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Rendering of the 2021 edition of The Armory Show. Courtesy of The Armory Show and the Javits Center.
Rendering of the 2021 edition of The Armory Show. Courtesy of The Armory Show and the Javits Center.

New York Arts Scene Evolves in Response to Delta Variant

Two major arts-related events in New York have taken hits this week as Covid-19 cases, fueled by the disease’s highly contagious Delta variant, continue to spike nationwide. Sanford Smith, long the force behind the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, announced yesterday that this year’s iteration of the event, which was to have taken place September 9–12 at the city’s Park Avenue Armory, is canceled. Smith cited the uncertainty caused by the rise of the variant as the cause, noting that he was “disappointed” that the fair could not take place but that the decision had been taken to protect the event’s staff, exhibitors, and attendees.

The Armory Show, also set to run September 9–12 at the city’s Javits Center, is still on, but revealed that fifty-five of its planned 212 exhibitors will now be presenting their offerings via the fair’s digital platform, rather than in person. The majority of galleries moving to Armory Online are based in Europe, and have deferred their IRL presentations to 2022. “While some international exhibitors are not be able to participate this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 travel restrictions, we are doing everything we can to support their attendance and are providing options to best suit their needs,” Amory Show director Nicole Berry told Artnews. Nearly a quarter of the 157 remaining in-person exhibitors are from outside the United States.

Looking ahead to November, event industry bigwig Geoff Fox and veteran European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) organizers Michael Plummer and Jeff Rabin are launching a flexible venue called Art House in the former Barneys flagship on Madison Avenue. The three plan to host a signature series of fairs in the 230,000-square-foot space, along with one-off exhibitions, salon-style displays, and various live events; additionally, galleries will be able to rent space in the building’s upper floors. The schedule of the fairs mirrors that of the now-canceled New York editions of TEFAF, with the first one, Art House New York Fall, going live November 4, and the spring edition due in May 2022. The organizers are hopeful that this model will be successful in addressing the rapidly shifting currents running through the art world today. “Art dealers and galleries need exhibition platforms that are more sustainable and flexible than the traditional modes of art fairs and brick-and-mortar gallery spaces,” said Plummer in a statement.

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