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Armory Week in review: Robert Ayers’s scorecard


Felipe Jesus Consalvos,"Fictional Aspects of a Fact" (c.1920-50)

Felipe Jesus Consalvos,"Fictional Aspects of a Fact" (c.1920-50)

I managed to set some kind of world record last March when I covered all eleven of the Armory Week fairs for ARTINFO. This time around things are rather more manageable, as only seven fairs have managed to navigate the choppy waters of the intervening year (or perhaps eight did, see below). No doubt everybody will be offering scorecards tomorrow morning, but remember, “this is the original and best!” 

I shall use exactly the same scoring scale as last time: from the magnificent 10/10 – “Seriously life-enhancing” – all the way down to 1/10 – “Will  they be here next year? And does anyone care?” 

Just in passing, here are last year’s scores and, just to gauge the accuracy (or otherwise) of my scoring, a note of what has happened to the fairs subsequently …

PULSE – 10/10 … back again

Armory Show – 9/10 … back again, bifurcated

SCOPE – 8/10 … back again

PooL – 7/10 … back again

Volta – 7/10 … back again

Art Now – 7/10 … gone

Bridge – 6/10 … back again

Red Dot – 5/10 … vanished

LA Art – 3/10 … gone west

DiVA – 2/10 … disappeared

Dark Fair – 1/10 … who? what? 

Before I score this year’s fairs, a note on the Armory Show itself – I remember bleating last year about how you couldn’t really judge the other fairs by the same standards as the Armory Show. It’s one of the world’s top fairs. In my opinion only Art Basel outdoes it actually. This time around though, they’ve made things interesting again by splitting their show between the two piers, and this is what I meant when I said we might think of there being eight fairs this year. So here we go … 

10/10 – Armory Show Modern

A really splendid event. One of the best fairs I have ever been to. (And not without surprises – like Felipe Jesus Consalvos’ wonderful collages at Fleisher/Ollman). But the really interesting issue is that the distinction between which galleries were deemed “modern” and which were “contemporary’ was fuzzy. In practice, the difference had more to do with attitude than anything. And in my opinion the attitudes were infinitely preferable here. (Also, I predict a real scramble among dealers to get on next year’s “Modern” pier.) 


10/10 – PULSE

Every bit as good as last year, even in an unsympathetic economy. My hearty congratulations to Helen Allen and her team. And please note that I didn’t mark them down despite Ms Allen’s failure to respond to my On the fingers of one hand questions last week.


8/10 SCOPE

SCOPE is very, very good at what it does. Why should it change? It doesn’t; it just adds on new departments. Lovely people, though, both in the organization and in the booths.


8/10 Volta

The one booth = one artist formula is a winner. And, as I noted on ARTINFO, the competitive edge that the gallerists have hit upon this year makes it even better. And, just like SCOPE, nice attitudes all round.


7/10 Armory Show Contemporary

Some wonderful work here, obviously. But let’s acknowledge it, there’s also some utter nonsense that in 10 or 20 years time (or even less) will be seen as hilarious evidence that, in the noughties at least, money couldn’t buy common sense, or even good taste. And the attitudes? Please, you ladies and gentlemen who are junior employees of the contemporary galleries – the economy is in meltdown; the majority of you will be out of jobs within the next year. You really imagine that that makes you so superior?


6/10 Bridge

Same score as last year. Nice atmosphere. Some great work. Some utter garbage. And, I have to mention it, the most unpleasant work at any of the fairs this week. Why on earth would anyone want to share their life with this?


Tung-Hsing Lu, "Velociraptor - exploring for love 3" (2007)

Tung-Hsing Lu, "Velociraptor - exploring for love 3" (2007)

4/10 PooL

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Mr Alet’s heart is certainly in the right place, and he presented two really special artists. I’ve given him 2 points for each of them.


0/10 Fountain

Fountain called their fair off last year. They would have spared a lot of embarrassment all round if they’d done the same this year. Instead they erected a makeshift enclosure on the floating barge known as The Frying Pan and staged “Pirates of the Caribbean do an art fair.” And charged admission! This is the sort of nonsense that damages the reputation of all artists in the eyes of the general public. It’s not remotely funny.

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1 comment to Armory Week in review: Robert Ayers’s scorecard

  • “Why on earth would anyone want to share their life with this?”

    hahaha robert i had thought the same thing! there was quite a lot of freaky perversion at bridge.