An Insider’s Guide to New York Art Week
Art world insider Liddy Berman gives us her tips for the best shows, installations, and events behind the world’s biggest art party.
By Liddy Berman, Departures
March 7, 2018
As the Armory Show once again descends on New York, bringing a flurry of buying, selling, wonderment, and aggravation—along with plentiful opportunities to sip champagne with the art world’s finest—we enlist a true insider to help map out the best route for conquering New York Art Week.
Since 2009, Liddy Berman has been the director of Eleusis Art Advisory—a consulting firm that specializes in helping private and corporate clients build, maintain, and manage modern and contemporary art collections. Berman’s past experiences include roles at the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, and she currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Museum of Modern Art’s Junior Associates and the Acquisitions Committee of the Young Collectors’ Council at the Guggenheim Museum (among other honors). Recognized for her work spotting the best in emerging artists and contemporary masterpieces, Berman has provided DEPARTURES her exclusive New York Art Week itinerary.
The Armory ShowThe Armory Show is by far the top-billed attraction, presenting works from almost 200 galleries from across 31 countries and showcasing some of the best of 20th and 21st-century art. To rub shoulders with the art world glitterati, snag a VIP pass and descend on Preview Day, March 7, to watch prominent collectors snap up key works while dealers deal and museum trustees duke it out for rare pieces.
This year also marks Gagosian’s return to the fair with a never-before-exhibited solo presentation of multi-screen works by Nam June Paik, the father of video art. Other can’t-miss-attractions include Tara Donovan’s show at Pace and her monumental pyramid installation of clear plastic tubing in the center of Pier 94’s Town Square; Hong Kong heavyweight dealer Pearl Lam’s Armory debut; Leslie Hewitt and Pieter Vermeersch at PERROTIN’s crowd-pleasing booth; and Lisson Gallery’s mirrored Anish Kapoor sculpture.
If you missed the Infinity Room, check out rare early Kusama collages at Omar Tiroche. Then, stop and see the iconic Ed Moses “Pulled Wedge” works at Albertz Benda. Treat yourself to a cocktail at Chelsea-favorite Hotel Americano’s pop-up within the fair before grabbing your coat from Pier 92 and taking a look at graffiti artist JR’s large-scale installation, “So Close,” featuring archival photos of Ellis Island juxtaposed against portraits of Syrian refugees, adorning the exterior of Pier 94.
Keep your night going with the official Armory Party at MoMA, featuring BORNS and Washed Out, tickets available at moma.org.
Independent Art FairThe week is just beginning, so be sure to head downtown on Thursday, March 8, for the opening of Independent Art Fair’s refreshing mix of young galleries and renowned institutions, all housed in the bright and airy loft-like space of Spring Studios.
Take in the whimsy and winking cleverness of Hans-Peter Feldmann’s show at first-time exhibitor 303 Gallery’s booth; read the writing on the wall at Cheim & Read’s Jack Pierson presentation, or celebrate the elevation of everyday objects to elegant sculptures in Tony Feher’s micro-retrospective at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.’s space.
While you’re in Tribeca, swing crosstown to see the New Museum’s Triennial, check out Lower East Side gallery shows at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Salon 94, Sperone Westwater, and Bureau, or head uptown to view the Zoe Leonard and Grant Wood exhibitions at the Whitney.
The ADAA’s “The Art Show”Take a spin as a high society habitué at this fair, which welcomes its guests in the Park Avenue Armory’s wood-paneled period rooms and soaring Drill Hall, tempting them with blue-chip art from the last two centuries through today. Whether you’re there to buy or simply to admire, you’ll enjoy the revelry of the art-fair-meets-elegant-party atmosphere. Don’t miss the new suite of Lynda Benglis’ “Sparkle Plenty” sculptures at Cheim & Read’s booth, Lehmann Maupin’s presentation of Catherine Opie’s dreamy photographs, and Tomas Saraceno’s floating sculptures and interactive installations at Tanya Bonakdar.
Don’t Forget You’re in an Art World CapitalLet New York’s museums’ most captivating exhibitions revive you from art fair fatigue. For the art lover in a hurry, check out Yinka Shonibare’s new commission for the Public Art Fund, a 23-foot high wind sculpture in turquoise, red, and orange, which will grace Fifth Avenue’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza starting March 7. Or, combine an evening stroll with a viewing of the hundreds of suspended white-sphere lights of Erwin Redl’s Whiteout at Madison Square Park.
For the luxury lover, art historian, or viewer seeking a non-Western perspective, take yourself to the Met and be dazzled by the Golden Kingdoms show, featuring masterpieces of art, jewelry, and luxury created by the Incas and Aztecs, and the mysterious Central American and Mexican cultures that predated them. Then, let yourself be swept away by modern masterpieces at the Met Breuer while viewing Leon Golub and Anselm Kiefer’s expansive shows. Finish by allowing Danh Vo take your breath away at his celebrated Guggenheim exhibition, which incorporates stunning chandeliers from the 1973 signing of the Paris Peace Accords.
Whether you make it to one event or the whole shebang, Armory Week offers a plethora of artistic riches. So see what you can (and what you want), and leave with new ideas and inspirations. That and the satisfaction of time well spent among challenging and beautiful works of art.