The Armory Show: the Wallpaper* picks from the New York art fair

The 22nd Armory Show
The 22nd Armory Show opened last night in New York, attended by a buzzing VIP crowd.
(Image credit: Roberto Chamorro for The Armory Show)

'This is a rodeo,' were the words used to summarise the Armory Show's packed VIP preview yesterday by new executive director Benjamin Genocchio, an editor and former New York Times critic who was tapped to run the fair in December. 'The one thing a lot of the fairs want is energy, this place has it. This is a selling machine.'

Now in its 22nd year, the fair certainly wouldn't be recognisable to its 1913 namesake, or even the modest contemporary concept conceived (originally as the Gramercy International Art Fair) by dealers Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks and Paul Morris back in 1994. By 5pm, Sean Kelly sold two massive works by Kehinde Wiley (one painting for $300,000 and one sculpture for $375,000); Jack Shainman sold Photo Bloke, the Instagram-breaking neon pink Barkley L Hendricks portrait for a cool $200,000; Sprüth Magers moved a 2010 stainless steel Sterling Ruby sculpture for $175,000; and both Marianne Boesky and Jessica Silverman Gallery sold a few watercolour and gouache paintings by Dashiell Manley for between $20,000-$30,000. 

'People brought out heaps of quality – they're a little bit anxious about the market so they brought great stuff,' says Genocchio, noting that, for this year's edition, the fair built a bigger VIP lounge and enhanced visitor services. It also bowed its Africa Focus section, the highlights of which included solo offerings by Dan Halter (at Cape Town's WhatIfTheWorld) and Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze at Seattle's Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt – who also presented Stephen Burks' 'Noir' exhibition beside his Pier 92 lounge'But for next year's fair we'll make some changes,' Genocchio continues. 'We'll look at the floor plan, try to create more space downstairs, maybe move some of the services up to Pier 92, maybe relocate the VIP lounge. Dealers want bigger booths, it gets congested.'

Some key changes might include a reimagined Focus section (arranged conceptually or thematically instead of simply by region); more spots for the Armory Presents section (for galleries aged ten years and under, and which received 220 applications for 20 slots); a rethink on the division between modern and contemporary ('The market has dissolved that division'); and perhaps a new section for larger installations on par with Art Basel's Unlimited sector. 

'That's a prissy, Swiss space. This is a huge industrial structure in New York. I've got 40-foot ceilings, I've got 37,000 feet on the bone yard – that's a third more space, and we don't even use it. All of this is up for grabs,' says Genocchio. Nodding to the surging preview crowd, he adds, 'This is unstoppable, but as a result we haven't done anything. I'd like to evolve it conceptually, the first major conceptual floor plan evolution since they added the Modern section. It hasn't evolved because it works as it is, but we can do it, it's just a matter of getting through this current fair.'

Until then, see above for some highlights from the last pre-Genocchio rodeo. 

The opening night

The show has already proved to be a top-dollar success, with big ticket items shifting on the opening night. Pictured: Sombrillas Azules II, by Los Carpinteros, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

(Image credit: The artists)

The Museum

Wallpaper* caught up with new executive director Benjamin Genocchio, a former critic and editor who was tapped to run the fair in December. Pictured: Museum Tags: Second Movement, by Daniel Joseph Martinez, 1993. Courtesy the artist

(Image credit: The artists)

The Brooklyn Museum

Sean Kelly sold two massive works by Kehinde Wiley for $375,000 a piece. Pictured: Bound, by Kehinde Wiley, 2014.Courtesy the artist

(Image credit: Jonathan Dorado at The Brooklyn Museum)

The Dragon

Saint George and the Dragon, by Kehinde Wiley, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California

(Image credit: The artists)

The Africa Focus section highlights

The Africa Focus section highlights included work by Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze at Seattle's Mariane Ibrahim Gallery. Pictured: The Gift [a room of no one's own], by Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, 2015. Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

(Image credit: The artists)

The Instagram-breaking neon pink

Marianne Boesky and Jessica Silverman Gallery sold watercolour and gouache paintings by Dashiell Manley, whilst Jack Shainman sold Photo Bloke (pictured right), the Instagram-breaking neon pink Barkley L Hendricks portrait for a cool $200,000. Pictured left: Various sources (quiet satires), by Dashiell Manley, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery

(Image credit: The artists)

The Armory Presents section

The show saw an increased number of spaces for the Armory Presents section, which received 220 applications for 20 slots. Pictured left: Adoration, by Sverre Bjertnes, 2016. Right: Job's Daughter, by Sverre Bjertnes, 2016. Courtesy Galleri Brandstrup

(Image credit: The artists)

The series

Newcomers this year also included Galeria Habana, who featured Obama, from the series Apnea by Ariamna Contino, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Galeria Habana

(Image credit: The artists)


The Armory Show is on view until 6 March. For more information, visit the show’s website

Photography courtesy the artists


The Armory Show
One Penn Plaza, Suite 1710
New York, NY 10119