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At Dallas Art Fair, Dealers Play Their Hand Deep in the Heart of Texas

Outside the Dallas Art Fair.

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Idyllic 75-degree weather did little to keep collectors, curators, and dealers away from today’s preview of the Dallas Art Fair, which is commemorating its tenth anniversary this year with 92 exhibitors from Texas and beyond. As visitors began to trickle into the spacious Fashion Industry Gallery, Kelly Cornell, the fair’s director, set her hopes high. “The energy continues to build year after year,” she said. “If it continues, we’re going to have to make the fair longer.”

Hours into the preview, before the fair opens Friday and continues through the weekend, early sales accumulated. A Sheila Hicks piece found a buyer at the booth for the local Galerie Frank Elbaz (which also has a Paris space), and works by Luke Murphy and Katherine Bernhardt sold from the New York gallery Canada.

The Dallas Museum of Art, using funding from a program launched by local collectors and the Dallas Art Fair Foundation to help it acquire works from the fair, snatched up eight works, including a colorful Matthew Ronay sculpture from Casey Kaplan’s booth and a Shara Hughes painting brought by Rachel Uffner. Also acquired by the museum—which was shopping with $150,000 this year, as opposed to the $100,000 purse it acquired by way of the same program last year—were works by Geraldo de Barros, Sanford Biggers, Alicia Henry, Tony Lewis, and Brie Ruais.

Matthew Ronay, Billow, 2018,, basswood, dye, gouache, flocking, plastic, steel, shellac-based primer, at the booth of Casey Kaplan, New York.

COURTESY THE ARTIST AND CASEY KAPLAN

Diversity among galleries has been a strong suit of the Dallas Art Fair in the past, and this year, heavyweights like Massimo De Carlo (Milan, London, Hong Kong) and James Cohan Gallery (New York) are showing their wares alongside emerging shops like Los Angeles’s Night Gallery and Dallas’s And Now. Notable absences include Gagosian, Lehmann Maupin, and Skarstedt (all three of which were touted last year), but the lineup on the preview day made good on the fair’s reputation as both formal and casual. Some dealers could be heard extolling the virtues of White Cube, while others debated the merits of the new album by Cardi B.

Milton Avery’s Adolescents by the Sea (1948) sold for $375,000 at the booth of Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York.

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Perrotin, which has locations in Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, and New York, with a Shanghai branch on the way, returned to Dallas for its third year. “We love the fair,” Valentine Blondel, one of the gallery’s New York directors, said of the city’s dedicated art scene. “We’ve met so many interesting collectors here—really committed people.” The gallery brought new work by the Berlin-based duo Elmgreen and Dragset, who will have a show at Dallas’s Nasher Sculpture Center in 2019. The large sculpture, titled Other Lovers, is on sale for €200,000 (around $250,000) and takes inspiration from a René Magritte painting with two cloth-covered faces that appear to be kissing. Early in the day, the gallery had sold one Thilo Heinzmann painting and replaced it with another abstract work by the same artist. It was on reserve—“practically sold,” Blondel said—for $38,000.

Across from Perrotin’s booth is New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery, which is showing at the fair for the first time. “We feel really at home here,” Nicholas Olney, the managing director of the gallery, said. Dallas collectors “visit us all the time in New York, so it was nice to return the favor and come here.” Included in the fair’s booth is a Robert Indiana “LOVE” sculpture (this one reads “AMOR”) and a Bosco Sodi piece resembling a border structure that was made from clay bricks fired in Oaxaca, Mexico. A splotchy purple gouache by Lee Krasner sold for $275,000, and a Milton Avery watercolor found a buyer for $375,000.

Hales Gallery Project Space’s booth at the Dallas Art Fair showcased Virginia Jaramillo’s work.

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The Dallas Art Fair is refreshingly light on the kind of big, spectacular works that have become staples at fairs elsewhere, and a toned-down mood allowed dealers to bring out works by underrated artists. Hales Gallery, of London and New York, devoted an entire booth to pieces by Virginia Jaramillo, the New York veteran whose thinly painted near-monochromes—many of them bisected by a single line—were a recent revelation when they appeared in the traveling exhibition “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” (now at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York). On view at the booth of Houston’s Sicardi Ayers Bacino are photographs by the Argentinian artist Liliana Porter, one of them featuring two tiny figurines posed against a fiery red background. And McClain Gallery, also of Houston, covered its entire booth in mod-looking wallpaper designed by Memphis Group figure Nathalie Du Pasquier in collaboration with George Snowden.

Some galleries traveled from afar—including Dubai’s Green Art Gallery, which is exhibiting work by Kamrooz Aram, Maryam Hoseini, and Seher Shah. “There is a direct flight [from Dubai to Dallas], and that makes a big difference,” Yasmin Atassi, the gallery’s director, said with a laugh. Hours into the fair, she had found success: two works by Aram, each priced at $32,000, were on reserve. Two semi-figurative paintings by Hoseini, with cool swatches of blue spilling off the canvas and onto the booth’s wall, hung nearby. “We’re trying to convince a collector to paint [his or her] wall as well,” she said. “I’m not sure that’s going to work. At the end of the day, you can’t force someone to paint a wall!”

Works by Zach Bruder and Bill Saylor at the booth of Magenta Plains.

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Not far from Green was the booth for Magenta Plains, with brightly colored works by Zach Bruder and Bill Saylor. (They range in price from $2,000 to $21,000.) “We sold out our Zach Bruders, so we had to FedEx some more down,” Olivia Smith, the gallery’s director, said. The New York shop is showing in Texas for the first time (and in just its second-ever art-fair outing ever), in part because Smith is from Dallas. “We felt like it would be really nice to connect that to the people who are from here,” she said. Chris Dorland, the gallery’s director at large, agreed: “We feel like we’re in really great company.”

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