The Armory Show

A Review by Jon Beer, MFA 2012
The 2011 Armory Contemporary Fair was an exciting and stimulating event in the face of today’s often uncertain art world. As an undergrad in NYC I had the chance to visit a handful of the other art fairs during Armory Week, but this was my first time visiting the Armory Fair. I and several of NYAA students decided to see Scope and the Armory Fairs together. Upon arriving at Pier 92 we were blown away by the sheer magnitude of it all. To access the Contemporary section you walk through part of the Modern fair and then descend from the catwalk. Booths extend as far as the eye can see, gallery after gallery laid out in front of you, it is daunting and exhilarating in the same moment.

Tony Oursler, Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Visiting the Armory Fairs provides a taste of the Art World. It offers an insight into the machine that we are all a part of. For some of us the experience was a little frightening, being in the belly of the beast. Others were repulsed at the prospect of having to become a part of that reality.

Student Nic Holiber looking at work by
Marc Sijan, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery

Despite the overwhelming commercial vibe of the fair, the work itself definitely had a positive impact. I left the fair having seen some work by artists I’ve been following on my own, and the opportunity to speak to dealers about the artist’s process and studio practice was very exciting. Dressing the part of the collector allowed for some interactions that I otherwise would not have been privy too – and showed me that the art world is not as out of reach as it seems. The surprise on the dealer’s part when they found out that I was in fact an artist and not a potential collector was amusing.

The majority of the artwork was not mind blowing; it was similar to what we’ve been seeing the past few months in galleries, and based on the high level of publicity the show receives I think our group expected to see some extremely profound work. That said, some of the work on view clearly stood out of the crowd. The critic’s pick – Los Carpinteros – two Cuban artists who create objects and installations that comment on contemporary culture in a playful and often humorous way.

Mucho Caliente, 2010, Madera, metal. 213 x 128 x 28 cm.
Colección Fundación Helga de Alvear, Cáceres

Contemporary painting was represented strongly by Irish and Scottish Galleries – particularly by the Irish gallery Mother’s Tankstation. Their booth was dominated by Mairead O'Heocha’s evocative landscape paintings of her daily experience in semi-rural Ireland.
Van and House, Bray, Co.Wicklow, 2009, Oil/board, 39 x 50 cms

All in all, the experience showed us that the harder we work, and the better our work is, we actually have a chance of ‘making it,’ if the Armory Fair is a measure of making it. With our eyes on the horizon, I think it is safe to say that the art world eagerly awaits an equally exciting fair in the coming year.
Jon Beer
Artist -
Director, Blind Artists Society

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