Your New York Art Fair Guide

Published March 7, 2012

New York is crawling with art fairs this week, bringing collectors, dealers, artists, and lovers of spectacle alike out of their lairs. Monumental in scope, the Armory Week’s fairs are scattered from the Upper East Side to the Lower East Side to the Piers on the Hudson River, and everywhere in between.

The most grand of all is the Armory Show itself, held on Piers 94 and 95 in Midtown Manhattan. This year features 228 international galleries, divided into five sections: The Armory Show-Contemporary; The Armory Show-Modern; Armory Focus: The Nordic Countries; the Not-For-Profit Section; and Solo Projects, which features 11 emerging dealers. In other words, the Armory has a little bit of something for everyone, especially those who love Northern Europeans. Highlights include works by Cindy Sherman at Sprüth Magers (Berlin); new works by artists that have recently joined Sean Kelly, including Idris Khan, Peter Liversidge, Nathan Mabry, and Alec Soth; and a site-specific installation by Michael Riedel at David Zwirner.

Along with booths by most of the major international galleries, the fair also features Armory Film, a programming initiative curated by the Moving Image Fair, which will show a selection of experimental films such as Flight, 2011 by Liz Magic Laser, and Despair by Alex Prager.

If you’re looking to channel your inner old guard, visit the ADAA Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory, which features most of the sterling galleries including Pace, Blum & Poe, Cheim & Read, Lehmann Maupin, Galerie Lelong, and Luhring Augustine. Consisting of works that are less experimental, but more major collector friendly, highlights at the show include David Wojnarowicz and Hunter Reynolds from P•P•O•W; Dorothea Rockburne at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery; and “Acquavella: The First 90 Years,” a long-view look at the historic gallery.

At the Independent, which is being held for the third year in the former DIA space on West 22nd Street, 43 participants—including 47 Canal, Elizabeth Dee, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, Andrew Kreps, Maureen Paley, White Columns, and even a gallery from Dubai, The Third Line—will stage a show for those who take art as a critical and aesthetic medium a little more seriously. It includes the 29º Observatory, a site-specific environment on the roof built by the architect who designed the layout for the show, Christian Wassmann. Takeaways for those who can’t afford the art itself include stickers conceived by Matthew Higgs and tote bags designed by Warsaw-based artist Agnieszka Kurant.

If the power of an art fair can be measured by the satellites it inspires, the Dependent speaks volumes for its progenitor, the Independent. Back again for a second season, the fair, which is being held on Saturday at the Comfort Inn on the Lower East Side, will feature some of Brooklyn’s finest galleries, including Regina Rex and Cleopatra’s. Also exhibiting are Lower East Side mainstays including James Fuentes and Ramiken Crucible, as well as Chelsea galleries such as Foxy Productions, and the collaborative publisher Specific Object.

Volta, which will include 80 galleries, will be featured in a live taping of the Cable TV series Art Trek/NYC, a five-borough quest that showcases emerging artistic talent. The event also features an interactive program that includes generative animation iPad apps from Glenn Marshall, boomboxes from Lyle Owerko, and dance performances by Victor “Kid Glyde” Alicea and Melanie Aguirre. For those who need to quench their thirst, the fair also sponsors the new craft Ignatz Bier, brewed by HomeBase Lab in Berlin.

If you have the stamina, other fairs to visit include Scope, which includes 55 contemporary art galleries from 16 countries who will show their wares in a 30,000 square foot pavilion on 57th Street and 10th Avenue; and the New City Art Fair, an event that will feature 13 galleries from Japan looking to pick up new talent in New York.