The publicist said they had to open the doors to the NADA fair at the Deauville Beach Resort five minutes early because the crowd was that eager. Publicists are paid to say those kinds of things, but inside there was a veritable feeding frenzy that gave off the feeling of a Moroccan street market. Overheard at Zach Feuer’s booth was what may have very possibly been haggling:
“Twenty thousand?” a woman asked the dealer.
“Twenty-eight,” Feuer said.
“You just added eight thousand!”
“The price is in the computer!”
The day’s refrain was “sorry, it’s sold.” The Belgian collector Alain Servais was wandering the fair in the earlier hours, none too happy about the amount of middle-of-the-road abstract painting on view. There was a lot! Maybe about half of the booths seemed stocked with the stuff. “Half? It’s 90 percent!” Servais said. “It’s selling like hot cakes. I am happy for the dealers. I am not blaming them for bringing what people want to buy, but what kind of world do we live in?”
The steroidal art market didn’t keep out all the weirdness, however. Over at the Oslo gallery Rod Bianco, Tim Smith was selling drawings that Bjarne Melgaard had made for a house on Mars, designed for humans to live in once things really go tits up here on Earth. Snøhetta, which collaborated on Melgaard’s 2012 show at the ICA in London, are planning to build a prototype of the house.
“They’re kind of the powerhouse architectural firm in Scandaniva, and Bjarne is kind of the powerhouse artist in Scandinavia, so it’s pretty inevitable that those kinds of creative types are going to find each other,” Smith said. “Bjarne loves their work, and vice-versa. They’re just super creative and they get each other, so they’re able to take Bjarne’s drawings and translate them into three-dimensional forms.”
Speaking of ambitious feats of design, New York gallery The Hole had set up its booth as a painter’s studio, complete with scuffed floors, dirty walls, and bad lighting. It was a gag because they were showing artists who look like painters but eschew paint entirely–one canvas was made with melted popsicles, another featured photographs of streaks of paint. In a corner were realist ceramic sculptures of a beer bottle and a pack of cigarettes by Rose Eken.
At Copenhagen’s Andersen’s gallery, there was a chair by the artist Shiyuan Lin, the front legs of which were propped up on two small, white balloons, causing the chair to rock continuously. Scot Surdez, the gallery director, described it as “almost a one-liner.” People were taking a break from all the hysteria by staring at the chair as if hypnotized, discussing its functioning in languid tones.
“That’s pretty cool,” one man uttered.
“I’m very mesmerized by it,” said another. “I’m trying to figure out the mechanism for it.”
(The mechanism was, well, the two balloons.)
The most crucial takeaway from the fair was that artists are making pieces based on enormous articles of clothing. At Chicago’s Shane Campbell Gallery, there was a giant glove by Amanda Ross-Ho. Puerto Rico’s Roberto Paradise had a giant T-shirt by José Lerma. Around the corner, The Sunday Painter gallery had a giant Patagonia jacket by James Viscardi.
“Those fuckers,” Will Jarvis from The Sunday Painter joked at the mention of the Lerma T-shirt. “They should fight! Whoever wins can get to keep making giant shirts.”
(“They put theirs up today,” a Roberto Paradise employee said about their rival. “We had ours up yesterday. There’s a giant glove over there, too.”)
Near the entrance, the designer Luna Maurer was handing people stickers and asking them to cover the floor around the booth of Lower East Side gallery P! with them.
“It’s a generative work by all visitors,” she said. (Prem Krishnamurthy described the stickers as “a fungus.”) “You could say crowd-sourced,” Maurer continued. “Each visitor only gets four stickers, so you have to be very careful. Everyone can only be part of the whole. And we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what kind of patterns emerge when everybody works together on something.”
Click the slide show below to see more works on view at the fair.