Armory Show Preview

Does anyone really just focus on an art at an exhibit opening night? Admit it, the show of colorful characters is way more interesting than the display of static pieces on the wall. In that respect, the kick off party of The Armory Show 2009 was no disappointment: creative types galore, fabulously outrageous outfits, and plenty of strutting and ogling. Oh yes, of course, you want to know about the celebs. Kim Katrall, Sofia Coppola and Joe McEnroe are the ones that my friends and I could spot. I’ve heard Chuck Close was there as well doing the rounds.

And then, there were us: hundreds of curious art lovers and collectors were leisurely strolling around the 84,000 square feet at Piers 92 and 95 (on the West Side Highway and 55th Street). The 11th edition of the Armory Show gathered more then 240 exhibitors from 55 countries. Besides the $12 sangria, there was something else we all had in common: a tight grip on our bleeding wallets. The big wet blanket thrown onto the global art scene by Wall Street’s implosion leaves art lovers hesitant to say the least. “What is the lik
elihood we are going to sell everything, like in years past?” said the curator and president of PaceWildenstein galleries. “Nil.”

The crisis was not only palpable in the air, but also, in case anyone forgot, a big reminder (7 feet wide to be precise) was hanging on David Zwirner’s stand: a black and white watercolor of a creepy looking Bernie Madoff by Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming. Not a soul had inquired Zwirner about the $100,000 work two hours into the fair’s opening. No one was in the mood to buy, but many in the mood to party. At least 500 guests fought for cabs for a ride over to the MoMA post-preview party.
The crowd was a little less contemporary, but still, geared with glasses of booze and carrot sticks in hand, the MoMA’s lobby and mezzanine was fluttering
with art scene butterflies eager for some sweet talk in times of economic bitterness. Who isn’t?