Armory Week 2011 Preview: The Big Fairs

03/01/2011 10:12 AM |

The Armory Show

The first week in March is art overdose time, when the Armory Show and its growing clique of satellite fairs descend upon Manhattan, especially the far west side of it, and this year, for the first time, Brooklyn! More on that right here; for now let’s focus on the big art fairs, the ones that will keep you busy all day, wear you down with more visual stimuli than twenty Tumblrs, and then charge you twenty dollars for a gross sandwich. Fun!

Armory Show: The big daddy of the Armory Week family, the Armory Show opens on Thursday in Pier 92 and Pier 94 on the West Side Highway at West 54th Street. It’s divided into Modern (Pier 92) and Contemporary (Pier 94), charges $30 for admission ($10 for students), and features several hundred exhibitors from all over the world. You could spend all of Armory Week at the actual Armory Show and never see the same artwork twice. Or you could spend two hours in there and go crazy. Panels, lectures and other special events at Armory aren’t the greatest, unless “Past and Future: The Art of Corporate Collecting” is the type of talk title that piques your curiosity, which we hope it isn’t. More promising, the Armory Show, in collaboration with VoltaNY (see below) is taking over the SVA Theatre on West 23rd Street all week, all day starting today with free screenings of art films and video art series Artprojx Cinema—a good place to wind down between/after fairs.

VoltaNY: Gotta be honest, 7W, the space that hosts this fair on 34th Street right across from the Empire State Building is one of the least pleasant spaces in the city, an important factor to consider when you’re going to be spending several hours or a whole day in a place. Which you could easily do in light of Volta’s roster of over 80 exhibiting galleries. The best thing about this fair, though, is that as opposed to the conventional system of having galleries present a selection of works from artists they represent, Volta exhibitors select one artist to do their whole booths. It makes for a slightly less dizzying display and, usually, a few really phenomenal site-specific installations.

Scope: One of the largest satellite fairs, Scope takes up that giant building at West Houston Street and the West Side Highway, and will set you back $20 ($10 if you’re a student), runs Thursday-Sunday, and features over 50 exhibitors from all over the world, with a strong contingent of local galleries. This year will also feature the debut of the performance series Us vs Us, including artists from DIY Williamsburg galleries Cinders and Secret Project Robot.

Pulse: With upwards of sixty exhibiting galleries and non-profits piled into the Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 West 18th Street, Pulse runs Thursday through Sunday, charging $20 for admission ($15 for students). It might be the most dense of the week’s fairs, considering the relatively small size of the venue. Plenty of our favorite Brooklyn and Lower East Side galleries will be there, as well as a series of smaller curated exhibitions of video and film art, photography and others under the Pulse Projects and Pulse Play programs.

ADAA Art Show: The Art Dealers Association of America takes over the Park Avenue Armory (Park Ave at 67th Street) this week, Wednesday through Sunday, admission is $20 for everyone, and features 70 of the biggest contemporary art galleries in the country. It’s pretty bare bones as fairs go (both scheduled events are already sold out, and don’t sound very exciting in any case), but you can be sure the works on view are top-notch, the space ample and very pleasant, and the crowd even more Upper East Side-y than all the fairs mentioned above.

Click here for our preview of the smaller (read: funner) and often free fairs, and follow us on Twitter @LMagArt for Armory Week updates in quasi-real time.