Fairs USA

Rain doesn’t dampen early sales

Sculpture and ceramic pieces prove popular with collectors at Frieze New York

Daniel Gordon’s Still-life with Cherry Blossoms and Zucchini, 2013 (left), and John Mason’s Vertical Torque, Red (below), 1997, were among the early sales

More than five dozen collectors braved a deluge to line up at the entrance of Frieze New York on Thursday morning. When the clock struck 11am, early arrivals—including the collectors Anita Zabludowicz of London, Bob Gersh of Los Angeles and locals Susan and Michael Hort—filed in for a first look at the British fair’s second stateside edition. What followed was a steady trickle, if not a flood, of sales.

“I saw many of the usual New York collectors, but it’s not really a fair for heavy-hitters,” the art adviser Wendy Cromwell said. “It’s more for a certain kind of collector who is interested in both emerging art and mid-career work.”

The rain, and the directors’ decision to reduce the number of VIP cards guaranteeing first entry, contributed to the more restrained opening. “I saw people sitting down for lunch, which you would never see [at Art] Basel on VIP day, because everyone is running around buying art,” Cromwell said.

Nevertheless, some galleries— particularly blue-chip international galleries and smaller local spaces―reported significant sales in the fair’s early hours. Before lunchtime, New York’s Wallspace (C8) had nearly sold out of Daniel Gordon’s harlequin still-life photographs ($6,500-$10,000), which the artist assembles by arranging crumpled two-dimensional images of fruit and flowers. Paul Kasmin Gallery (C13) quickly sold Walton Ford’s wall-sized watercolour Trí Thong Minh, 2013, for $950,000.

Although there was no shortage of painting on display, sculpture and three-dimensional wall pieces stood out among the early sales. London’s Victoria Miro (C49) sold Timed Twenty-Four (Sun Dial), 2013, a motorised sculpture by Sarah Sze, within the first five minutes of the fair’s opening. Lisson Gallery (B60) sold a golden disc sculpture by Anish Kapoor (Untitled, 2013, £500,000). Not Yet Titled (Arrow Heads), 2012, a piece by the American sculptor Nick van Woert featuring dozens of arrowheads, sold at Los Angeles’s L&M Arts (B1). Works by the artist made from hoses and other everyday materials sold at Amsterdam’s Grimm Gallery (A6). The works went for prices ranging from $8,000 to $40,000 at the two galleries.

“I felt that there were people at the Armory Show who were waiting [to buy] at Frieze,” says the dealer Sean Kelly (B46), who took part in both events. His eponymous gallery sold Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1987, and Antony Gormley’s Plot, 2012, for $350,000 and €300,000 respectively.

Collectors took a particular shine to ceramic works. Scholars, 2012, by the Israeli artist Tal R, went for $50,000 at New York’s Cheim & Read (C38), while Los Angeles’s Richard Telles Fine Art (A23) presented wall-mounted, glazed ceramic pieces by Michaela Meise, including Money Face V, 2012, which was on hold for $5,500.

“There’s been a renewed interest in ceramics for a little while now,” said Mike Homer, the director of David Kordansky Gallery (C1). The Los Angeles dealer is showing pieces from the late 1990s by the Californian sculptor John Mason. Two works, including Vertical Torque, Red, 1997, were sold, and another was on hold (prices ranged from $40,000 to $80,000).

By Friday afternoon, some dealers were sceptical as to whether collectors would return to Randall’s Island over the weekend to re-examine works placed on hold. “The problem will be getting people back out after the first day,” Kelly said. “It’s a schlep.”


John Mason’s Vertical Torque, Red, 1997,
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