March 25, 2002 - The Armory Show - The Armory Show 2002
March 25, 2002

The Armory Show 2002

The Armory Show 2002

The Armory Show

Image: Douglas Gordon, “It’s Gone,” © Peter Serling, 2002.

Most Successful Armory Show Ever Draws Crowds And Praise

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The Armory Show 2002, the International Fair of New Art, closed Monday, February 25, to rave reviews. The Armory Show is one of the worlds leading international art fairs and the largest devoted exclusively to contemporary art. The consensus among the 173 leading contemporary art galleries from around the world, the global press, and the visiting public was that this fourth annual exhibition of new art was a resounding success and, indeed, the best Armory Show yet. In a few short years, The Armory Show has become the worlds pre-eminent showcase for new art by living artists.

Spring-like weather welcomed thousands of art lovers who flocked to Manhattans Hudson River waterfront for Americas largest and most influential celebration of contemporary art. Overall attendance grew almost 25% to roughly 25,000. The fair attracted hundreds of prominent collectors, artists, curators, critics and dealers from around the globe. Celebrities included Steve Martin, Martha Stewart, Madonna, John Waters, Candace Bergen, David Byrne, and Joan Rivers, among others. More than 860 media representatives also attended. Foreign languages dotted the exhibit halls reflecting not only the participation of numerous international dealers (48% of exhibitors hailed from outside the US) but large numbers of foreign visitors as well.

Attendance at The Armory Show has become de rigueur for curators and museum officials. Seen at the fair, among many others, were Glenn D. Lowry and Agnes Gund (The Museum of Modern Art, New York), Max Anderson and Larry Rinder (Whitney Museum of American Art), Paul Schimmel (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Ned Rifkin (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC) Mark Rosenthal (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Dan Cameron (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York), Bonnie Clearwater (Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami), Gijs van Tuyl and Annelie Lütgens (Kustmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany), Neal Benezra (Art Institute of Chicago), Richard Flood (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis), Eugenio Lopez (La Coleccion Jumex, Mexico City), Adam Weinberg (Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA), Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Andrea Viliani (Castello di Rivoli, Museo dArte Contemporanea, Turin), and Jeremy Lewison and Donna De Salvo (Tate Modern, London).

Any trepidation about the size of the publics appetite for contemporary art was quickly laid to rest. Most exhibitors reported very strong sales that continued throughout the run of the fair. Conversations with New York-based dealers participating in The Armory Show 2002 suggested brisk business in their galleries as well. Katelijne De Backer, Director, said “The Armory Show 2002 succeeded in delivering a show of exceptional quality and variety. The general slowdown in business and travel to New York following September 11 combined with the postponement of Art Basel Miami Beach created strong demand on the part of the art-buying public. We provided the supply side at just the right moment. A number of dealers reported selling out their booths. In fact, several dealers said they did better business than at any other previous art fair. One gallery told me they sold more in the first two days than during all of last years Armory Show, and last years show was a great one for ! sales.”

Max Henry writing in his “Gotham Dispatch” on ( reported the fair “has brought a collective sigh of relief to many dealers, and for those participants who have put on a brave face, that trusted euphemism, its on reserve was bandied about like a fool-proof mantra that would manifest an actual sale.”

New York City was also a winner at The Armory Show 2002. Tim Smith, Managing Director, said, “I think its safe to say that New York is back in business, stronger than ever. The fact that we could attract so many international galleries and foreign visitors so soon after September 11 bodes extremely well for the renaissance of New York. And were grateful to our friends in City government who worked diligently to see that the Piers were available for us as planned. We promised the City we would deliver a fair that would not only send a message to the global art community and traveling public, but deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy. I think we succeeded beyond our expectations. Well be working with our exhibitors over the next few weeks to prepare an accurate picture of The Armory Shows positive economic impact on the City.”

The Armory Show 2002 opened Thursday, February 21, with a Preview Gala benefiting the Exhibition Fund of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gala was attended by a host of art world dignitaries including hundreds of exhibited artists who were invited to attend as guests of the Museum. More than 1,500 tickets were sold and The Museum of Modern Art raised more than $250,000 from the event.

Saturday morning, February 23, was reserved for a private viewing by museum groups. Taking advantage of this exclusive look at the fair were member groups from Blue Star Art Space (San Antonio, TX), Brooklyn Museum of Art (NYC), Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, VA), Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati, OH), Guggenheim Museum (NYC), International Print Center (NYC), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Museum of Contemporary Art (Miami), The Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Museum of the City of New York, New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC), Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Tang Teaching Museum (Saratoga Springs, NY), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC).

One of the stars of The Armory Show 2002 was the official catalogue. The catalogue featured original artwork commissioned by The Armory Show 2002 from Philadelphia-based artist Karen Kilimnik. Her unique vision proved popular with exhibitors and visitors alike. The full press run of the catalogue was sold out by the fairs end. New York dealer Lisa Spellman of 303 Gallery represents Kilimnik and featured the nine original Kilimnik drawings in her booth at The Armory Show 2002. Most found immediate homes. Spellman reported that the first to sell was the New York skyline drawing that was featured prominently in advertisements and promotional materials for the fair. Inaugurating a new program by the fairs management, the Kilimnik commission was the first to be awarded to a different artist each year. Commenting on the program, Spellman said, “We have had such incredible response to the project. The Armory Show is the only art fair to do anything like this and it clearly shows ! ! its commitment to living artists. I hope all subsequent commissions work out as well as this one did for us, the artist and the fair.”

A great deal of praise was also reserved for the running of this years show. Management spent considerable time and expense over the past year to improve the organization and efficiency of the fair. Exhibitors were enthusiastic in their praise of the management teams competence. Writing in the New York Times [circulation: 1.7 million] (, Roberta Smith said, “The walls are sturdier this year, the floors are carpeted, and reasonable nourishment is available. An unfamiliar sense of calm prevailed during the setting-up days” The whole event feels and looks much more together, even adult. The Armory Shows claim to be the International Fair of New Art is more or less fulfilled.” Max Henry, Gotham Dispatch (, concurred, “Pound for pound the fair was overall better than ever.”

The Armory Show 2002 was sponsored in part by The International Herald Tribune, the worlds daily newspaper ( The VIP Collectors Lounge at The Armory Show 2002 was made possible by the generous support of Arvid (, Maharam ( and Moss (

The Armory Show 2003 takes place February 20-24, 2003, on Piers 88 and 90 in New York City. Applications (limited to commercial contemporary art galleries) will be available beginning in April from the show office; applications may also be downloaded from the Internet beginning in April. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2003.

For further information about The Armory Show, call 212-645-6440 or email the show office at Additional information is available on the Internet at

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