The absence of most in-person art fairs in the past year and a half appears to be making the white-hot art market even hotter.
That’s the takeaway from the opening day of the pop-up Intersect Aspen art fair, which takes place in a city overrun with billionaires.
The fair, which features 30 galleries from 26 cities and was described by one fairgoer as “tiny but exquisite,” attracted a bevy of collectors, including Andrea and John Stark, Janna Bullock, and heiress Elizabeth Esteve.
Sales were fast and furious, organizers said. Galerie Gmurzynska, whose director Isabelle Bscher made a concerted effort not to presell works (as galleries often do at major fairs), sold a Joan Miró painting, Tête (1979), for $2 million in the first hour of the opening day.
Two days later, Gmurzynska reported selling another work, a small Picasso titled Compotier avec raisin (Pigeons) (1927) for over $1.5 million.
“Where better to be than Aspen?” asked Christine Berry of New York’s Berry Campbell Gallery. “We have a renewed appreciation for being at an art fair in person.”
Seattle dealer Greg Kucera reported selling work by Chris Engman for $5,000 and by Humaira Abid for $8,000. The gallery is also showing two new works by Deborah Butterfield that were made specifically for Intersect Aspen, and are on view for the first time.
“The fair opened on Sunday morning at 10 with a bang,” New York dealer Nancy Hoffman said. “Starting with energy is key to the success of the event, and this is a success. This is our first in-person fair since the pandemic, and it has been great so far, positive on all levels. The right size, the right place, the right audience, the right fair director and organization.”
Hoffman said responses have been strong to the gallery’s booth theme of wild flowers, which is inspired by Aspen’s floral landscape. With prices for works ranging from $1,800 to $75,000, she said the gallery sold works priced from $5,000 to $30,000.
Half Gallery sold out a booth of works by Hiejin Yoo (prices ranged from $12,000 to $20,000), Young Lim Lee (priced around $8,000), and Umar Rashid (priced around $25,000). Director Erin Goldberger said she was using the opportunity to meet new clients, see old clients, and talk about the artists on view with visitors.
Goldberger said many of the collectors at the fair have not been back to New York since the start of COVID, so this is the first time many are seeing artworks from galleries they work with in person.
Emmanuel Perrotin sold works by Daniel Arsham from two different series, including one featured prominently in the booth, Quartz Eroded Basketball Hoop (2021), which sold for a price in the range of $60,000 to $90,000.
Edward Cella Art and Architecture gallery sold a painting by Wosene Worke Kosrof, House Full of Words (2014), for $46,000, with strong interest from buyers in additional works.
“I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality and intelligence of the collectors, who are geographically dispersed throughout the country,” said gallery owner Edward Cella.
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