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The Armory Show: Record Crowds, Robust Sales

Within a crowded field of art fairs and contained in a smaller space than before, the ninth annual Armory Show, from Feb. 23-26, experienced record crowds. This year the fair was timed to coincide with The Art Show, sponsored by the Art Dealers Association of America.

NEW YORK—Within a crowded field of art fairs and contained in a smaller space than before, the ninth annual Armory Show, from Feb. 23-26, experienced record crowds. This year the fair was timed to coincide with The Art Show, sponsored by the Art Dealers Association of America.

Dealers generally reported robust sales; and judging from preliminary results, the 2007 edition likely exceeded last year’s record sales total, according to executive fair director Katelijne de Backer. Visitors on Saturday, Feb. 24, endured waits as long as two hours, despite the plethora of fairs happening simultaneously around New York City.

An estimated 52,000 people attended the four-day Armory Show, up from 47,000 last year (ANL, 3/28/06). This year it took place under one roof at Pier 94, on the far west side of Manhattan at 55th Street. (In the past it had been held on two piers several blocks south.)

Not only was space consolidated, but the restructured art fair highlighted the trend toward fewer galleries with larger booths—there were 150 booths this year, compared with 154 in 2006 and 162 in 2005. The exhibitors were selected from a field of 550 applicants.

A survey of the gallery owners participating in the Armory Show revealed strong sales across the board. Elyse Goldberg, director of New York’s James Cohan Gallery, reported sales to private collectors of all three new sculptural works by Folkert de Jong, each priced at $32,000. The gallery also brought along pieces by Trenton Doyle Hancock, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Tomaselli and Bill Viola—and “we sold mostly everything we brought,” says Goldberg, adding that some sales topped $100,000.

The Paul Kasmin Gallery, Manhattan, had a booth that was principally devoted to a one-person show of paintings on paper ($7,000 apiece) and on canvas ($45/85,000) by Deborah Kass. Several works on paper and two canvas paintings found buyers.

“We did pretty great,” Amanda Schneider, assistant to Paul Kasmin Gallery’s director, told ARTnewsletter.

The booth of New York’s Deitch Projects was given over to large paintings that all found takers: four by Ryan McGinness (priced from $15,000/30,000); and four by Russian collaborators Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov ($30,000/80,000).

Much to Choose From

Meanwhile two Manhattan galleries—Sean Kelly and Greenberg Van Doren—displayed a wider mix of artists and objects. The Sean Kelly booth offered works by 14 artists, selling 20 of 30 pieces on display, including: two photographs by Frank Thiel (priced at $29,000 apiece); an Antony Gormley sculpture ($300,000); a watercolor-and-pencil drawing by Rebecca Horn ($190,000); and a drawing by the Cuban duo Los Carpinteros ($10,000), which was acquired by the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Greenberg Van Doren’s experience of the fair was “great—we did better than last year,” says curator Augusto Arbizo. This, he suggests, was chiefly due to the sale of a few high-priced items instead of a large number of more moderately priced works.

All told, the gallery offered works by eight artists at the fair, chalking up buyers for the painting Reminiscence, 2007, by Sharon Ellis (priced at $85,000); two painted-wood sculptures by Chris Caccamise ($2,500/ 3,200); and three works on paper by Benjamin Edwards ($3,500 apiece).

The Greenberg Van Doren Gallery also participated in The Art Show of the ADAA. “But,” says Arbizo, “we usually take pieces by our younger artists to the Armory Show.”

Satellite Fairs Proliferate

The Armory Show was one of seven art fairs taking place within the same time period in Manhattan. Among others were The Art Show, PULSE, SCOPE, LA Art, DiVA and the Red Dot Fair.

There also was overlap of some gallery names at the various events, particularly at the Armory and ADAA shows. One of them, Cheim & Read, sold a $125,000 Lynda Benglis sterling-silver wall sculpture at the Armory Show “to an Asian collector,” says co-owner Howard Read, in addition to four Jenny Holzer benches (priced from $40/60,000), which remained from an edition of ten; a sculptural SuperAction Hero by collaborators David McDermott and Peter McGough for $90,000; and never-before-seen 1974 portraits by photographer William Eggleston ($15/25,000, in edition sizes of 10).

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