In 1994, four New York art dealers had the ambitious goal of creating a new art fair to support new artists and attract global attention. The result was a groundbreaking cultural moment that became vital to the New York art market and beyond. Although a lot has changed over the years, Armory Show continues to be a force in the art world and essential to New York's cultural landscape.
The Armory Show Story
Four New York dealers – Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks and Paul Morris – came together to organize an international art fair. They rented a group of rooms at the legendary Gramercy Park Hotel and invited dealers from New York and abroad to participate. The Gramercy International Art Fair, as it was then called, was the first “hotel fair” of its kind, and it quickly became a critical success and a cult event, admired for exclusively showcasing new works by living artists.
After several successful editions at the Gramercy Park Hotel, the fair moved to a larger location at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. The fair is renamed “The Armory Show” in honor of the legendary 1913 Regiment exhibition of the same name, which featured avant-garde works by European artists never before seen in America.
The Armory Show has moved again this time to the West Side of Manhattan. The arrival of The Armory Show signaled an important chapter in the reconstruction and revitalization of the district's numerous abandoned structures that once served the city's transportation industry. The Armory Artist Commission is established, amplifying the fair's commitment to supporting living artists by highlighting the work of a different artist each year. Past commissioned artists include: Lawrence Abu Hamdan (2015); Xu Zhen (2014); Liz Magic Laser (2013); TheaterGates (2012); Gabriel Kuri (2011); Susan Collis (2010); Ewan Gibbs (2009); Mary Heilmann and John Waters (2008); Pipilotti Rist (2007); John Wesley (2006); Jockum Nordström (2005); Lisa Ruyter (2004); Barnaby Furnas (2003) and Karen Kilimnik (2002).
Furthering its partnership with MoMA, The Armory Show has launched a series: Benefit Edition, in which the Fair Artist produce a limited-edition artwork to benefit the Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Acquisition Fund and MoMA. Mary Heilmann, John Waters, Pipilotti Rist, Liz Magic Laser and Theaster Gates are just a few of the artists who created limited-edition works for the fair.
Subsequently, the fair expanded to Pier 92 and 94 with the introduction of The Armory Show – Modern on Pier 92, dedicated to showcasing 20th century masterpieces. Now titled Insights, this exhibitor section brings a historical perspective to the fair's offerings, juxtaposing past and present.
Armony Show has several selections to energize the fair, such as Armory Focus, an invitation section dedicated to highlighting a different geographic region each year. A critical and commercial success, Armory Focus provided galleries from around the world the opportunity to exhibit in New York. Curators and regions include: Africa (2016), curated by Yvette Mutumba and Julia Grosse; Middle East, North Africa and Mediterranean (2015), curated by Omar Kholeif; China (2014), curated by Philip Tinari; USA (2013), curated by Eric Shiner; Nordic Countries (2012), curated by Jacob Fabricius; Latin America (2011) and Berlin (2010). Presents, a platform for galleries under ten to showcase recent work by emerging artists (Single Artist and Dual Artist Presentations highlight the next generation of artistic talent.)
In 2019, The Armory Show celebrated its 25th edition, marking a quarter of a century since the fair's founding in 1994. To mark this historic milestone, The Armory Show announced the creation of the Gramercy International Awards, a new annual initiative that supports the advancement of from young, pioneering New York galleries that have not previously participated in The Armory Show.
In 2021, the Armory Show made a historic move to the newly expanded Javits Center from September 9-12. Kicking off New York's fall art season, the Armory Show continues its legacy as a gateway to the New York art scene, connecting visitors to exhibitors at the fair, as well as galleries, museums, arts organizations, artists and New York City collectors. The combination of the new fair dates and its new location close to Chelsea's gallery district, the scenic High Line and the lively Tribeca neighborhood makes for a dynamic autumn visit.
Armory Show 2022
The contemporary art fair Armory Show takes place at the Javits Center in Hudson Yards, Friday through Sunday, September 9-11, 2022. This edition features over 240 galleries from over 30 countries with a section focusing on Latin art. American and Latin.
The fair is organized into several sections. This year's curated Focus section features Latin American and Latin art. Highlights include: Proyectos Ultravioleta (Guatemala) showcases works on paper by Chilean New York artist Johanna Unzueta; Davidson Gallery (New York) with the “Taíno Series” by Glendalys Medina based on indigenous Caribbean folklore; Green Art Gallery (Dubai) or an installation by Venezuelan artist Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck on post-colonial indigenous legacies; Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary (New York) showing research by Costa Rican-born conceptual artist Priscilla Monge. The Galleries section features themed exhibitions by solo artists and dual artists, the Presents section features emerging galleries less than a decade old, including: Addis Fine Art London and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Afronova Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Solo section features presentations by solo artists, including Galeria Leon Tovar's research on Colombian artist Fanny Sanín. The Platform section features large-scale installations and site-specific works on the theme “Monumental Change”, curated by Tobias Ostrander.