An installation view at the Independent art fair. (Photo courtesy Patrick McMullan)

New York’s Fair Shake: Anthony Haden-Guest Goes to Independent and Spring/Break

To walk into any art fair last Thursday—the peak of Armory Week, the city’s most unhinged period of market madness—was to witness a top-shelf example of what I’ll call Art Worldling. Outside the West Side piers that house The Armory Show: A scene from that classic Rock Hudson Artic adventure, “Ice Station Zebra.” Inside the piers: Cheery crowds buzzing around and getting buzzed on Champagne, pinging into each other like balls on a pool table—and I’m not talking about just the limo people, but folk who cabbed, bussed, even walked. And what did they see, exactly? Perhaps not much: It had by then become word-of-mouth wisdom that the main event, The Armory Show itself, had less of an “All the Fun of the Fair” feel, as there was a near absence of gargantuan made-for-Instagram artworks along the aisles, and way fewer crowd-pleasing stunts. Instead, the new popular wisdom had settled that there were two must-see satellite fairs, the first being Independent.

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