It is all good fun. But it’s Genocchio’s other main addition to 2016 that most clearly charts his direction for The Armory Show in the future. Near the staircase that connects Piers 94 and 92, just off the Focus lounge, he’s installed a private viewing room—meant to replicate those that form the rear portions of most Chelsea galleries—bookable at a rate of $1,000 an hour during the VIP preview, and $750 an hour thereafter. “One of the things that I’m most interested in is trying to put the focus back on the visitor and exhibitor experience,” says Genocchio of the addition, the first of its kind for a New York fair. “A lot of very serious collectors really don’t want to be in a fair environment. The Jerry Speyers of the world, they have no interest because it’s very difficult to view art, serious art, at a fair. They don’t want to show up and be on the waiting list of 50 people and be told everything is sold or ‘I’m so sorry, I’ve only got one; you’ve got two minutes.’”
That transactional urgency was the hallmark innovation of art fairs over the past decade, allowing galleries to shorten the sales cycle on artworks, sell more, and ultimately see the art market expand. But times have changed. And Genocchio is betting on the fact that, at least for the upper end of purchases, greater intimacy is desired. “If you’re spending seven figures on an artwork, you know, you may want to spend a little bit more time with it,” he says. And the viewing room is a place to do so. “It’s good for business but it’s also good for art when people have time to think about it before making a purchase.” The VVIP art fair program of the future? Be driven directly to a private entrance where Jay Jopling meets you with a flute of champagne and ushers you into the quiet comfort of a bespoke private room to match his own in Bermondsey. Chin-chin.