Over a decade or so The Armory Show – which previewed today, opens officially tomorrow, and runs through Sunday, March 7 – has grown into a humungous gathering of both notable and aspirational dealers from 31 countries filling two of New York’s huge Westside piers. The visitor this year will find what seems like miles of not only the new, the challenging, the eccentric and the cutting edge (201 galleries on Pier 94 leaning heavily on 21st century works) but also an impressive array of 20th-century Modern/Contemporary art (80 dealers on Pier 92) featuring works from more canonical. More than 56,000 people attended The Armory Show in 2009, and management is hopeful about topping that figure this year.
Today we visited Pier 92 where a smattering of red dots and the availability of champagne (hey, it was a benefit preview) generated what might be described as tentative optimism. The somewhat complex layout seems to actually work, and the floor was filled with works in varied mediums from familiar names such as Rauschenberg, Miro, and Sam Francis – lots of Sam Francis. Also strongly represented were Tom Wesselman and, perhaps more surprising, Charles Burchfield.
Several dealers we spoke with were exhibiting here for the first time. Babcock Galleries, new this year, had already sold a large Wolf Kahn during the preview and, according to the gallery’s Lily Gray, were very glad to be meeting new people.
The 2010 show has worked closely again with MoMA which as in years past was the beneficiary of the Wednesday preview and will host of the sold-out evening party tonight (at MoMA), after the vernissage.
Tomorrow, Pier 94.