Guide to Armory Week 2021

After being rescheduled from March, the Armory Show makes its highly-anticipated return to NYC early in September. We’re particularly looking forward to hosting our annual members’ private reception with Champagne Pommery, one of our favorite events of the year. Ahead of the art-filled week, we tapped industry insiders for their top picks this year. Read on for the artists and exhibitions not to miss.

Rachel Cole | Founder, Rachel Cole Art Advisory & Collection Management

The artist I am most looking forward to seeing at the Armory Show is Sanam Khatibi, whose work will be on display at PPOW’s booth (S2). I first saw her work at her 2019 solo show with PPOW and was immediately entranced. She inserts a captivating and fantastical allure into everything she makes, from her small-scale still lifes to her large-scale landscapes—though this series in particular is inspired by The Green River Killer, America’s most prolific serial killer. When viewing in person, one can see that she renders her paintings with staggeringly tenacious detail, creating an uncanny and enigmatic mystique. Khatibi’s works are magic: primal, otherworldly, and completely bewitching.

Sanam Khatibi, Sonnets to Orpheus

Blair Clarke | Founder, Voltz Clarke Gallery

The Armory is back and better than ever with a VIP line up that is off the charts! My talented friend Eliza Osborne has done an outstanding job co-directing the program alongside Nicole Berry. The countdown for me is the Agora Lounge which will host site specific large scale installations and is sure to be the apex of the fair! This year our gallery, Voltz Clarke, is excited to present one of our very talented Spanish painters, Maru Quiñonero, at Art on Paper at Pier 36. Quiñonero’s work takes a deep dive into her personal exploration of the color blue in five “acts,” or pieces, which detail in different shades her Mother’s eyes, the Monday blues, or the shadows painted by Gustav Klimt. With over ten shades of blue, “Lo Azul” is relatable, emotional, and CANNOT be missed at Art on Paper.

Maru Quiñonero

Aside from our own affairs, I am eager to see Material Healing from Monica King Projects (think, maybe kindest dealer EVER) at the SPRING/BREAK show where paintings from Katarra Peterson and installations from Fischer Cherry are going to be a HUGE HIT!

Housing a booth at the Armory show will be another favorite (and Southern dealer) Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino gallery from Houston where large-scale photographs from artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso will be on display. It will be an ESSENTIAL stop for anyone at the Armory who wishes to get up close and personal with vibrant details of the natural world.

Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino gallery

The prestigious Brant Foundation Art Study Center is also hosting a solo show from Julian Schnabel, Self-Portraits of Others, a showcase of twenty-five plate paintings that will be a crowd pleaser for art lovers or anyone wanting to see and be seen. Run, don't walk.

Julian Schnabel, Self-Portraits of Others

Last, but definitely not least, my razor-sharp, longtime friend and colleague Natasha Schlesinger’s co-curated exhibition “Roaring Back” at the Core Club is certain to be a boost of energy— energy that was for a time dormant but has returned! This show is a nod to the zest and good times that were had during the roaring ‘20s and the Harlem Renaissance that I know we all feel reviving in the city once again. This will go down in history as a blockbuster as does anything Natasha touches.

See you during art week and don’t forget your sneakers!

Natasha Schlesinger’s co-curated exhibition “Roaring Back” at the Core Club

Ellie Hayworth | Founder, Hayworth

Though I'm particularly excited to experience the Armory Show in its new home at the Javits Center — and my consistent fair-favorite, Independent — there exists renewed opportunity for discovery and a sense of play beyond these fair-circuit stalwarts. Future Fair and SPRING/BREAK are therefore two must-sees for me during New York's fall fair week. At Future Fair, cross-exhibitor collaboration is encouraged and therefore several presentations will be collaboratively executed with a specific curatorial theme in mind. I'm particularly excited to see contributions by Dinner Gallery, Swivel Gallery, and Over the Influence. As for SPRING/BREAK, the HEARSAY/HERESY theme is especially resonant and I'll personally bee-line to Emily McElwreath's curated presentation which features works by Natalie Baxter, Jeila Gueramian, Suzanne Kiggins, and Emilia Olsen.

John Melick | Founder, Blue Medium

New works by Leonardo Drew, Galerie Lelong: Drew has recently been experimenting with new forms, including wave-like momentums and terraced structures. The show will coincide with the installation of a four-storey-tall commission for the US embassy in Kampala, and an ongoing solo exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum. 

Highlights at the Armory Show: Cristin Tierney Gallery will present a solo exhibition of video and photography from artist Janet Biggs curated by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Chief Curator Wassan Al-Khudhairi. For The Armory Show Galerie Lelong, in collaboration with Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills will present a solo exhibition of the pioneering female land artist Michelle Stuart. On view will be sculpture, works on paper, and photography, offering a comprehensive overview of Stuart’s explorations of time, place, and memory that captures “the handwriting of nature.”

At the SPRING/BREAK Art Show: HOWL! Happening will present a booth of the artists Scooter LaForge and James Rubio curated by Director Jane Friedman.

Gia Kuan | Founder & Principal, GIA KUAN

I represent Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles and they will have a booth at Armory Fair, which will showcase an array of their rising star portfolio. I am also very excited to see the unveiling of programming at The Kitchen under the new leadership of Legacy Russell – which will debut around September. I have so much respect for her work both at the Harlem Studio Museum to her book debut of Glitch Feminism and just excited to see what her vision can bring to the NY institution of experimental avant-garde art space.

Kohn Gallery

Danielle Bias, Director of Communications, Whitney Museum

The Brooklyn Museum is bringing Amy Sherald’s much talked about portrait of former First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama to New York City as part of the “Obama Portraits Tour” that will travel to several U.S. cities over the next year, including also Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. (Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of former President Barack Obama is, of course, also part of the tour.)

Credit: “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama” by Amy Sherald, oil on linen, 2018. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The National Portrait Gallery is grateful to the following lead donors for their support of the Obama portraits: Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Judith Kern and Kent Whealy; Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia.

The portrait, commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., debuted in 2018. Many viewers, unfamiliar with Sherald’s signature style of rendering portraits largely en grisaille (in gray or shades of gray), were shocked when her portrait of Mrs. Obama was first revealed; some were even disappointed that the deep brown tones of Mrs. Obama’s skin seemed absent from the work. I had the pleasure of seeing the portrait in person in 2019 during a visit to the Smithsonian. Certainly, photographs of the work do not do it justice and encountering it in person reveals a grace and intimacy that is a characteristic of some of the most beloved portraits of all time.

Perhaps, in recent times, other portraits of Presidents and First Ladies have toured to major museums across the U.S., but if so, I am not aware. It is both a credit to the enduring popularity of the Obamas and the triumph of Sherald and Wiley’s portraits that this national tour is taking place, providing an unprecedented opportunity for many Americans to experience these great works up close as the artists and subjects intended. There may be long waits to see them in some venues, but I would argue that it will be worth the wait.

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