bitforms gallery on Artsy's Armory preview (All screenshots by Hyperallergic)

bitforms gallery on Artsy’s Armory preview (All screenshots by Hyperallergic)

As Artsy has gained in momentum (if not revenue) in the past year, it’s become apparent that what the platform is best at is not necessarily tracing the genealogy of artworks but simply reproducing exhibitions well in an online format, with high-res images and an attractive interface. That argument is further backed up by Artsy’s presentation of The Armory Show fair.

In fact, the Artsy version of the Armory Show is so good, I don’t feel like I even have to go to the actual fair at all, which is kind of a relief (just kidding, I’ll be hitting the aging carpet and reporting back anyway). The site has a special section devoted to the fair, with separate areas for the contemporary, modern, and focus segments of the Armory Show. Clicking on one will open an alphabetically ordered list of galleries with elegant thumbnails of the work each is bringing to the fair. Some of the galleries list the prices of works, such as bitforms gallery, and others don’t.

Rana Begum at Bischoff/Weis on Artsy

Rana Begum at Bischoff/Weis on Artsy

From the website, I can see that Galerie Bob van Orsouw’s display of works by Julia Dault will be a sure knockout. Gagosian will be showing a sprawling camouflage print by Andy Warhol in the fair’s Focus section, though it won’t be for sale. Andersen’s Contemporary has a booth of Daniel Lergon pieces that look coolly compelling. And all this without even passing a ticket booth.

Artsy takes some of the surprise out of going to the fair, and it makes seeing inter-booth juxtapositions harder, but isn’t the real point of an art fair just to set up and shill your wares, alongside the ever-important schmoozing? Of course, the internet treats traditional two-dimensional work better than it does other media, but Artsy has collected extremely high-resolution images from the participating galleries, who certainly have it in their best interests to provide good photography. And Artsy can’t possibly include every object that will be at the fair, but it gives an in-depth insight into what the fair will look like, with the added benefit of no walking and no lackluster dining options.

In the future, galleries, fairs, and perhaps even museums and biennials will line up to use Artsy’s interface to show digital mirrors of their shows rather than going through the costly effort of creating their own, which might provide the out the start-up investors and employees are looking for. Artsy has built an increasingly elegant platform — now, to put it to use.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...