Walking around the two-pier behemoth that is today’s Armory Show, it’s hard to imagine that this was once a scrappy upstart hotel fair. Over the course of the week, I heard various people speak nostalgically about what the Armory had been like in its early years, as if it had been some prelapsarian moment before the art world discovered capitalism. However, in a 1995 Frieze magazine survey, co-founder Pat Hearn stated bluntly that “the art fair is simply an effort to move the product in whatever way possible.”
Throughout the course of NYC’s art fair week, I overheard questions over what art work was being sold, and who it was being sold to. Of course, art fairs exist to sell work, and the work on display is there to be sold. But where do these works come from? This is where the secondary market comes in. Though most galleries simply sell work from the studios of the artists they represent, the secondary market deals in works that have already been sold, at least once. Fairs like the Armory’s Modern section focus heavily on secondary market works, as do auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
For the past three days, we traveled to four New York art fairs to find out who are the people that attend, if they buy art and how do they judge art. The special series, Emerging Collectors at the Fairs, was sponsored by 20×200 and was comprised of a random sampling of attendees to each venue.
The fourth and final in a special series sponsored by 20×200 that profiles some of the people who are attending the New York art fairs this week. The following is a random sampling of attendees at the 2011 Scope art fair on Saturday night. Here is who and what I found on a Saturday night in SoHo.
The Fountain Art Fair was parked at Pier 66 in Chelsea, floating on the water as if at any moment it could set sail for an undisclosed location. The odd cousin in the family of New York art fair week, Fountain is a quirk DIY vision of what’s happening in contemporary art today.
The third in a special series sponsored by 20×200 that profiles some of the people who are attending the New York art fairs this week. The following is a random sampling of attendees at the 2011 The Independent art fair on Friday night. Here is who and what I found on a Friday night in Chelsea.
The first thing that I noticed about Moving Image, an art fair based entirely around video works, was the relative calm. Gone were the crowds, gone were the collectors running rabidly from booth to booth, gone were the chatty gallerists and curators. Moving Image is a place to look at art and experience it one on one. It takes some time, but walking through the videos I definitely caught a few stand out pieces that would have been overwhelmed in an regular art fair display.
The second in a special series sponsored by 20×200 that profiles some of the people who are attending the New York art fairs this week. The following is a random sampling of attendees at the 2011 The Dependent art fair on Friday night. Here is who and what I found on a Thursday afternoon in Chelsea.
If people were complaining that The Independent was a scene with its cooler-than-thou veneer of globalization and slightly aloof exhibitors and audience, than they probably hadn’t seen The Dependent art fair, which was the dictionary definition of “art scene.” For four hours on a Friday night, two floors of the Four Points Sheraton hotel on West 25th St was transformed into an art fair for 16 galleries from near and far. These staples of the downtown scene staged their own hotel room fair as if to seemingly to prove how much they could pack two floors of this non-descript Chelsea hotel.
When the Verge art fair launched Verge Brooklyn, many Brooklyn galleries were peeved that the DUMBO-based event would take away from local galleries scenes. Why would they have to pay to be in an art fair in their own borough when Armory week was the only time they could get out of town collectors to their spaces? Even if the Verge Brooklyn fair began with a bumpy start it was able pull of something no one has tried before, an art fair in Brooklyn
Wayne Coe creates complicated sand paintings on the sidewalks and floors of New York using the language of gay male porn theater advertising from the 1970s and 1980s to create ads for contemporary artists. I caught up with the artist, who was performing for six hours yesterday as part of Brooklyn Art Now in DUMBO , to ask him about “art-xploitation,” which he says is “the use of male film hyperbole to sell art.”
Across the street from the Empire State Building is the Volta Art Fair, a sophisticated and civilized art fair where galleries from around the world present solo artist projects. Elizabeth Tenenbaum and Elissa Levy of InContext Studio Tours gave me a preview of Volta New York 2011. After attending six art fairs during Armory Week, Volta felt different to me. It was a tightly curated, intelligent and a refreshingly friendly view of international contemporary art. The attitude here was more like a TED conference than an art fair, seemingly more concerned with good ideas than with commercial sales.