Your Epic Armory Week Preview: Who on Earth Has the Time, Energy or Attention Span to See so Much Art?

03/03/2010 2:49 PM |

Armory Week Preview

As in years past, but to a more extreme and absurd degree this time around, the first week of March is a crazy clusterfuck of art world madness as Armory Week (so named for the week’s largest fair) descends upon Manhattan (and makes occasional trips to Brooklyn).

This year marks two major additions of sorts: The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) have moved their Park Avenue Armory fair, which usually takes place in February, to coincide with the other art fairs; and the recently de-activated X-Initiative space will house the new and already impressive Independent fair, created by New York gallerist Elizabeth Dee and London gallery owner Darren Flook. After the jump find a hopefully comprehensive rundown of Armory Week 2010, which starts today or tomorrow depending on the fair, and continues through Sunday evening.

Armory Show and Armory Show Modern: The big daddy of contemporary art fairs, and its modern art partner, will again be in Hell’s Kitchen at Piers 94 and 92, respectively, representing several hundred galleries, thousands of artists, and dozens of panels, roundtables and the like. If you can afford the admission fee ($30, $10 for students) it’s fun for the sheer orgy-like sensual excess of it all, and the galleries that let one artist do their whole booth tend to stand out. Talks on young collectors, the relevance of biennials and the art of framing in the 21st century sound especially interesting. It’s open today for invited guests, but things really get underway tomorrow.

ADAA Art Show: With about sixty galleries, including some of the biggest from Chelsea, Soho and Uptown, the 22nd annual ADAA Art Show is sort of like a big museum at the Park Avenue Armory, including several solo and themed shows that offer some welcome continuity in an art fair environment that is otherwise exhaustingly eclectic. Some of the artists whose galleries will present solo exhibition at ADAA: William Kentridge, Nancy Spero, Roxy Paine, Martin Kippenberger and Robert Rauschenberg. The ADAA show opened today at noon, and admission is $20.

Volta: Volta has some kind of partnership with Armory, so that you can take shuttle buses between the two (Volta being right across the street from the Empire State Building at 7 W 34th St) and can get tickets for both at a discounted rate ($40, Volta tix being $15 otherwise). This fair is unusual in as much as it’s invitational, managed and curated by Amanda Coulson, so that participants maybe, kinda “deserve” their place there, as opposed to having paid for their booth. The fair features almost 90 galleries from all over the world, each presenting works by only one artist, making it maybe easier to process than its cross-town cousin, though the conference center setting is certainly not as enjoyable as a pier on the Hudson. Volta opens to the public tomorrow at 2pm.

Pulse: I’m excited to see Pulse’s new space, the giant elevated warehouse that flanks the Westside Highway for several blocks around Houston Street, and its slate of 60 or so galleries from all over the world features some consistently excellent New York galleries like Winkleman, Bitforms, P.P.O.W. and Freight + Volume. This year’s programming also includes about a dozen site-specific installations, and a curated video and new media lounge. Pulse opens tomorrow at noon, with admission at $20, $15 for students.

Scope: With some 50 galleries from all over the world (including New York notables hous projects, White Box, China Square and Gallery nine5), Scope packs an impressive amount into their tents adjacent for Lincoln Center, including a show entirely devoted to fashion and a spectacular film series. Scope opens tomorrow at noon, with admissions costing $20, $10 for students.

Verge: This used to be the Bridge Fair, a name-switch that caused me quite a bit of confusion at first. Though it’s changed names, it still focuses on emerging and under-represented artists as hard as its former self. Presenters displaying their wares at the Dylan Hotel (52 East 41st St) include a couple dozen galleries and non-profits, among them quite a few Brooklyn galleries like Front Room, Gitana Ross, Corridor, Slate and NURTUREart. The events program at Verge is also especially awesome because it includes a round-table between young art critics that yours truly will be moderating on Sunday at 2pm. Verge opens Friday at noon, with admission costing $10, $5 for students.

Independent: If there’s going to be a breakout fair during Armory Week 2010, my money’s on the Independent, with its pretty and convenient West Chelsea location (548 West 22nd Street), its top-notch roster of participating galleries (like Artists Space, Dispatch, Renwick and White Columns) and free-ness. That’s right, from the public opening tomorrow at 4pm through Sunday afternoon, the Independent is open to any and all.

Fountain: Fountain is cool because it’s a gritty, indie, messy antidote to the glitz of the other art fairs in a really strange setting, with some 14 galleries and six project artists doing whatever they please on the Frying Pan and nearby vessels moored at Pier 66 on the Hudson. The Museum of Arts & Design came on board this year, which should add an interesting institutional touch to the proceedings. I’m pretty sure admission to Fountain was by donation last year, but this time around it’ll cost you $10.

Armory Arts Week Brooklyn Night: Finally, lest you spend all weekend in Manhattan, the Williamsburg Gallery Association is throwing an evening-long neighborhood-wide art fair of sorts of its own, with special programing at art galleries kicking off at 6pm on Sunday and continuing through the wee hours of the evening. So Nora Herting will be taking visitors’ portraits outside Like the Spice all evening, there will be live music at Art 101, a “gold party” at Slate Gallery, and a miniature war performance by Brian Conley at The Boiler.

(photo credit: David Willems)