Fairs USA

Fast and furious sales at Nada’s beach side fair

Buoyant opening with eager buyers snapping up the bargains

Given the unholy size of the newly expanded and consolidated Art Basel Miami Beach, what hope is there for any of the numerous satellite fairs scattered across hotel lobbies and far-flung corners of the city? Judging by yesterday’s opening preview of the seventh New Art Dealers Alliance (Nada) Art Fair, the poolside atmosphere of the new venue at Deauville Beach Resort was enough to lift any flagging spirits, but more importantly, proved conducive to buying.

Even competing with the ever-busy morning Rubell Family Collection brunch viewing, serious collectors such as Susan and Michael Hort and Marty and Linda Eisenberg were among the first through Nada’s doors at 10am. Museum and gallery directors were not far behind, including Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones and White Cube’s Jay Jopling, with New York art advisors Curt Marcus and Lisa Schiff also seen in hot pursuit of the beautiful young things on display across 80 booths from 30 cities.

Sales came thick and fast for some galleries, none more so than New York’s Rental Gallery (500), who had sold out their whole booth of Brendan Fowler’s wall-bound installations, with prices ranging from $3,200 to $15,000 for multi-panelled works from the “Fall 2009” series (2009). The gallery’s entrepreneurial director Joel Mesler even had his own off-site showcase: “I’ve set up my entire hotel room with works that have all sold.” A suite of five paintings by Moya McKenna, each tagged at $8,000, went within the hour, leaving Australian director Geoff Newton of Neon Parc (504) contemplating a quick dip in the pool.

Low price points encouraged such impulse buying. Jack Hanley (307) from San Francisco parted with Erwin Wurm’s resin-cast gherkin for $4,500 to collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and a small graphic Bjorn Copeland collage, Keep Off the Grass, to New York collector Eileen Cohen for an undisclosed sum. Leo Koenig (309) had a $40,000-and-below policy, with five tenacious sprouting-leaf sculptures in bronze by Tony Matelli on reserve for $7,000 to $20,000. “I’ve made my best buy of the day,” said curator Elliot McDonald, referring to the $150 Adam McEwan photocopy work he snapped up from White Columns (300) for London’s Hiscox Collection.

Celebrating 40 years of White Columns, director Matthew Higgs noted: “It’s nice being 15 feet from the beach, and getting a change of scene. It’s boring to show in the same space year after year. This forces you to recalibrate.” Everyone was happy with the faded grandeur of the historic Deauville, host to the Beatles in 1964, despite the chandelier-strewn ceilings that seem at odds with Nada’s edgy reputation. “I love the carpets,” said one collector, referring to the plush pile. Upbeat stand owner Lisa Cooley (204)—reporting multiple sales of metal weldings by Andy Coolquitt at $4,000 apiece—said: “The Ice Palace venue last year was covered in dust and dirt. You couldn’t even wrap things on the floor.” Praise was also given for cheaper booths, a shorter fair and free entry to all: “We’ve wanted them to get rid of ticket charges for a while,” said Dublin’s Finola Jones of Mother’s Tankstation (601).

“Dealers and artists, we’re all enjoying ourselves,” said Kavi Gupta (316), whose young charges were hanging out nearby. “People want to see quality work by really good young artists at affordable prices, so that’s what we’ve brought.” His booth was swamped by eager buyers keen on Anneberg Foundation grant recipient Angel Otero, whose large gold 10 Karat Still Life, 2009, went to the Nerman Museum in Kansas for $15,000.

There were fist-bumps at On Stellar Rays (102), but the most fun to be had was outside at Cumulus Studios, the purveyors of “outdoor functional objects by contemporary artists”. Neither Liam Gillick’s smoker-friendly furniture, nor Rirkrit Tiravanija’s chrome ping-pong table ($58,000) had sold yet, but who wouldn’t want to be out there in the sun, batting balls?

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