The 24th edition of The Armory Show opened to VIPs on Wednesday. This year, 198 galleries from 31 countries exhibit through Sunday on New York’s Piers 92 and 94. Forty-three of those galleries are participating in the fair for the first time; the entire affair is also being overseen by a brand new executive director, Nicole Berry.
The Armory Show has a bit of something for everyone—from a 16-foot-tall ferris wheel sculpture to rare works on paper by Yayoi Kusama, made with materials gifted to the artist by Joseph Cornell when the pair split up.
Artsy’s editors scoured both piers and picked 20 presentations that stand apart from the rest.
Installation view of Mariane Ibrahim’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
After showing in The Armory Show’s “African Perspectives” Focus section in 2016, and in the fair’s Presents sector for young dealers last year, Seattle-based Ibrahim moves into the fair’s main sector this year with a solo presentation of new works by Lina Iris Viktor. Art news junkies and fans of Black Panther will immediately recognize the works (priced between $24,000 and $55,000) from the ongoing legal dispute between Viktor and the musicians Kendrick Lamar and SZA, along with Universal Music Group and others involved in the production of the music video for “All the Stars,” a song from the film’s soundtrack. Viktor alleges the video contains depictions of her works that violate her copyright. If Lamar and company did rip off Viktor, one can’t argue with their good taste. Viktor creates the intricate patterns on the works—which take references from African and Middle Eastern symbolism—in resin, later gilding the raised portions with 24-carat gold leaf. Ibrahim explains that the artist’s interest in gold arises from its complicated history: “It has been sacred, has been sought after, has provoked the decay of certain civilizations,” she says, “but it also has brought about the rise of other civilizations.”
The dealer said the booth as a whole—which also features black, screen-like walls perforated in the shape of nets used by fishermen in Liberia—serves as an allegory to the position of Africa both in the world and in the art market. “Certain advocates speak in the name of African artists,” she said, but aren’t qualified to speak on their behalf; she noted, for example, that discussions of African artists are still almost always fixated on their geographic origin. In the context of an art world that is still severely lacking in terms of gender and racial equality, she said, “I wanted to send a strong message.”
Galleries Section, Booth 717
With works by Ramiro Gomez, Joe Houston, Hunter Reynolds, Erin M. Riley, Betty Tompkins, Robin F. Williams, David Wojnarowicz
Installation view of P.P.O.W’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
The hard-to-miss focal point of the gallery’s booth is Hunter Reynolds’s Patina du Prey’s Vanity (1990–95), a sculptural dressing room that honors the artist’s titular drag alter-ego. A series of mementos and photographs encircle a vanity table and an engraved mirror, with the whole collection of loving ephemera going for $75,000. Realist paintings by newly represented artist Joe Houston, depicting coin-operated binoculars or a man’s hand cradling a bird, go for up to $22,000. A huge figurative painting by Robin F. Williams of a woman visibly enamored of lettuce, titled Salad Lover (2016), runs $30,000. A series of acrylic-on-found-image works by late-career darling Betty Tompkins can be had for around $6,000.
Installation view of Goodman Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Born in France to a Guyanese father and a Dutch mother, Tabita Rezaire now lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. One of her multimedia pieces—a video installation meant to be viewed from the kind of chair one would find in a gynecologist’s office—sits at the center of Goodman Gallery’s Armory Show booth. (The work itself alludes to the infamous history of J. Marion Sims, whose contributions to medical history were made possible by exploiting female slaves.) A series of photo-collages nearby—priced between $2,000 and $3,000 and produced in an edition of five with two artist proofs—find Rezaire “performing the tropes” of black womanhood, according to the gallery’s Emma Laurence. In one image, we see her surrounded by a border of cowrie shells, inhabiting a slightly tongue-in-cheek “Divine Goddess” persona. A lightbox work from a different series weaves further connections between past and present, riffing on how the contemporary routing of internet fiber-optic cables roughly mirrors the paths of the transcontinental slave trade.
Tanya Leighton Gallery
Galleries Section, Booth F23
With works by Aleksandra Domanović and Oliver Laric
Installation view of Tanya Leighton’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
The gallery shows two heavy-hitters of the post-internet art landscape at The Armory Show. Oliver Laric’s sculpture Jüngling vom Magdalensberg (2018) stands at the corner of the booth. It’s the latest version based on a scan he made of a neoclassical reproduction of a sculpture of the same name, which is held within Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum (all of Laric’s scans are freely available online to anyone who wants to use them). That work is accompanied by another, which reproduces, in layers of multi-colored polyurethane, a scan of Art of War author Sun Tzu’s Janus-faced bust.
Aleksandra Domanović’s pair of works also pulls its content from classical sources, namely the Greek Moschophoros (or “calf bearer”). The works reference the artist’s recent research into labs creating genetically modified calves that don’t have horns. Also incorporating 3-D modeling, she’s cast scans of these modified calves in jesmonite, the results of which, like the calf bearer sculptures after which they were modeled, are held atop human-scaled plinths by arms that jut out at shoulder height.
Installation view of Empty Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Takeshi Murata’s Houdini (2018)—a sculpture of a droopy-faced cartoon dog— is fantastic, but it’s the installation of works by Tishan Hsu that are worth a few moments of quiet contemplation. Hsu came up in the 1980s in New York, but never quite received the same accolades as his peers. He’s back in the game again, with a solo show at the Hong Kong-based gallery later in 2018, and an inclusion in the current survey at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s.” The silkscreen-and-airbrush-based paintings here are ripe with eyeballs, mouths, and undefined circuitry. (As Empty Gallery’s director Alexander Lau puts it, Hsu’s focus tends to be on combining “an animal, organ, or body part [with] the technological.”) Larger canvases from the 1990s are on offer for around $50,000; a fantastic plywood and concrete assemblage from 1984 commands a heftier $80,000.
Installation view of Parisian Laundry’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
London-based Gabriele Beveridge’s inventive sculptures combine found photography, store fixtures, and plump orbs of blown glass. For an ongoing series, the artist scours beauty stores for photographs and advertising materials that are being discarded, repurposing the images in strange ways: hung upside down in a frame, for instance, which has a glass blob draped atop it. Two examples of that sort are on offer here for $7,500 each. A larger sculpture—whose interlocking bars gallery director Megan Bradley says are somewhat evocative of a rib cage—will run you $14,000. At that same price point is a work from Beveridge’s ongoing “Clouds” series. This large wall-mounted grid combines stained, distressed panels sourced from a beauty salon with pristine metal sheets that have been airbrushed with almost imperceptible gradients of color. Overall, the work strikes a fascinating balance between the coldly impersonal and the sensual.
Installation view of Gagosian’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Participating in The Armory Show for the first time since 2013, Gagosian provides a knockout opener to Pier 94 with a solo booth of sculptures and works on paper by video art pioneer Nam June Paik. Its towering centerpiece, Lion (2005), was produced just one year prior to the artist’s death and features 28 televisions of various sizes (all playing footage of various flora and fauna) embedded into a wooden sculpture of a guardian lion. Among the accompanying works on paper is a series that Paik made in homage to John Cage, and the influence he had on his own practice: images of Paik on playing cards are surrounded by musical notes and staffs, lightly drawn in pencil.
Installation view of Omer Tiroche Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Six works on paper by Yayoi Kusama in Tiroche’s booth offer an intimate reflection back on the artist’s relationship with Joseph Cornell. Priced at $300,000 apiece, the works are from a series of collages Kusama created from 1980 to 1981, shortly after entering the mental health facility she’s lived in ever since. Each of the works features a single image at its center—various species of birds, a praying mantis, and a piece of coral among them—all of which were sourced from shoeboxes full of cut-out materials that Cornell gave the artist when they parted. The found images are encircled by drawn elements that mirror Kusama’s signature “Infinity Net” motifs, which gallery director Astrid Bernadotte suggested was “a protective element; she’s surrounding and protecting” her former lover.
Installation view of Jeffrey Deitch’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Just days after being considered for an Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards, French photographer and visual artist JR is an unmissable highlight of The Armory Show. He’s installed a 25-foot-tall monument to refugees across the fair’s main entrance, foregrounding critical issues—immigration policy and the refugee crisis—for all who enter. (The project is presented by Artsy and Jeffrey Deitch.) If you’re intrigued, head straight to Jeffrey Deitch’s solo booth for the artist, where JR debuts a new body of work also based on images from an archive of photographs picturing Ellis Island immigrants. He has printed the black-and-white images onto panes of glass that rest gently against booth walls, allowing shadow and light to enter the work in a brand new way as the photographs subtly map onto the walls behind them. (It’s a technique he’ll continue for a while, he tells me, and will be a focus of his next show.) The most powerful image—and one that the artist hints may be his favorite, too—shows an immigrant family as they gaze hopefully toward the Statue of Liberty from the dock of the Ellis Island Immigration Station.
Galleries Section, Booth 827
With works by Vanessa Baird
Installation view of OSL Contemporary’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Over a dozen scroll-like lengths of paper constitute the single monumental drawing on view here, titled An amazing thing happened to me: I suddenly forgot which came first, 7 or 8 (2018). It’s a bright vision of hell, evoking drowned refugees, demonic SpongeBobs, and pig-like boys wearing red MAGA hats. (In one panel, Melania Trump is depicted giving her son Barron what can perhaps politely be described as a fecal shower.) The noisy chaos is interrupted, just barely, by a modest framed photograph that Baird has hung atop the drawing: a picture of herself as a young child, being held by her mother. The gallery wouldn’t divulge a price for the challenging and epic piece, but alluded to the obvious hope for a (brave) institutional collector.
Presents Section, Booth P7
With works by Ebecho Muslimova
Installation view of Maria Bernheim’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Fresh off a show at New York’s Magenta Plains, Ebecho Muslimova gets a solo spotlight from this Zurich-based gallery. The small-scale ink drawings ($2,000) and one large enamel-on-metal painting ($28,000, and outdoor-friendly) all feature a comedic stand-in for the artist herself, named Fatebe, who is nothing if not clumsy; in the works here, she crashes through a patio set of wicker furniture and finds herself tangled in tires, pocket watches, and revolving doors. In one drawing, Fatebe lactates while wearing cloven-hoofed socks; in another, she dangles a pendulum from an orifice that’s not normally used to host pendulums.
Installation view of Galerie Nathalie Obadia’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
The beauty of Seydou Keïta’s portraits is only amplified by the remarkable story of how they ended up on the Western market and, now, in a solo booth at The Armory Show. Keïta shot the negatives on a cheap 5x7 camera between 1948 and 1962 in his commercial photo studio in Bamako, Mali. Often wearing outfits loaned from the studio and set against bold backdrops, his subjects offer an intimate portrait of pre-independence Mali (the government forced Keïta to close down his studio and work for them after Mali gained its independence from French Colonial rule in 1960). Keïta’s negatives remained for the most part unseen from then until the 1990s, and the full story of their wider emergence, first reported by the New York Times, is not without a fair dose of controversy. But the images themselves—a boy dressed up in a beret, standing at attention next to his bicycle; young women staring pensively at the camera; three men dressed up as if about to hit the town—punch orders of magnitude above their humble snapshot roots.
Galleries Section, Booth 617
With works by Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Zanele Muholi, Andrew Moore, Sharon Core, Mickalene Thomas, Rachel Perry, Bryan Graf
Installation view of Yancey Richardson’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
On the heels of his inclusion in the New Museum’s buzzy “Trigger” exhibition, which looked at the role of gender and sexuality in contemporary art and culture—and just a week before his work debuts in the Museum of Modern Art’s much-acclaimed “New Photography” survey—the young L.A.-based artist Paul Mpagi Sepuya is a clear standout of Yancey Richardson’s booth. Sepuya’s gorgeous, formally composed studio photography often involves self-portraiture—like Mirror Study (0X5A1317) (2016), an edition of five on offer for $9,000, framed. He continues to explore ideas surrounding photography itself, including the representation of the black body, the representation of homoerotic desire, and the relationship between the subject and viewer (further complicated by various images that show both the artist’s camera and tripod). In addition to having work acquired by several museums in 2017, Sepuya also newly joined the roster of Team Gallery, which will represent him along with Yancey Richardson.
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Galleries Section, Booth 912
With works by Nacho Carbonell
Installation view of Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Carpenters Workshop is one of the two design galleries integrated into The Armory Show this year (the other being R & Company). The solo presentation of Spanish, Eindhoven-based designer Nacho Carbonell partially recreates his atelier, with works from his “Light Mesh” series sitting within and propped on top of their crates. The designer’s own work table is placed front and center, as if we’ve wandered in to observe his process. Prices for the light sculptures—which variously resemble small trees that have sprouted from concrete rubble, or cocoons or wasp nests hanging down from the ceiling—range from $54,000 to $200,000.
Installation view of Pace Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
The Armory Show’s largest work is also accompanied by one of its smallest booths. Both are dedicated to Tara Donovan. The former is a 33-square-foot expanse comprised of many thousands of plastic packing tubes, each of which has been cut in length between two inches and eight feet. Meticulously arranged to form a giant wedge, and lit in such a way that the tubes become irridescent, the work takes up the majority of the real estate in Pier 94’s “Town Square.” It’s a more subtle use of the space, which last year hosted a garden of red-and-white polka-dotted penis sculptures by Yayoi Kusama. (Though, all the same, passersby were found wishing they could use it as the setting for an experimental, high-art game of champagne-pong.) Pace’s petite booth adjacent to the square features works from Donovan’s much-easier-to-take-home “Compositions (Cards)” series from 2017, which are priced between $35,000 and $65,000; by mid-afternoon, all had sold.
Installation view of Edward Cella Art and Architecture’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
It’s hard to miss My Turn (2018), an enormous Ferris wheel-shaped contraption that’s basically a very labor-intensive way for Schweder and Shelley to take turns sitting in a chair. (Edward Cella dubs it a “performance of negotiation” in an age of “limited resources.”) The duo is perhaps best known for its installation ReActor (2016) at Omi International Art Center in Ghent, New York: a self-contained apartment which, balanced on a wide pole, is constantly in motion. Photographs of that work are at the Armory in an edition of five for $6,500, as are unique schematic drawings of My Turn and other projects, all for figures between $9,500 and $12,500. If a single thing unites these disparate projects, it’s an impressive desire to expend a lot of engineering effort in the pursuit of the bold and nonsensical.
Galleries Section, Booth 922
With works by Roxy Paine, Milton Avery, Robert Indiana, Lee Krasner, Iván Navarro, Joel Shapiro, Bosco Sodi, Donald Sultan, Bernar Venet
Installation view of Paul Kasmin Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
The highlight here is a spectacle in miniature. More than just gee-whiz Instagram bait, Roxy Paine’s Meeting (2016)—part of his ongoing “Diorama” series—is a mind-boggling, shrunken recreation of an (uninhabited) Alcoholic Anonymous meeting room, complete with a ring of chairs, a hefty coffee urn, and various whiteboards scrawled with self-help messaging. As the gallery’s Molly Taylor describes it, the work is part of Paine’s attempt to apply the logic of a natural history museum to more mundane, contemporary spaces. Fastidiously composed of wood, paint, paper, steel, lighting fixtures, and other elements, it’s the grown-up version of that adolescent urge to model things at small-scale (and at $325,000, it’s got a grown-up price point, too).
Focus Section, Booth F11
With works by Patty Chang
Installation view of Bank’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Fresh from being shown at the Queens Museum and ahead of an outing at L.A.’s Institute of Contemporary Art in spring 2019, the works here pull from Patty Chang’s eight-year-long series, “The Wandering Lake Project” (2009–2017). It was inspired by a book of the same name by Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, who, in the early 1900s, was sent on a mission by the Chinese government to chart a new Silk Road. During that trip he discovered that the lake referenced in his title, Lop Nur, had moved, and Hedin began to chart its progress across the desert landscape.
Chang’s project—documented here in photographs, video, and hand-blown glass sculptures modeled after improvised female urinary devices, which range in price from $7,000 to $55,000—began with the artist returning to Xinjiang province to look for Lop Nur. Over the coming years she wandered further afield, shifting her focus to the Aral Sea—which has been shrinking rapidly in recent years—and to China’s South-North Water Diversion Project, an aqueduct that holds the honor of being the world’s most expensive engineering project in history, according to the gallery. While the similarities between Hedin’s mission captured in “The Wandering Lake Project” and China’s current One Belt One Road Initiative immediately stick out, it is also an important reflection of how the earth’s landscape has been, and continues to be, shifted by human activity.
Installation view of Ronchini Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
Japanese artist Katsumi Nakai moved to Milan, Italy, in the 1960s, where he became a peer of artists like Enrico Castellani. The sculptural paintings he made are literally playful, in that their hinged plywood parts—painted soothing yet vibrant pinks, yellows, and reds—are meant to be touched, moved, and rearranged. According to the gallery, his influences were as international as he was, borrowing equally from the aesthetics of origami as from the Pop color palette of Robert Indiana. A series of works made between 2006 and 2011 are available for prices from $10,000 to $30,000; a small 1966 acrylic on canvas painting (with no moving parts) is $20,000.
Installation view of Vigo’s booth at The Armory Show, 2018. Photo by Adam Reich for Artsy.
The mixed-media works in the series here, “Future People,” combine black history and space motifs. Each piece—mixing photographic collage elements with silver-painted cardboard—purports to be a cosmic view as seen through the window of a spaceship. The smaller works are on offer for $12,500, with bigger pieces at $31,500. As Vigo’s Clémence Duchon notes, Derrick Adams’s imagery is nicely in step with the current enthusiasm around Afrofuturism. Would-be collectors should also note that any of the larger works they acquire here will alight at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver before landing in their own living rooms; Adams has a solo show opening there this summer.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory