With the Armory Show set to open in New York this week, my email inbox is brimming with gallery previews of works being brought to town for display and sale. Running March 3 – 8, Armory Arts Week comprises countless exhibition openings, numerous public art projects, and art fairs both big and small throughout Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Though seeing it all would be impossible, with a comfortable pair of shoes, an adept taxi driver and an espresso in hand, one can pack a whole lot of art viewing into an intense 5 days.

As with other growing international fair weeks like Art Basel, the number of satellite fairs timed to coincide with the Armory has multiplied exponentially with each passing year; for 2015, the sheer volume of venues to check out is dazzling. The Armory fair itself is held on Piers 92 and 94 of the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side. It includes both Modern and Contemporary sections and features such blue-chip galleries as London’s Victoria Miro, Chicago & Berlin’s Kavi Gupta, and Athens’ The Breeder.


 Australian photographer Rosemary Laing’s weather #4, on view at Galerie Lelong at the Armory


 A photograph by Zipora Fried, on view at New York’s On Stellar Rays gallery at the Armory


 An oil, charcoal and lacquer on canvas work by Henning Strassburger, showing at Zurich’s BolteLang gallery at the Armory

Nearby at Pier 90, Volta is a fair made up exclusively of single-artist projects, which aims to create a more in-depth experience of each artist’s works. Across town at the ADAA fair, modern masters like Joseph Cornell and Yayoi Kusama are shown alongside bellwether artists like Barry X Ball and Michelle Grabner. (If you’re crossing Central Park, make sure to check out the Public Art Fund’s latest installation, artist Tatiana Trouve’s Desire Lines, a monumental sculpture based on park’s topography.) Downtown, more intimately-scaled fairs like Pulse and Scope are known for smaller galleries and emerging artists.


 An untitled 1957 Franz Kline drawing being shown by James Cohan at the ADAA fair


 Lita Albuquerque’s Auric Field Gold (Au 79), 2015, a work of pigment on panel and 24k gold leaf on resin, showing at Kohn Gallery’s booth at ADAA


Christian Rex Van Minnen’s painting Biggie Patch Kidney P.I.E., on view at Copenhagen’s Gallery Poulson, at Pulse art fair

Rounding out the week’s offerings, the newest type of fairs are medium-specific ones. The Moving Image Fair focuses on single-channel videos, projections, and video sculptures. The Art On Paper fair will display a stunning array of just that, proving the astonishing possibilities and versatility of artworks within one category of media.


 A still from parametronomicon, a video by Pink Twins (Juha & Vesa Vehvilainen), showing at Moving Image Fair. For full video, click here.


 Maelstrom by Mia Pearlman, a cut paper work measuring 12 x 11 feet, from JHB Gallery at Art On Paper

While the current incarnation of the Armory Show is not a direct descendant of the groundbreaking 1913 event, it is named in honour of it. That show, officially titled The International Exhibition of Modern Art, opened at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City on February 17, 1913. Organized but he Association of American Painters and Sculptors, it became a major turning point in art history, introducing the American public to the European avant-garde of the time. This was the first large-scale North American show for artists like Matisse, Duchamp, Cezanne and Picasso, and would mark the moment that Modernism crossed the ocean. Reactions ran the gamut from disgust, derision and laughter to excitement and exaltation; there was no room for indifference at the 1913 Armory.


 Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 painting Nude Descending A Staircase; intensely different and groundbreaking for its time, the picture caused a veritable sensation when shown in New York in 1913.

In an age where shock and awe is rare to come by, it is amazing to think about the transportive, transformative power that art can have on people, and inspiring to keep in mind when heading out to the fairs this week. The notion of being thoroughly blown away by an artwork, having a picture reframe how you think about art and perhaps life, may seem unusual today. But isn’t that prospect, that potential for excitement and amazement, what compels us to keep looking?