The Armory Show 2009

armory490.jpgThe Armory Show, the largest American fine art fair, has grown to become an international institution devoted to the most important art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Every March, artists, galleries, collectors, critics and curators from the four corners of the globe convene in New York for what has popularly become known as Armory Week. The year 2009 marked the eleventh edition of the fair, which, for the first time, spread across not one but two piers along the Hudson River, with a total of 243 galleries exhibiting their wares, from contemporary works created exclusively for the occasion to museum-quality historical presentations. A new series of Special Projects featured large-scale works and site-specific installations conceived for display in various public areas during the course of the week. Among them, Louise Nevelson's nine-foot tall Celebration welcomed attendees at Pier 92, and a five-paneled, 50-foot long mural by Kenny Scharf was painted in situ outside Pier 94.

For the past eight years, The Armory Show has commissioned a contemporary artist to produce the visual identity for the fair. In 2009, British artist Ewan Gibbs was chosen, and his meticulous grisaille drawings, featuring iconic images of New York City, set the aesthetic for the show's communication materials. Gibbs initially became known for images of hotel rooms based on photographs he collected from brochures and advertisements. He has since worked on series of baseball players, cities at night, and hotel façades, which have been collected by institutions such as MoMA, the Tate, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gibbs's characteristic pixel-like marks - the basis of all his graph paper drawings - are embossed on the cover of the custom Moleskine sketchbook produced for the 2009 Armory Show. The books were used as gifts to top gallerists, friends of the Armory Show and the coinciding VOLTA NY fair, and press. They were also available for purchase for a limited time, both at the show and through the bookseller Rizzoli.

A note composed by Gibbs, addressed to each notebook's owner, is silkscreened on the flyleaf, and reads as follows: I am sure that most visitors to the Armory Show will fall in love and that in most cases it will be love at first sight. Some artworks demand to be loved, while others quietly seduce you. Some works are more reserved than others. A work that you feared was reserved may yet become available again. There will be the inevitable disappointments when the object of ones desire is already spoken for. Owning an artwork can be a magical experience. Whatever trials, tribulations, triumphs, turmoil, or terribly turbulent times you go through, your new artwork will remain a constant in your life and a source of comfort and continuity (unless you are forced to sell it). It will never judge you even though you judge it. You can walk straight past it and it will take no offence. When you return from a vacation it will be there waiting for you. A cherished artwork can become a friend for life. Hopefully this Moleskine notebook will also become a constant companion in your life and bring you pleasure as you fill its pages with reminders and rememberings of things you've been inspired by and those feelings and thoughts you fought with and will forget you thought until you paw and peruse the previous pages pertaining to past profound, poetic, private ponderings. My particular Moleskine preserves for posterity a plentiful plethora of pretentious and preposterous passages and paragraphs of poorly punctuated prattle passed off as playfully polished, proficient prose produced by a professional practitioner of picturesque, picture postcard, pixellated, pointless, pointillist, pen or pencil on printed or plain paper and printed print production. Should you ever be separated from your Moleskine, I hope that it finds its way home. May the pleasure of reuniting you with your precious memories be reward enough for the finder. If not, $100 reward should do the job.

All the best, Ewan Gibbs