The fourth annual SOFA fair was attended by a record 14,000.
High prices were achieved for important sculptural glass at a number of the 52 participating galleries, prices indicating that glass is now achieving the same status as sculpture. Manhattan private dealer Donna Schneirer had two Libensky/Brychtova cast glass sculptures, one at $85,000 and the other at $55,000, while the Seattle-based Riley Hawk sold five Lino Tagliopietra attenuated "Bilbao" vessels at $30,000 each, along with a Dan Dailey vase with patinated and gold leaf figures for $44,000.
Heller Gallery sold a cast Karen LaMonte sculptural child's dress for $20,000 and was reserving another one for $60,000, for an Australian collector. Also sold was a Michael Pavlik glass sculpture for $44,000 and a Daniel Clayman glass and bronze shaft for $27,000. "Sales are now to a higher level of collector", said Michael Heller. Czech glass, in particular was booming and the Prague Galerie Na Janskem Vrsku reported 34 sales of lead, cut and cast glass from $820 to $22,000 for a small Frantisek Vizner bowl. "Collectors are more selective today and they want the important pieces, not simply the decorative examples," said Jitka Pokorna, gallery director.
Glass was not the only thing capturing collectors' attention. Furniture was also snapped up and Wendell Castle seemed to be the favoured choice. Leo Kaplan Modern sold a Castle sculptural cabinet with a bronze base and gold leaf accents for $22,000: it was bought by a patron of the American Craft Museum for the institution. Moderne Gallery sold a 1977 Castle curvilinear rocker in walnut and suede for $17,000, sold a George Nakashima captain's chair and had a reserve on his 1951 lounge chair, with its original cotton and sea grass webbing, at $27,000.
Textiles were also a major collecting choice and New York dealer Gail Martin witnessed sales of two linen twine and steel rod constructions by British artist Peter Collingwood at $5,000 each; a Polly Barton silk warp and weft ikat for $16,000; and a 15th-century Turkish chain mail shirt for $7,500.
Sales at London's Contemporary Applied Arts included five Bob Crooks hand-blown vases at $2-4,000; four Ptolemy Mann weavings at $1,000 and several Steve Dixon teapots at $3,500 each. The quirky was also in demand, with Ferrin Gallery selling 14 Surrealist ceramic statuettes by Sergei Isupov for $8-10,000 each. Interestingly, although Sotheby's shifted its Contemporary Works of Art sale from its traditional March date to 4 June to coincide with SOFA, the auction (est. $1.8-2.7 million) was marked by disappointing results: a mere $1.3 million with 53% sold by lot and 63% sold by dollar (see report p.69). To a degree, that sale indicated the strength of this fair and the discriminating nature of the client today.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'High end sales at fourth annual fair'