contemporary art

Art Dealers at Intersect Aspen Say the Pop-Up Fair Was a Roaring Success—and a Great Chance to Finally See Collectors Again

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.

Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

“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.

Installation view of Edward Cella Art & Architecture at Intersect Aspen. Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

Installation view of Edward Cella Art & Architecture at Intersect Aspen. Image courtesy Intersect Aspen.

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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Closely Watched Chicago Dealer Mariane Ibrahim Joins the Growing Ranks of Gallerists Opening New Spaces in Paris

Art dealer Mariane Ibrahim, who recently moved her influential gallery to Chicago from Seattle, has joined a growing number of gallerists expanding to Paris. As Midnight Publishing Group News reported recently, a combination of real-estate opportunities, Brexit fallout, and a renewed sense of vibrancy is turning the City of Lights into a veritable art-market hub.

The new space is on Paris’s famous Avenue Matignon and the first exhibition, a group show of artists on the gallery’s roster, will open in September. In recent years, Ibrahim has offered an influential platform for artists of the African diaspora, including Ghanaian market star Amoako Boafo and British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor. Ayana V. Jackson, who she also represents, will have a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in 2022.

“The 8th arrondissement reminds us of our initial initiative to move to Chicago, where we felt like there was something new happening,” Ibrahim told Midnight Publishing Group News. “We are very lucky to be present for the beginning of a new resurrection of certain areas in Paris.”

Mariane Ibrahim is opening a new gallery in Paris on Avenue Matignon. Image courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Mariane Ibrahim is opening a new gallery in Paris on Avenue Matignon. Image courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Paris has remained a point of departure and a point of return for the dealer, who lived in France before moving to the US in 2010. Given the ongoing travel restrictions, it was her French citizenship that made it possible to move forward with the space. 

Ibrahim said she had been considering the move “unconsciously for quite some time,” but began seriously pursuing it over the past six months. 

The pandemic “almost facilitated the need to be in two places at one time,” she added. “Paris is becoming a city that is going to compete in the major art market, and we are eager to be a part of that.”

In recent years, French collectors have grown increasingly interested in artists of the African diaspora as the country has engaged in deeper conversations about restitution of art stolen during the colonial era.

Asked how the Paris and Chicago spaces will work together, Ibrahim said they are opposites in many ways: the Chicago gallery is all on one level and spread out, while the Paris space spans three floors in a Haussmann building. 

At a time when “the global is local and vice versa,” she said, “being in two cultural spaces will enrich the work and practice of our artists.”

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FIAC’s Digital Edition Clicks With Buyers, Thanks to a Curated Approach and a ‘Chance Encounter’ Button That Emulates the Fun of IRL Fairs

There’s been no shortage of grumbling about the never-ending parade of virtual art fairs and about how “online viewing rooms” (or OVRs) are, really, just another website. Nevertheless, dealers and collectors alike appeared this week to be enthusiastically embracing the virtual edition of the high-profile French fair known as FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain).

The VIP preview days started on March 2 before the fair “opened” to the broader public on March 4. (It runs through Sunday, March 7.) After a full-year of lockdown, it appears both organizers and exhibitors have been stepping up their game when it comes to online presentations.

In addition to user-friendly features that allow for searching by artist, gallery, or title, viewers can sort and filter works by price and opt to see works with or without prices in order to “browse as collectors or as art lovers,” according to a statement.

A new feature, a button dubbed “chance encounter,” generates a random artwork each time it is clicked. The goal is to recreate “the sense of surprise discovery as at an in-person fair.”

Screenshot of FIAC's 'Chance Encounter' feature in action.

Screenshot of FIAC’s ‘Chance Encounter’ feature in action.

Galleries also have the option of changing up the works on view in the course of the fair, including labeling works as sold where applicable. In addition, FIAC raised the game by having five international curators each present their own selection of artworks from the participating galleries.

FIAC’s first-ever virtual edition “kick-started this year’s art fair calendar,” Hauser & Wirth president Iwan Wirth told Midnight Publishing Group News. “Collectors have moved quickly to secure exceptional works by our master artists with our first day sales so far totaling over $5 million.”

The gallery’s sales included works by Louise Bourgeois, George Condo, Mark Bradford, Charles Gaines, and Phyllida Barlow. FIAC’s special curators’ selection included a new work by Nicole Eisenman and a body print made in the 1970s by David Hammons, noted Wirth. Works sold ranged in price from $25,000 to over $2.2 million.

Charles Gaines’s Numbers and Faces: Multi-Racial/Ethnic Combinations Series 1: Face #16, Naoki Sutter-Shudo (Japanese/French/Swiss German) (2020) sold for $350,000. The top price for a work sold by the gallery was $2.2 million for Condo’s painting Two Hippies (2020).

Barlow’s mixed-media untitled: smallmodernart, 7; 2020 lockdown 7 (2020) sold for $25,000. Bourgeois’s 2009 gouache on paper Pregnant Woman went for $110,000.

Galeria Nara Roesler, which operates branches in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and New York, opted to create a booth with just two artists, a “dialogue” between late Brazilian painter Abraham Palatnik and French artist Xavier Veilhan.

Abraham Palatnik, <i>W-533</i> (2014). Image courtesy Nara Roesler.

Abraham Palatnik, W-533 (2014). Image courtesy Nara Roesler.

“The presentation juxtaposes the work of two artists from different generations and backgrounds, with widely different practices in formal, conceptual, and technical terms,” according to a statement. Co-owner Daniel Roesler confirmed the sale of Palatnik’s W-533 by the end of the first public viewing day. The asking price was $100,000.

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac bolstered its FIAC OVR with an IRL element by displaying some of the works highlighted in its online presentation at its Paris space.

“This year, we are contributing to the FIAC online viewing room with a selection of the highlights from our anniversary exhibition ‘30 Years in Paris,” director Sévérine Waelchli explained to Midnight Publishing Group News via email. “In order to celebrate this exceptional occasion, artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley, Georg Baselitz, Lee Bul, and Alex Katz have participated with new and outstanding works now presented at FIAC.”

The buzz seemed to help. Early on in the first preview day, the gallery sold a vivid Alex Katz portrait, Vivien Vertical 1 (2020), for $650,000, as well as an Antony Gormley steel figural sculpture, OPEN INCH (2018), for $557,000 (£400,000)

Alex Katz, <i>Vivien Vertical 1</i> (2020). Image courtesy the artist and Thaddaeus Ropac

Alex Katz, Vivien Vertical 1 (2020). Image courtesy the artist and Thaddaeus Ropac

By the end of the second preview day, March 3, at least ten additional sales were reported.

Frank Elbaz (of Paris and Dallas) sold: a work by Mungo Thomson to a Chinese museum for $80,000; a work by Bernard Piffaretti to an Austrian collector for $58,000 (€48,000); and a work by Kenjiro Okazaki to a Chinese foundation for $7,500.

Galerie Chantal Crousel reported selling a painting by Jean-Luc Moulène for $66,000 (€55,000), a large photo by Wolfgang Tillmans for $120,000 (€100,000), and a sculpture by David Douard for $18,000 (€15,000).

David Zwirner sold four works on paper by Luc Tuymans at prices ranging from $75,000 to $150,000.

And Xavier Hufkens reported selling out its online booth by the end of the first preview day with works ranging in price from $15,000 to $40,000.

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Signaling an Enduring Appetite for Young Art, Phillips’s ‘New Now’ Sale Brings in a Record $9.5 Million

Phillips’s marathon sale of contemporary art, “New Now,” proved that the appetite for new art—even if it doesn’t come in the form of an NFT—is strong.

The five-hour sale, which featured nearly 200 lots, brought in $9.5 million, handily exceeding its high estimate of $5.2 million. (Final prices include auction-house premiums; estimates do not.)

The results, which included 20 new artist records and strong prices for figures including Matthew Wong, Hernan Bas, Katherine Bradford, and Vaughn Spann, demonstrated the “resilience and fortitude of the middle market,” says Patrizia Koenig, who recently took over as head of New Now in New York. Bidders from roughly 60 countries participated online and over the phone.

A work by Matthew Wong, the Canadian painter who died by suicide at age 35 in 2019, topped the sale, which will not surprise market observers who have watched prices for his intricately rendered landscapes skyrocket over the past two years.

Mickalene Thomas, Untitled #10 (2014). Image courtesy Phillips.

Mickalene Thomas, Untitled #10 (2014). Image courtesy Phillips.

Lotus (2017) soared to a final price of $1.7 million, nearly triple the $600,000 high estimate. A stylish collaged work by Mickalene Thomas, Untitled #10 (2014), scored the second-highest price of the day: $889,100, nearly 10 times its estimate of $70,000 to $90,000.

A new auction record was set for Hernan Bas, when Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) (2008) sold for $352,800 (estimate: $70,000–100,000). Ahead of the sale, Koenig described the lush painting as “an otherworldly landscape that encompasses so much” of what people seek in this particular artist. (A portion of the proceeds from the sale went to benefit the World Wildlife Fund.)

Hernan Bas, Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) (2008). Image courtesy Phillips.

Hernan Bas, Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) (2008). Image courtesy Phillips.

Bas has been attracting a lot of attention of late, and it was just a year ago, in February 2020, that Phillips secured his previous record of $309,567 for Cannibalistic, noisy and abusive, but picturesque and popular withal (2011) at a London sale.

Koenig credited Articker, a market-tracking tool that the auction house introduced last year, with helping her identify buzzed-about artists in the absence of art fairs and openings. One such figure was Allison Zuckerman, whose fusion of digital imagery and art-historical references earned her a prestigious residency at the Rubell Collection in 2017 and a devoted following among younger collectors. Tavern Song (2018) marked her debut at auction, which shattered expectations by selling for $93,240, well over its high estimate of $15,000.

Peter Saul, Lawd (1968). Image courtesy Phillips.

Peter Saul, Lawd (1968). Image courtesy Phillips.

A work by another breakout star in recent years, Vaughn Spann, Dalmation No.3 (2018), scored $138,600 (estimate: $40,000–60,000).

Among the more established contemporary names on offer was Peter Saul, whose often divisive paintings got a fresh perspective and a jumpstarted market after a well-received show at the New Museum last winter. A classic late 1960s work, Lawd (1968), sold for $239,400 (estimate: $125,000–150,000), a solid total that also suggests less speculative furor than for some of the less tested names in the sale.

Vaughn Spann, <i>Dalmation No. 3</i> (2018). Image courtesy Phillips.

Vaughn Spann, Dalmation No. 3 (2018). Image courtesy Phillips.

Other established blue-chip artists among the top lots included: Fernando Botero, whose Paul Cezanne Jr. (1963) sold for $214,200 against a $60,000 high estimate; Nam June Paik, whose Gotherbot (1994) sold for $138,600, within its presale estimate; and John Chamberlain, whose Pasâdé Paar-Buckle (2006) also achieved a within-estimate $138,600.

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Gagosian Has Closed Its San Francisco Gallery, Once Seen as a Beacon of Promise for Silicon Valley’s Art Market

Back in 2016, the arrival of mega-gallery Gagosian in San Francisco was deemed a sign that Silicon Valley’s art market was heating up. Four years later, however, the gallery has officially closed the space, which was located a stone’s throw from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“To consolidate and strengthen Gagosian’s presence in California, we are concentrating our efforts based in Los Angeles, for the time being,” a spokesperson told Midnight Publishing Group News.

The confirmation follows a December 31 report in the San Francisco Chronicle that the gallery’s phone had been disconnected, its signage had been removed, and the branch information had been removed from Gagosian’s website.

This is not the first blue-chip gallery to close an outpost during the lockdown era. In October, Marian Goodman announced she would shutter her London space after six years.

Gagosian—the largest art gallery in the world—continues to operate 15 other spaces in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Geneva, and Hong Kong.

At the time of the San Francisco gallery’s launch, SFMOMA had just reopened after a major overhaul, focusing the art world’s attention on the city. “This makes sense with the new museum opening and with the emerging collector base in Silicon Valley,” Larry Gagosian told SF Gate at the time. The inaugural show featured work by Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Jasper Johns, and Pablo Picasso.

Exterior of the Marciano Art Foundation. Photo by Julian Calero.

Exterior of the Marciano Art Foundation. Photo by Julian Calero.

While Gagosian is now downsizing in San Francisco, it is expanding in Los Angeles. This past summer, the gallery extended his footprint in the city by taking over part of the shuttered Marciano Museum, a 90,000-square foot former masonic temple on Wilshire Boulevard. (The private museum founded by fashion moguls Paul and Maurice Marciano permanently shuttered this past February, shortly after workers there voted to unionize.) Gagosian also operates a gallery in nearby Beverly Hills.

The San Francisco gallery’s final exhibition was a show of work by the late Bay Area artist Jay DeFeo. “We felt a great amount of support from local collectors, institutions, and the public,” the space’s co-director Kelly Huang told Midnight Publishing Group News. By offering programming that might be more typical of New York and Los Angeles, she added, “Gagosian helped expand access to contemporary art in the Bay Area.”

Huang, who worked as an art advisor for roughly a decade before joining the gallery, is now planning to launch her own art advisory firm, KCH Advisory. She remains bullish on the notion that the city is fertile ground for the art market to develop. “There is a growing, active, and engaged client base in San Francisco,” she said, “and it reflects the huge potential for the next generation of collectors here.”

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