In a matter of hours, two piers along Manhattan’s West Side will unveil their yearly transformation into a showcase of modern and contemporary art: The Armory Show. On opening day, viewers will be welcomed by perfectly resolved gallery booths that bare no signs of the rulers, ladders, and tool belts of art handlers from the final, bustling hours of preparation. While we appreciate the illusion of arriving to the grandeur of a finished scene, we couldn’t help but share an inside peek of handlers working—many of them artists themselves—to transport, unpack, and install the work in a laborious process typically unseen by the gallery-goer.
Jack Shainman Gallery’s Booth 708 at Pier 94
At right, El Anatsui’s Wet is carefully installed by art handlers including Peter Bitenc (pictured) who says the piece was shipped by rolling the artwork around long cardboard tubes. The installation process involves screwing hooks into the gallery wall and positioning the work per Shainman’s eye.
Below, Nick Cave’s Soundsuit is caught mid-installation. After being unwrapped from the bubble-wrap and wooden crate through which it discreetly entered the fair, the sculpture is carefully assembled following precise instructions.