Just as the rise of strip malls has swept America off her feet, so has the fine art world equivalent, the art fair. As little as ten years ago, dealers and galleries could elect not to attend these costly events, but as these fairs have become a preferred method of shopping, and a popular way of viewing art, many galleries now see it as an expensive but unavoidable form of advertising in addition to a sales opportunity.
The Art Dealers Association of America, or perhaps more accurately named, The Esteemed Art Dealers Association of America as it is essentially an accrediting art dealer organization, has their yearly art fair this weekend, which is among the most important fairs for gallerists in city. Interestingly, in contrast, the average Chelsea gallery goer could give a shit about this event if they even know about it, since it tends to showcase art that is older than appeals to the “I’d-like- it-better-if-it-was-made-yesterday” art lover.
For those who are interested in simply viewing art, there are more reasons not attend this fair than to attend. It’s not a large fair (compared to Basel or the Amory Show), and it tends to be ripe with dealer ego, which results in among other things, over hung booths and ornate furniture. Also, art just doesn’t look that good on short stubby walls surrounded by hundreds of yards of grey carpet. Given these stunning fair attributes, it is not surprising that the fair filters out most casual art viewers. Those who do fall into the Sunday viewer category and end up at the armory inevitably betray themselves by looking and acting very out of place.
Predictably this year calamity arrived as a shit storm and in the space of five minutes every unschooled art connoisseur stereotype was fulfilled when I witnessed one man dangerously waving his cane around in a booth much to the distress of the dealer, while simultaneously hearing a man of similar age and stature asking the gallerist adjacent at Richard L Feigen Gallery what he had to do to get the giant Rauschenberg they had on their wall into his living room. The dealer replied, “Write us a check for two and a half million and we’ll even install it for you”, and one predictably incredulous look later that conversation ended. I guess that viewer didn’t think throwing in the installation costs was much of a break.
If there is a highlight to this shopping extravaganza, it would have to be the booth of Susan Sheehan Gallery. For three years now she has gone to the trouble of installing a fake floor in her booth, which though extremely expensive, is the right way to deal with the exhibition of art in that space. Her first two forays into the arena of fake floors were not a complete success as the pattern was distracting and didn’t suite the work she was showing but this year she was more ambitious and installed a thick white linoleum floor. Creating clean simple lines which make for a very elegant look, it beautifully sets off the minimalist work in her booth making it hard not to want her great (albeit pricey) prints*
Look forward to Tuesdays post where I critique the ADAA Art Show Logo. The School of shitty design meets AFC. Again.
UPDATE: Artist Unite Issue has posted an excellent summary on why you might want to attend the art show. Unlike AUI, I don’t think the 20 dollar ticket price is worth it.
*Susan Sheehan Gallery has a great Thiebaud rabbit, and Ochre Diebenkorn on display.