The Armory Show is New York’s premier art fair and a definitive cultural destination for discovering and collecting the world’s most important 20th and 21st century artworks. Staged on Piers 92 & 94, one of the city’s industrial gems, the fair features presentations by leading international galleries, innovative artist commissions and dynamic public programs. Since its founding in 1994, The Armory Show has served as a nexus for the international art world, inspiring dialogue, discovery and patronage in the visual arts.
The Armory Show was founded by four New York gallerists – Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks and Paul Morris – who sought a platform to present and promote new voices in the visual arts. In its 23 years, The Armory Show has stayed firm to its mission while establishing itself as an unmissable art event set in the heart of New York City and welcoming over 65,000 visitors annually.
“A top draw for heavy-hitting collectors, gallerists, celebrities and art lovers”
— New York Times
Four New York dealers – Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks and Paul Morris – come together to stage an international art fair, renting a group of rooms at the legendary Gramercy Park Hotel and inviting dealers from New York and abroad to participate. The Gramercy International Art Fair, as it was then called, was the first “hotel-fair” of its kind, and quickly becomes a critical hit and cult event, admired for showing exclusively new works by living artists.
The Gramercy International Art Fair
Art Dealers at the Gramercy International Art Fair, courtesy of the Colin de Land Photo Archive.
After several successful additions, the fair moves to a more expansive location at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. The fair is renamed “The Armory Show” in homage to the Regiment’s legendary 1913 exhibition of the same name which famously showcased avant-garde works by European artists previously unseen in America.
The New York Armory Show, 1913
The New York Armory Show - the International Exhibition of Modern Art.
The Armory Show moves to Manhattan’s West Side, making its new home in yet another historic part of New York City. Occupying Piers 88 & 90, The Armory Show’s arrival at the piers signals an important chapter in the redevelopment and revitalization of the district’s numerous abandon structures, which had once serviced the city’s transportation industry.
The Armory Show and the Museum of Modern Art in New York announce the creation of the Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Acquisition Fund. The fair dedicates its opening day to the Museum and the now-famous Armory Party at MoMA takes place for the first time. This joint partnership marks an important chapter in the fair’s history and cements its significance within New York’s contemporary art history.
Piers 92 & 94
The Armory Artist Commission is established, extending the fair’s commitment to supporting living artists by spotlighting the work of a different artist each year. Past Commissioned Artists include: Lawrence Abu Hamdan (2015); Xu Zhen (2014); Liz Magic Laser (2013); Theaster Gates (2012); Gabriel Kuri (2011); Susan Collis (2010); Ewan Gibbs (2009); Mary Heilmann and John Waters (2008); Pipilotti Rist (2007); John Wesley (2006); Jockum Nordström (2005); Lisa Ruyter (2004); Barnaby Furnas (2003) and Karen Kilimnik (2002).
Armory Artist Commission
White Gold Kapwani Kiwanga 2016 Courtesy of Galerie Jerome Poggi / Galerie Tania Wagner
Deepening its partnership with MoMA, The Armory Show launches its Benefit Edition series, whereby the fair‘s Commissioned Artists produces a limited-edition artwork to benefit the Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Acquisition Fund and MoMA. Mary Heilmann, John Waters, Pipilotti Rist, Liz Magic Laser and Theaster Gates are just some of the artists who would go on to create limited-edition works for the fair.
Pat Hearn and Colin de Land
Courtesy of The Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Cancer Foundation.
The fair expands to Piers 92 & 94 with the introduction of The Armory Show – Modern on Pier 92 which was to devoted presenting masterworks of the 20th century. Now entitled Insights, this exhibitor section brings a historical perspective to the fair's offerings, juxtaposing past and present.
The Armory Show - Modern
An installation view of Susan Sheehan Gallery featuring work by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and other modern masters on Pier 92.
A new exhibitor section, Armory Focus, is established. This invitational section is devoted to spotlighting a different geographic region each year. An immediate critical success, Armory Focus, provided galleries from regions across the world with the opportunity to exhibit in New York. Regions have include: Africa (2016), curated by Yvette Mutumba and Julia Grosse; Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean (2015), curated by Omar Kholeif; China (2014), curated by Philip Tinari; USA (2013), curated by Eric Shiner; Nordic Countries (2012), curated by Jacob Fabricius; Latin America (2011) and Berlin (2010).
Focus Africa Perspectives
Francisco Vidal drawing and dj-ing at Tiwani Gallery on Pier 94 as part of The Armory Show's Focus section.
Armory Presents is introduced, highlighting young and emerging galleries. A critical and commercial success, Armory Presents continues to expand in size each year.
Works by Douglas Coupland at Daniel Faria Gallery
The Armory Show announces a new vision aimed at increasing the curatorial focus of the fair, fostering young galleries and staging site-specific artists commissions. The Armory Show and The Armory Show – Modern merged into a single fair for 20th and 22st century artworks.
A large-scale work by El Anatsui at Jack Shainman Gallery.
Since 2012, Bade Stageberg Cox has transformed Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan into an annual, temporary metropolis of contemporary and modern art – prioritizing clear and generous circulation, innovative and practical furnishings and a large public lounge space that is a welcome respite from the fair's activities.
Bade Stageberg Cox is an architecture office with an established portfolio of arts-related commissions. Based in New York City and led by principals Tim Bade, Jane Stageberg and Martin Cox, the firm’s exacting and compelling designs have ranged from collector’s residences to museums. The firm’s design philosophy is grounded in research to uncover the essence of each project, the use of natural and sustainable materials, and a fascination with the ability of light to activate space and create humanistic environments. Noteworthy projects include the Art Cave in Napa, California, the new Alexander and Bonin Gallery in Tribeca, and the renovation of the National Academy Museum + School. Current commissions include the design of the CAS Arts Center in Livingston Manor, NY and a new Police Museum in lower Manhattan.