Armory Show Founding Director Paul Morris Resigns After 18 Years

6343464163540712508436389 15 pmorris2 030111 Armory Show Founding Director Paul Morris Resigns After 18 Years

Morris. (Courtesy PMC)

The Observer has learned that Paul Morris, founding director of the Armory Show and, for the past five years, vice president of art shows and events for Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., owner of the Armory Show, is resigning his position.

Reached for comment by phone, Mr. Morris confirmed the news and said that he is “really proud about the great programming” he has recently helped put in place at the Armory, particularly the “Focus” sections and the selection each year of an emerging artist to make an editioned artwork for charity (Theaster Gates last year), but that he “felt it was time for me to move on,” and characterized this as “a personal decision.”

Along with fellow New York art dealers Pat Hearn, Colin de Land and Matthew Marks, Mr. Morris was one of the founders of the Armory Show in 1994. At that time, it was called the Gramercy International Art Fair and took place at a range of locations, including the Gramercy Park Hotel and Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont. When the economy improved in the late 1990s, the group moved their fair to New York’s 69th Regiment Armory at Lexington Avenue and East 25th Street, and rechristened it the Armory Show.

After the deaths of Ms. Hearn and Mr. de Land, in 2000 and 2003, respectively, Mr. Morris closed his gallery, and concentrated more of his time on the Armory Show. In 2007, Mr. Marks and Mr. Morris sold the fair to Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI). Since the early 2000s, the fair has taken place on the piers on the far West Side of Manhattan. The most recent edition took place in March 2011 with 274 modern and contemporary art galleries.

Five years ago, MMPI appointed Mr. Morris as vice president of art shows and events, in which capacity he worked with the teams that ran all of the company’s art properties, including Art Toronto, the Volta fairs in New York and Basel, the now-defunct Art Chicago and the Los Angeles fair Art Platform, which opens its sophomore edition on Sept. 27.

The most recent addition to Mr. Morris’s team at the Armory Show, last year, was managing director Noah Horowitz, who works on the contemporary section of the show, on Pier 94, along with managing director Michael Hall. Deborah Harris has been responsible for the “Modern” section, on Pier 92. “The team is great,” Mr. Morris said. “I loved working with them. I learned a lot from Noah, and Debbie built an incredible pier.”

Update, 4:50 p.m.: The Armory has confirmed that Mr. Morris will not be replaced. Messrs. Horowitz and Hall will oversee Pier 94, and Ms. Harris will focus on Pier 92.

Asked about his plans for the future Mr. Morris said he is unsure whether or not he will return to art dealing. He still works with Robert Crumb, who is also represented by the David Zwirner gallery, and said that he had “an amazing time” working with Zwirner on Mr. Crumb’s recent exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

“It’s premature to say,” Mr. Morris said, when asked about his plans. “I turned 50 last October, and that makes you think about what you want to be doing for the next 10 years.”

Article continues below
More from Politics
STAR OF DAVID OR 'PLAIN STAR'?   If you thought "CP Time" was impolitic, on July 2 Donald Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a Star of David on top of a pile of cash next to Hillary Clinton's face. You'd think after the aforementioned crime stats incident (or after engaging a user called "@WhiteGenocideTM," or blasting out a quote from Benito Mussolini, or...) Trump would have learned to wait a full 15 seconds before hitting the "Tweet" button. But not only was the gaffe itself bad, the attempts at damage control made the BP oil spill response look a virtuoso performance.  About two hours after the image went up on Trump's account, somebody took it down and replaced it with a similar picture that swapped the hexagram with a circle (bearing the same legend "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!"!). Believe it or not, it actually got worse from there. As reports arose that the first image had originated on a white supremacist message board, Trump insisted that the shape was a "sheriff's star," or "plain star," not a Star of David. And he continued to sulk about the coverage online and in public for days afterward, even when the media was clearly ready to move on. This refusal to just let some bad press go would haunt him later on.
Donald Trump More Or Less Says He’ll Keep On Tweeting as President