Looking Back on Our History

Just over one hundred years ago, the historic Armory Show brought avant-garde European artwork—never before seen on American soil—and placed it side-by-side with American counterparts. The impact on the New York City art world was profound. Eighty-one years later, a group of dealers began a show with a similarly eclectic and unorthodox mix of genres—later renamed as an homage to the original fair. The four dealers were husband-and-wife Colin de Land and Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks, and Paul Morris—who planned the fair in the early ’90s over a dinner of take-out Chinese food. Although the art world has continued to evolve since their inaugural 1994 fair, the Armory Show has remained true to its original motives.

In 1994, our fair sought to bring art from all over the globe under one roof—our first roof being the iconic Gramercy Park Hotel (and accordingly, our original name was the Gramercy International Art Fair). It was a humble, makeshift setting, and in ’99 we moved to the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, where we changed our name to the Armory Show to honor the 1913 exhibition of the same name that had also taken place in the building. In 2001, we relocated once again to the West Side Piers 88 and 99, and our upcoming fair takes place on Piers 92 and 94 (92 devoted to modern art and 94 to contemporary, living artists). Serving as a visual reminder of the history of New York City’s transportation infrastructure, the piers are set within the ever-changing urban landscape of NYC and are an integral part of the cultural redevelopment of Manhattan’s west side—one we are proud to embrace as a site for emerging art.