Four Reasons Optimism Was Seen at New York's Armory Week Art Fair
For the past week, the art community has focused on New York City's annual Armory event, in which artists put their best pieces forward, dealers and galleries are on the prowl and collectors look for new finds that will someday redefine their portfolios. Momentum from the contemporary art auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's was certainly present, as all in attendance seemed focused on opportunity rather than window-shopping. The efforts at the Armory were consistent with a marketplace that's active, not the crushing fear that characterized the art market through the second half of 2008 and most of 2009.
1. Koons went bare
What was expected to be the most controversial event of Armory Week turned out to be subdued, though well attended. Jeff Koons offered a tribute to open sexuality with an exhibition that opened last Tuesday. Protesters weren't in sight, but musicians Cyndi Lauper and The Edge (guitarist for U2) checked out the show.
2. Solo booths were back in style
According to ArtInfo, "Solo artist booths were everywhere you looked." Individuals were ready to put themselves out into the market. Collectors had the opportunity to focus on specific artists as a result, rather than see disparate artwork crammed together by galleries and dealers managing inventory as if they were grocers. The good news, however, is that this shift isn't indicative of an art market slump. Rather, it's a sign of optimism. There's a belief out there that art collectors are ready to buy, especially given what we've seen at auction so far this year.
3. Big-ticket wasn't scary
PaceWildenstein's booth, dedicated to New York-based artist Tony Feher, consisted of black walls and three tables with plastic bottles half full with colored water, crumpled cans and other random debris,according to ArtInfo, "wouldn't have looked amiss in a museum project room." The $150,000 price tag probably wouldn't have looked amiss in 2006. Works by James Nares ranged from $85,000 to $175,000, with the big one on reserve already by Thursday.
4. It wasn't all modern
Twenty-six galleries were chosen to participate in the 22nd Art Dealers Association of America annual "Art Show." The Upper East Side descended upon the event in style, and attendees were upbeat. "Djinn," a 1962 abstraction by Milton Resnick fetched $250,000 at the event. Acquavella Galleries brought Gustave Courbet's "Portrait of Countess Karoly" and asked $1 million, as well as "Bouteille et Instruments de Musique" by Georges Braque for $3.8 million. Willem de Kooning's "Untitled III" was offered for $6.2 million by L&M Arts.