2018 Armory Show presented itself with a clear layout and less galleries than within the last years and was therefore very pleasant to visit. Up from the welcoming and uncomplicated New Yorker handling of invitations for the specialist audience and collectors who arrived from all over the world, the whole setting of the fair was extremely well organized. The layout of the booths with in between enough space for sculptural works, a great light design, bright carpeting and centrally located bars and lounges were not only photogenic but made the visitor feel very comfortable.
Armory is – like Frieze and Art Basel – one of the most important sales fairs and does not claim an overall overview of all contemporary art trends. On the contrary it communicates an idea of the sophisticated “must haves” of the new season. Lots of excellent art works from the 50s to the 70s such as small Gerhard Richter pieces (each over 600.000 Dollars), Cy Twombly’s, a huge Nam Jun Paik installation at Gagosian and beautiful David Hockney’s made modern art collectors’ hearts beat faster.
Some of the curated booth designs we liked were the ones of Wetterling (Stockholm, among others showing works of Jim Dine, photo left), Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, with works of Hannah van Bart and Hans Op de Beek) and Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, showing works by Japanese – Australian duo Ken + Julia Yonetani photo above).
However the curated parts such as Focus and Platform/The Contingent also exhibited relevant contemporary art pieces against a political background. Very spectacular was the mural of the well-known French urban artist JR – a huge photo work presented by the Armory Show, Artsy and Deitch Projects- So Close mounted at the Armory buildings’ façade facing Ellis Island – which 12 million immigrants and refugees had passed between 1892 and 1954. It shows a vision of immigrants in a line, created with templates of old photographic Archive material of The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration and recently by JR taken pictures of Syrian refugee camps.
Another eye-catching position was Cry Havoc by young South African artist Mary Sibande (gallery MOMO from Johannesburg and Cape Town, photo left) addressing women’s power boiling over. Last but not least and a discovery at least from a European point of view in the Focus section were the notable powerful collages, textiles and prints of the 1938 in the U.S. born Afro-American artist Emma Amos (at Ryan Lee Gallery, New York), working on gender, racial and geographical perspectives.