Written by Zijun Shi, student in Parsons Fashion Publishing class.
With the arrival of March, the annual Armory Show unveiled its curtain on March 4th at Pier 92 and Pier 94 along the Hudson River in New York in a brilliant vernissage event befitting an art world spectacular.
The vernissage is an exclusive a preview party where a select crowd is invited to admire the contemporary and modern art brought in by galleries and art dealers from around the world. This year, the show focused on MENAM countries representing the emerging nations of the Middle East, North Africa and Mediterranean.
The Armory Show is not only an opportunity to showcase art of the world and predominant galleries, but is also a great promoter of cultural communication and diffusion. “We are looking for connections with art dealers, curators and museums, but more importantly our goal is focusing on promoting Chinese art and artists,” said Liyun Wang from Tang Contemporary Art.
“We are here to show the amazing Indian arts and help promote Indian artists,” said Sarah Burney from Gallery Espace, who has participated in the show since 2013 as the only Indian gallery. “Not only for the well-known artists but also artists like Manjunath Kamath, who is very famous in India but not known by many people here.” The gallery has had great success in promoting Indian talent internationally. “Our director has a good eye and represented the artists like Zarina Hashmi and helped them to become well known artists,” Burney added, “Now Zarina has become a big name in the art field.”
The interior of the exhibition was orderly and clean, with the artwork standing boldly against the vast backdrop, each gallery arranged into a half-open cube of space to showcase the work. The space was further broken into sections designed for eating, resting and drinking. The bar area was equipped with sofas and bartenders chatting cheerfully with attendees, and the seats were works of art themselves—made of real, live flowers emanating a tinge of spring. Beside the main area—the gallery section—there was a line of art publishing companies introducing on their latest works.
The Armory is an art feast, so it’s hardly a surprise that another art form—fashion—has an obvious, and strong, presence. Adding to the visual spectacle, attendees flaunted their unique style like flamboyant colors or bright lips paired with quirky exotic outfits–all while posing by works of art holding champagne, smiling and waiting for the cameras. Hidden among the people, silently doing his job, was a small man with a huge presence—the famed New York Times style photographer, Bill Cunningham. Low-key as always, Cunningham was holding his camera, walking slowly and aiming his lens at attention-craving guests, without saying a word.
It was indeed a special group of people at the vernissage—lucky VIP’s who were able to see the exhibitions in an exclusive setting and tour the collections. And even VVIP’s who had access to private collections and tours led by museum curators. A rather precious chance for closer admiration of great works of art, and great works of art-to-be, and a chance to be admired as well.