THE ARMORY SHOW NAMED CURATORS for its Focus and Platform sections today and also announced a new curatorial leadership summit for its 2018 fair. Bringing together an international roster of prominent curators, the daylong summit is designed to foster “new ideas and developments within the curatorial landscape.” Naomi Beckwith, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, is serving as chair of the summit.

Next year’s Armory Show is March 8-11. In addition to presenting a new series of discussions with curators, the New York art fair is expanding its Focus and Platform programming.

Gabriel Ritter, curator and head of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) is developing the Focus section of the fair, which features “solo- and dual-artist presentations of new or rarely seen work by today’s most relevant and compelling artists.” Based on the “critical success” of last year’s Focus programming, Armory Show organizers said they are doubling the amount of space devoted to the section in 2018.

The Armory Show’s Platform projects debuted last year. Jen Mergel, formerly the senior curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, is overseeing the section at the forthcoming fair. Platform is dedicated to large-scale, site-specific projects and is expanding in 2018 in order to present more commissioned art works.

“Set in the heart of the world’s art capital, The Armory Show has a unique opportunity to facilitate dialogue among international thought leaders in the curatorial profession,” said Nicole Berry, deputy director of The Armory Show. “We are thrilled to work with Gabe and Jen on Focus and Platform, and to inaugurate this new curatorial summit with Naomi, further developing the fair’s role as an incubator for new ideas and practices among the world’s top curators.”

“We are thrilled to work with Gabe and Jen on Focus and Platform, and to inaugurate this new curatorial summit with Naomi, further developing the fair’s role as an incubator for new ideas and practices among the world’s top curators.” — Nicole Berry, Deputy Director of The Armory Show

AT MCA CHICAGO, Beckwith’s exhibitions and publications “focus on the impact of identity and multi-disciplinary practices for shaping contemporary art.” She recently organized “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now,” and an exhibitio of works by The Propeller Group.

Prior to joining MCA Chicago, she was an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem and a fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Beckwith earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Northwestern University and a master’s with distinction from the Courtauld Institute in London.

In Conversation

Beckwith regularly hosts and participates in talks with fellow curators. “The Freedom Principle” traveled to ICA Philadelphia, where it was on view through March 19, 2017. While there, Beckwith participated in an evening of conversation with ICA Chief Curator Anthony Elms and Dieter Roelstraete, co-curator of the exhibition.

Multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell is the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at MCA Chicago. Beckwith is co-curating “Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen” with Valerie Cassel Oliver, who recently joined the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Spanning five decades, its the first major survey of the artist’s work. In anticipation the historic exhibition, which opens Feb. 24, 2018, Beckwith, Oliver, and Pindell, were in conversation at Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2016.

Last month, she hosted an Artadio Art & Dialogue with Naima Keith, deputy director of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. The discussion at MCA Chicago focused on “transforming exhibitions programs and the curatorial process.”

It will be interesting to see Beckwith’s vision for The Armory Show’s day of curatorial programming.

“The growth of these curated sections and the introduction of a curatorial leadership summit reflect The Armory Show’s core identity as a place for presenting new ideas and strong curatorial viewpoints,” Benjamin Genocchio, executive director of The Armory Show.

“Building on the success of the 2017 fair, we are thrilled to work with Gabe, Jen and Naomi to place artists and curators at the center of the fair once again, creating an exciting place of discovery for our over 65,000 visitors.” CT


IMAGES: Top, Yayoi Kusama, “Guidepost to the New World” (2016). | Photo by Teddy Wolf, Courtesy The Armory Show; Above right, Naomi Beckwith. | Photo by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


“Freedom Principle” considers the intersection of art, music and politics, as well as performance. Co-curated by Naomi Beckwith, the exhibition connected the legacy of the 1960s African American avant-garde in Chicago with the art and culture of today and featured an inter-generational slate of artists, including Terry Adkins, Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, Stan Douglas, Charles Gaines, Renee Green, David Hammons, Rashid Johnson, Jennie C. Jones, and Glenn Ligon. A fully illustrated catalog accompanied the show. Beckwith opens a conversation published in the catalog by saying three main principles guide the exhibition: collectivity, experimentation and improvisation. These qualities also define the catalog. It’s a vibrant mix of content formats—photography, essays, artist pages, and historic context, both written and visual—all produced on both matte and glossy pages.


Jeffrey Deitch Booth at The Armory Show 2017. | Photo by BFA, Courtesy The Armory Show


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