Fairs United Kingdom

Solid sales at Frieze point to success for most galleries

Exhibitors pleased by the level of business done with new collectors

Collector Guy Ullens bought MadeIn's I Love You Passion Fruit Piece (Spread-- BO53), 2010, priced 44,000 pounds

LONDON. Half-way through the Frieze art fair on Friday, most dealers were declaring it a success, with some stands rehanging completely after the visitor surge of the first day.

Anthony Wilkinson (D2), who was pleased after selling Dara Birnbaum’s video installation Taking to the Streets…, 1990, ($25,000) to a European museum, said: “I was a bit nervous before the fair opened—2008 was terrible, 2009 was just OK, so this year people couldn’t quite gauge what would happen; there’s relief all round.”

The gallerist’s words were echoed across the floor, with Thaddaeus Ropac (B11) saying: “I’ve been surprisingly pleased, people are making decisions faster again.” Among his sales were a big Anselm Kiefer, San Loretto, 2008, for €520,000 and a Gilbert and George, Money Sweat, 1998, for £150,000, which went to a Belgian collector. “We did most of our selling on the first day,” he said. Los Angeles gallerist Richard Telles (E20) sold more than half the works by LA artists that he brought, including Ivan Morley’s embroidered A True Tale, 2010, for $32,000. He said: “the first day—even the first three hours—were really important. It’s a hangover of the boom; the big collectors are there right at the beginning.”

Nevertheless, some major collectors were seen on Friday, including the collector of Chinese art Uli Sigg, who was considering buying some of Cao Fei’s installation at Vitamin Creative Space (H5). British collector and dealer Charles Saatchi headed straight for Sprüth Magers (B9). Canadian musician Richie Hawtin admired a David Adamo sculpture at Ibid Projects (H17), and the Belgian Mimi Dusselier sought out Bortolami (F19).

While some major US collectors visited Frieze, they were less active in the market than their European peers: Ropac suggested this was because of the weak dollar [against the euro] and lower morale: “New York still feels the crisis,” he said. Maureen Paley (D6) said that most of her sales had been to Europeans, citing her newly-signed Romanian twins Gert and Uwe Tobias, whose Untitled woodcut image from 2010, asking €30,000 and Wolfgang Tillmans’ Your Dogs, 2008, asking $78,000 both sold.

One feature of this year’s fair was the number of sales made to new collectors, which pleased exhibitors. “New business is what makes fairs worth it, otherwise we could just stay in our galleries and work on our shows,” said Rachel Lehmann (B13). The gallerist sold only to new clients, including Jennifer Steinkamp’s Orbit 8, 2010 (all three editions plus the artist’s proof), for $55,000 each. Sweden’s Magnus Karlsson (F18) sold Johanna Karlsson’s delicate Untitled, 2010, tree sculpture to a new European collector for €7,000, while Edinburgh’s Richard Ingleby (E17) did “amazingly well”, selling to “lots of new people” at prices between £1,200 and £40,000.

Other lower-end sales included Carla Black’s cake sculpture Still Moves, 2010, at Gisela Capitain (C14) for £7,500. Eigen+Art (F6) sold half its booth dedicated to photographer Ricarda Roggan at prices between €4,800 and €14,000. In Frame, Simon Preston (R14) sold Carlos Bevilacqua sculptures for between $10,000 and $22,000.

At the market’s mid-level, Long March Space (E18) had sold most of its stand of works by MadeIn, including a plushy appliquéd fabric I Love You Passion Fruit Piece (Spread– BO53), 2010, to collector Guy Ullens, asking £44,000. CasaTriângulo (F26) sold Mariana Palma’s 2010 painting of silks at $35,000.

At the upper price end, David Zwirner (G12) reported good sales, among them Luc Tuymans’ 2005 Evidence, for $850,000. “People are not taking risks but any artist with a strong museum presence is selling; we are seeing new clients, particularly Russian and Middle-Easterners based in London,” said the gallery’s Ales Ortuzar. At Gagosian (D8), Stefan Ratibor said things were slowish on the first day but picked up afterwards: “This is supposed to be a young fair but older artists, such as Howard Hodgkin, are finding buyers. The fair has moved on from the original Frieze readership,” he said.

Andreas Geiger at Sprüth Magers (B9) summed up the overall feeling: “People are acquiring, but there’s no more five-minute buying. The market has found a good pace, it’s not crazy, but it’s solid.”

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