New York is always an art-filled city, but when it hits the beginning of March, things start to get a bit crazy. The opening of the Armory Show brings along not only 198 galleries from 31 different countries, but also enough simultaneous art fairs to call the entire influx Armory Week. Unfortunately, it also happened to coincide with a whirlwind of a nor'easter, though it still didn't stop Sofia Coppola and Paul Rudd, plus art-world regulars like John Waters and Steve Martin, from showing up to shop for art.
The weather also didn't deter the noted French provocateur JR from covering the exterior of the Armory Show with towering portraits of Syrian refugees, paired with archival images of immigrants who made their way through Ellis Island—a potent entryway to a fair where one could find artworks like the 28 televisions combined with a wooden sculpture of a lion retailing for $1.5 million at Gagosian's booth. (To be fair, the 2005 work, Lion, was made by the late so-called father of video art, Nam June Paik, though the price tag was quite expensive even for Paik.)
As for the fair's other showstoppers? The Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde's random formations of clouds throughout the fair were an Instagram sensation—at least when collectors and shoppers could catch them before they evaporated. (For those who wanted a more lasting edition of the apparition, there was also a photograph of a cloud for sale that could be paid for with Bitcoin.) Much more visible was the duo Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder's 16-foot-tall ferris wheel, titled My Turn; both artists were happy to hop on and wave to the onlookers below.
But enough of the white-walled booths! Towering over Times Square for the second year in a row, in the same vacated offices where Alexander Wang decided to stage his CEO-themed fall 2018 showing for New York Fashion Week, was the anti-Armory mania that is Spring/Break, whose dozens of rooms (rather than booths) are organized by curators rather than galleries, leading to immersive installations like Indira Cesarine's take on a retro hotel, filled with the works of 24 female-identifying artists. (Luckily, there was respite from the chaos to be found in places like the mattresses laid out by the artist Bobby Anspach.)
A break was definitely needed for those who ventured to even more fairs, like NADA and Independent, too. If that sounds entirely too exhausting, get a look at more of the most-Instagrammed works the fairs had to offer, from a disconcerting selfie-friendly mirror featuring a noose to paintings by Barack Obama's portraitist, Kehinde Wiley, to a miniature version of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's cauldron of cold vapor that he's been considering turning into a 90-foot wide pool.