The Armory Show is NYC’s premiere contemporary art fair that annually sees the international elite descend upon the city. They eagerly hurry about the sprawling presentations centred on the axis of Piers 92 and 94 and race across the city to take in all the other smaller fairs, gallery openings, institutional events and endless parties that New York inevitably has to offer as anyone with a vested interest in contemporary art attempts to get ahead in one way or another. Fortunately the art-interested public can actually spend their time lingering and taking in the art.
Gabriel Kuri ‘Untitled Sandbox’ 2008. Card box, newspaper, kitty litter. Courtesy of the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin
The offer of the salubrious and the great has long been established at The Armory. The 2011 edition was no exception as the glittering international line-up of power galleries all took their place to profile –and of course sell- work by the world’s top contemporary artists and to showcase the emerging talent that they have chosen to represent.
The presentation of works by the world’s most established contemporary artists is something of a given, an expectation. The international cohort of institutional staff is naturally eager to settle acquisitions or confirm dates for major exhibitions likely to attract kudos and crowds. And the elite of powerful collectors able to afford to shop in this price bracket is also keen to get its hands on some unique and special work ahead of the competition.
But, it’s perhaps in the presentation of work by younger and emerging artists or even in the participation of young galleries that have managed to get through the rigourous application procedure that The Armory’s best surprises and strengths lie. It is always a place to see some of the talent that will be playing in the big leagues tomorrow, today.
For this very reason, the solo presentations at The Armory – that often favour emerging talent- are something of a highlight and an aspect that the international art cognoscenti observe with a beady eye. Furthermore, for fairly obvious reasons, these presentations are particularly seen as a barometer for young American talent, both artistic and in terms of galleries growing in influence.
This focus on the solo presentations is almost underscored by the fair’s own annual commission that has, in recent years at least, favoured emerging artists over huge names. The 2011 commission was awarded to Mexican-born, artist Gabriel Kuri who was given the task of creating the visual identity of the fair that is carried through in everything from the printed materials to the advertising of the fair.
Gabriel Kuri is known for his sculptures and collages made from the detritus of everyday life; pointless purchases, found objects and the curious forgotten stuff found crammed into the bottom of pockets. Kuri constructs new meanings – from the poetically and aesthetically evident to the almost entirely opaque- from tickets stubbs, daily objects, marble, stones, printed matter, food and other eclectic materials.
Represented by Galeria Kurimanzutto in Mexico City, itself one of the first of a powerful new wave of contemporary art galleries to emerge from Mexico approximately a decade ago, Sadie Colies HQ in London and Esther Schipper in Berlin, he is one of the new generation of Mexican-born artists who are now increasingly visible role on the international institutional art circuit.