As the ceremonial starting bell for Armory Week in New York, the ADAA Art Show brought 72 galleries to the Upper East Side’s Park Avenue Armory, including first-time participants such as Hauser & Wirth and Tilton Gallery.
The Art Show skews older in both attendees and artists for sale, and so it’s a genuine surprise to see a gallery dedicate an entire booth to an artist born in the 1980s, but lo and behold: 303 Gallery was offering a solo presentation of Nick Mauss. Thomas Arsac, the gallery associate director, said they had already sold one of the artist’s acid-splattered mirrors with paint swashes below glass at $80,000.
“It’s good to have a young artist at ADAA,” he said, as Art Basel director Marc Spiegler walked up to the booth to get a look.
303 Gallery was next to the Pace Gallery booth, which was given front-and-center real estate at the entrance of the Armory’s turbine hall, allowing for traffic flow to guide Leonard Lauder, the collector who gave his collection of Cubist masterpieces to the Met to establish a new wing, directly into Pace.
“This is us!” gallery owner Arne Glimcher said to Lauder, guiding him into the booth. “You’ve got to see this. We’re showing Lucas Samaras.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of him,” said Lauder, a billionaire ten times over, as he walked towards Glimcher.
But he seemed to have passed on the Samaras works, which were manageably sized pencil boxes bedecked with jewels and ball head pins. When we checked back a few minutes later, the gallery told us none had sold. They were priced at an average of $500,000.
What had sold was a giant folding screen at Lehmann Maupin by Hernan Bas—it went for $200,000 in the opening minutes. Called The Fourth of June, Eton, it depicted what looked to be a very charming boat ride. In something of a trend, another folding screen, at Pace Prints and Pace Primitive, was a rarely seen work by Sol LeWitt, who made ten screens in 1986 but apparently not too many more. Folding Screen A4 (Three Pyramids) was going for $200,000, and had yet to sell.
“It’s enormous—it gets to 150 inches when it’s spread out,” said Pace Prints director Alexandra Schwartz.
Another behemoth: Frank Stella’s Severambia (Side A), 1995, which was still unsold at $1 million. It could only fit in the booth because two of Stella’s dealers, Dominique Lévy and Marianne Boesky, had combined spaces to form a megabooth, continuing the odd arrangement they have with regard to sharing representation of the living legend. (“These booths at ADAA are really small, anyway,” said a dealer at Lévy, shrugging.)
Among the newcomers to this year’s fair, Tilton was presenting a solo show of work by Simone Leigh, the vase-like works going for $3,500 to $8,000.
When asked why he’d never done the Art Show before, Tilton said, “I’ve been a member [of ADAA] forever, and I had a bunch of artists who wanted to do a solo booth, so I decided to jump onboard.”
“And there’s a lot happening with Simone in her career right now,” he added.
Iwan Wirth, who was standing in his booth near a Fausto Melotti work made of gold rods, going for $250,000, said that while he had done the Art Show when hitched with David Zwirner in Zwirner & Wirth, their gallery together, which closed in 2009, it was good to be back, with Hauser & Wirth.
David Nolan was showing a booth-filling Barry Le Va installation, Switch, one of the more eye-catching works on view at the fair. The piece was conceptualized in 1967 but only now realized, and it filled the floor with oddly beautiful patches of gray felt and aluminum ball bearings. It was for sale for $300,000, and while there was interest from two different New York–based museums, no deal had yet been finalized.
Perhaps just give it time. Or, as 303’s Thomas Arsac said, “Let’s let the champagne come up and then…”