The Armory Show: 2020 Fair Highlights

The Armory Show
Feb 24, 2020 6:40PM

The Armory Show Returns for its 26th edition, featuring three curated sections; seven large-scale projects; four days of talks; and 183 exhibitors from 32 countries

Photo by Teddy Wolff, Ai Weiwei at Deitch Projects

The Armory Show returns to Manhattan’s Piers 90 and 94 on March 5, featuring 183 galleries from 32 countries and with 33 first-time exhibitors. The Armory Show, supported by Lead Partner Athena Art Finance, is pleased to offer a new and expanded curatorial program, with Pier 90 composed entirely of curator-led projects and initiatives that address themes such as revisionist histories, social satire, and the contemporary recontextualization of 20th century work. Pier 94, meanwhile, is devoted to The Armory Show’s longstanding Galleries section, as well as the Presents section—the latter of which shows presentations of works no more than three years old, from galleries no more than ten years old. This balance of major blue chips and fresh discoveries is what maintains The Armory Show’s steady place in the market, as well as its status as an international meeting place for the art world and an annual destination for museums and collectors to acquire new works.

The 2020 fair’s new and expanded curatorial program features invited curators including Jamillah James (Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) for The Armory Show’s Focus section, which this year examines revisionist histories; Anne Ellegood (Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), whose Platform section features seven large-scale works that reflect sociopolitical satire while spatially responding to and activating the fair’s industrial venue; and Nora Burnett Abrams (Mark G. Falcone Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver), who is inaugurating The Armory Show’s Perspectives section, which recontextualizes 20th century works in a contemporary setting.

Maintaining its status as an essential selling platform for domestic and international galleries, The Armory Show is pleased to welcome back, after a one-to-three year hiatus, 25 historical exhibitors, among which are Gagosian, Kasmin, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Richard Saltoun, R & Company, and Night Gallery. Among the ten galleries returning in 2020 after a fiveto-ten year hiatus are Bortolami Gallery, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Brooke Alexander, Maccarone, and Simon Lee Gallery.

While introducing fresh perspectives through multiple curatorial platforms, The Armory Show is proud to retain its legacy as New York’s original art fair, founded by New York dealers with a New York audience. In addition to Kasmin and Brooke Alexander, 2020 exhibitors who participated in the fair’s earliest editions at the Gramercy Park Hotel are 303 Gallery, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Jeffrey Deitch, Haines Gallery, Galerie Krinzinger, Pierogi, Yancey Richardson Gallery, and Zeno X Gallery.

The 49 exhibitors whose 2020 presentation marks ten or more years returning to The Armory Show include, in addition to many of the above and others: Victoria Miro, Sean Kelly, Ronald Feldman Gallery, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Kohn Gallery, Kavi Gupta, Caroline Nitsch, DC Moore Gallery, Stephen Friedman Gallery, Galerie Crone, Alison Jacques Gallery, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, Hollis Taggart, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Susan Sheehan Gallery, Yossi Milo Gallery, Two Palms, and Peter Blum Gallery.

Building on a strong contingent of domestic and international galleries, the 2020 edition also welcomes 33 first-time exhibitors.

Special Projects

This year’s Special Projects—collaborative on- and off-site initiatives organized directly by The Armory Show—include a presentation of Dawoud Bey’s Harlem U.S.A., 1975-1979, organized and exhibited by Sean Kelly; an installation by For Freedoms; a live performance from artist Jeffrey Gibson in Times Square; and Mel Kendrick’s Sculpture No. 4 (1991), presented by David Nolan Gallery

Curatorial Leadership Summit

On Thursday, March 5, the third annual Curatorial Leadership Summit (CLS), chaired by José Carlos Diaz (Chief Curator of the Andy Warhol Museum), will assemble prominent national and international curators from leading institutions for a daylong program of closed-door discussions, taking place on-site at The Armory Show. The talks will explore and debate issues such as cultural appropriation, censorship, and identity politics. Confirmed attendees include curators, arts administrators, and leadership from institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Bass Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, to name a few.

Armory Live

Armory Live celebrates the 26th fair edition with four days of dedicated talks featuring internationally renowned artists, curators, collectors, and art practitioners. Highlights include Jeffrey Gibson, who will speak with Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai on the topic of cultural history, collectivism, and censorship. Renuka Sawhney of the Vera Institute of Justice, meanwhile, will lead a conversation addressing representation, body politics, and mass incarceration. Additional Armory Live participants include Hank Willis Thomas (artist and For Freedoms co-founder), Legacy Russell (associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem), Dread Scott (artist), Liz Glynn (artist), and Jarl Mohn (collector).


For its 2020 edition, The Armory Show is pleased to award four juried prizes—three in collaboration with key partners—that recognize exceptional presentations in various categories.

The Gramercy International Prize, established in 2019 to mark the fair’s 25th anniversary, supports the advancement of young and pioneering New York gallerists who have not previously participated in The Armory Show. Kai Matsumiya has been selected as the second annual recipient of the Gramercy International Prize. The gallery will exhibit a solo presentation from Brazilian mixed media artist Pedro Wirz. In alignment with its purpose of elevating emerging talent, recipients of the Gramercy International Prize receive a free-of-charge booth situated among the fair’s core Galleries section.

While the Gramercy International Prize is awarded in November in order to give its recipient time to prepare their booth presentation, the recipients of The Armory Show’s three partner prizes are selected based on their final booth presentations and are announced on the first public day of the fair, this year on Thursday, March 5.

For The Pommery Prize, now in its second year, Champagne Pommery will recognize an exceptional presentation of large-scale artwork within the Platform section of the fair. Its $20,000 prize will be shared between the artist and presenting gallery. In addition to Champagne Pommery co-owner and CEO Nathalie Vranken, its jury includes Nora Lawrence (Senior Curator, Storm King Art Center) and Emma Lavigne (President, Palais de Tokyo). The 2019 Pommery Prize winner was Lisson Gallery’s presentation of Ryan Gander.

The Presents Booth Prize, supported for its fourth consecutive year by Armory Show Lead Partner Athena Art Finance, recognizes an outstanding and innovative presentation within the Presents section of the fair, and will award $10,000 toward the winning gallery’s fair participation costs. In addition to Naomi Baigell (Managing Director, Athena Art Finance), jurors include Elisabeth Karpidas (Executive Director, Karpidas Family Foundation) and Bernard Lumpkin (collector and philanthropist). Past recipients include Charlie James Gallery, who in 2019 exhibited Sadie Barnette; blank projects, who in 2018 exhibited Igshaan Adams and Cinga Samson; and Mariane Ibrahim, who in 2017 exhibited Zohra Opoku.

The inaugural AWARE Prize is presented by the French not-for-profit organization AWARE (Archive of Women Artists Research & Exhibitions), which seeks to restore the presence of 20th-century women artists in the history of art. In alignment with AWARE’s goal pertaining to the creation, indexation, and distribution of information on 20th-century women artists, the AWARE Prize will award $10,000 to a female artist (or the estate of a female artist) exhibited in the Galleries section of the fair. The jury, in addition to AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau, includes Bloum Cardenas (Trustee, Niki Charitable Art Foundation; President, Giardino dei Tarocchi), Simon Castets (Director, Swiss Institute), and Maura Reilly (Founding Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum).

The Armory Show Audio Guide

The Armory Show will, for the first time ever, offer a free-to-the-public, dial-in audio guide available from any cell phone that will feature more than fifty auditory bytes (each thirty to sixty seconds in length) that offer curatorial insight to works, projects, and booths on view at The Armory Show 2020. Commentary will be provided by a number of prominent curators and tastemakers, including Camille Morineau, Anne Ellegood, Jamillah James, José Carlos Diaz, and Isabella Lauria, among others. Signage throughout the fair will indicate included exhibitions and artworks.

Curatorial Sections (Pier 90)

For the first time ever, The Armory Show is devoting a full pier to presentations chosen by guest curators from leading institutions, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. With Pier 90 composed entirely of these curator-led projects and initiatives, visitors are treated to a notably institutional feel as they walk from presentation to presentation. Among the themes of the 2020 fair’s curatorial program are social commentary, paradigms of truth, and unexpected dialogues between 20th century and contemporary art.

Perspectives: Perspectives is a new historical section of 20th-century work examined through a contemporary lens. This year, 18 galleries will show works from modern and post-war icons placed in compelling conversations with one another—works from artists such as Josef Albers, Richard Diebenkorn, Max Ernst, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hoffmann, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Imi Knoebel, Brice Marden, Kenneth Noland, Gerhard Richter, and Ed Ruscha. Other galleries take a distinctly experimental approach, such as a presentation that places works from early-20th-century crime photographer Weegee in thoughtful dialogue with Nan Goldin’s intimate photographs from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Curated by Nora Burnett Abrams (Mark G. Falcone Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Focus: The Armory Show’s annual Focus section features solo- and dual-artist presentations of post-2000 art. This year’s theme is revisionist histories; its 31 exhibitors’ projects examine the ways in which artists construct a version of reality or self where the boundaries of fact and fiction are indistinct. Taken as a whole, the 2020 Focus section is an open-ended proposition that asks how history functions when the present is constantly accelerating, and how much agency individuals or communities have in narrating their experiences and making new worlds. Curated by Jamillah James (Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

Platform: Interspersed throughout the full footprint of the fair, including Pier 90 but extending to Pier 94 as well, are large-scale projects that activate and respond to The Armory Show’s industrial venue. The Platform theme for 2020 asked exhibitors to consider how techniques of satire and caricature have been used historically in art and literature as sharp tools of social critique. How are contemporary visual artists drawing from these centuries-old practices, while also imbuing them with fresh perspectives that examine the particular issues of today’s volatile political and cultural climate? All seven pieces within the Platform section will be included in The Armory Audio Guide. Curated by Anne Ellegood (Executive Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles).

Not-for-Profit: The Armory Show is pleased to support a variety of important cultural causes by providing affordable booths to a select group of not-for-profit organizations. Participating organizations, ranging from museums to not-for-profit galleries to art foundations and beyond, share The Armory Show’s common desire to promote the visual arts to collectors and the general public alike.

Pier 94

Pier 94 is home to The Armory Show’s longstanding Galleries section. Alongside it is the Presents section, which exhibits works no more than three years old, from galleries no more than ten years old. This balance of fresh discoveries and established galleries, some of which have returned to The Armory Show for over 20 years, is what annually maintains The Armory Show’s stature as a consistently exciting international destination for the art world and general public alike.

Galleries: Galleries, the core section of The Armory Show, features outstanding 20th- and 21st-century artworks in a range of media, presented by 109 leading international galleries. Visitors are invited to discover thousands of artworks spanning movements, mediums, and cultures.

Presents: The Armory Show’s Presents section, situated alongside the established names of the Galleries section, features galleries no more than ten years old. It is emblematic of The Armory Show’s longstanding efforts to give smaller galleries visibility—and therefore viability—within the larger market. In alignment with this overall spirit, and to foster The Armory Show’s continued status as a destination for fresh discoveries, this section’s 26 exhibitors are showing solo- and dual-artist presentations of works that were made in the past three years.

Platform: Platform, the curated section that consists of large-scale projects interspersed throughout both Pier 90 and Pier 94, will this year have four of its seven projects on Pier 94. These include a historically important work from Edward and Nancy Kienholz, The Caddy Court (1986-1987), located in the Town Square.

The Armory Show