MOSCOW—The Moscow World Fine Art Fair (FAF), now in its third year, was held from May 22-29 at the newly reconstructed Manege, a large exhibition hall adjacent to Moscow’s Kremlin. Despite some glitches the atmosphere was lively, and several dealers saw brisk sales, the fair organizers and some participants report. But other Russian gallery owners have expressed disappointment, saying that the fair was under-attended and poorly promoted.
Fewer visitors came than had been predicted. Approximately 45,000 people attended, compared with an expected 60,000. Dealers paid about €50,000 ($64,000) each for a stall, sources say. But contemporary art dealers such as XL, Guelman Gallery and Aidan sold most of the works shown at their stalls, according to the fair organizers.
“We are happy with the results,” Yves Bouvier, president of ArtCultureStudio, which organized FAF, stated. “This year both the jewelry houses and the galleries that participated registered commercial success.” Bouvier declined to put a figure on the sales.
Art Moscow Reports Sales of $3.1 Million
Art Moscow, a contemporary art fair now in its tenth year, was held at the Central House of Artists from May 17-21. It brought in $3.1 million, more than last year but less than anticipated, according to Russian press reports.
“It was our first time [at the World Fine Art Fair] and we made a lot of contacts,” gallerist Aidan Salakhova told ARTnewsletter. “We sold quite well. We also did really well at Art Moscow.”
Salakhova said she sold two works by Rauf Mamedov—a photographer from Ajerbaijan who uses models with Down’s Syndrome for photographs such as The Last Supper—for $20,000 each at FAF. She also sold works by Ukranian painter Oksana Mas—two at Art Moscow and two at FAF, for $15,000/18,000 apiece. She also sold one work by new artist Max Talling for $12,000.
Some very high-end sales were confirmed by sources close to the event. New York-based Chowaiki/Mosionzhnik Gallery found buyers for three works by Alexej von Jawlensky and one painting by Marc Chagall, from its exhibition entitled “Expressions of Color,” sources report. They say that once sold, the works were removed from display at the insistence of the Russian clients.
When reached by phone in New York, Russian-born dealer and adviser Luba Mosionzhnik would not comment on the sales, except to say, “I sold quite well for myself.” She added, “Russian buyers are just starting, and eventually they will be serious collectors of Western art.”
“There is a lot of new enthusiasm for both the Fine Art Fair and for Art Moscow,” Gary Tatintsian, owner of Gary Tatintsian Gallery, New York, told ARTnewsletter. At FAF Tatintsian attracted attention by showing several Kasimir Malevich and Ilya Chashnik drawings, as well as some Aleksandr Rodchenko photographs. “People want to develop a culture of international art here,” the gallerist points out. “Russians are buying art because they like it; they want a legacy or social importance. It’s not about speculation.”
There are other dealers, though, who feel FAF organizers could have done more. “The atmosphere was amiable and the fair was very professionally organized,” comments Vadim Zheleznyakov of Moscow’s Academy of Arts gallery, which sells Russian paintings and furniture from the 15th-20th centuries. “However, there was no advertising or promotion. There were no posters or banners on the Moscow streets. I couldn’t sell anything. None of my friends sold anything either.”
Moreover, he adds, the event was held at the end of May, when many Russians leave town for their dachas or vacation trips.