On Wednesday morning, just after Super Tuesday results were called, the 26th edition of e Armory Show opened at Piers 90 and 94 on Manhattan’s West Side. Panic about coronavirus became the go-to small talk topic of choice, and Purell was poured as fast as the champagne. Sales appeared to carry on as usual, as 178 galleries from 31 countries began hawking their wares.
Shortly after the preview began, a few bold souls wandered the halls, shouting to ask if there was a doctor in the house—someone required medical assistance at the back of the fair. Attendees weren’t visibly disturbed. In fact, the prospect of hugging or hand-shaking, in the face of what might be a global pandemic, appeared much more unnerving to the well-heeled crowd. In an industry used to making deals with handshakes, how will this newfound shyness affect business? It’s too soon to tell. For now, enjoy the best presentations the fair has to offer.
Clad in a lemon-and-tangerine tracksuit, artist Wendy White stood out against the aqua curtains that conceal her paintings at Shulamit Nazarian’s booth. e drapes create a sense of irtation and intrigue—if you want to see the works, you have to ask a gallerist to reveal them. At an art fair, White explained to me, it’s common for new art to come out on the second or third day, or to be hidden in a back room; a piece might unexpectedly come out of storage. e artist likes that sense of surprise. “I wondered what would happen if you used the real estate of a booth to do that in real time, so that you could reveal a whole new body of work just by shifting the curtains,” she said.
White’s canvases feature faded car imagery and abstracted starry skies. She’s framed them with black plexiglass that spurts simple icons—a pixelated heart, a rainbow—from the side. “Making something that takes up a different kind of space, that’s what I love,” White said.