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Park Avenue Armory Dismisses One Fair in General Shift from Commercial to More Cultural Sphere

  • Park Avenue Armory
December 30, 2015
Runs, does yoga.

The Park Avenue Armory has decided to make slight changes to its agenda, giving an example of another recent adaptation in favor of the contemporary spirit, this time regarding the program. Apparently, the New York Art, Antique and Jewelry Show will not be hosted by the Armory anymore. Rebecca Robertson, the Armory’s president, refers to this as a part of the general plan to transform the place into a space suitable for cultural performances, and unconventional works that cannot be held in traditional halls and museums. The New York Post was the first to report the news.

Park Avenue Armory
Ann Hamilton – The Event of a Thred (installation view) – 2013 – photo by Thibault Jeanson

Revitalization Followed by Changes

Just as a brief reminder – the Armory is named as one of the 100 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the World by the World Monuments Fund, and the building is subject to an ongoing $200-million revitalization. This project is still in the hands of the architects Herzog & de Meuron. Along with the revitalization, the transformation of the program started almost a decade ago, in 2006, when the new leadership took over at the Armory. Therefore, this shift should not come as a surprise, according to Ms. Robertson. The Armory is looking forward to including a broad mix of artists and musicians in the future, and concentrating on pursuing creativity through diverse art forms that are not usually seen every day. In spring, for example, a performance of the visionary director Heiner Goebbels, named De Materie, is to be hosted by the Armory. This piece features 100 sheep, and floating zeppelins – and in Ms. Robertson’s own words – it is definitely not something you can do in Carnegie Hall.

Park Avenue Armory
De Materie – courtesy of Park Avenue Armory. Image: Wonge Bergmann

Not All Fairs are Cancelled

This dismissal is a step towards programs that the audiences aren’t able to see otherwise. However, art fairs will certainly continue to be an important part of the Armory’s identity, and no other fairs were told to find a new home. The other fairs known to be held at the Armory are the Winter Antique Show in January, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair in April, and the International Fine Art and Antiques Show, which is scheduled for the fall – and Ms. Robertson stated that these fairs are going to happen without any changes. She also added that the team behind the Armory is quite cautious about their revenue streams, and are still ‘a work in progress’.

Park Avenue Armory
Laurie Anderson – Habeas Corpus. Image courtesy of Park Avenue Armory

An Unpleasant Surprise for Mr. Diament

On the other hand, Scott Diament, chief executive of Palm Beach Show Group and owner of the fair, seems to be in shock. “This thing just floors me”, he said. Mr. Diament added that he had not found a new location for his art fair. Having said that, it is only natural that his hopes are high when it comes to chances for changing the oragnizers’ mind. It is reported that he was even ready to raise the rent he had paid to the Armory, which seems to be around 320 000 $ for five days. After all, the fair has been running for more than 30 years now, although only three years under his leadership, and Mr. Diament hopes to be able to run the show in the future as well. He also added that he thought the Fair was an important part of the fabric of New York. Time will tell whether Park Avenue Armory reconsiders the decision.

Featured image: Park Avenue Armory – Wade Thompson Drill Hall, copyright : DBOX, 2010.