ARTnewsletter Archive

From Armory Halls to Hotel Rooms, NY Art Fairs Thrive

There were no fewer than ten overlapping art fairs spread across Manhattan last weekend (March 7–11) in spaces ranging from cavernous armories and shipping piers to boutique hotel rooms, where an array of international galleries displayed art.

NEW YORK—There were no fewer than ten overlapping art fairs spread across Manhattan last weekend (March 7–11) in spaces ranging from cavernous armories and shipping piers to boutique hotel rooms, where an array of international galleries displayed art. The major annual fairs include the organized by the Art Dealers Association of America, and the 14 year old Armory Show, which got its start in a downtown hotel, but now occupies two huge piers on the far west side of Manhattan. AnARTnewsletter survey of exhibitors and organizers indicated robust sales and attendance, yet another sign that the market for modern and contemporary art continues to surge despite broader, ongoing economic uncertainty.

Other fairs of note included, the Volta show, a curated fair where exhibitors show the work of a single artist, Scope, Moving Image, which focused on video art, as well as Pool, Fountain, Independent, Dependent and the Korean Art Show.

Sold Out Shows at ADAA

At the ADAA show, held at the Park Avenue Armory, Pace Gallery sold out its entire booth—25 works by Yoshitomo Nara—on the preview opening night on March 6, with works priced between $16,000/50,000.

David Zwirner gallery, whose booth was also dedicated to a single artist—consisting of eight new paintings by Suzan Frecon—also sold out on the preview night with prices ranging from $40,000/100,000. Further sales of Frecon works, including watercolors priced at $20,000, also resulted from the show.

Organizers reported attendance of nearly 20,000 visitors, roughly even with last year’s level and up from the 15,000 visitors reported in 2010.

“Attendance was consistently strong throughout the week with the majority of business done on opening night,” said Matt Bangser, director of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. “We sold out our booth of paintings by Henry Taylor. These were all new works, ranging between $15,000/60,000, which were produced during Henry’s residency at MoMA/PS1.” Taylor’s current exhibition at the museum runs through April 9. Bangser said there were ten paintings, all acrylic on canvas, which were sold at the show.

Organizers of the Armory Show, which again featured a contemporary and a modern component, reported preliminary attendance figures at above 60,000, compared with last year’s report of nearly 65,000.

This year’s fair also featured a special focus on Nordic art, including a designated invitation-only section with galleries from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Fair organizers also opted for fewer booths and a more streamlined layout, a change that apparently pleased exhibitors.

“This edition was our most successful Armory to date and we feel that the organizers really made a huge effort to improve the quality of experience for both exhibitors and visitors,” said Glenn Scott Wright, director of Victoria Miro gallery, London. The result: “very strong sales across the board for gallery artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Idris Khan, Christian Holstad and Chantal Joffe, but particularly for Yayoi Kusama.” Kusama is the subject of a current retrospective at Tate Modern that then travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, later this year. The gallery sold all five of the Kusama paintings brought to the fair, for six figure sums, said Wright.

This year’s edition of Scope was held in a specially built pavilion located diagonally across the West Side Highway from the Armory Show, an ideal location that benefited from the flow of visitor traffic to the nearby event.

Lori Johns, gallerist at C. Emerson Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Fla., did well with lower-priced works including ink on paper drawings, priced from $300/500, by Justin Nelson; works by Jason Snyder, in the $200/300 range and the $1,200/1,800 range; and work by Kim Anderson, including drawings under $500 and paintings priced $1,000/4,000. Said Johns of Scope: “The overall vision and quality of art is high and it is always comprised of really interesting and prestigious international galleries.”

At Volta, Düsseldorf gallery Schuebbe Projects reported the sale of one of Carl Emanuel Wolf’s eye-catching, human-scale firecracker conglomerates for $30,000. And Mixed Greens sold several photographs by Julianne Swartz for prices ranging from $2,800/3,200, according to Courtney Strimple, the exhibitions coordinator.

Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London, sold four works by Jeremy Dean, including his Hero/Hostage, 2012, comprised of 25,000 needles with deconstructed American flags and gold leaf paint. It sold for $55,000 to a private German collector.