Mercifully, this year’s ADAA far was absent of familiar pop art fair staples such as Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist. Many dealers brought contemporary art to the fairs, with familiar names such as Dana Schutz, Jacob Kassay, and James Turrell filling the booths. That, along with a series of in-depth solo booths, contributed to an overall sense of higher quality than in years past.
“Everyone’s saying this is better than last year,” Bortolami’s Raphael Lepine told me. As a gallerist, Lepine’s not exactly unbiased, but I heard those words repeated from attendees as well. “I love that you can see old masters next to contemporary art here,” artist Ryan Johnson remarked. His wife Dana Schutz, who is expecting in August, had a solo show of black-and-white drawings at Petzel.
By and large, the stand outs at the ADAA show were solo booths like Schutz’s. PPOW showcased a booth of Martha Wilson work sold as one unit, David Zwirner bravely displayed a suite of six Ad Reinhardt prints (with a price tag of 3 million for the set), and Tibor de Nagy brought a booth of detailed Sarah McEneaney paintings depicting interiors and people in her life.
A smattering of dealers spoke of participating in both the ADAA and The Armory. Wendy Olsoff said PPOW will be in both, and spoke of the shows with both anticipation and dread. “Doing both fairs is exciting now. The show’s fresh and it will be exciting at The Armory tomorrow. It’s Saturday and Sunday that things get grueling.” Olsoff was quick to spell out exactly what makes the fairs difficult. “The human mind has a repertoire of only so many questions: ‘No, I did not make all of this work myself,’ ‘Yes, the work is all sold together,’ and ‘No, I can’t do that yoga position,’” she told me while gesturing to Martha Wilson taking a yoga pose in a video.
Sean Kelly will, as per usual participate in both fairs, while other galleries have simply changed locations. Bortolami had participated in The Armory and The Independent last year. “We did the ADAA this year because we were invited. It is a great honor,” said Lepine. She added, “We’re a small gallery, so we don’t do too many fairs.” The gallery brought three paintings by Richard Aldrich and two works by Daniel Buren.
As for the sales, no one was complaining. January into February can be slow months, and the fairs represent an end to that. As one anonymous dealer told me, “I’ve had more serious interest over the past 10 days than I have in the last two months.”
Our slideshow below.