Armory Week 2018 Market News

Armory Week 2018 Fairs to Be Split Between Two Weeks: ADAA Art Show in February, Armory, Independent, NADA in March [Updated]

A scene from the ADAA’s Art Show Gala Preview.

COURTESY HENRY STREET SETTLEMENT

Due to scheduling issues, three of the primary Armory Week fairs will be held during the first full week of March, while the ADAA Art Show will open a week earlier.

The shift occurred after the brass behind the Armory Show, the week’s marquee fair, decided to open on the first full week of March rather than the week that bridges February and March. The Armory Show will now open its doors to VIPs on Wednesday, March 7, rather than the last day of February. After hearing the news, NADA and Independent followed suit, and both will open Thursday, March 8.

The ADAA has held its fair at that time of year for more than 20 years. The ADAA’s organizers were informed of the Armory Show’s date change this past spring and had already booked their usual slot in the Park Avenue Armory.

The ADAA’s president, Adam Sheffer, told ARTnews over email, “After the ADAA and our partners at Henry Street Settlement confirmed the dates for the rental of the Park Avenue Armory for the 2018 fair, the Armory Show informed us that their leadership had decided to push the fair back a week for the first time in many years.”

By the time the ADAA attempted to move its fair a week later to align with the others, its Upper East Side venue, the in-demand Park Avenue Armory—with its enormous central Drill Hall—had already been booked for the following week. The ADAA Art Show will hold its gala preview on Tuesday, February 27, and stay open through Sunday, March 4.

Outside of The Armory Show.

COURTESY THE ARMORY SHOW

When reached on the phone in Genoa, Italy, Benjamin Genocchio, the Armory Show’s director, said that representatives from all the fairs got together (by email, he clarified) in March of this year to discuss holding the fairs during the first full week in March, which he said could be treated as the customary slot when you look at calendar patterns.

According to a series of emails provided to ARTnews and verified by both parties, Genocchio informed the ADAA of his fair’s change of dates on February 24, 2017, and on March 7 the ADAA’s executive director, Linda Blumberg, replied that she and her colleagues would check with the ADAA’s partner in the Art Show, the Henry Street Settlement, whose participation is central to the opening gala, and which historically has had a relationship with the Art Show’s venue, the Park Avenue Armory. In a subsequent email, sent on the afternoon of March 7, Blumberg wrote to Genocchio, “We will move ahead to coincide with you,” by which Blumberg—as she acknowledged to ARTnews through a representative—meant that the ADAA would move ahead and speak to the Henry Street Settlement. Genocchio, understandably, took the sentence to mean that the ADAA would move its dates ahead. He also informed Blumberg that he had written to NADA, Independent, and Volta to inform them of the date change, and was told by Blumberg that that made sense. On March 8, the following morning, the Armory Show sent out a press release announcing its 2018 dates, as it generally does at that time, after the current edition of the fair wraps. In the meantime, the ADAA was informed that the Park Avenue Armory was already booked for the following week and could not accommodate them or Henry Street Settlement, whose gala, Sheffer told ARTnews, the ADAA had already agreed to hold February 27. By that time, of course, the Armory Show had already announced its 2018 dates.

Sheffer said in an email that he was surprised that the Armory Show had decided to change its dates, as the fairs had coincided for many years; he was further surprised not to have received notification prior to February, because the Park Avenue Armory books up well in advance. “Once the Armory Show informed us they were shifting their dates,” he wrote, “we did assess the availability of the Drill Hall, but it was not available during the second week of March.”

Genocchio told ARTnews that the reason the Armory Show moved its dates was that “the dates keep shifting backward because February is a short month.” The Armory Show has historically opened the day after the ADAA’s preview, which would have put the 2018 Armory Show’s preview day on February 28. Genocchio pointed to several years ago, when the fairs had opened on “March 6 or March 7. So this move is totally consistent with the date pattern—there’s nothing different there.”

Since 2010, the ADAA and Armory have opened in the same week, though before that the fairs only sometimes lined up. In 2009, for instance, the ADAA Art Show ran from February 19 through February 23, with the opening of the Armory following on March 5. The Armory has also opened in February, as it did in 2007, when it ran from February 23 through 27.

In addition to causing trouble for collectors who want to hit all four major fairs in a matter of days, the new schedule means that ADAA dealers who come in from out of town to do both the Armory Show and the Art Show will either have to stick around for longer than usual—or pick sides.

“We got a number of applications from dealers who can’t afford to do two fairs,” Genocchio said, adding that applications to his fair close on Wednesday. “If you’re an L.A.- or Chicago-based dealer, if you’ve go to do the shipping, you’re not going to ship everything twice, so where are you going to store all the stuff for a week?”

He said he felt bad that ADAA was “left out in the cold” by the Park Avenue Armory, adding, “I would have done them a solid and left it as-is if I had known.”

Unlike the ADAA Art Show, NADA had no difficulty securing its venue, which for the second year will be Skylight Clarkson North in the western reaches of SoHo. It will run a week later than last year.

“We checked with our venue and rescheduled accordingly,” said Heather Hubbs, NADA’s director, when reached on the phone in New York. She added that the dates for the Armory Show made sense to her, as she couldn’t remember a single edition of the fair that had its VIP Preview in February.

She added that when she made the switch, she didn’t anticipate the ADAA Art Show would have difficulty moving. Still, she doesn’t see it hurting attendance or sales too badly.

“I think ADAA, they get that crowd anyway—they have a specific audience and that crowd will support them,” Hubbs said.

When reached via email in Belgium, Independent co-founder Elizabeth Dee said she, too, heard about the Armory Show’s move and made sure they were in line, but said it wasn’t much of a shift.

“As always we open on the Thursday, and this year it’s the eighth,” Dee said.

Sheffer is also confident that the rejiggering of the schedule won’t hurt the ADAA Art Show too badly. Because the fair is made up of American galleries, its collector base skews American—and many of them live on the Upper East Side, within walking distance of the fair. “Ultimately, it’s impossible to predict exactly how the Armory Show’s shift may impact attendance at the Art Show, but we’re very confident the fair will continue to draw the major collectors, curators, and arts enthusiasts who look forward to [it] each year,” Sheffer said. 

He added that while some might miss the opening that benefits the Henry Street Settlement, the fair stays open until Sunday, and many visitors fly in the weekend prior to the Armory Show, when the ADAA will still have its fair up. “It’s certainly feasible to visit both fairs in a trip,” he said.

Looking way ahead, he said, the ADAA will attempt to realign with the rest of the fairs in time for Armory Week 2019.

Clarification, 10 p.m.: This post has been amended to reflect the amount of time the ADAA has occupied its time slot at the Armory Building, and to include details about the dates of past fairs.

Update, July 11, 12:30 p.m.: This post has been updated with additional information and context about the discussion between representatives of the ADAA and the Armory Show.

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