016. Courtesy of The Armory Show. Photo: by Teddy Wolff.
The Armory Show, 2016. Courtesy of The Armory Show. Photo: by Teddy Wolff.

Like the weather in early March, in New York, Armory Week is at once thrilling, blustery, exhausting, and it just might make you go numb. There is so much happening, that it’s easy to feel that there’s no way to get a handle on it. By our estimates there are over 650,000 square feet of art fairs alone—that’s like six and a half Manhattan city blocks worth of art—and that doesn’t count the museums, gallery openings or art auctions that you’ve got to make it to. To help you prioritize your to-do list, we have run down some of the essentials of the New York art scene’s spring awakening.

Firstly, there are the fairs. The Armory Show and its sister fair VOLTA NY occupy their usual piers on the Hudson River; the ADAA Art Show returns yet again to the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side; Chelsea’s Waterfront New York Tunnel hosts Moving Image again; Independent is showing again at Spring Studios in Tribeca; and Art on Paper returns to Pier 36 on the Lower East Side. There has been some reshuffling of fairs this year, however: NADA broke from May’s Frieze Week for March’s Armory Week, and has left behind the Lower East Side’s Basketball City venue in favor of the Skylight Clarkson North, in SoHo. SPRING/BREAK has switched up venues once again, appearing this year at 4 Times Square, formerly the Condé Nast building. And SCOPE has moved into the Metropolitan Pavilion, between Chelsea and Union Square, which used to host the now-exclusively-Miami-based fair PULSE. 

<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Sofie Bird Mølle
Sofie Bird Møller, Interferenze 4, 2016, acrylic on magazine cut-out mounted on wood, 53 x 39 cm. Presented by Martin Asbæk Gallery, Copenhagen. At VOLTA NY.

In 2017, like much of the art world, art fairs are joining in on the general move toward more social and political engagement. The Armory Show has given up its regional focus this year and its Focus sector, curated by Eric Shiner, will instead present a curated program of socially and politically aware art under the theme What Is To Be Done?, with solo presentations by artists like Koki Tanaka (Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou), Johan Grimonprez (Sean Kelly Gallery, New York), and Senga Nengudi (Lévy Gorvy / Thomas Erben Gallery, New York). VOLTA’s curated section draws its inspiration from Barbara Kruger’s landmark work Your Body is a Battleground, and draws together eight artists within an intersectional feminist framework, including Sable Elyse Smith (presented by The Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MoCADA), Brooklyn), Carmen Winant (Fortnight Institute, New York), and Kent Monkman (Peters Projects, Santa Fe). And NADA is donating half of its ticket sales to the ACLU.

Koki Tanaka, <em>Provisional Studies: Workshop #1 “1946–52 Occupation Era, and 1970 Between Man and Matter</em>, 2014, Courte
Koki Tanaka, Provisional Studies: Workshop #1 “1946–52 Occupation Era, and 1970 Between Man and Matter, 2014, Courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space. At the Armory Show, Focus.

But we’re all here to buy art, right? Auctions held in New York during Armory Week are great for first time art buyers, with accessible price points, multiples, and contemporary works of art. Tonight, Wednesday, March 1, Christie’s holds its Contemporary Edition sale, ranging from sculptures to screenprints. Thursday, March 2, you have Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated, which features works from the Artist Pension Trust® (APT) Collection offered at auction for the first time. And Friday, March 3, it’s back to Christie’s for its Post-War and Contemporary Sale plus a special sale of the Collection of Earl and Camilla McGrath.

We can’t forget the gallery openings. Tonight, March 1, you’ll want to stick uptown to catch the Sterling Ruby show at Gagosian. Tomorrow, you should organize your night around catching the Ryan McGinley opening at Team Gallery in SoHo, and then cruise over to the Haroon Mirza installation, which is the first show at Lisson Gallery’s new space, five blocks south of their spot under the High Line.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to have fun.

Ai Weiwei, <em>Niao shen long shou shen</em>, 2015, bamboo and silk, 450 x 280 x 200 cm / 177.17h x 110.24w x 78.74d in. Cour
Ai Weiwei, Niao shen long shou shen, 2015, bamboo and silk, 450 x 280 x 200 cm / 177.17h x 110.24w x 78.74d in. Courtesy of Galerie Forsblom. At the Armory Show, Platform.

Art Fairs

The Armory Show, March 2-5, Piers 92 & 94 Look for the large-scale works throughout the fair by artists like Yayoi Kusama, Iván Navarro, and Ai Weiwei, part of the fair’s new Platform curated exhibitor section, for installations and site-specific commissions.

VOLTA, March 1-5, Pier 90 The fair that pioneered the solo booth format celebrates ten years in New York.

ADAA The Art Show, March 1-5, Park Avenue Armory This fair needs neither bells nor whistles, just exquisite, expensive art.

<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Carolina Sardi</a>,
Carolina Sardi, Chrome in a Diamond Shape, 2013, Sculpture, 52 x 52 x 2 in. Courtesy of Lelia Mordoch Gallery. At SCOPE NY.

SCOPE NY, March 2-5, Metropolitan Pavilion Now in its 17th year, this will be the first at the Metropolitan Pavilion venue, and will feature a new open-plan exhibition format.

Independent, March 2-5, Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street Look for solo shows and site-specific installations at this tightly curated fair.

NADA, March 2-5, Skylight Clarkson North, 572 Washington Street The sixth edition of NADA NY jumped up to March this year, and takes over a completely different venue.

Rives Wiley, <em>Stalking a Stocking Photo of a Candlelit Picnic</em>, 2015, video (single channel), 58 sec. At SPRING/BREAK,
Rives Wiley, Stalking a Stocking Photo of a Candlelit Picnic, 2015, video (single channel), 58 sec. At SPRING/BREAK, FAILED EVOLUTION, Curated by Alissa D. Polan and Blair Murphy.

SPRING/BREAK, March 1-5, 4 Times Square “Black Mirror” is the theme of this year’s edition of the curator-driven fair.

Moving Image, March 2-5, Waterfront Tunnel, 269 11th Avenue The fair devoted to video and film will showcase VR-based and augmented-reality art this year.

Art on Paper, March 3-5, Pier 36 Another medium-specific fair, this one explores the potential of paper with site-specific installations.

Clio Art Fair, March 2-5, 508–526 West 26th St An “anti-fair” for artists without gallery representation.

<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Gerhard Richter</a
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (843-4), 1997, oil on aluminum, 21 5/8 by 18 7/8 in. 54.9 by 47.9 cm. At Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated featuring works from “In Its Own Light: Property from the Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw.” Estimate: $600,000-800,000.


Sotheby’s: Contemporary Curated, Thursday, March 2, 10am The sale features works from the Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw, as well as the first public sale of works by members of the Artist Pension Trust.

Christie’s: The Collection of Earl and Camilla McGrath, Friday, March 3, 4pm Over 135 works from the collection of former head of Rolling Stone Records Earl McGrath and Italian countess Camilla McGrath, this sale features Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, Jasper Johns and more.

Haroon Mirza, <em>ããã</em> (2016), Installation view, at Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada.
Haroon Mirza, ããã (2016), Installation view, at Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada.

Gallery Openings

Marian Goodman Gallery (Midtown) presents a new exhibition by the conceptual pioneer Lawrence Weiner. Opening: Wednesday, March 1, 6-8pm

Gagosian Gallery (Upper East Side) is showing new ceramic works and paintings by Sterling Ruby. Opening: Wednesday, March 1, 6-8pm

Jaume Plensa’s monumental sculptures appear in new configurations with reclaimed wooden beams, opening at Galerie Lelong (Chelsea). Opening: Thursday, March 2, 6-8pm

Team Gallery (SoHo) will be showing early works (from 1999 to 2003) by Ryan McGinley, most of which have never been shown in a gallery setting before. Opening: Thursday, March 2, 6-8pm

An installation by British artist Haroon Mirza inaugurates Lisson Gallery’s second location at 136 10th Avenue (Chelsea). Opening: Thursday, March 2, 6-8pm.

—Natalie Hegert

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