From Shepard Fairey Skateboards to Joe Namath Paintings, Art New York Caters to Celeb-Hungry Collectors
From street art to celeb tributes to blue-chip paintings, the fair offers something for everyone.
On Friday, the fourth annual edition of Art New York, founded by Miami fair impresario Nick Korniloff, opened on the far side of Manhattan at Pier 94 on the Hudson River.
“We’ve learned a lot in the five years since we started with the Downtown Art Fair in 2014,” Korniloff said, speaking about the importance of being in New York during this major art fair week. “We’ve learned how to connect to the audience and that’s what you’re seeing here today.” (After just one year in the downtown 69th Regiment Armory, Korniloff rebranded the fair and moved the location up to the West Side pier.)
There was no shortage of celebrities mixing in with the crowd of art lovers. We spotted fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger strolling the aisles and met Jason Newsted, the longtime former Metallica bassist who has become an accomplished painter in his own right.
As for the art on view, the range is vast. Upon stepping inside, you’re greeted by a riot of color—from street art by Shepard Fairey and cityscapes by Tom Christopher to Mel Bochner’s wordplay prints and large abstracts by Christopher Wool.
There are also several charitable initiatives, including one unlikely but wildly popular project: Contemporary artists paid homage to football legend Joe Namath in a series of recently created works (and a famous black-and-white shot by photographer Harry Benson). The sale proceeds benefit Namath’s eponymous foundation, and his presence at the fair drew no shortage of gawkers.
Artist Edwin Baker, who knows Namath personally, created the collage I Get Better Looking Every Day (2018) for the project. Speaking to artnet News, he marveled at the athlete’s wide appeal and the fact that wherever he goes, people—particularly women—want to take pictures with him. “I think that energy is really cool, and I took that quote from one of his books,” Baker said, adding, “which he does [get better looking every day]. He’s still a handsome guy!”
The fair also partnered with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and the Perry J Cohen Foundation, founded in honor of Korniloff’s and his wife Pamela Cohen’s son, who went missing off the Florida coast in July 2015.
In recent years, Oscar-winner-turned-artist Adrien Brody showed his large-scale paintings here, and they typically featured colorful spins on sharks and fish. This year, he seems to have kicked it up a few notches with Metamorphoses, an entire booth takeover featuring a wall-size collage of newspaper clippings, photos, and other ephemera. An eerie player piano soundtrack echoes as incense wafts over a dirt-strewn floor.
At Frankfurt gallery Barbara Von Stechow, where works ranged in price from $4,000 to $30,000, we chatted with artist Tom Christopher, famed for his urban, New York-centric streetscapes. He explained that his recent work, I’ll Stand Here All Day Because I Know I’m Not Alone (2017), grew out of a combination of his love for tattoo art, which he collects, and his penchant for standing on street corners and sketching people while catching snippets of conversation. The title, he says, was inspired by the mutterings of a dogged flyer distributor being ignored by the crowds rushing past him.
Meanwhile, Miami-based dealer Rudolf Budja has been showing with Art New York since its inception. He says the fair allows him to reach both “young people who are just starting to collect” as well as “high-end, sophisticated collectors who really tell you what they’re looking for.”
We particularly liked the mock auction catalogue cover paintings by German artist Wulf True, who Budja says “creates his own auction house and puts himself on the cover with these ridiculous estimates like $50 million or $100 million…they’re very ironic.”
Of course, astronomical prices are not actually ironic in certain corners of the art world. Prices at Budja Gallery, however, started at a very realistic $500 for Fairey skateboard decks and ran up to the seven figures for a Christopher Wool abstract.
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