Independent’s Spring Edition Demonstrates the Market’s Turn Toward Diverse, Thoughtful Work Over Trophies
The fair saw a significant uptick in sold-out booths and attendance.
As New York continues to barrel through a two-week marathon of fairs, auctions, and events, moments of reflection are hard won. In the wake of its presentation at Spring Studios May 11–14, Independent has issued its 2023 Market Report, which outlines key takeaways that offer clues to where the market is headed more broadly.
Distinguished by its curated, invitation-only model, the fair saw a marked uptick in attendance and sales this year. Twenty-five percent of the booths sold out completely, double the amount from the 2022 edition. The highest reported transaction was $150,000, which was the selling price for sculptor Richard Van Buren’s historical installation Untitled (1969/2023), consisting of resin and fiberglass works dangling like talismanic feathers from Garth Greenan’s booth wall.
While the major auction houses are seeing a dip in sales for multimillion-dollar trophies, it appears that interest in more accessibly priced works is the sweet spot for both seasoned and new collectors. Independent has carved a niche for itself within the crowded fair landscape as a source of discoveries, whether by emerging ultra-contemporary artists (defined by Artnet News as artists born after 1974) or by artists of the 20th century who were passed over because of their race, gender identity, or access to the prevailing establishments.
As institutions and individuals take stock and reassess what had previously been cemented as art-historical canon, “the market is leading, or sometimes following, some of the evolving value questions that set criteria for change,” observed Independent founder Elizabeth Dee in the report. “Much of this important and time intensive work is a partnership between gallerists, curators, and collectors that can be accelerated by or be a result of a strong exhibition at Independent.”
Epitomizing the dialogue between works by artists of different generations was the dual-artist booth “Michael St. John and Mitchell Charbonneau: Two Minutes to Midnight” at Off Paradise. Gallery founder Natacha Polaert told Artnet News, “I was very happy to approach the presentation as a standalone exhibition with its own narrative and title that had a short but mighty run of four days. Four good days.”
VIPs including the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Max Hollein, Don and Mera Rubell (early collectors of St. John), and critics Walter Robinson and Jerry Saltz flocked to the presentation. The centerpiece was 28-year-old Charbonneau’s alarmingly realistic Table With Monsters (2023), a cast-resin sculpture including Monster energy drink cans strewn atop a table, which Polaert said confounded attendee Don Lemon and delighted an unnamed artist who quipped that “the Whitney should acquire the whole piece for their lobby and confuse everybody.”
Polaert kicked off the day with the sale of St. John’s painting Poke (2022) for $17,000, and The entire booth sold out. Collectors Barbara and Howard Morse, of the New York-based Morse Contemporary Art Foundation, acquired the folding-chair sculpture Senseless (2023) by Charbonneau; a trustee of the Brooklyn Museum bought his painted bronze America, America (2022), and Vincent Fremont took home Black Ice, Black Ice (2023).
At Magenta Plains booth, works by the late experimental filmmaker and artist Stan VanDerBeek capped off a triumvirate of presentations around the city focused on 1960s Surrealist-inflected collages, which were the foundation of his radical animated films.
“We are seeing an extraordinary reaction to a Stan VanDerBeek moment in New York right now,” gallery director Olivia Smith told Artnet News, pointing to his 1960s films running at the Canal Street gallery; his seminal Movie-Drome on view as part of the exhibition “Signals: How Video Transformed the World” at the Museum of Modern Art; and the handmade collages on the stand at Independent. The gallery sold six collages for $20,000 each, with one placed a major institution, Smith said. “VanDerBeek’s ideas around visual velocity and immersive image networks predicted how we consume media today.”
The enthusiasm for thoughtful presentations was echoed in Nicola Vassell’s solo show of the American painter Elizabeth Schwaiger, which featured new works inspired by the artist’s time at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida, and the damage it sustained by Hurricane Ian in 2022.
“We fielded a tremendous amount of interest and placed all of her paintings with new and known collectors, some institutional,” Vassell said. “Elizabeth applied a strong conceptual bent to her work and Independent was, as usual, a robust boutique experience.”
More Trending Stories:
A Philadelphia Man Paid $6,000 for Cracked Church Windows He Saw on Facebook. Turns Out They’re Tiffany—and Worth a Half-Million
Mona Lisa’s Other Secret—Where the Portrait Was Painted—May Have Been Solved by an Art Historian Using Drone Imagery
A Dutch Museum Has Organized a Rare Family Reunion for the Brueghel Art Dynasty—And the Female Brueghels Are Invited to the Party
The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art’s Director Has Resigned After Less Than Two Years, Citing ‘Resistance and Backlash’
‘We’re Not All Ikea-Loving Minimalists’: Historian and Author Michael Diaz-Griffith on the Resurgence of Young Antique Collectors
The First Auction of Late Billionaire Heidi Horten’s Controversial Jewelry Proves Wildly Successful, Raking in $156 Million
An Airbnb Host Got More Than They Bargained for with a Guest’s Offbeat Art Swap—and the Mystery Has Gone Viral on TikTok
Not Patriarchal Art History, But Art ‘Herstory’: Judy Chicago on Why She Devoted Her New Show to 80 Women Artists Who Inspired Her
An Artist Asked ChatGPT How to Make a Popular Memecoin. The Result Is ‘TurboToad,’ and People Are Betting Millions of Dollars on It
An Elderly Man Spray-Painted a Miriam Cahn Painting at a Paris Museum After Right-Wing Attempts to Censor It Failed
The Netflix Series ‘Transatlantic’ Dramatizes the Effort to Evacuate Artists From France During World War II. Here’s What Actually Happened in Real Life
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.