NADA and SCOPE: the emerging fairs that cash in on Art Basel's success

Enterprising dealers met collectors' demand for young and fashionable names


Those seeking respite from the sterile aisles and the stern Swiss regularity of Art Basel could head over to one of two young dealers’ fairs that were unabashedly piggy-backing on Art Basel’s success.

The NADA and SCOPE fairs - both sited within walking distance of the Convention Centre - could be seen as competing with the “Art containers” section of Art Basel, the shipping containers installed on the beach that held the wares of relatively young dealers such as Henry Urbach and Pierogi.

The SCOPE hotel fair started in New York a few years ago, is also held in Los Angeles. In its second year at Miami’s Townhouse Hotel, SCOPE, organised by collector Michael Sellinger and Alexis Hubshman of Rare Gallery, had many more dealers apply for participation; it admitted 56 of 175 international dealers who applied. Cost of a room was $5,000.

To participate in NADA, dealers had to be members of the recently formed New Art Dealers’ Alliance. Forty international dealers took part in the fair, at a cost of $2,500 for a booth. NADA was held in a cavernous ground floor space on Michigan and 17th Street. With its concrete floors and pillars, the currently vacant area had a semi-industrial feel perfectly suited to the young art installed there. The booths had an airy, comfortably roughshod feel; there was ample space to stand back and admire art, or stop and chat with dealers. It was lively right from the beginning.

On the opening day a crowd had formed, and once the gates were open collectors rushed in and started snapping up art by hot young stars. Indeed, by Saturday afternoon, most booths were speckled with a rash of red dots.

Becky Smith of Bellwether was beaming, “It’s the best fair I’ve ever done! There’s a spirit of cooperation and communication.” She had sold works by Adam Cvijanovic, Sharon Cure and others. Christian Viveros Faune of Roebling Hall, who had sold out half his booth by Saturday, was equally ecstatic, noting that he had seen major collectors such as Donald and Mera Rubell milling about.

Daniel Reich, who started his gallery in his New York apartment, was pleased—he had nearly sold out his booth. There was inevitably a bit of friendly rivalry between the fairs; one NADA dealer greeted the mere mention of SCOPE with a roundly dismissive rolling of the eyes, saying “Hotel fairs! The bed gets in the way!”

Once the feeding frenzy had died down a bit at NADA, collectors trolled the hotel for finds, trudging up and down the stairs and visiting the rooms, which did get a bit claustrophobic when crowded, which they often were. Many of the dealers at SCOPE appeared pleased with the fair overall. On Saturday evening, Leigh Conner of Conner Contemporary was handing out glasses of wine in her room, perhaps celebrating the fact that she had already sold all her paintings by Erik Sandberg, as well as a number of other pieces. “I see more Washington DC collectors here than I see in DC!” she said.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Young fairs cash in on success of Art Basel'