Here’s What Sold at the Armory Show’s VIP Preview Day
Upbeat dealers report brisk sales on preview day.
Crowds descended on the midtown piers in the Hudson River yesterday morning for the VIP preview of the latest edition of the Armory Show, and dealers were already reporting brisk sales to artnet News by mid-afternoon. Despite what some observers described as a rather tame showing of art that didn’t exactly address the current political backdrop or mood, there was plenty of top-flight blue-chip work on view and buyers were obviously enthusiastic.
Fair director Benjamin Genocchio was widely praised by exhibitors and attendees for retooling the fair with new curated sections that improved the layout and better integrated the Armory Show’s Modern art section that was implemented years ago with mixed success.
“Every year this fair gets better and better,” said collector Michel Cox Witmer, a board member of the TEFAF art fair. “It’s fun to see everyone come alive in the art world, and for there to be so many satellite fairs. I saw a lot of works that I thought were really good, strong, interesting works, and intellectually stimulating. I was kind of afraid that I might see too many works on the theme of Donald Trump and political subject matter—which would be okay as long as the art is good—but I haven’t really seen that type of thing. Instead I’ve seen really strong artwork that I think has a place in art history.”
Cox Witmer also commented on the reasonable price points, noting a sculpture offered for $19,000 that he had his eye on. “At contemporary art fairs these days, you don’t get much for $19,000. So there are still good pieces out there that can be had.”
That seemed to be the case at Jack Tilton Gallery, where an installation by Tomashi Jackson, who recently had her first solo show at the gallery, was quickly sold to a private collection. The mixed-media work of acrylic on gauze and paper, Citrus Flavored Drink (Over and Under) (Bolling vs, Sharpe Briggs vs Elliot) (2017), had an asking price of $12,000. Also sold by mid-day of the preview was a wall-hung mixed-media installation by John Outerbridge, Shindig Do (2009), for $40,000.
“The mood in our booth has been quite enthusiastic,” said director Connie Rogers Tilton. “We love our artists and we think they’re great, and there are a lot of people coming in who seem to be very excited by them.”
“The mood is very positive. It’s actually better than last year,” said Daniel Roesler, director of Galeria Nara Roesler, which operates in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and is opening a new space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side today with a solo show of work by Marco Chaves. Asked about the mood of collectors, Roesler said he thought it was early in the game. “I think New York is so different from what Trump represents, sometimes I feel like it might have the opposite effect for us, and people are getting more curious, even though the backdrop is anxious,” said Roesler.
Among the works sold at the gallery was Vik Muniz’s Homage to the Square: Glow, after Josef Albers (2016), which sold for $50,000.
Among the highlights at Blain Southern’s eye-catching booth were works by Marius Bercea, Jonas Burgert, Lynn Chadwick, Amy Feldman, Michael Joo, Bosco Sodi, Wim Wenders, and Sislej Xhafa, the latter of whom will represent Kosovo at the upcoming Venice Biennale. A massive painting by Burgert, titled Anfrass (2017), sold in the range of $400,000.
“The Armory Show is quite unique,” director Adrian Sutton told artnet News. “We take a quite comprehensive representation of the gallery program, whereas at other fairs we are much more curatorially focused.”
Jack Shainman Gallery also reported robust sales including a two-panel painting by Nina Chanel Abney, who currently has her first museum solo show at the Nasher Museum. Titled Si, Mister (2017), it sold for its asking price of $75,000. Hustle Coat (2017) by Nick Cave, who is the subject of a major retrospective at MASS MoCA on view through August 2017, sold for $85,000. Meanwhile, Toyin Ojih Odutola, who has a solo show now at the Museum of African Diaspora, had a charcoal-and-pastel-on-board titled Nakameguro (2017) sell for $35,000. Pieces by Brad Kahlhamer, Richard Mosse, and Leslie Wayne also found buyers, according to the gallery.
Among sales reported by Sprüth Magers, of Berlin and Los Angeles, was a large work by L.A. art star Sterling Ruby, Brigade RWG (2014), that had an asking price of $32,000.
Glenn Scott Wright, director of London’s Victoria Miro gallery said in a statement: “We had a tremendous response to the Yayoi Kusama installation, Guidepost to a New World, in the Platform section. We have already sold the first in the edition with the second on reserve in the range of $1 million.”
“We had a great opening day,” said Peter Brandt, director of White Cube gallery in London. “Cerith Wyn Evans has sold very well.”
Paul Kasmin Gallery reported sales including three works by Ivan Navarro, a sculpture by Bernar Venet, a Roxy Paine maquette, and a Robert Motherwell painting. The pieces ranged in price from $40,000 to $300,000.
Albertz Benda’s presentation of Fiete Stolte in the inaugural “Platform” sector attracted a steady stream of visitors throughout the preview. Eye is an interactive photo booth installation in which the silhouetted outline of the subject is reflected in his or her pupil, creating an original self-portrait work of art that can be purchased for $100.
At the Armory Show, collectors expect big works, and they were not disappointed this year. James Cohan Gallery sold a massive work by Elias Sime, Tightrope, Surface and Shadow 2, that was at the center of the booth, to a private foundation for $140,000. Sometimes the buying is the easy part—now they just need to bring it home.
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