Monday, May 16, 2011

Art Fairs - A Reflection of the Market

London Original Print Fair Records Highest Ever Visitor Figures 1. LONDON.- London Original Print Fair 2011, the longest-running Print Fair in the world drew a record number of visitors at the Royal Academy of Arts last week. The Fair got off to a flying start with the opening day bringing in the highest visitor figures to date. Some 1,000 guests attended the eagerly awaited preview evening, where record sales provided a buoyant start to the three-day event. VIPs who visited the Fair included Sir Peter Blake, Grayson Perry and Jim Broadbent. All 52 exhibitors reported a reassuring number of red stickers, proving that galleries and artists are continuing to strengthen their position in the market. A spokesperson for Andrew Edmunds described the event as being one of their 'strongest Fairs ever.' Private dealer Frederick Mulder exhibited an exclusive anniversary display at the Fair - a collection of 40 portraits to mark 40 years in the print business. Mulder reported several sales of Pi ...

2.  Chicago. The 31st annual Art Chicago shared it 12th-floor perch with the Next fair devoted to emerging art in the Merchandise Mart from 29 April-2 May reflecting the fast changing nature of the event.
Last year, the main fair took up the entire floor. For this edition, over 40 dealers did not return and the exhibitor roster was down to 128 from 155 participants the year before. Not returning were the Helsinki Galerie Forsblom, London galleries Haunch of Venison and White Cube, and Pace Prints and Nyehaus, both from New York. Even longtime Art Chicago stalwart Rhona Hoffman skipped the fair and opted to take in the gallery scene in Berlin instead. New exhibitors included smaller dealerships like 101/exhibit of Miami and art company Misoolsidae of Seoul, giving the fair a more contemporary edge and post-war art having far less of a presence.

3. Marin Indian Art Show Celebrates Silver Anniversary, San Rafael, California
by Alice Kaufman (Maine Antique Digest)
The 25th annual Marin Show: Art of the Americas, held February 21 and 22 in San Rafael, California, attracted a large crowd and featured wonderful material, but as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water….Producer Kim Martindale earned and received the admiration of the exhibiting
dealers for his effective promotion, which included multiple mailings and the insertion of a show brochure in the New York Times on the Sunday before the show. According to one dealer who exhibited, the quality and selection of items was consistent with previous years, and prices were also consistently—and perhaps
optimistically—high. But as one dealer put it, "If it doesn't sell, don't sell at a loss, pack it away. The value is there, and the customers will be back." Martindale said he was "surprised at how little the economy ended up affecting the show. Attendance was up about ten percent from 2008, and although sales were a mixed bag, many dealers were pleased and did better than they had expected." Martindale did say that he noticed hesitancy on the part of some collectors. "People were taking longer to buy than in the past."
Many dealers said they were feeling the effects of a lack of buyer confidence. After a lecture by author and art historian Aldona Jonaitis, "Totem Poles and Tourism: The Creation of a Northwest Coast Icon," on Sunday morning, collectors who had been looking at totem poles on Saturday seemed to lose
their hesitancy and bought. Several dealers were pleased by the timing of the show, just one weekend after
the San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show. There generally has been a  two-week layover in the past, which made exhibiting at both shows difficult and expensive. For more information on the complete lineup of shows produced by Kim Martindale, including the February 2010 Marin show, visit the Web site
( or call (310) 822-9145.
I can't blame people for trying to spin the bad news, but for many dealers this was a rough show with limited sales.

4. The San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show - 
"The San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show is heralded as the best Tribal Art show in world. Each year this anticipated event brings together an impressive living history of global culture, including ethnographic sculptures, textiles and accessories. Collectors, designers and art lovers the world over attend this show to see what’s new on the market and find out where collecting trends are going."

For many the highlight of this show was the cultural panel with Kate Fitz Gibbon and getting together with colleagues. A significant representation of  important dealers and collectors simply did not show up and a break even scenario was considered a good outcome.

5. More Virtual Fairs AnnouncedNEW YORK, NY.- has announced they will be hosting more virtual art fairs, opening up the world of art to anyone with a PC and an internet connection. Working in partnership with premier art fairs around the globe such as Art Amsterdam and Art-Athina, is firmly set upon the road towards expanding the number of virtual art fairs they intend to present to both the public and their subscribed members. will be presenting three separate art fairs in a virtual format in a few days. Each virtual fair is an online window to a physical art fair taking place at the same time. David Dehaeck, CEO of has this to say: “We ( truly feel that making art fairs easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection is a cutting edge way to encourage more people to buy and collect art.” 

Anyone in the art business that looks at the cost of doing business the old fashioned way has already concluded that it is just too expensive. As more and more art buyers become of age and turn into consumers, they will have a comfort level that most of us can't at this point even imagine.

6. NEW YORK CITY - Recently the second annual AOA fair was held in New York. I have reprinted without changes the thoughts of one participant who requested to remain anonymous.
"For the 2nd straight year NY tribal week remained a divided affair, but positive steps were taken toward unifying dealers from all corners of the field.  When Caskey Lees cancelled their annual NY tribal show in 2010 due to the lack of commitment arising from the weak economy and a forced change of venue, dealers of every stripe scrambled for a way to catch the attention of whoever was nevertheless coming to town.  The dominant faction was fraught with  dissension and suspicions of financial improprieties.   Poor  coordination, political in fighting and price gouging by at least one nefarious promoter meant that dealers were scattered all over town,  some sharing and exchanging promotional materials and others not.   This year Maureen Zarember of Tambaran Gallery took the bull by the horns and reserved two floors of the Ukranian Institute- a gloriously  renovated mansion on the corner of 79th and 5th Avenue.   At first  reaching out exclusively to high end European dealers, she received a mixed reception. Time and circumstances dictated that American based dealers be included in a process that was deemed by some to be highly political.  Respected dealers who had asked to participate early on were leap-frogged in favor of latecomers of equal and in some cases lesser stature.  The event, officially named the African and Oceanic Association, AOA, included dealers of Native American and Pre Colombian art in addition to African and Oceanic.  A beautiful brochure was produced with adds from auction houses and exhibitors at  associated Manhattan venues  all of which were included on a map.   However, several respected and notable dealers were not invited to include ads of their own, nor were they included on the map.  Five such dealers, including four who have regularly vetted Caskey Lees shows in both NY and San Francisco, (Eric Robertson, James Stephenson, Peter Boyd and Amyas Naegele) formed their own alliance and rented 3 floors of a landmark townhouse on East 75th near the Whitney Museum.  A third group (Dave DeRoche, David Zemanek, Sebastian Fernandez and Howard Nowes) assembled at another location a few blocks east.  Attendance was good at all three locations.  AOA with the most diversity of material, finest location and the more powerful marketing campaign saw the largest turnout but sales were brisk on East 75th Street as well where their gala evening event with African food and live music was hopping until late in the evening."

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