The Armory Show is New York City’s premier art fair and a leading cultural destination for discovering and collecting the world’s most important 20th- and 21st-century art. The Armory Show 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 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 25 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.
“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.
After several successful editions at the Gramercy Park Hotel, 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 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 abandoned 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.
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).
Deepening its partnership with MoMA, The Armory Show launches its Benefit Edition series, whereby the fair‘s Commissioned Artist 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.
The fair expands to Piers 92 & 94 with the introduction of The Armory Show – Modern on Pier 92 which was devoted to 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.
A new exhibitor section, Armory Focus, is established. This invitational section is devoted to spotlighting a different geographic region each year. A critical and commercial success, Armory Focus provided galleries from regions across the world with the opportunity to exhibit in New York. Curators and regions 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).
The Armory Show introduces Presents, a platform for galleries no more than ten years old to showcase recent work from emerging artists. Solo-artist and dual-artist presentations spotlight the next generation of artistic talents. A critical and commercial success, Presents remains an important part of The Armory Show's identity today.
The Armory Show and The Armory Show – Modern are merged into a single fair for 20th and 21st century artworks with five exhibitor sections staged across Piers 92 & 94. 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.
Nicole Berry is appointed Executive Director of The Armory Show. As Executive Director, Nicole Berry leads the development and strategic vision of The Armory Show, directly overseeing exhibitor relations and spearheading the fair’s VIP program. Nicole joined The Armory Show in September 2016 as Deputy Director, and was appointed to the role of Executive Director in November 2017.
In 2019, The Armory Show celebrated its 25th Anniversary edition, marking a quarter-century since the fair's founding in 1994. To mark this historic milestone, The Armory Show announced the creation of the Gramercy International Prize, a new yearly initiative that supports the advancement of young and pioneering New York galleries who have not previously participated in The Armory Show.