Your Concise Guide to Armory Week 2021

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Your Concise Guide to Armory Week 2021

Get your vaccination cards ready! As autumn weather descends on New York, so does Armory Week. Like years before, the Armory Show elicits mixed feelings from art lovers across the Tri-State, from wealthy patrons eager to snap up their next living room centerpiece to overworked gallery assistants in desperate need of a nap. But this year, the fair will take on a different tone as it returns for the first time since March 2020, just days before the city began to shut down in an effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Delta variant now spreading across the U.S., the fairs opening their doors for Armory Week have implemented some new social distancing policies, including timed arrival slots and mandatory face coverings at certain venues.

For those who choose to stay home, the Armory Show will offer a number of digital displays, and the European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) has opted to go entirely online. You can also pass the time by attending virtual events, like a panel on Harlem fashion hosted by the Schomburg Center.

Below is our non-exhaustive list of Armory Week fairs, exhibitions, and events for you to check out.


The Armory Show

When: September 9–12
Where: Javits Center, 429 11th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

Helen Evans Ramsaran, “Webs and Veils” (1978), bronze with brown patina
60 x 36 x 2 inches, at Welancora Gallery’s booth (courtesy the gallery)

Most New Yorkers likely think of the Javits Convention Center as a mass vaccination site rather than an exhibition space. But starting next week, the mammoth building, recently expanded to the tune of $1.5 billion, will become the new permanent home of the Armory Show, the biggest fair of the week. More than 200 galleries from around the world will have physical booths at this year’s fair, including five owned by Black women — among them Addis Fine Art, Housing, Jenkins Johnson, Mariane Ibrahim, and Welancora. The latter, founded in Bedstuy, Brooklyn by Ivy N. Jones, will showcase stunning, wall-based bronze pieces by American sculptor Helen Evans Ramsaran.

Another 55 galleries will participate virtually due to ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions. On opening day, the fair will also inaugurate “Armory Off-Site,” four large-scale, interactive artworks installed in parks and public spaces across the city (see locations here). Special presentations for the Focus and Platform sections will be curated by Wassan Al-Khudhairi of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and Claudia Schmuckli of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, respectively, and we’re excited to see what they’ll cook up. —Valentina Di Liscia

Spring/Break Art Show

When: September 10–13
Where: 625 Madison Ave, Midtown, Manhattan

Ah, the Spring/Break Art Show: it’s weird, it’s different, it’s… maybe where the best art is? In any case, you certainly won’t be bored. For this year’s edition, the fair is once again setting up shop in Ralph Lauren’s former headquarters in Midtown East, which may seem like a strange place to elaborate on the theme “HEARSAY:HERESY,” but this beloved platform for independent curators has a way of making unlikely spaces work. Projects will explore “conceptual heresy and the patently medieval,” a statement says, including “rumor, fabulism, theocratic dominion” and “the manipulation and misinformation of empires.” Curator Alejandro Jassan will interpret the theme through works by Xiao Wang and Hadar Kleiman that deal with assimilation and isolation. —VD


The Independent’s new home: Cipriani at the Battery Maritime Building. (photo by Matteo Prandoni; courtesy Independent)

When: September 10–12
Where: Cipriani South Street at the Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street, Financial District, Manhattan

Independent is the fair where big galleries go to discover new artists to poach from smaller but still pretty successful galleries. But, all snark aside, there is some truth to its claim to be “the art world’s favorite fair”: it’s a see-and-be-seen-y affair that showcases emerging and mid-career artists, many of them on the rise. This year, the fair will debut a new venue, Cipriani at the Battery Maritime ferry terminal, whose Beaux-Arts architecture and riverside views are aesthetic delights. Not to be missed is the booth of Vancouver-based Fazakas Gallery, which specializes in Indigenous contemporary art, with works by Marcy Friesen, Audie Murray, Rande Cook, and Corey Bulpitt. —VD

Art on Paper

Nicolas V Sanchez’s Folklorico de Guerrero with Ballet Nepantla (courtesy Art on Paper)

When: September 10–12
Where: Pier 36, 299 South Street, Downtown Manhattan

This charming fair bills itself as a show of “paper-based art,” but as in past editions, much more than just prints and drawings will be on display. This year, a 20-foot-long watercolor and oil painting on paper by Nicolas V. Sanchez, depicting three dancers of Mexico’s Ballet Folklorico de Guerrero, will be activated through a live performance by Ballet Nepantla, which combines contemporary and traditional Mexican styles. (One show for VIP cardholders will take place on Thursday, 9/9 at 8pm, and another for the public on Saturday, 9/11 at 2pm.) Works for sale will be priced between $500 and $500,000 the widest range of any of their shows. —VD

The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF)

Master of St. Radegund, “Life of St. Radegund” (ca. 1496-98), illuminated manuscript on vellum (courtesy of Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG)

When: September 9–13
Where: Online only, here

Typically, TEFAF is the week’s fanciest fair, where carts of champagne roll down the halls even on non-VIP days, and the attendees consist mainly of distinguished older women who wear brooches. But this fall, the show will be held entirely online, so you can scroll through original Picassos, illuminated manuscripts, and Les Lalanne sculptures from the comfort of your own home. To give you just a taste of the sumptuous offerings, the Parisian gallery Chenel will have a 4-foot-tall marble from the Roman Gardens of Villa Pamphilj, and the price tag is a cool €1.8 million (~$2,139,417). An in-person fair will take place in New York in spring 2022. —VD

Hera Kim, “Woman Playing Guitar” (2020), oil on canvas, 60”h x 48”w (courtesy the artist and Clio Art Fair)

When: September 9-12
Where: 550 West 29th Street, Manhattan

This relatively young art fair, celebrating its seventh anniversary this year, is held twice a year with a mission to give exposure to independent international artists who are not exclusively represented by any New York gallery. In 2017, it became the first art fair to accept major cryptocurrencies as a form of payment (Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin). For its 11th edition in September, the fair will feature works by 52 international artists, including the group exhibition Canary in the Coal Mine: The People’s Art of Protest 2020-2021. Curated by Garon Willie, the exhibition explores social protest during the COVID-19 pandemic with works by a cohort of six artists: Palén Obesa; Antoinette Ellis-Williams; Aisha Tandiwe Bell; Esteban Sulé; Marquez-Monsanto; Amir Diop; and Al Diaz. —Hakim Bishara

Fran O’NeillBridging” (2021), Oil on canvas, 70 x 100 in (courtesy the artist and Zürcher Gallery)

When: September 6-12
Where: 33 Bleecker Street, Manhattan

Salon Zürcher, a small fair organized by and held at Zürcher Gallery in Manhattan’s East Village, presents itself as an intimate alternative to large-scale, superstore-style art fairs. Inspired by artistic salons, it offers its visitors the opportunity to mingle among the artists and engage in direct discussions with them. For its 25th edition, the fair will present the fourth edition of a group show of 11 women artists titled Women of Spirit. The exhibition takes its title from the 18th-century French term “femmes d’esprit,” referring to independently-minded female painters, writers, and intellectuals who were routinely overlooked by the male-dominated art scene of their time. Hailing mostly from the United States and France, the 11 participating artists are Rosaire Appel, Jeri Coppola, Brigitte Engler, Laurel Marx, Donna Moylan, Fran O’Neill, Janet Passeh, Marcy Rosenblat, Fran Shalom, Jackie Shatz, and Rebecca Smith. —HB

Tristram Lansdowne, “Election center” (2020), 42 x 70.25 in (courtesy the artist, the Future Art Fair, and STEMS in Brussels, Belgium)

When: September 10-12
Where: 600 West 27th Stree, Manhattan (entrance from 27th Street)

After postponing its inaugural edition last year due to the pandemic, the Future Fair is starting with a new program at a Chelsea Art Deco landmark, the Starrett-Lehigh Building. The 10,000-square-foot venue will host 16 exhibition rooms representing 34 dealers. Emphasizing the diversity of its roster, the fair organizers say that more than 25% of the exhibitors are BIPOC-owned businesses and that 50% of exhibiting galleries are women-owned. Thematically, the fair promises works that “interrogate power structures through the figure, still life and landscape.” Future Fair has also launched a mutual aid grant to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Several exhibitors offered to contribute more than their participation fee to supplement grants for a few new voices to participate in the show,” it announced in a statement. —HB


Alvaro Barrington: GARVEY 1: BIRTH – The Quiet Storm

Alvaro Barrington studio, London, 2021 (courtesy the artist)

When: September 10–October 23
Where: Nicola Vassell Gallery, 138 10th Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan

This exhibition gives a first look at Alvaro Barrington’s ongoing series exploring the life and work of Jamaican activist and pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. Barrington, also Caribbean, looks toward Garvey with a sense of abstract kinship, relating to the activist’s various cultural ties, particularly to the US and UK. Barrington’s paintings “adopt multiple personalities and forms via concrete, wood, burlap, wool and re-purposed objects such as steel pans and oil drums,” the gallery explains, a nod to the migratory lifestyles and cultural exchanges experienced by the activist and artist. —JW

The Fight to Free Leonard Peltier – Honoring Indigenous Culture & Heritage

Mer Young, “In the Beginning It Was Us,” digital photo collage (courtesy the Clemente Center)

When: September 10–October 2 (opening September 10 from 5-9pm; sign up here)
Where: The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk Street, Lower Manhattan

At the core of this group exhibition, curated by Thalia Yarina Carroll-Cachimuel, is the belief that “showcasing Indigenous art is a method of cultural survival.” The show honors Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who was arrested 38 years ago in connection with the murders of two FBI agents. Organizations including Amnesty International have called for his release due to concerns over the fairness of his trial. Works by multigenerational Indigenous artists will honor his legacy and bring attention to urgent social justice issues affecting Native communities. —VD

“From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires

Installation view of “From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA),
New York, 2021. (photo by Martyna Szczesna; courtesy ISLAA)

When: Through October 30
Where: Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), 50 E 78th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan

This small but powerful show features sculptures by four artists from the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (AACI) and Madí groups, which flourished in Argentina in the middle of the 20th century. Though focused on their exchanges and dialogues with Swiss sculptor Max Bill, the exhibition explores the importance of Latin American developments in geometric abstraction and Concrete Art. ISLAA is also known for its well-researched publications; for this show, a book with an essay by curator Francesca Ferrari is offered to visitors free of charge. —VD

Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

When: Opens September 9
Where: Lévy Gorvy, 909 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan

New York is the first stop on this traveling exhibition of multimedia works by Mickalene Thomas. Her video, collage, painting, and installation works serve to celebrate the sensuality and beauty of Black women, approaching them as muses. At the New York edition, ten large-scale paintings remixing 1970s Jet pinups will debut, glorious in their simultaneous approach to desire, objectification, and autonomy. —JW

Social Works

Lauren Halsey, “black history wall of respect (II)” (2021), Vinyl, acrylic, and mirror on wood, 19 7/8 x 96 1/8 x 48 1/8 in (50.5 x 244.2 x 122.2 cm) (© Lauren Halsey. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy the artist, David Kordansky Gallery, and Gagosian)

When: June 24–September 11
Where: Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan

Head to Chelsea to catch the final days of this highly-anticipated show, curated by Antwaun Sargent, who joined the mega-gallery as a director and curator earlier this year. The group exhibition features standout works centering the intersection of “space — personal, public, institutional, and psychic — and Black social practice,” created by artists utilizing their practices to comment on the contemporary social landscape. In the galleries, you’ll find sculptures, photographs, and more exploring these themes by Linda Goode Bryant, Lauren Halsey, Titus Kaphar, Carrie Mae Weems, and more. —JW


Photograph of models Tuesday P. Brooks, Etta, an unidentified model, and Morgan (left to right) at a fashion show at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building, wearing an unidentified designer, 1991. (Photo by and in the private collection of Beau McCall; courtesy the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)

Showing Out: Fashion in Harlem

When: September 9, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Online, via livestream

Welcome in New York Fashion Week at this lecture hosted by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on the rich sartorial history of Harlem. The event celebrates the 55th anniversary of the Harlem Institute of Fashion and the Black Fashion Museum, founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane in 1966. While the in-person event is sold out, you can still attend the digital live stream to hear the conversation between millinery and costume designer Carolyn Adams; model and business owner Tuesday P. Brooks; and fashion show designer Cedric Jose Washington; moderated by Souleo. Later in the week, stop by the pop-up exhibition happening in tandem with the conversation, Showing Out: Fashion in Harlem, which runs September 9–16. —JW

Lynn Hershman Leeson and Legacy Russell in Conversation

When: September 10, 1pm
Where: Online only, via Zoom

Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson will be in conversation with writer and curator Legacy Russell next week to discuss the shifting landscape of modern feminism in regards to technology, art, and social frameworks. The pair will discuss these concepts in the context of their respective projects: Leeson’s 2010 film !Women Art Revolution, and Russell’s 2020 book, Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto. The New Museum will provide details on how to watch Leeson’s film ahead of the event. —JW

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