03/07/2012 09:06 am ET Updated May 07, 2012

Armory Arts Week Guide, From Realism to Avant-Garde

By Della Hasselle

MANHATTAN -- It's New York City's Art Week, meaning the city is the official center of the arts world until March 11, drawing some 80,000 art enthusiasts seeking works of art from historic Cubist paintings to avant-garde installations.

Art enthusiasts may be left feeling a little dizzy when sifting through the catalogues of paintings, sculptures, sketches and other works that hundreds of exhibitors are displaying, from galleries around the world.

Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned campaigner,'s guide will help you navigate the week's two major shows -- The Armory Art Show and the ADAA Art Show -- and the 11 art fairs that accompany them.

For the First-Timer: Armory Arts Show

March 8 - 11

Piers 92 and 94, New York

For first time arts fair venturers, the world-renowned Armory Arts Show is a good place to start. Divided into Contemporary and Modern sections, the show breaks down exhibitors by style and country. Although Armory Show directors are trying to recast it as a "boutique-style" event, the 14-year-old show is known for its breadth, and will be showing works by a whopping 120 exhibitors.

"The main fair is the largest," arts blogger Kosuke Fujitaka said of the Armory Show, which acts as an umbrella to several other fairs around the city. "It's the most established, so it shows a good combination of different kinds of art."

Pier 92 will show historically significant Modern art, which generally encompasses styles extending from the late 1800s to the 1970s. Represented styles include Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism, among others, with prints by famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Chuck Close.

Pier 94 features Contemporary art, generally defined as having been produced after World War II. Post-modern and avant-garde installations make up the bulk of the pier. Highlights include a site-specific installation by Michael Riedel at David Zwirner and a solo booth by 2012 Whitney Biennial artist Kate Levant at Zach Feuer Gallery.

This year, Scandinavian art lovers get an added bonus, as the show has added a new section called "Armory Focus: The Nordic Countries."

For the Collector/Museum-Goer: ADAA Art Show

March 7 - 11

Park Avenue Armory, New York

For art enthusiasts in love with New York's Contemporary and Modern art museums, the ADAA Art Fair is an ideal spot to be in during New York Arts Week. The oldest-running fine art fair in the nation, ADAA Art Fair features museum-quality Modern and Contemporary exhibitions created by established artists around the country.

Those new to the art fair scene will also find themselves rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest players in the city's fine arts scene. The city's top collectors are known to peruse some of the most historically important Contemporary works at the show, which this year will include Cindy Sherman's "Murder Mystery" collage series from 1976 and works by Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor, known for his hand-constructed sculptures that reflect the sites and sounds of LA streets.

"The Art Show is an opportunity for collectors to meet with experts and take in fantastic exhibitions in a range of genres," ADAA president Lucy Mitchel-Innes said, adding that the show allows purchasers to buy works in a "refined environment."

For the Star Seekers: Volta NY

March 8 - 11

Piers 92 and 94, New York

Knowledgeable art collectors hoping to become familiar with the next big name in today's art world will benefit from a visit to Volta NY, as the entire fair features solo projects by the industry's emerging painters and sculptors.

By developing a fair devoted entirely to a handful of artists, Volta NY's executive director Amanda Coulsen felt that she was able to bring a brand-new feature to the traditional layout of other art fairs, and also give newer artists a better chance of being discovered.

"I felt that at the major fairs, I very rarely made discoveries," said Coulsen.  "It was always great to go and I would see things that were really interesting at museum-level qualities, but I was rarely making a discovery of a new artist. I thought it would be good to have a fair that would offer that opportunity."