The Armory Show breathes life into the art market at Piers 92/94
The newly-expanded Armory Show has exceeded the expectations of a depressed art market, with exhibitors reporting solid sales and visitor attendance rising substantially from previous years. The Armory Show, the successor to the highly acclaimed Gramercy International Art Fairs, has become an international institution in its ten years as artists, galleries, collectors, critics and curators from all over the world make New York their destination during Armory Week.
The state of the economy was a primary concern to the fair's 243 exhibitors, yet dealers report refreshingly healthy sales, and visitor attendance rose to 56,000 during the show's five days, up from 52,000 last year. The expansion from Pier 94 to include Pier 92 was widely considered a success, with exhibitors applauding the quality of the venue and visitors celebrating the accessibility of the location.
The Armory Show got off to a quick start on its invitation-only opening day, Wednesday, March 4th. Galerie Michael Schultz, Berlin, reported selling a $340,000 Sigmar Polke, quickly followed by their compatriots at Galerie Thomas, Munich, who sold a Tom Wesselmann for $40,000. In an informal poll of 35 galleries conducted by The Art Newspaper, 25 said they had covered their costs by the end of the day. Many dealers reported steady sales throughout the week. Among them was Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris, which sold the entire content of its booth, a solo exhibition of artist Gyan Panchal, on Friday to a prominent Washington D.C. collector. Peres Projects, Los Angeles had also sold out its booth by the third day of the fair. Glenn Scott Wright, director of Victoria Miro Gallery, London, said, "There are more serious collectors coming around this year. We made a number of sales to European collectors as well. The Armory feels like a more international art fair than the other New York art fairs."
Exhibitors praised the gallery-like feel of the venue. Because of the flexibility in the fair’s layout, there was a playful and slightly unpredictable feel as visitors walked through the space and encountered everything from full site-specific installations in booths without walls to museum-quality exhibitions in the classic white cube. The cleanliness and industrial feel of the grounds added to the feeling of modernity. The lounges and public spaces varied as much as the artwork on view, ranging from the luxurious VIP lounges to the very casual Artforum public lounge. The location also added an important element to the fair; as a visitor put it, “the proximity to the water and the access to the riverfront accentuated the worldliness of the show.”
Katelijne De Backer, The Armory Show's executive director, stated, "You could feel a weight lifting on opening day. Everyone knew that the frenzied market of years past was gone, and they could go back to buying art the way they had before - because they loved it. The Armory Show was, by any estimation, a success story for artists, gallerists, collectors and, in general, New York's art scene."
To learn more about The Armory show, visit thearmoryshow.com