NEW YORK—The 20th annual Art Show, sponsored by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) and held at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue in Manhattan, from Feb. 22-25, turned in another strong showing despite a drop in attendance—from approximately 14,000 last year to about 10,000. The gala preview on Feb. 21 was attended by 2,000 guests, organizers report.
Dealers on the whole deemed the show a success, with most reporting robust results and, in several instances, improvements on last year’s sales. However, others were less sanguine, noting that bouts of snow and rain throughout the weekend may have kept some buyers away, while still more surmised that the past few months of volatility in economic markets around the world might be weighing on some collectors.
As usual, the fair was heavily attended by New York collectors, but several observers said local buyers accounted for an even greater proportion of sales this year as compared with past editions. The shift in buyer makeup is attributable, at least in part, to the schedule change of the annual Armory Show, which showcases international contemporary art and ran concurrently with the ADAA Art Show last year. This time around, Armory Show organizers were forced to adhere to a late March time slot in order to secure the fair’s location at midtown piers on Manhattan’s far West Side.
Barbara Krakow, of the eponymous Boston gallery on Newbury Street, has participated in the ADAA Art Show every year since its inception in 1988; she called this year’s edition “amazing.” Krakow entered the fair with “a little hesitation because of the economy,” she says, “but we ended up doing double what we did last year.” The booth sold out its artworks, she told ARTnewsletter, including two bronzes of a seated woman from an edition of 13 by Kiki Smith, a set of 30 drawings by Allan McCollum and a wood sculpture by Sol LeWitt.
The Chicago dealer Donald Young told ARTnewsletter he had sold works by Rodney Graham (a photographic light box), Rosemarie Trockel and Mark Wallinger for prices ranging from $1,200/350,000. He observed that visitors to the fair “were almost exclusively from New York.”
Focus on Quality Artworks
New York dealer Michael Rosenfeld noted “a lot of confidence among collectors—and a focus on buying extremely high-quality works.” His gallery of the same name sold a handful of works, including paintings by Mark Tobey (1890-1976) and Emil Bisttram (1896-1976), a Jacob Lawrence drawing and a Romare Bearden collage, each for a six-figure price, Rosenfeld reports.
Other dealers were less satisfied. “There’s no question that this year’s show was off,” says Jane Kallir, codirector of Manhattan’s Galerie St. Etienne, which exhibited works by Lyonel Feininger, Emil Nolde and Egon Schiele, among others. She described sales as “tough,” adding, “You could attribute it to the economy or the weather. My overall feeling is that things are too expensive, with prices for some artists doubling or tripling in a period of two years. Many dealers, as well as the major auction houses, are aiming at the top tier of the art market. The market is simply not able to absorb this much art at this price level.”
Laurence Miller, of the Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, told ARTnewsletter that an edition of ten color photographs of Burk Uzzle’s 2005 image Desert Prada, Texas, 2005, had sold out at about $25,000 apiece. The photo, which depicts a lone, neon-green-lit Prada storefront against a darkening sky in rural Texas, drew considerable attention at the ADAA Art Show. In all, Miller reports, he sold about 20 works, including three Stephane Couturier views of Havana in winter from 2006 that ranged in price from $15,000/45,000.
“In terms of volume, this was one of the best fairs we ever had,” says Martha Parrish, of Martha Parrish & James Reinish, New York, who was exhibiting at the show for the eighth year. Among the gallerist’s sales: a drawing by Robert Laurent; paintings by Thomas Hart Benton, Marsden Hartley and Theodore Roszak; and a small Mark di Suvero sculpture. Prices ranged from $15,000 to “well over $1 million,” Parrish says.
At PaceWildenstein, where the booth was devoted to a solo Richard Tuttle show, “The Root of Linguistic Love,” a dozen paintings from 1999 all were sold on opening night, for about $50,000 each, to a mix of American and European collectors, reports PaceWildenstein spokeswoman Jennifer Joy. The gallery has featured the works of just one artist at each of these events since 2000.