Andrea Chung featured in Forbes 3.5.20

Maurizio Cattelan Â©PATRICK MCMULLAN

The Armory Show VIP Preview Opens To Strong Sales, Resilient Collectors


By Bettina Zilkha |

March 5, 2020

The 2020 Armory Show held its VIP preview Wednesday morning at Pier 90 and Pier 94. Founded in 1994, The Armory Show has become an important yearly event for collectors and dealers alike. This year the excitement over high quality art was once again palpable: with a line out the door, collectors were in a shopping mood, and stock market slumps and coronavirus fears were all but non-existent. This year the fair’s lead partner was once again Athena Art Finance, and sponsors included Artsy and Valmont.

“The Armory Show has always provided a significant platform for emerging artists and galleries to be presented alongside renowned names, and through that has become defined as New York’s essential art fair,” said The Armory Show’s Executive Director, Nicole Berry. “Within the next five years we will continue to champion new talent and further solidify the standing of such significant artists and galleries within the US market.”

Beth Rudin DeWoody, Chase Hall Â©PATRICK MCMULLAN

As in past years, Pier 90 opened at 11, an hour before Pier 94. This year, Pier 90 was entirely devoted to curator led initiatives, providing visitors with a unique and carefully selected viewing experience. Within that, the show introduced a new section, Perspectives, which is dedicated to historical material viewed through a contemporary lens.

Upon entering Pier 90, collectors Kim Vernon and Laurie Silverman were immediately charmed by Andrea Chung’s reverse voodoo dolls at Klowden Mann.

“It was the first thing we saw, and it was love at first sight,” said Silverman. We’ve both been following her art – we first saw her at Dustin Yellin’s Pioneer Works.”

“I just bought one of her pieces,” said Vernon. “She does reverse voodoo: all the pins are focused on bringing power, not disempowering. It looks like acupuncture.”

The Armory Show 2020 Preview Day Â©PATRICK MCMULLAN

As soon as Pier 94 opened at noon, collectors began buying. Some galleries had pre-sold as well.

“We sold the day of the installation, to a dealer who is also a collector,” said Nathalie Obadia of Paris-based Galerie Nathalie Obadia. “It’s a good sign. When dealers are buying, it means they are optimistic. I feel a lot of energy here; only two or three collectors canceled their trips.”

“We pre-sold a lot,” said Eric Gleason, Director at Paul Kasmin. “There is an undeniable cloud of unpredictability looming over all of our heads, but we haven’t seen that decline manifested in anything sales-oriented.”

Kasmin was showing a mix of modern and contemporary pieces.

“We are mimicking a collector’s room, and we’ve integrated works from both the 20th and 21st centuries: a beautiful Stewart Davis, a Lalanne mirror, a unique David Weisman bronze chandelier that has been electrified,” continued Gleason.

Collectors and art world notables attended in droves, including Glenn Lowry, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle, Maurizio Cattelan, Mera Rubell, Maxwell Anderson, and Beth Rudin DeWoody.

“They’re showing my guy, Rudolf Polanszky!” exclaimed uber-collector Rudin DeWoody at Gagosian’s booth. “I met him through a friend in Vienna, and I went to his studio way out in the country. I own about fifteen of his works. He’s an amazing man. He’s an incredible artist and is finally having his day. Gagosian has picked him up – he’s having a big, solo show right now at the old Mary Boone space in Chelsea.”

Austin Lee at Jeffrey Deitch Â©PATRICK MCMULLAN

Jeffrey Deitch, who was one of the dealers at the original Armory Show in 1994, was showing Austin Lee, whose vibrant colors and young, energetic works were a big draw.

“I’m a child of Andy Warhol,” said Deitch. “Andy’s work is what inspired me to first get involved with art. You could have an artist engaged with our culture at that moment, but also reaching back in art history and creating work that looks like now. Austin Lee, many years later, has that quality.”

“This is art that looks like our world today,” Deitch continued. “He’s an artist immersed in the way people communicate through Instagram and social media. He grew up playing video games. That electronic landscape is a lot of what he’s representing here. It relates to what people see on the computer screen. But he is also a master of airbrush, which is a very difficult technique.”

As for the state of the art market, Deitch was optimistic.

“There is a wide audience of people who are happy to acquire new works of promising artists at this level – around $45,000,” said Deitch. “The fair this year is as crowded as ever. New Yorkers are a resilient bunch.”

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