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The Armory Show: New York Exhibitions to See in 2021

By Elaine YJ Zheng  |  New York, 2 September 2021

The Armory Show: New York Exhibitions to See in 2021

Mickalene Thomas, Jet Blue #25 (2021). Rhinestones, acrylic paint, chalk pastel, mixed media paper and archival pigment prints on museum board mounted on dibond. 213.995 x 154.94 cm. © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy Lévy Gorvy.

Explore the exhibitions taking place beyond The Armory Show, which returns to New York for its 27th edition from 9 to 12 September 2021. Counting 212 exhibitors from 37 countries, over 150 galleries will attend at the Javits Center, with 55 participating through Armory Online.

Mickalene Thomas
Lévy Gorvy, 909 Madison Avenue
9 September–

Mickalene Thomas combines art history and popular culture to create contemporary images of female beauty, sexuality, and power. Thomas' blend of paintings, collages, and photography draw from modernist painters to restore agency in women who have been rendered as objects of desire and subjugation.

The exhibition features landscapes and portraits that dive into identity, gender, and sexuality. They question assumptions around femininity and what it means to be a woman.

A pool of bright yellow is surrounded by patterned bands, one of which is made up of black squares, rectangles, and circles, while the outer-most band is made up of different shapes of varying colours.

Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (9-69) (2019). Oil on linen on panel. 55.9 x 71.1 cm. © Estate of Thomas Nozkowski. Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York/Seoul/Hong Kong/London.

Thomas Nozkowski: The Last Paintings
Pace Gallery, 540 West 25th Street
10 September–23 October 2021

American painter Thomas Nozkowski suggests we 'tend to get obsessed with language and the meaning that can be carried by language', and that we have a visual language that helps us understand the world.

Nozkowski is known for his small-scale abstract paintings and drawings that make use of colour and perspective to reflect on experiences and place. Nozkowski has been exhibiting since 1973. The Last Paintings gathers 15 of the artist's final works before his passing in 2019.

A drag queen poses for the camera, smiling with their hands suspended in the air towards their face, holding a purse.

Peter Hujar, Cockette Link Martin (Drag Queen in Fashion Pose) (1971). Gelatin silver print. 37.2 × 37.2 cm. Courtesy Karma Gallery, New York.

Get Lifted!
Karma, 22 East 2nd Street
18 August–2 October 2021

Hard times can bring forth transformation. Curated by Hilton Als, Get Lifted! is an examination of the celebration that follows confinement and an homage to the artistic process that helps us articulate the changes we desire.

Get Lifted! draws from the Greek ekstasis, or the ecstasy of transcending beyond known forms. The group exhibition gathers artists from Diane Arbus to Howardena Pindell, Peter Hujar, and Reggie Burrows Hodges and features unbound bodies reclaiming physical desire, political freedom, and ecclesiastical belief.

Purple waves are surrounded by orange clouds. The two different forms are made up of bands of colour that gradate from light to a deeper shade.

Amy Lincoln, Ursa Major (Mauve Waves) (2021). Acrylic on panel. 76.2 x 61cm. Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.

Amy Lincoln
Sperone Westwater, 257 Bowery
9 September–30 October 2021

For Amy Lincoln's first show at Sperone Westwater, the artist presents ten imaginary seascapes recollecting her upbringing by the overcast beaches in Oregon.

Lincoln's atmospheric paintings explore light and refraction through expansive scenes spread across the canvas. The fluidity of the sea marks a departure from her earlier interest in landscapes. With a blend of colour and perspective, she brings permanence to momentary encounters: the vibrancy of the afternoon sun, the calm before dusk.

A pregnant woman and a man both recline naked on a bed in a city apartment.

Alison Elizabeth Taylor, On Thinking Thoughts are Feelings (2020). Marquetry hybrid. 134.6 x 180.3 cm. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Alison Elizabeth Taylor: Future Promise
James Cohan, 48 Walker Street
10 September–23 October 2021

For her sixth exhibition at James Cohan, Alison Elizabeth Taylor leaves behind her native scenes of the Southwest to draft a love letter to the resilience of a community from her Brooklyn studio.

Future Promises is at once a reflection of the present and a thought for the future. The exhibition features the artist's signature medium of 'marquetry hybrid', or a combination of wood veneer, painted wood, and photographic prints.

In 2022, Taylor will be the subject of her first major museum survey exhibition at Des Moines Art Center.

Black and yellow abstract lines feature against a grey background.

Georges Mathieu, SLAUGHTER OF THE DUKE JEHAN DE BOURGOGNE (1957). Oil on canvas. 97 x 195 cm. Courtesy Perrotin. Photo: Claire Dorn.

Georges Mathieu
Nahmad Contemporary, 980 Madison Avenue, 3/F
Perrotin, 130 Orchard Street
8 September–23 October 2021

Highly active during the 1950s and 60s, Georges Mathieu was a major contributor to postwar abstraction. Mathieu founded Lyrical Abstraction, a movement that sought to distinguish from geometric abstraction and promote a more emotive way of painting.

On view across Nahmad Contemporary and Perrotin, this exhibition is the first major survey of Mathieu's work in celebration of his 100th birthday. It will include pieces from the artist's private collection.

Two masked female figures are seated atop of a lion beneath a moon that has a grimacing face.

Marcel Dzama, Our father was a beast, mother a beauty, and grandpa was a vampire (2021). © Marcel Dzama. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

Marcel Dzama: Who Loves the Sun
David Zwirner, 34 East 69th Street
8 September–23 October 2021

Who Loves the Sun features a series of drawings inspired by photographs gathered from Marcel Dzama's travels to Morocco, Mexico, and Fire Island. The exhibition expands on Dzama's existing interest in nature and the Anthropocene, blending lush jungles with ecological disaster.

'I find that the fear, anxiety, and sadness of the virus has changed my art,' the Winnipeg-born artist notes. Dzama's 11th solo exhibition at David Zwirner will include a six-part work on paper measuring over 25-feet, original drawings for a wall mosaic for the Bedford Avenue subway station, and several films including Lost Cat Disco (2020), a father son collaboration.

A black-and-white photograph of an urban stairwell featuring two columns, all of which is covered in graffiti.

Robert Longo, Untitled (2021). Robert E. Lee Monument Graffiti for George Floyd; Richmond, Virginia 2020. Charcoal on mounted paper. 243.8 x 370.8 cm. © Robert Longo. Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York/Seoul/Hong Kong/London.

Robert Longo: I do fly / After summer merrily
Pace Gallery, 540 West 25th Street
10 September–23 October 2021

Brooklyn-born artist Robert Longo has been engaged with activism ever since he witnessed the death of a former classmate following the protest of the United-States' invasion of Cambodia.

I do fly / After summer merrily showcases the last instalment of 'Destroyer Cycle'. The series gathers a storm of images from a 'culture of impatience' to explore American power, violence, and mythmaking. The viewer will have the pleasure of seeing Longo's large-scale charcoal works for the first time without the glazing around the frame.

A painting of a crowd in a grey street, many of them holding umbrellas, appears to be photographed from above.

Kon Trubkovich, The Antepenultimate End (2019). Oil on canvas. 195.6 x 279.4 cm. © Kon Trubkovich. Courtesy Gasgosian. Photo: Rob McKeever

Kon Trubkovich: The Antepenultimate End
Gagosian, 821 Park Avenue
9 September–23 October 2021

Kon Trubkovich is a Moscow-born artist based in Brooklyn. Trubkovich's work is influenced by his family's move from the U.S.S.R. in 1990. Through recollection, discarded footage, and documentation, the artist explores how personal memory entangles with collective memory, how they can contradict one another, and muddle the grounds of historical truth.

In Trubkovich's work, warped photographs and dislocated memories are encountered as a series of paintings, works on paper, and films. In The Antepenultimate End, the artist alludes to the passage of time by pointing to the state of digital media in decay.

An anthropomorphic figure resembling a machine, constituting pipes and various organic shapes, is painted in shades of pink and red by Philip Guston against a light-blue background.

Philip Guston, Back View II (1978). Oil on canvas. 185.4 x 205.7 cm. © The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth. Private collection.

Philip Guston, 1969–1979
Hauser & Wirth, 22nd Street
9 September–30 October 2021

Philip Guston, 1969–1979 is the latest of the shows curated by Hauser & Wirth since their undertaking of the Guston Estate. The exhibition is centred around the figurative breakthrough in the final decade of the painter's career.

Guston's paintings are known for their stark introspective nature blending the disturbing with the humane. Containing hooded figures and fleshed membranes, the exhibition traces the artist's return to figuration and the distinct visual language that emerges from the violence and bigotry Guston witnessed growing up in Los Angeles.

A blurred black and white film still features a car driving through what resembles a blazing forest.

John Akomfrah, FIVE MURMURATIONS (2021). Video still, five screen film installation. 45 min. © Smoking Dogs Films. Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.

Lisson Gallery, 504 West 24th Street
9 September–16 October 2021

London-based artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah is known for his engagement with the most pressing issues today.

Since March 2020, Akomfrah has been working on the longest project of his career. In the three-screen installation video, the viewer becomes witness to the disruptions that shake the social fabric: real-time footage of individuals and communities coping with the pandemic, racial mobilisation and cyclical violence, and the impending danger of climate change.

A line of stacked squares with rounded edges each feature pulsating circles within them in varying shades of yellow, blue, and red.

Leon Polk Smith, Squares – Circles (1968). Paint on canvas. Overall: 180.3 x 60.3 cm. © Leon Polk Smith Foundation. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Leon Polk Smith: Prairie Moon
Lisson Gallery, 504 West 24th Street
9 September–16 October 2021

Leon Polk Smith is known for his contributions to hard-edge painting. Smith went mostly unrecognised during his lifetime. Now, the Oklahoma-born artist finds his work revived in a retrospective curated by writer and art historian Lynn Zelevansky.

Prairie Moon features works spanning over 50 years of the artist's career. The exhibition pays tribute to the influence on Smith's work of the prairies of Oklahoma and the artist's Cherokee heritage.

Gilbert and George are pictured in lime-green suits, a pair of yellow axes crossing above them.

Gilbert & George, BATTLE ROAD (2020). Mixed media. 254 x 377 cm. © Gilbert & George. Courtesy the artists and Lehmann Maupin, New York/ Hong Kong/ Seoul/ London.

Lehmann Maupin, West 22nd Street
9 September–6 November 2021

NEW NORMAL PICTURES follows Gilbert & George along the pandemic-ravaged streets. The duo have been working and living together in East London for over 50 years.

Realism and portraiture fuse with acidic colour palettes to invoke the hallucinogenic disorientation of dreams. In the NEW NORMAL, London's streets appear familiar, yet skewed. Gilbert & George too, topple over objects wearing lime green suits, caught in the coming of change.

A black and white photograph of a wooden home is concealed in part by a lichen-covered tree that stands in front of it.

Dawoud Bey, Tree and Cabin (2019). Edition of 6 with 2 APs. Gelatin silver print, paper. 121.9 x 149.9 cm. © Dawoud Bey. Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York.

Dawoud Bey: In This Here Place
Sean Kelly, 475 10th Avenue
10 September–23 October 2021

In This Here Place is the third project in Dawoud Bey's history series. The exhibition introduces large-scale photographs that visualise the birthplace of African American and America's relations, or the physical site of enslavement.

The photographs are made in Louisiana, along the West banks of the Mississippi River, across different plantations. Grounded in places that have been altered with time, Bey continues his inquiry into the memories and the haunting within the Black imagination.

A figure in a white shirt appears to be painted as if in a pool of water, their face and the front of their chest concealed by its rippled surface.

Calida Rawles, On the Other Side of Everything (2021). Acrylic on canvas. 182.88 x 152.4 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York/ Hong Kong/ Seoul/ London.

Calida Rawles: On the Other Side of Everything
Lehmann Maupin, West 24th Street
9 September–23 October 2021

Calida Rawles presents four new paintings for her first solo exhibition in New York. Rawles looks into narrative, race, and positionality through the medium of water to communicate the abstraction of the Black figure.

The paintings in the exhibition begin from a series of photographs in which the artist instructs the models to engage with water. Rawles wishes to capture the figure in pause, in the brief moments they are returned to a space of their own, no longer subject to another's assumptions.

A grid of different coloured squares makes up a painting by McArthur Binion.

McArthur Binion, Modern:Ancient:Brown (2021). Ink, oil paint stick, and paper on board. 243.84 x 182.88 x 5.08 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York/ Hong Kong/ Seoul/London.

McArthur Binion: Modern:Ancient:Brown
Lehmann Maupin, West 24th Street
9 September–23 October 2021

Modern:Ancient:Brown features a series of multicolour paintings gathering four decades of works exploring language, colour, identity, African American history, modernism, and minimalism.

Using a blend of drawing, collage, oil sticks, and ink, McArthur Binion's grids are often layered over personal documents: birth certificate, address book pages, photographs of his childhood, photographs of lynchings.

Modern:Ancient:Brown unites Binion's previous series into one body of work. Residues of the 'DNA' series can be found in this new body, evoking repetition and the labour-intensive nature of Binion's practice.

A multi-coloured image, featuring pools of colour that resemble stains, outlines two figures standing in the centre of the frame.

Alexandre Lenoir, Petite Terre (2021). Acrylic on cotton canvas. 83 x 83 cm. © Alexandre Lenoir. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Alexandre Lenoir Studio.

Alexandre Lenoir: Trois Rivières
Almine Rech, 39 East 78th Street
8 September–23 October 2021

Alexandre Lenoir's work deals with the fickle nature of memory. Trois Rivières will be the artist's first solo show in the United States. The exhibition features a dozen paintings derived from old black and white and sepia-toned photographs belonging to the artist's grandmother.

Lenoir's painted figures blur and fade leaving behind an afterimage alluding to the phantom bodies that reside in collective memory. Each canvas is coated with 20 to 100 layers of paint and thousands of pieces of masking tape. Holes and stains are visible at certain places, evoking the process of experimentation and the violent nature of remembering. —[O]

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