Before The Armory Show, Art Basel in Miami Beach, Frieze New York, TEFAF New York, or Frieze Los Angeles, before all of that, there was The Art Show, the annual expo put on at New York’s Park Avenue Armory by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). With its 30th consecutive edition now underway, it is the longest-running art fair in the country. And despite it now having to share the spotlight with dozens of other stops on the global art world trail, Tuesday night’s opening gala proved that for dealers from the United States The Art Show remains a worthy place to bring high quality work and kick off the New York spring season.
For Adam Sheffer, partner at ADAA gallery Cheim & Read
and president of the industry group’s board, the fair’s longevity lies in the fact that “it knows what it is.”
“It is run by art dealers for art dealers,” he said. “We’re in the business of art, we’re not in the business of art fairs.”
Sheffer was standing in one of the historic armory’s ornate anterooms Tuesday afternoon, having commenced a 30th anniversary champagne toast with some of ADAA’s longtime exhibitors. And then, at 5:00 p.m. on the dot, collectors began streaming into the opening gala, which has the distinction of being one of the more fancy fair vernissages, with a phalanx of tux-wearing waiters bearing smoked fish canapes and a dozen stocked bars lining the fair booths.