Introducing Our Founders
The Armory Show represents many legacies at once. This year, we honor the centennial anniversary of the original 1913 Armory Show in addition to our own fair, circa 1994, and the legendary dealers who built the fair as it remains today.
Colin de Land, known affectionately as the ethical, “anti-dealer”, got into art dealing when he offered to sell a Warhol painting for his Lower East Side neighbor, who was scrounging for drug money. The venture proved profitable; de Land later gained a reputation for fostering cutting-edge, experimental artists—the “refugees of the alternative art world”—who he showcased in an anti-commercial way. Together with his wife, fellow Armory founder Pat Hearn, the pair were pioneers of the Chelsea, Soho, and East Village art scenes. Hearn was similarly known for her ethics and extremely empathetic with artists, such that her later diagnosis with cancer (and uncooperative insurance company) led to donations from hundreds of artists and dealers in her community.
Like the rest of the group, Matthew Marks was destined to be a dealer: At age 13, he requested a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe for his birthday, and although he settled for a print by Marsden Hartley, his future had been decided nonetheless. He continued to collect and trade work, and later became known for the special care he gave his artists, spending a large portion of his day speaking with them on the phone. “I will always take an artist’s call if I am on the phone with a collector,” he once said, “And I will never take a collector’s call if I’m on the phone with an artist.” The last of the group, Paul Morris, has nostalgically recalled (as we’ve mentioned) planning the inaugural fair over Chinese food. Among the company of de Land, Hearn and Marks, the group had agreed on the following: “If you make choices in the service of art, you [cannot] go awry”. This founding sentiment that still rings true today.