After six years and seven editions, Focus will drop its remit of highlighting a particular region’s art production. This past edition’s Focus: African Perspectives was by far the most successful iteration of the initiative to date
—particularly with regard to press and public exposure. However, with nearly every major emerging region now covered, it appears Genocchio was keen to take a fresh, editorially minded approach. The new Focus will feature curated and solo booths of “today’s most relevant and compelling artists,” as selected by a yet-to-be-appointed curator. It’s a vague notion to be sure, meant to be malleable from year to year. But Armory Show applicants and attendees should likely expect a fair section along the lines of an “artists to watch” list.
Outside of traditional booths, yet another curator will be appointed to enact an Art Basel
Unlimited-style showcase of large-scale artworks for a new section spanning both piers, called Platform. The Armory Show is also broadening its programming with a new initiative titled Armory Live. Featuring an expanded series of talks, performances, and screenings (both at the fair and online), Armory Live is aimed not only at making the fair experience more dynamic, but also at increasing the fair’s reach beyond those who are able to visit its five-day run in Manhattan. Considering Genocchio’s background in the digital media space, we could see this Armory Live audience potentially monetized in the future, should it reach scale, adding another revenue stream for the already-profitable fair.
Can these changes make The Armory Show into the world’s best art fair? Can they give New York the great art fair that Genocchio has, for the past six months, campaigned to say it needs and does not have? Time will tell. The art market isn’t all that warm to change, generally. And one would expect the truly great galleries might watch with interest from the sidelines as the fair’s 2017 edition takes shape. Then again, showman that Genocchio is, they might not.