AO On-Site — New York: Armory Show, September 9-12, 2021

September 15th, 2021

Wendy Red Star
Wendy Red Star at Sargent’s Daughters, via Art Observed

This past weekend, New Yorkers flocked to the Javits Center, not for COVID-19 vaccinations, but rather for the much-anticipated Armory Show, which made its return after last year’s cancelled edition, and which marked the first major art fair in the United States since the pandemic struck. In the wake of lockdown, following an extended period of postponed events and online viewing rooms, eager art-goers packed into the Javits Center, where the fair is now located. In the spacious, newly renovated convention center along the Hudson River, the fair presented more than 150 booths, with more than 40 international galleries. Serving as a fixture of modern and contemporary art, the fair kicked off the New York art world’s busiest week of the season—Armory Week.

Nate Lowman
Nate Lowman at David Zwirner, via Art Observed

The centrally located David Zwirner booth featured Nate Lowman’s abstracted paintings alongside new photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans, while the neighboring Vielmetter presentation included Kennedy Yanko’s crushed-metal sculptures and Genevieve Gaignard’s collages incorporating vintage ephemera and thrifted objects.

Kennedy Yanko
Kennedy Yanko and Genevieve Gaignard at Vielmetter, via Art Observed

Urs Fischer
Urs Fischer at Sadie Coles HQ, via Art Observed

Situated in a prominent booth, Sadie Coles HQ presented a series of striking neon works by Alex Da Corte, in addition to pieces by Urs Fischer and Kati Heck. Focusing on figurative painting, Victoria Miro mounted a captivating three-person exhibition featuring Hernan Bas, Doron Langberg and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami. Artist Alvin Ong made his notable United States-debut with Singapore-based Yavuz Gallery, displaying 108 of his self-portraits that imbue mundane moments with surrealism.

Hernan Bas
Hernan Bas at Victoria Miro, via Art Observed

Alvin Ong
Alvin Ong at Yavuz Gallery, via Art Observed

The artists included within Focus—the curated thematic section of twenty galleries—explored the most urgent questions of the present while shaping alternative visions of the future. According to the official description, “future as spectrum examines how artists have used the challenges and monumental changes experienced in 2020 as a catalyst to explore future imaginations, communities, governments, economies, and environments.”

Organized by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the Chief Curator of the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, Focus included James Fuentes, who presented Didier William’s colorful large-scale paintings in which viewers reckon with the dissociated body. Also included in Focus, Sargent’s Daughters featured Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow) in a booth centering around her papier-mâché model of a pickup truck adorned with an honor bonnet devised by the artist’s grand-uncle, an Apsáalooke knowledge keeper.

Didier William
Didier William at James Fuentes, via Art Observed

The Platform section featured eight large-scale paintings and site-specific installations under the thematic framework entitled, Can you hear the fault lines breathing? Organized by Claudia Schmuckli, the Curator-in-Charge of Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, these works “speak to the urgency of working toward new models of bridging fault lines—societal, historical, or geographical—that are grounded in empathy and understanding.”

Platform included Tau Lewis’s Opus (The Ovule) (2020), an imaginative soft-sculptural creation belonging to the artist’s utopian fantasy, a domain she calls T.A.U.B.I.S. The subject of significant anticipation, Grayson Perry’s Very Large Very Expensive Abstract Painting (2020) problematized prominent threads in the American popular cultural landscape. Presented by Victoria Miro, this large-scale tapestry resulted from the artist’s investigative, immersive journey across the United States via his custom motorbike.

Tau Lewis
Tau Lewis with Night Gallery, via Art Observed

Grayson Perry
Grayson Perry with Victoria Miro, via Art Observed

The Presents section focused on younger exhibitors, featuring galleries less than fifteen years old from around the world. Thierry Goldberg mounted a striking solo-presentation of Bony Ramirez, the multi-disciplinary artist with roots in the Dominican Republic who garnered significant attention this year. Nearby, Lyles & King showcased paintings by Jessie Makinson, which portray her fantastical, intermingling androgynous creatures.

Bony Ramirez at Thierry Goldberg, via Art Observed

Jessie Makinson
Jessie Makinson at Lyles & King, via Art Observed

— A. Chisholm

Read more:
Armory Show [Exhibition Site]