The Armory Show underwent a successful makeover this year, opening its doors yesterday to a labyrinth of bigger booths, wider aisles, and a whopping 70 one- and two-artist presentations—making for a stronger fair. But the amount of carpeted pavement one must pound to see all 208,000 square feet hasn’t abated. To help you navigate the show’s two long piers, featuring presentations by 210 galleries from 30 countries, we highlight 20 booths you can’t miss.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 600
Grounded in a green swath of astroturf, Miro’s booth resembles an ecstatic, surrealist garden. The floor covering connects the presentation with Yayoi Kusama’s buzzy, large-scale installation situated at the heart of the fair. But the works in the booth are equally enticing. Standouts include two dot paintings by Kusama, an extraordinary and fascinatingly eerie canvas by Alice Neel, and Maria Nepomuceno’s playful take on a hammock-cum-tropical plant (to name just a few).
Kayne Griffin Corcoran
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 200
Armory Show first-timer Kayne Griffin Corcoran’s booth is the first visitors see upon entering Pier 92—and its draw is like that of a moth to a flame. Mary Corse’s glistening painting, measuring 102 inches square, hangs on the outside of booth and serves as a gateway into an installation devoted to two practices that employ light as medium, as well as “challenge perception,” says gallery director Genevieve Day.
The second artist, James Turrell, is announced by a pink glow that emanates from behind the wall that supports Corse’s painting. It leads to two recent works by the famed Light and Space movement pioneer on the back wall of the booth. Priced between $500,000 and $850,000, they represent the artist at his best: A rectangle and a diamond pulse ever-so-slowly with mesmerizing gradients of colored light. On the first day of the show, Diamonds (Squares on point) Glass (2015), in particular, was drawing interest from collectors. A cascade of colors emerges from its center, which looks as if it stretches back, like a portal, into another dimension.
While Turrell’s work is more well-known—and also higher-priced—Corse’s paintings stood out as an exciting new find for some fair visitors, as well as a good buy. Corse came of age in Los Angeles at the same time as Turrell but wasn’t in dialogue with his male-dominated group of Light and Space artists. She was, however, independently inspired by painting’s ability to manipulate perception, especially through an engagement with light.
Her spellbinding monochrome canvases embed glass microspheres into paint; when light catches at the right angle, the surfaces scintillate brilliantly. They are priced between $100,000 and $350,000, and several had sold by the close of the fair’s first day.
Downs & Ross
PRESENTS SECTION, BOOTH P11
This jewel-box booth presages an exciting future for the young gallery Downs & Ross, which recently opened as a joint effort between two Lower East Side spaces, formerly known as Tomorrow and Hester. The gallery’s first Armory Show presentation joins the new paintings of Ragna Bley and Yanyan Huang. Both artists, according to gallery co-founder Alex Ross, “extend the language of biomorphic abstraction.” Each practice brims with exuberant, lush strokes that evoke, in Huang’s work, sensuous, overflowing foliage, and in Bley’s, tempestuous seas and volatile atmospheric shifts.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 800
A massive shard of metal commands Sprüth Magers’s installation. It’s the work of 40-year-old Greek-German artist Michail Pirgelis, who mines airplane graveyards for the materials that become his dystopian-minimalist sculptures. The Berlin, London, and Los Angeles-based gallery pairs Pirgelis’s work with Thomas Ruff’s recent series of manipulated, archival newspaper clippings related to early space travel and a quartet of Sterling Ruby’s sculptures and collaged wall works made between 2011 and 2016.
Laveronica arte contemporanea
PRESENTS SECTION, BOOTH P10
In advance of Marinella Senatore’s April solo exhibition at the Queens Museum, Laveronica brings a mini-survey of the work that the Italian, London- and Paris-based artist made during several recent stints in New York. It’s an ambitious project for the gallery’s first Armory Show outing, which successfully introduces Senatore’s complex performative practice—one that hinges on community engagement—within the confines of a small booth. One work on display, Jammin’ Drama Project (2011–14), engaged over 500 New Yorkers across neighborhoods to explore the abundance of spontaneous poetry and rap that fills the city’s streets.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 732
After a several-year hiatus from The Armory Show, Deitch has returned with a show-stopping booth exploding with Rococo-inspired decor, hot pink walls, and a salon-style hanging of paintings by the likes of Cecily Brown, Laura Owens, and Tschabalala Self.
“Florine Stettheimer Collapsed Time Salon,” as Deitch has dubbed the installation, resurrects his 1995 project of the same name. Originally presented in the penthouse of Gramercy Park Hotel’s International Art Fair (The Armory Show’s predecessor), it served to introduce Stettheimer—a Jazz-Age figurative painter, who also ran a notorious Upper West Side salon frequented by the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Georgia O’Keeffe—to an art world that had largely forgotten her contribution.
But times have changed since 1995, and this time around, Deitch is taking a different approach. “Today, there’s wider awareness of Stettheimer and a real dialogue about her work between generations,” said Deitch on the fair’s first day. “This presentation is a testament to that.”
Of the living artists Deitch asked to contribute to the 2017 iteration of the project, “all of them cited Stettheimer as an important influence,” he continued. This includes Brown, whose standout painting Sky Towers and Bridal Bowers (2016) draws directly from Stettheimer’s visual vocabulary of the city and its frollicking denizens. “Without exaggeration, we could have sold Cecily’s painting 10 times,” said Deitch of the piece, which was snapped up in the fair’s first hours.
The booth also includes exuberant canvases by on-the-rise figurative painters like Grace Weaver and Chloe Wise, along with paintings, collages, and sculptures by more established artists like John Currin, Rachel Feinstein, and Elizabeth Peyton. Prices range from $5,000 for an Aurel Schmidt drawing to $200,000 for a Pavel Tchelitchew painting.
But the most stunning piece in the booth is a work that’s not for sale. It’s one of Stettheimer’s masterworks, Asbury Park South (1920), a beach scene that captures both the flamboyance and the social tensions (namely, lingering segregation) of the Jazz Age.
Thomas Erben Gallery and Lévy Gorvy
FOCUS SECTION, BOOTH F8
This sparse but powerful presentation convenes both the historic and recent works of radical performance artist Senga Nengudi. Her performative sculptures, both made between the 1960s and today, combine nylons filled with sand and ritualized movements to explore the dual fragility and resilience of the human body—and the black female body in particular. Her recent large-scale sculpture, R.S.V.P. Reverie “Scribe” (2014), is especially memorable; it stretches taut five “limbs” rendered from a rainbow of skin-colored pantyhose, each culminating in a bulbous base resembling a foot, breast, or phallus.
Donald Ellis Gallery
INSIGHTS SECTION, BOOTH 212
After Donald Ellis saw a 1996 show at New York’s Drawing Center of drawings by the Plains Indians, made between 1865 and 1935, he headed out west to learn more. Since then, the gallerist, whose program is devoted to antique North American Indian art, has incorporated a focus on drawings made by members of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Comanche tribes, among others. Across the booth, he presents a wide array of the pieces, both large and small, which depict triumphant moments from battles and hunting expeditions, intimate everyday activities, and transcendent visions alike.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 702
It wouldn’t be hard to mistake OMR’s booth for a scene from the Stanley Kubrick-film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Together, the works of Matti Braun, Jose Dávila, and Gabriel Rico create an otherworldly environment. On the walls, Braun’s cloud-like abstractions and Dávila’s frosty glass panel, held up precariously by a white ratchet strap, feel like passages to other realms. Rico’s sculptures enhance the mystical environment. One, comprising a taxidermy lamb, a piece of glowing neon, and a plastic orange, resembles a seance circle or a sacrificial offering.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 530
On the fair’s opening day, the largest and most awestruck crowd gathered around Pace Gallery’s booth, where a hulking concrete cube levitated high in the air. At around 11 a.m., the artists behind the feat—Studio Drift, duo Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn—stood under the work, taking photos while fairgoers looked on (nervously, in this writer’s case). “People have been amazed,” said Pace’s Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst of the reaction to the installation, titled Drifter (2017). “It’s very elegant, poetic, and beautiful, but also filled with wonder, strangeness, and tension.”
Nauta and Gordijn excel at probing dichotomies between beauty and discomfort and between the familiar and the phenomenal in their work. And they achieve these tensions by combining everyday materials with innovative technologies. As is the case in much of their output—including another Studio Drift project at the fair, which employs mixed reality—the artists consulted engineers and programmers in order to realize Drifter. But while Nauta and Gordijn reveal that the piece is constructed from concrete and robotics, exactly how it floats in the air remains a mystery. And the artists want to keep it that way.
“Our dialogue today, whether in politics or technology and culture, is all about what’s real and what’s fake and what’s augmented and what’s organic,” says Dent-Brocklehurst. “This work taps into those conversations and questions.” The artists echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that the piece engages the tensions between “humanity versus nature and chaos versus order” that currently headline newspapers and conferences the world over. The installation was already a crowd favorite by close of the fair’s first day. But priced at $350,000, and measuring 16 feet wide, and mobile at that, it will need to find an ambitious—and courageous—buyer.
Alison Jacques Gallery and Stuart Shave/Modern Art
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 500
This multi-room booth, which joins the London-based programs of Alison Jacques and Stuart Shave, stands out for its tightly curated arrangements of artworks. Juxtapositions between generally small but arresting pieces reveal stimulating—and surprising—resonances between artists. One striking corner mingles two 1998 abstractions by Richard Tuttle with a new bronze by Ricky Swallow. Next to these, feminist pioneer Linder’s recent erotic photomontage, featuring yellow roses arranged strategically over private parts, is juxtaposed with an irresistible 1970 Hannah Wilke terracotta, Yellow Rose of Texas. Other standouts include sculptures by Maria Bartuszová, Takuro Kuwata, and Ron Nagle.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 745
Oslo-based Brandstrup’s ambitious program is announced with an eye-catching installation by young Norwegian artist Sverre Bjertnæs on the booth’s exterior. At the fair, he forged a deep blue mural that looks like an undulating sea from marker alone. It serves as the backdrop for two intricately composed figurative paintings that reference immigration. One, titled Three Figures in a Revolution (2017) and priced at $27,000, had already sold on the fair’s first day. Other compelling works include a series of large-scale black-and-white photographs by Per Maning and a group of new paintings by Michael Kvium.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 712
Just a month after Paris mainstay PRAZ-DELAVALLADE opened its second gallery in Los Angeles, it features young L.A.-based artist Brian Wills in a spacious solo booth. In one of the fair’s most elegant presentations, Wills’s minimalist abstractions line the walls with curiosity-piquing striations of color. Depth is evident in the works, but the eye can’t immediately discern how they’re constructed. It turns out that Wills covers wooden armatures with strands of string in different colors. The result: brilliant gradients that resemble computer-generated images but are in fact assembled meticulously by hand.
PROYECTOSMONCLOVA and Timothy Taylor
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 508
In one of several shared booths at the fair, Mexico City-based PROYECTOSMONCLOVA and New York- and London-based Timothy Taylor present a venn diagram of their respective programs. Works by artists the two galleries share stand out: Gabriel de la Mora’s stunning multi-part piece, B-8 izq / 8 der I (2016), which arranges vintage speaker fabrics into a skeleton-like grid, and architect-cum-artist Eduardo Terrazas’s 1.1.263 (2016), which uses techniques indigenous to Mexico to create geometric patterns. Several new 2017 works by Martin Soto Climent are also highlights.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 701
A towering screen of neon text greets visitors of Pier 94 and headlines a large, captivating solo booth featuring Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans. While Wyn Evans is already regarded as one of the contemporary art’s most rigorous conceptual artists—his work has investigated the fragility of meaning since the 1990s—he is currently readying for one of his most momentous years to date.
It’s no coincidence that White Cube has assembled a mini retrospective of Wyn Evans’s work at the fair. And the strong group of glowing, resonant sculptures, neons, and wall pieces suggests what’s to come at upcoming exhibitions like the artist’s solo at the Tate Britain in March and his inclusion in the Venice Biennale in May and the Skulptur Projekte Münster in June.
“We’re thrilled to be showing a range of Cerith’s work,” said the gallery’s director Daniela Gareh of the booth. The highlight, she noted, “is a new Murano glass chandelier titled Mantra, which is activated by a musical score composed by the artist.” The sculpture, which spins and flickers subtly to a soft score that seems to emanate from its innards, is indeed the nucleus around which the rest of the booth revolves. It also speaks to the evanescence and malleability of the meaning of art, an enduring subject of Wyn Evans’s work and here embodied by the constant movements and modulations of the sculpture, the soundtrack, and the light which accompanies them both.
These themes are reflected in the monumental neon ...later on they are in a garden…(2007). Here, Wyn Evans reproduces a fragment of dialogue from the influential French New Wave film La Jetée (1962), in which the characters attempt to piece memories together. Removed from its original context and rendered in bright light, the text at once seems to honor and question the ability of language to reveal hidden or forgotten truths.
INSIGHTS SECTION, BOOTH 128
“It’s a primer in influential feminist performance art,” gallery director Niamh Coghlan says of Richard Saltoun’s impressive booth, curated by Italian critic Paola Ugolini. A 48-part photographic installation by radical Viennese feminist artist Renate Bertlmann is the centerpiece of the presentation. It’s a museum-quality work that Bertlmann considers the first piece that set her daring career in motion. Other highlights include a suite of photos from Ana Mendieta’s “Silueta Series” (1973–78), in which she captures evanescent impressions of her body in sand and mud—some as they fill mournfully with seawater.
Axel Vervoordt Gallery
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 504
In Axel Vervoordt’s cacophonous, buoyant booth you can pocket an artwork made in-situ for a mere buck. The project, called Art Vending Machine (2015), is the brainchild of Sadaharu Horio, a member of the Japanese avant-garde movement Gutai. Over the course of the fair, he churns out drawings and paintings made in a single minute within the walls of his plywood “machine.” Elsewhere in the booth, a selection of the artist’s seminal, large-scale hanging assemblages, like the excellent Failure to the Tableau Thought (1970), are on view.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 505
Fergus McCaffrey’s elegant booth mingles the practices of two American artists who came of age in the 1960s and happen to be great friends. The works of Marcia Hafif and Richard Nonas, however, differ greatly—and that’s precisely what makes this presentation so compelling. Hafif’s hyper-saturated canvases featuring curvaceous forms that resemble bodily contours (she calls these her “Pop-Minimal” paintings) draw you in. Nonas’s more subtle patinaed steel sculptures cover the floor. They resemble architectural forms or ritualized objects; given Nonas’s early years as an anthropologist, they just might be inspired by them, too.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 801
On the booth’s exterior, the late French minimalist François Morellet’s stunning 2008 acrylic-and-neon painting, Deep dark, light, blue n°2, hints at the tightly curated hanging just behind it. For the Parisian gallery’s second stint participating in The Armory Show, it presents two artists who “together show the gallery’s DNA—the spectrum of our program,” said Kamel Mennour in the fair’s opening hours.
Mennour juxtaposes Morellet, a pioneering minimalist who passed away in 2016 at the age of 90, with Mohamed Bourouissa, a young Algerian-born Parisian artist whose multimedia practice explores contemporary social tensions and cultural idiosyncrasies, especially in urban environments. The two artists might sound like a surprising pairing, but the installation reveals an aesthetic dialogue between their practices: The jagged edges of Bourouissa’s sculptural collages enhance the angular, optically dizzying patterns of Morellet’s works—and vice-versa.
The installation also reflects “a dialogue and a confrontation between different generations of art in Europe,” said Mennour. This intergenerational exchange lies at the core of the gallery’s ethos. At the fair, Bourouissa’s work represents a younger group of artists whose careers Mennour shepherds, like Camille Henrot and Alicja Kwade. Morellet, on the other hand, represents an older, well-established cohort, including Claude Lévêque, Martial Raysse, and Daniel Buren.
On the fair’s first day, visitors gathered around Bourouissa’s brand-new assemblages and Morrellet’s historic 1970s compositions alike. By press time, two of Bourouissa’s works, priced between $40,000 and $50,000, were spoken for and several of Morellet’s canvases, priced between $100,000 and $500,000, were on reserve. This excitement for each artist’s work is also mirrored in the institutional landscape, where Bourouissa will have his first solo show at a U.S. institution, the Barnes Foundation, in June, and Morellet’s work will be celebrated in a retrospective at the Dia Art Foundation in the fall
Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M.
GALLERIES SECTION, BOOTH 519
In one of two excellent booths G.A.M. brings to The Armory Show this year (the other assembles works by Roberto Sebastian Matta and his sons Gordon Matta-Clark and Pablo Echaurren), the Bologna-based gallery juxtaposes the great mid-20th century Italian still life innovator Giorgio Morandi with contemporary minimalist Korean painter Lee Ufan. It’s an unlikely pairing that makes for a transcendent installation—one that reveals the ritual and philosophical qualities of painting for both artists.