Despite frigid temperatures and competition from the opening of the Whitney Biennial a few blocks away, the opening gala of the Art Dealers Association of America's 26th annual Art Show, an event to benefit the Henry Street Settlement, drew glitzy crowds to the Park Avenue Armory on New York's Upper East Side Tuesday evening. The opening inaugurated a week that's also seeing the Armory Show, the Independent and several other smaller art fairs, bringing art mavens to Gotham from around the world.
Miami collector Martin Margulies, on his way in, sang the fair's praises. "It's a high-level, boutique fair," he said. "It's my second-favorite after Art Basel in Switzerland."
Spotted in line to enter, Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Stephanie Barron told A.i.A., "We've bought from this fair for several years in a row, purchasing artists like Sonia Delaunay, Duchamp and Agnes Martin. It's small, it's focused, the quality of the work is very high and it's a manageable size." The Art Show comprises 72 dealers, while the Armory boasts over 200.
Amy Cappellazzo, formerly of Christie's and now dealing privately, referred to the wealth of art on offer at fairs in the coming days. "Everything that's available is here in New York this week," she said.
Collectors such as J. Tomilson Hill, Donald Marron and Eli Broad roamed the aisles alongside museum executives like Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong and Dia board president Leonard Riggio. Curators Nancy Spector, from the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Modern Art's Ann Temkin were on the prowl as well. Also in attendance were artists including Dana Schutz, the subject of a solo presentation of drawings at the booth of New York's Petzel Gallery; Arne Svenson, whose surreptitiously shot photos of his neighbors are on view at the booth of New York's Julie Saul Gallery; and Mark di Suvero.
Art fairs aren't usually thought of as places where art is produced live, but at the booth of Cincinnati's Carl Solway Gallery, artist Ann Hamilton was supervising a photo shoot. Fairgoers stand behind a semitransparent scrim, as Hamilton directs them to touch just their nose, chin or forehead to the material. A dramatic combination of in and out of focus results. Portraits can be commissioned for $10,000 or $12,000 for medium and large formats, respectively; those who don't choose to pay can also be photographed, and will receive a small print after the show. "But it won't be of you, it will be someone else," Hamilton told A.i.A.
New York's Sean Kelly Gallery is displaying new paintings by Kehinde Wiley, with his signature treatments of young black men in poses inspired by old master paintings. They are in altarpiece-style frames of gilt wood, which stand out boldly against the booth's burgundy walls. They're priced at $75,000. Asked about how sales were going, the gallery's Janine Cirincione said only, "We're very happy."
Monochromatic shaped canvases by market phenom Jacob Kassay are on offer at New York's 303 Gallery. Within 20 minutes of the doors opening, a large example had sold for $50,000.
At David Zwirner's booth, Margulies chatted with gallery director Christopher D'Amelio about a lecture on Donald Judd by Cairo-based artist Iman Issa that they had both attended the previous night at the Dia Art Foundation in New York. They stood among small oil-on-paper works by Ad Reinhardt that hadn't been displayed since the 1960s. The black squares are permutations of the three colors Reinhardt used to make his black paintings, D'Amelio told A.i.A. With individual works priced from $500,000 to $1 million, many were on reserve to a museum.
Photos by South African photographer Zanele Muholi, who took home a prize at the recent Carnegie International, were drawing attention at the booth of New York's Yancey Richardson Gallery. Portraying lesbian and transgender subjects from the artist's native South Africa, the half-length portraits go for $5,500, framed, and come in editions of eight.
Reflecting on the Art Show's distinctive atmosphere as compared to the hubbub to come at the Armory, 303 Gallery's Lisa Spellman told A.i.A., "It's so civilized here. You can almost imagine it's the 1913 Armory Show. It doesn't feel like a traditional art fair."
But Riggio, for his part, spotted near the end of the evening, said he was looking forward to seeing the Armory Show. "There, it really opens up," he said, "and you see the broad array of what the human mind and creative spirit have to offer."
The fair is open through Mar. 9.