The Armory Show, one of the city’s top fairs for 20th- and 21st-century art, had a shake-up in the last year: one director replaced following accusations of sexual harassment, and a shift in focus under its new director, Nicole Berry. There is a notable drive toward streamlining, with fewer galleries this year — a total of 198 from 31 countries at Piers 92/94, the contiguous exhibition space. The timeline is being tightened, as well, to create less of a divide between the past and the present, between post-World War II art (usually found on the sleepier Pier 92) and newer work. It’s a smart move, since much “historical” art from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s is now being shown in contemporary galleries anyway.
The impulse is toward slow looking and away from flashier displays. The prominent curator Hans Ulrich Obrist will be giving a public lecture, “Exhibition Making in the 21st Century” on Friday, and there are live discussions with artists: Carolee Schneemann at 1 p.m. on Saturday), and JR with the gallerist Jeffrey Deitch at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. There is plenty of historical work here that has not been seen before — or seen much — as well as commissioned projects and a very good mix of international, emerging and blue-chip galleries. Here are some currents I saw running through the fair.