Independent to Launch Fair Devoted to Diversifying the Canon of Twentieth-Century Art

Elizabeth Dee and Matthew Higgs, respectively the founder and the founding curatorial advisor of the New York–based Independent art fair, have announced the launch of a new fair dedicated to twentieth-century art. Slated to run concurrent with the Armory Show, the inaugural edition of Independent 20th Century will take place September 8–11 at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. Participation is by invitation only: Some thirty galleries have been asked to display work this year, with a focus on underrepresented artists of the past century.

Dee, who initiated the original Independent art fair in 2010 in order to showcase contemporary art, pointed to a need to create a disparate canon to which the work being made by today’s artists can be traced. “Over the years, there has been a shift, with next-generation dealers showing a more diverse group of artists and territories, geographically, socially, politically,” she told Artnews. “They are looking forward and looking back, saying, ‘We need to have a canon that looks like our program.’”

Higgs, the longtime director of New York alternative art space White Columns and the curatorial advisor of the new fair, agreed, telling Artnet News, “I would argue that the dominant trend of the twenty-first century for the last twenty years has been the revisiting of art history.”

The stated goal of the new endeavor is to broaden the canon to include artists who have historically been overlooked owing to racism, sexism, and other discriminatory beliefs and practices. Recent attempts to right these injustices have included the revaluing of work by such artists, leading to higher auction prices for previously neglected works and new attention paid to their makers. Of note, Dee and Higgs plan to exhibit museum loans at the fair: While not for sale, these works are being included in order to present well-rounded portraits of the artists whose work is being shown.

Among the galleries invited to participate in the forthcoming inaugural edition are Garth Greenan, showcasing the work of AbEx painter Al Loving; Gordon Robichaux and Parker Gallery, which together will exhibit work by multidisciplinary artist Gerald Jackson; and Salon 94 Design, which will present drawings and furniture by feminist writer and activist Kate Millett.


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