The Armory Show Offers Galleries $1,000-Per-Hour Private Viewing Room
Otherwise it's merely $750.
The Armory Show is undergoing some big changes this year, in addition to the appointment of former artnet News editor-in-chief Benjamin Genocchio as director. The addition of a $750-an-hour—or $1,000 during VIP preview day—exhibition space, which galleries can rent to “showcase important works to clients in the privacy of a top-of-the-line viewing room,” according to a release, is cause for celebration in some sectors.
“Art fairs rely on the quality not only of dealers but of their inventory, which is why we are introducing this viewing room,” Genocchio explained in an email. “[The] artwork on display at the Armory Show requires a private place where buyers can really look at artwork away from the hustle and bustle of the booths and make unhurried decisions in privacy.”
The 300-square-foot room will be “discreetly located” off the Pier 94 lounge area, and access is by appointment only. The viewing room is sponsored by art shipping and storage company Dietl, who will have art handlers present for on-call services throughout the duration of the fair.
For their $750 an hour, dealers may bring in as many clients as they need during their window of time. However, art handling services aren’t included in the cost of the room.
If the price sounds a little steep to you, you’re not alone, but fair representatives assure us this isn’t about turning a profit.
“We have initiated the private viewing room more as a service and courtesy to our dealers and collectors rather than a revenue stream. It costs the fair time and money to make this happen, but we know this is a high priority for our dealers and their clients. Any profits will also be shared with Dietl,” says Genocchio.
Other major fairs offer similar services. For instance, a private viewing space at one of the Art Basel fairs will cost $2,000 per hour.
Gallerists have already expressed excitement about the service.
“Obviously art fairs are not generally thought of as being discreet environments, so they’ve never been a place for a certain class of high value, very-quietly-for-sale secondary market works,” said Paul Kasmin Gallery director Eric Gleason in an email to artnet News. “But I think what the Armory is doing with their private viewing rooms is brilliant. It has the potential to introduce an entirely new category of works to the fair, and by extension a new group of collectors who formerly were put off by the high profile nature of art fairs.”
While $750 an hour is just a drop in the bucket for an established gallery like Paul Kasmin, the argument can be made that it stacks the cards unfairly against smaller operations, for whom the cost of participating in and travelling to the fair would prohibit extra spending.
“We do not plan on using the new private viewing area at the Armory Show,” said a representative for Los Angeles-based Honor Fraser Gallery, who declined to expand upon why they wouldn’t take part in the service.
Either way, we bet that serious collectors are smart enough to realize that just because it’s in a private room doesn’t mean it will look any better in their homes, or in a high-end art storage facility.
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