Art fairs

The Art Show fair report: Setting a sophisticated tone

Collectors queue to view classic modern and contemporary works

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The 23rd edition of The Art Show, the first of the major art fairs to open in New York this week, got off to a stylish start on Tuesday night (until 6 March). Collectors queuing to get in to the historic, vaulted hall of the Park Avenue Armory included Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch, David Tieger, Donald Marron and Michael Ovitz. They were beaten to the head of the line by art advisors such as Philippe Ségalot, consultant to François Pinault, and Sandy Heller. The show is organised by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), with 70 of its 175 members taking part. The majority are showing single-artist or themed stands.

Last year, The Art Show, once best known for its high quality modern work, moved its dates to coincide with the Armory Show, which originally only focused on contemporary artists. Since then the fairs have converged somewhat, as The Art Show became increasingly contemporary and the Amory Show launched a modern hall in Pier 92. This has led some galleries to hedge their bets by showing at both fairs: 14 last year, and 11 this, including Paul Kasmin (D24 and P94/1027) and Nicole Klagsbrun (D10 and P94/731).

Ronald Feldman, who is showing a solo display by US artist David Opdyke at The Art Show and Sam Van Aken at the Armory Show (A23 and P94/949, see p7), said that his decision to present at both again was “partly because we had a lot of work ready to show this year”, partly because of space (stand areas are restricted in the Park Avenue Armory) and partly because “the two fairs do attract different crowds”. Opting for a large installation in Pier 94, Feldman’s Art Show stand has computer- and hand-crafted drawings ($8,000 to $12,000) and sculptures (for example, Curio Failures, 2008, $25,000).

Others opted to show classic European or American modern work, including a Zero Group display at Sperone Westwater (C3) and a Joseph Cornell solo show at L&M Arts (B2, prices up to $400,000). David Zwirner is displaying a striking set of portraits and a still-life by the late US painter Alice Neel, who was the subject of numerous museum shows in 2010. Works are priced between $500,000 and $950,000. Kristine Bell, a partner at the gallery, said they want “to draw connections between the mid-career painters the gallery represents [including Marlene Dumas, Lisa Yuskavage and Luc Tuymans]” and the feminist artist, as well as bringing her work to a new audience.

Zwirner showed at the Armory Show and The Art Show last year, but has decided to focus on the latter alone. A spokeswoman said: “One of the reasons [for scaling back] is that we are doing more and more fairs: we’re doing the Hong Kong International Art Fair for the first time, for example.”

The Art Show generally exhibits work in a higher price range than the other March New York fairs: Acquavella Galleries (D2) brought an 1895 Degas pastel, La Conversation, priced at $5m. Early sales at the fair included Diana Al-Hadid’s bronze sculpture In Mortal Repose, 2011, for $75,000 to a private US collector. Marc Glimcher of The Pace Gallery bought Gabriel Orozco’s, Untitled, 2009, a small work comprising two boarding passes, from neighbouring gallerist Marian Goodman (A7, asking price $35,000). “I wanted to buy the whole booth,” he said.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The Art Show sets a sophisticated tone'