The Armory Show 2004 Artist Commission

Originally published in The Armory Show 2004 catalog

I love art fairs. I love art fairs because I love art and art is what I live for.

Although the project of making images for the Armory Show was presented to me with few guidelines, there was a strong suggestion to keep the theme related to ‘New York.’ The first places that came to mind were ones I have photographed repeatedly, especially Central Park, but they did not seem to relate to the excitement that is generated when the show is in town. It dawned on me that this is not the New York that the Armory Show is really about.

The Armory Show is about the people of New York, and those who come to visit, not about the place itself. It is about the interaction of ideas, the connections that are made and lost and remade, the juxtapositions of artworks and gallery programs, and all the slippages of human interaction. It is these that make this show something more than a trade show, for it grew out of the idea that this major center of cultural production is made all the greater by inviting colleagues from around the world to come and participate in the energy of this city.

This event is exciting to me. During the Armory Show, the intense compression of being at an art fair becomes every-day life, if only for a week. It reminds me of the county fair when I was a kid, which was actually the first place that I ever showed things that I made. This is a very young fair, and it is great to feel a part of something that is still being defined.

I love exhibiting at art fairs. At a fair, showing work is performance, it is ‘show-business’. It is collaborative because of the many agendas in play all at once. Positive or negative, there is instant gratification of an audience response for which there is absolutely no substitute. Things happen so fast at an art fair, ideas, trends, acceptance, rejection, interest, loss of interest, discovery and rediscovery; all the things that get people excited or upset about art, all bubble to the surface. Although there are wonderful, random juxtapositions of artworks and gallery programs, and you never know whom you will run into, very little happens by chance.

I love art fairs because I love galleries, and the often intensely personal vision that drives their programs. At an art fair, galleries are on display, as raw and exposed as any artist ever is during their own show. I loved Pat Hearn and I especially loved Colin DeLand, both of whom were involved in this fair and both of whom are no longer with us. Colin significantly shaped my understanding of being an artist in the world, and I had no idea just how much until he was gone.

For me, art is taking a position in the world, and that is what is measured at events like an art fair.

I like to think that people who come to the Armory Show who are not familiar with the participants can get an idea of what a complicated and wonderful thing it is to make art, to show art, to buy and sell art, and most importantly to look at art and to find that there is a place for themselves in all of this.


Lisa Ruyter

New York / Vienna 2003