A New Kind of Art Show

Art shows have undergone many colorful iterations, perhaps unmatched in originality by the 1994 debut of the modern Armory Show—then called The Gramercy Fair—held in the rooms of the Gramercy Park Hotel. Art dealers filled every imaginable surface of the legendary hotel with art, covering the walls, the bathrooms, even the beds (when they weren’t being slept in). The grassroots fair was filled with artists, collectors, and patrons, smoking, sipping champagne, and celebrating a special, seminal moment in the art world. But don’t take our word for it, take theirs:

“The first fair was a blast; it turned into an artworld “Animal House.” And even though I only lived a few blocks away from the hotel I still stayed overnight in a room. Karen Kilimnik did a great Helter Skelter installation in the bathroom, and Rirkrit Tiravinija made tea. It was fun. All the artists would just hang out; it was like a commune.”—Lisa Spellman, Dealer, 303 Gallery

“All I can say is that we really miss room service, booze, and toilets flushing while making sales; and beds for naps in the afternoon.”—Jeff Poe, Dealer

“The Gramercy was so popular, the elevators broke and everybody had to walk fourteen, fifteen, sixteen flights up, because the rooms we got were on the top floors. People were waiting in line to climb up!”—Nicole Klagsbrun, Dealer

“Artists could stay the night if they cleaned up in the morning before the fair opened. Also, it was during the recession, so people generally brought their artwork in a suitcase.”—Patrick Painter, Dealer