Armory Week 2015

Early Sales at the Armory Show

Armory Show visitors with work by Nick Cave at Jack Shainman

Armory Show visitors with work by Nick Cave at Jack Shainman.

Halfway down one of the aisles in Pier 94, which houses the contemporary art portion of The Armory Show, Ingleby Gallery’s booth features a painting by Harland Miller emblazoned with the words “There’s No Business Like No Business.” As if flouting that truism, there seemed to be plenty of business being done at the fair today, during its VIP Preview. ARTnews spoke with some of the dealers at the galleries that flank the Show’s entrance, which tend to be the ones with the fair’s more valuable artworks. Most of these galleries do both of the major New York contemporary fairs, the more established Armory Show, and the younger Frieze New York.

At the London-based Lisson Gallery,  director Alex Logsdail said he sold the sizable Dan Graham mirror pavilion piece that fronts the gallery’s large booth for $350,000 to an American collector. The piece is a variation on one recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For Lisson, Logsdail said, the Armory Show plays an important role because it’s been around for a while and attracts a solid group of American collectors. It functions, however, at a somewhat lower price point than a fair like Art Basel in Switzerland. He said $1 million to $1.5 million tends to be the upper limit in terms of the value of individual works dealers bring here.

Nearby, Paris and Salzburg-based gallerist Thaddeus Ropac’s both has two confrontational works by Bjarne Melgaard front-and-center. Those challenging pieces had yet to sell by day’s end, but the gallery has already parted with a 2014 painting by Georg Baselitz, priced at $550,000, and two Liza Lou pieces, which look like abstract paintings but are made with tiny glass beads, for $195,000 apiece, as well as works by Alex Katz and Robert Longo. The crowd here, a director at Ropac said, seems to be “90 percent American.”

Around the corner, New York-based gallery Sean Kelly sold a major new painting by Kehinde Wiley, whose exhibition just opened at the Brooklyn Museum, for $125,000, as well as a 2012 sculpture by Antony Gormley, for 350,000 British pounds (around $537,000). Kelly has gone on the record in the past saying that The Armory Show is a very successful fair for his gallery.

Nearby, a display at another New York-based gallery, Jack Shainman, has consistently been attracting crowd throughout the day. A  2011 “sound suit” piece by Nick Cave, with a surface stitched with white buttons, stands in front of a large wall-mounted piece by El Anatsui. By late afternoon, Shainman had sold the Nick Cave, for $125,000.

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