Opening a full week earlier than usual, the 30th edition of the Art Dealers Association of America’s Art Show returned to the Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Tuesday, welcoming 72 exhibitors.
In recent years, the fair has typically coincided with the Armory Show, opening next week, and with no other competition in town New Yorkers came out in force. Local collectors such as financier Michael Steinhardt, filmmaker Woody Allen, and actor Steve Martin were all seen browsing the aisles.
But that traffic came at the expense of buyers from out of town, many of whom are only scheduled to arrive for the Armory Show. Miami real-estate tycoon Martin Margulies was one of the few non-New York collectors spotted at the fair.
The work on view at the Art Show, which is the oldest art fair in the US, felt tailored to the conservative tastes of its upper Manhattan milieu. There was a large supply of high-quality medium-scale works, mostly paintings, ideal for embellishing the typical Manhattan-sized apartment.
After a day and a half, dealers reported a brisk and steady stream of sales.
“It was certainly buzzy last night,” said art advisor Kim Heirston of the opening gala. “We had back-to-back clients and bought a number of works.” One acquisition was a Tony Smith sculpture from Pace, which she says has “one of my favorite booths this year.” Other favorites of Heirston’s were 303 Gallery’s solo installation of paintings, furniture, and objects by Mary Heilmann and Yares Art’s stand devoted to Milton Avery.
There were several “one-off masterpieces” at the fair, including Marsden Hartley‘s Bathers and Alberto Giacometti’s Portrait of Diego, Heirston said. On the young, mid-career front, she found Bortolami’s stand for artist Ann Veronica Janssens “striking,” with two of her plank works selling early that evening, while Nairy Baghramian’s Stay Downers at Marian Goodman was a “smash hit with our younger clients.”
“While there are always strong sales on opening night—and this year was no exception—the Art Show was founded with a different purpose in mind than the typical fair run by a for-profit company,” said Adam Sheffer, partner of Cheim & Read gallery and, until today, the president of the ADAA. Andrew Schoelkopf, co-founder of Menconi + Schoelkopf gallery, will succeed Sheffer as head of the association.
The fair was originally launched by a group of ADAA members as “a collective platform to build relationships with the public beyond their individual gallery walls. This has not changed,” Sheffer said. The emphasis on solo shows and thematic exhibitions reinforces the importance of the gallery’s role and “the work our dealers do, albeit in this case, under one beautiful, historical roof,” he said.
David Zwirner‘s booth, well-positioned near one of the entrances, attracted throngs of traffic on opening night. A representative for the gallery reported sales at prices that ranged from $5,000 to $250,000 for artists including Anni Albers, Francis Alÿs, Ruth Asawa, Carol Bove, Marlene Dumas, Isa Genzken, Oscar Murillo, Raymond Pettibon, Al Taylor, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rose Wylie, Josh Smith, and Neo Rauch. (Zwirner has opted not to do the Armory Show for the past two years).
Reactions to the updated fair-week schedule were mixed. “As a New York-based gallery we have a logistical advantage this year because we don’t have to staff two fairs and the gallery all at once,” Lauren Kelly, a director at Sean Kelly Gallery, which is participating in both the ADAA fair and the Armory Show this year, told artnet News. On the other hand, “the disadvantage is that our clients from out of town have to choose which fair to attend,” she said. “We are expecting some clients at the end of the week who are arriving early to see both the ADAA over the weekend and the Armory next week.”
First time exhibitor Maccarone chose to only show at the ADAA this year. “We’ve become a lot more selective with the fairs we attend, focusing on quality, not quantity, and we didn’t want to stretch ourselves too thin,” associate director Olivia Stewart told artnet News. The gallery was recently admitted to the ADAA, she said, and owner Michele Maccarone was appointed to the organization’s board, making it important for her to support the event. The gallery’s recent relocation from the West Village to the Upper East Side was a further contributing factor behind the decision, she added: “We’re new to the neighborhood, so it’s a good way to introduce ourselves.”
“The out-of-towners are waiting until the Armory next week,” said art advisor Liz Parks, “and, owing to busy schedules, some are not coming at all. But we look at enough work by specific artists throughout the year that [clients] are comfortable buying via jpeg.”
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