Some Tough Love For The Armory Show
Friends tell each other the truth even when the truth can sometimes be hard to hear. That's why The Canvas is going to take this opportunity to speak to the powers that be at The Armory Show and impart some harsh but necessary wisdom. The leadership of the fair obviously doesn't have to take it- The Canvas isn't omniscient after all- but they'd be well-served to at least consider what we have to say; especially considering it's what anyone who mattered was talking about yesterday.
Wednesday's VIP/Press day was anything but. Even with the harsh weather raging outside, crowds quickly piled into piers 94/92 and by 3:00pmthe aisles were practically impassable. While the day is ostensibly meant for serious collectors and members of the press to consider the artwork in a less frenzied environment than the public days usually provide for, there was nothing dignified nor remotely calm about the scene at The Armory Show yesterday.
Despite having seemingly endless dining and lounge options, available seating was nonexistent. So many parents with toddlers and strollers prowled the booths of the fair this year that it's a miracle The Canvas didn't accidentally step on one of them. And if you're wondering about sales-those pesky little things- then it's probably best to not get your hopes too high. Sales were "leisurely at the outset" as Nate Freeman generously put it in his recap for Artsy. And while certain galleries such as Sean Kelly and Pace did brisk business, others (who shall remain nameless) found significantly less success. Is it any wonder that mega galleries such as David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth have chosen to stay away?
Now none of this is meant to impugn the leadership of Nicole Berry. She's been in the top job for less than five months and by all accounts is doing an admirable job in putting her own stamp on the fair. But ultimately The Armory Show is going to have to face a decision about its future. Will it try to preserve its place on the international art fair circuit as a must-see destination for serious collectors, or will it instead lean in to its "Disneyfication" and simply become a background setting for art tourists to take pictures for their Instagram accounts?
The New York Times has a new article out about TEFAF's attempts at establishing a global brand (a la Art Basel and Frieze).
The Observer published an interesting look at the issue of non-payment that occasionally arises at the auction houses. While some excuses given are comical, most often they involve dealers losing clients they planned to sell the art to.
The Los Angeles Times released an in-depth look at how pervasive Instagram is in the art world. While most of the coverage looked at how small and up and coming artists use the platform, it also mentioned the social media strategies of LACMA, the Whitney, and Saatchi in London. As we mentioned in our Art Basel Miami Beach coverage, as more and more galleries reassess the traditional brick-and-mortar gallery model, platforms and tools like Instagram and video will become increasingly ingrained into the sales process.
What's the deal with ArtNews lately? First Nate Freeman jumps ship and moves over to Artsy- a huge deal as his pieces were some of the most widely read on the site. And then the New York Post's Page Six runs a blurb about how Brant Publications (which owns ArtNews, Interview, and Art in America) has been embroiled in an argument with its landlord and hasn't been sending in its rent checks lately. Word is that staffers have moved back into their offices but many emails to executives at the company have remained unanswered. It all sounds very Louise Blouin like if you ask us...
Kudos to the reporting staff at Artnet News for publishing this handy pieceabout the varying staff sizes at the art world's major galleries. These numbers can very often be hard to pin down but apparently Artnet got all of the 15 galleries they asked to confirm their employee numbers on the record. Some interesting numbers in there- Paul Kasmin really has 35 employees across its galleries?
If you're looking for a recap of Christie's Post-War and Contemporary art sale in London this past week, then you can't find better than Judd Tully's blow-by-blow account published in Artsy. He describes the sale as "an almost flawless performance" as the house racked up an impressive total.
Must See Booths at The Armory Show (Part One)
Goodman Gallery (Pier 94, Booth 702)
Gagosian (Pier 94, Booth 800)
David Castillo (Pier 94, Booth 728)
Jeffrey Deitch (Pier 94, Booth 819)
Shulamit Nazarian (Pier 94, Booth P4)
Have any tips, gossip, news, or sales reports you want to share with The Canvas? Or maybe you just want to say hi? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any editorial, sponsorship, or collaboration opportunities.