Your Concise Guide to Armory Week 2020

Installation view of Pascale Marthine Tayou, “Plastic Bags” (2019) at the 2019 Armory Show (photo by Teddy Wolff)

To the delight of art lovers and exceedingly stressed gallery workers and art handlers alike, an unseasonably warm New York City (highs in the mid-50s!) will welcome throngs of local and out-of-town visitors for Armory Week 2020. Amid fears of the havoc coronavirus could wreak in large, crowded spaces, the Armory Show has issued a statement addressing concerns around its spread. (The show will go on as planned, but the fair says it will be closely monitoring updates.)

In happier news, the VOLTA fair will return after a one-year hiatus; Spring/Break will be taking over two whole floors of a new venue; and there are so many great exhibitions opening or already up that I had a mild aneurysm trying to pare this list down.

This Armory Week, let’s commit to falling in love with one or two or ten artists we may not have heard of before. From Chioma Ebinama at the Fortnight Institute to Guo Fengyi at the Drawing Center, the next few days offer opportunities for discoveries at every corner. Below is our full list of Hyperallergic-recommended Armory Week fairs — along with shows, talks, performances, and more.

Cristina Canale’s “Cleo” (2019) will be on view in Galeria Nara Roesler’s booth at the Armory Show (courtesy of Galeria Nara Roesler, New York and the artist)

When: March 5–8
Where: Pier 90 and Pier 94, 711 12th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

New York’s premier spring art fair, the Armory Show, will welcome 178 exhibitors from 31 countries at Pier 90 and Pier 94 next week. Notably, this year’s edition marks the first time the fair dedicates an entire venue (Pier 90) to curated projects, presenting exhibitions by curators Jamillah James, Nora Burnett Abrams, and Anne Ellegood in the Focus, Perspectives, and Platform sections, respectively. In the core Galleries section at Pier 94, highlights include Nara Roesler’s booth filled with Brazilian artist Cristina Canale’s vibrant, oneiric paintings and Sean Kelly’s presentation of photographer Dawoud Bey’s acclaimed series “Harlem U.S.A.” (1975–1979), poignant depictions of the historic neighborhood’s residents.

The fair also includes Armory Live, a robust program of talks and events. On Friday, March 6 at 4pm, Renuka Sawhney from the Vera Institute of Justice will moderate a panel of artists and arts professionals discussing representation, body politics, and mass incarceration at the Pier 94 Armory Theater. And on Sunday, March 8 at 2pm, the eminent artist Howardena Pindell will be in conversation with writer and editor Kimberly Drew.

Another very cool feature this year: an audioguide focused on work by female artists at the fair, curated by AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau and free with your ticket purchase. The French nonprofit will also present an award to a solo booth of a woman artist or her estate, so stay tuned.

When: March 3–9
Where: 625 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan

Along with its innovative, zany, and sometimes downright bizarre presentations of contemporary art, mostly by independent curators, Spring/Break is known for occupying unconventional locations, from a post office to a fruit and vegetable warehouse. This year, it will take over an entire two floors of Ralph Lauren’s former headquarters, a towering office building in Midtown East. This year’s theme is “IN EXCESS,” so I’m fully expecting to see work that surpasses the risk-taking aesthetics and sensory overload we’ve seen in previous editions (e.g. 2018 featured a rainbow KKK robe and giant Cheetos sculptures.)

Golnar Adili’s “Patience, Patience, Patience Triptych” (2015), five screenprints on Japanese lens tissue, will be on view in Memory Palace, a booth curated by Sophia Ma at Spring/Break Art Show (courtesy of the artist)

When: March 4–8
Where: Metropolitan West, 639 West 46th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

After a one-year hiatus, Volta returns to New York with new director Kamiar Maleki’s creative vision. Often a great place to encounter the work of emerging and more established artists alike, Volta typically stands out for its emphasis on solo presentations; this year, there will be focused presentations of contemporary art from 55 international galleries.

When: March 5–8
Where: Various locations in New York City; see a programming schedule here

The preponderance of art fairs, rise of online sales, and recent drops in foot traffic means galleries often need to spend thousands of dollars on fair booths just to get collectors to notice them. Last year, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) had a radical idea: rather than hosting a fair during New York Armory Week, it would help bring people back into galleries. With this goal, NADA’s Gallery Open highlights exhibitions in 50 galleries, nonprofits, and alternative spaces around New York City, focusing on a different neighborhood each day and providing guided tours, artist talks, performances, dinners, and VIP events.

Installation view of “Beauty Can Be the Opposite of a Number” at Bureau, part of NADA’s New York Gallery Open (courtesy of Bureau, New York)

When: March 6–8
Where: Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street, Tribeca, Manhattan

Independent New York, hosted once again across several floors of Spring Studios in Tribeca, is an ocean of emerging talent sprinkled with mid-career names and rising stars shown by both galleries and nonprofits. As you’re approaching the entrance on 50 Varick Street, look up: you’ll see a site-specific revival of Vikky Alexander’s 1985 New Museum installation, complementing the artist’s career survey mounted by Downs & Ross on the ground floor.

When: March 6–8
Where: Pier 36, 299 South Street at Clinton Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan

I love a medium-focused fair because you know exactly what you’re going to get; although that may not be necessarily be true of Art on Paper, which plumbs the seemingly endless forms, shapes, and texture paper works can embody. Year after year, the show has left me gasping with surprise, and we can expect no less for its 2020 edition, which has grown to 100 exhibitors.

SCOPE New York 2019 (courtesy of SCOPE Art Show)

When: March 6–8
Where: Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan

SCOPE, now in its 20th edition, returns to the Metropolitan Pavilion this week with presentations from 60 exhibitors. The fair is a great opportunity to see works from international galleries right here in New York, and this year’s edition will also include a full schedule of talks and events.

When: March 6–8
Where: 550 West 29th Street, Hudson Yards, Manhattan

Clio is, in some ways, everything an art fair is not: instead of exhibiting blue chip work and big name galleries, the show makes room for artists without exclusive NYC gallery representation. Offering a series of programs meant to help launch the careers of emerging artists and perks like free storage in New York in the weeks before and after the fair, Clio has certainly earned its self-appointed nickname: the “anti-fair for independent artists.”

When: March 3–8
Where: Zürcher Gallery, 33 Bleecker Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan

Now in its 22nd edition, this self-described “mini-fair” usually offers attendees an opportunity to view works from various galleries in Zürcher’s Bleecker Street space, an intimate and welcoming environment. This year, though, the exhibitors will be 11 individual women artists representing themselves. Manageable in scale but full of treasures, it’s the art fair where you go to hide from other art fairs.

Frida Kahlo, “Me and My Parrots” (1941), oil on canvas, 32 5/16 × 24 3/4 inches. Private collection. (copyright 2020 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

When: Through May 17
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, Chelsea, Manhattan

This ambitious exhibition of approximately 200 works by 60 Mexican and American artists attempts a daunting but critically necessary task: rewriting art history to reflect the true impact of Mexican muralists on modernism in the United States. Tracing their influence from the Mexican Revolution to Pollock’s studio and beyond, this show gives Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros, and other masters their well-earned due. Exhibition essays, wall labels, and other materials are available in both English and Spanish. As they should be.

When: Opening March 1; exhibition continues through July 11
Where: The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan

Arguably known best for rectilinear, wall-mounted or floor sculptures he referred to as “boxes” and “stacks,” Donald Judd also created paintings, drawings, and works in other media. Judd is the minimalist artist’s first US retrospective in over 30 years, covering the breadth of his practice. MoMA says Judd’s work “changed the language of modern sculpture,” a claim I’ve always been skeptical about, but I’m open to seeing this survey and maybe changing my mind. (Note: expect long lines to get in.)

When: Opening March 2, 6–8pm; exhibition continues through April 5
Where: Fortnight Institute, 60 East 4th Street, NoHo, Manhattan

In her lush paintings on paper, on view starting Tuesday of Armory Week, Chioma Ebinama lets color bleed, drip, seep, and muddle. Working with watercolor and Sumi ink on handmade Indian recycled cotton rag paper, Ebinama achieves a feeling of raw, organic beauty.

Chioma Ebinama, “Lovers” (2020), watercolor and sumi ink on handmade Indian recycled cotton rag paper, 6 1/2 x 6 1/4 inches (courtesy of Fortnight Institute, NYC)

When: Opening March 3, 6–8pm; exhibition continues through April 18
Where: Casey Kaplan, 121 West 27th Street, Chelsea, New York

Opening on Tuesday of Armory Week and coinciding with Casey Kaplan’s 25th anniversary is the gallery’s solo show of work by Liam Gillick, the New York-based artist, critic, and writer known for his critiques of globalization and neoliberalism. He often addresses these themes via large-scale installations and sculptures; this exhibition will include also include a selection of the artist’s writing from the early 1990s through the late 2000s.

When: Opening March 6, 7–9pm; exhibition continues through April 19
Where: Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Join Pioneer Works for an opening celebration for their exhibition focused on two of Japan’s most innovative film artists. More Than Cinema brings us four film works by Motoharu Jonouchi and Keiichi Tanaami, key figures of the Japanese Expanded Cinema movement.

Installation view of “Feliciano Centurión: Abrigo” at Americas Society (photo by OnWhiteWall.com, courtesy of Americas Society)

When: Through May 16
Where: Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan

Abrigo, meaning both “overcoat” and “shelter” in Spanish, is the first solo exhibition of Paraguayan artist Feliciano Centurión in the US. Through his embroideries, sculptures, and paintings on textile, Centurión distilled the challenges of being a gay man in a conservative society before he died from complications of AIDS in 1996. The works on view — and Americas Society’s presentation — are vibrant and joyful; they feel like a celebration of life.

When: Through May 24
Where: The New Museum, 235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan

Jordan Casteel is at the forefront of contemporary figuration, and her show at the New Museum is an unmissable highlight of the spring season in New York City. You’ll see almost 40 oil paintings, many from two of her beloved series focusing on Black men: Visible Man (2013–14) and Nights in Harlem (2017), which was inspired by the way the historically black neighborhood looks at night.

Guo Fengyi, “Organization Method of Human Numeric” (2006), colored ink on blueprint paper, 55 x 34 1/2 inches (courtesy of Long March Space)

When: Through May 10
Where: The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, SoHo, Manhattan

Looking to soothe her pain from arthritis, Guo took up qigong, an ancient Chinese practice of combined meditation, breathing, and movement. In her late 40s and without any formal art training, she began drawing what she envisioned during these sessions. The results are complex, otherworldly ink drawings on books, calendar pages, and rice paper scrolls, on view at the Drawing Center.

When: Opening March 5, 6–8pm; exhibition continues through April 25
Where: Lehmann Maupin, 501 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan

Lari Pittman’s rich, multifaceted works contain layers of meaning. With their patterning and iterative motifs, they recall decorative and design aesthetics, but a closer look reveals scenes and themes of violence and power struggles, especially as they relate to the legacy of colonialism. Look out for the pomegranates in the Colombian-American artist’s paintings — symbols of abundance and fertility that Pittman imbues with a political and imperialist charge.

Lari Pittman, “Found Buried” (2020), acrylic, ink, spray paint, colored pencil, and permanent marker on arches paper; 8 parts, each 29 4/5 x 22 1/5 inches (photo by Fredrik Nilsen, copyright Lari Pittman; courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul)

When: Opening March 6, 6–8pm; exhibition continues through April 26
Where: Arsenal Contemporary Art, 214 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan

The first iteration of this group exhibition explored the ways in which climate change is influencing the firmly-entrenched tradition of landscape painting. For the second part of the show, opening during Armory Week, the gallery turns to another art historical stalwart: figuration. How are artists responding to the proliferation of images of the human body that saturate our daily feeds? The nine painters on view at Arsenal Contemporary offer their takes.

When: Through May 10
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan

Early photo nerds, rejoice: there are daguerreotype and albumen prints galore in this focused exhibition dedicated to the first two decades of photography’s history. Many of the works on view are new or recent gifts donated to the museum for its 150th anniversary, so there’s sure to be images even the most seasoned art historians have yet to encounter.

Jeffrey Gibson, “She Never Dances Alone” (video still) (2019) (courtesy of the artist)

When: screenings ongoing March 1–31; special performance on March 7, 11:30pm
Where: Times Square

A new, multi-channel video by the celebrated Choctaw-and-Cherokee-descended artist Jeffrey Gibson celebrates the strength and importance of Indigenous women, focusing on the acclaimed dancer and Miss Native American USA 2013–14, Sarah Ortegon. Presented in partnership with the Armory Show, Times Square Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, Roberts Projects, and Kavi Gupta Gallery, the work will be played on the screens of Times Square throughout the month of March; for one night only during Armory Week, Ortegon will also perform live at Duffy Square (46th Street and Broadway).  

When: Both opening March 5, 6–8pm, exhibitions continue through April 18
Where: Marianne Boesky Gallery, 507 & 509 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan

Marianne Boesky has two exciting solo shows opening on the same night during Armory Week: sculptor Jessica Jackson Hutchins’s Restless Animal Kingdom at the gallery’s 509 outpost and multimedia artist Serge Alain Nitegeka’s Black Migrant at its 507 location. At 509, dancers from Trisha Brown’s company and Antonio Ramos and the Gang Bangers in New York will perform in Hutchins’s wearable ceramic and fabric sculptures, moving around the space to the music of cellist Ayu Wang. According to the press release, the performers will also serve food and drinks from Hutchins’s sculpted vessels. Both the openings and the performance are completely open to the public.

When: March 5, 6:30pm
Where: The Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District, Manhattan

Artist and Guggenheim fellow Tiona Nekkia McClodden, who won the Whitney Biennial’s highest prize for her video and mixed-media installation “I prayed to the wrong god for you” in 2019, joins curator Oluremi C. Onabanjo in a conversation about her practice. Writer and curator Ladi’Sasha Jones of The Laundromat Project will provide an introduction to McClodden’s work, which interweaves questions of gender, sexuality, and race. Tickets and more details here.

When: March 6, 6:30–8:30pm
Where: New York University (NYU) Einstein Auditorium, 34 Stuyvesant St., East Village, Manhattan

How can cultural institutions can engage meaningfully with issues of Indigenous repatriation, displacement, and cultural patrimony? A talk moderated by Jane Anderson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at NYU, will bring together Hadrien Coumans of the Lenape Center; Carrie Gonzalez of the National Museum of the American Indian; Emily Johnson, founder of Emily Johnson/Catalyst; and Jordan Wilson, PhD candidate in NYU’s Department of Anthropology to attempt answers. In particular, they’ll be delving deep into the practice of land acknowledgments in the cultural sphere.

The venue is wheelchair accessible and the event is free and open to the public, RSVP here.

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