The Americana market flexed its Manhattan muscles during the month of January with powerful sales recorded amongst all of the antiques shows taking place in the Big Apple. Would the art market follow suit in February? All eyes were once again focused on the art capital of America as the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) swung open the doors of the Seventh Regiment Armory for The Art Show that began a four-day run on February 23.
The answer quickly became apparent as the dust settled in the waning hours of the gala preview party on opening night; simply stated, a visit to the show left everyone seeing red.
Sold and hold tags, those inconspicuous red dots applied over prices, steadily began appearing on a wide variety of items all across the floor as preview opened. A crowd of more than 2,600 was in attendance at the preview, a benefit for the Henry Street Settlement, and a good percentage of those on hand brought what was needed to help shore up the market – a correct attitude and a checkbook.
The trend reportedly continued throughout the remainder of the show.
Sales for top-end contemporary items were strong; so too were they for the old guard Modernist standbys. The booth of Zwirner & Wirth featured an impressive array of nine Clas Oldenburg sculptures. Among the group was “Mannikin with One Leg,” 1961, a colorfully painted humanoid form piece constructed of muslin soaked in plaster over a wire frame and standing on a small paint decorated wooden crate. A peek at the price key revealed a $2 million asking price, a glance at the descriptive tag for “Mannikin” revealed a red dot. Other Oldenburg pieces with red dots included “Watch in Red Box” $400,000 and “Red Cap” $750,000. The dealers also seemed to have substantial interest expressed in Oldenburg’s “Soft Medicine Cabinet,” $1.85 million, and “Cash Register” $1.8 million.
The show was suave and stunning, akin to a stroll throughyour favorite museum. The art was inviting and the dealers wereopen and responsive.
The Chicago gallery of Richard Gray came to the show with a snappy theme that enthralled those in attendance. Portrait/Self Portrait was the premise and everyone had to stop in and take a look at the variety of works. Jean DuBuffet’s “Pofil aux nez pointu, August 1950,” an oil, sand and mixed media on board was a quick seller from the booth.
Other portraits included two by Pablo Picasso including the 1933 watercolor “The Artist and Model” and also a bright and colorful oil titled “Femme dans un Fauteuil.” Andy Warhol’s 1964 self portrait silkscreen revealed a youthful artist standing smugly amid a sea of Tiffany blue. Also colorful was Roy Lichtenstein’s 1980 oil “Head.” Jim Dine, Eva Hess, Alex Katz, David Hockney and Robert Motherwell were also displayed.
Sculpture by Sidney Geist was seen in a variety of booths and the artist was attracting a great deal of attention. Geist, known as a scholar on Brancussi and Cezanne, also had artists such as David Smith study under him. A painted wood and iron sculpture, “Young Woman,” by Geist executed in 1951, was an early seller from the booth of Manhattan dealer Leonard Hutton Galleries. The twisted painted and chromium plated steel sculptures of John Chamberlain also proved popular with a 2004 example titled “Tawdry Audrey” selling quickly.
Just down the aisle was another select offering of Geistsculpture from the booth of Jason McCoy, Inc. Its exhibition”Sidney Geist, Phases of Sculpture: A Survey of the ArtistsSculpture from Seven Decades,” up through April 1, was celebratedwith a splashy exhibition at its 57th Street gallery the nightbefore the show, and the enthusiasm clearly followed to The ArtShow.
The dealer displayed a provocative female nude plaster sculpture by Geist that was a study for a 9-foot-tall version titled “Goddess in Wood” that McCoy has on display in his gallery exhibition. A smaller sculpture was in applewood and was titled “Elaine.” Also available at the show was a totemic sculpture by Geist in vivid paint.
Mary Ryan was on hand with her usual selection of top-shelf art including a four-part set of Donald Judd woodcuts executed with vivid orange and vertical white stripes. Executed in 1991-1994 and from an edition of ten, the set was priced at $38,000.
Also on display at Mary Ryan Gallery was a compelling set of five “Lithographic Water” prints by David Hockney that were priced at $250,000. The dealer also offered an interesting Arthur Dove untitled (Gold, Green, Brown) gouache on paper, 1941, a mere 6 by 9 inches, that was stickered at $125,000.
Also attracting a great deal of interest were two linocuts by Sybil Andrews with daring Deco stylized subjects titled “Racing,” 1934, priced at $55,000, and “Speedway,” 1934, from an edition of 60, that was sold.
Where does the line blur for jewelry to become art? One look at the offerings by Maxwell Davidson of the Alexander Calder brass day pin, 1935, the two silver brooches from 1942 and the brass pin from 1945 and the answer became perfectly clear. Each was exquisite and truly proved to be the pinnacle of wearable art.
The art of Charles Burchfield was doing well in the booth ofManhattan dealers DC Moore with two paintings sporting red dots.The frontispiece to the booth was an impressive large watercolor bythe artist titled “Summer Bouquet” that had been executed in 1963.In his typical style, the piece was well executed with a vase offlowers on a stand in front of a window. A cluttered table in theforeground, a secretary desk partially viewed from the side and anappealing window valance framed the work.
Another Burchfield with a red dot was “House with a Tower,” 1927-1949, a watercolor on paper. Next to it hung a classic Reginald Marsh painting, “Mr Broe on the Brooklyn Bridge,” that also was marked with a red dot.
James Berry Hill of Berry Hill Gallery, New York City, made an impressive appearance at the show and the gallery put forth a diverse and much appreciated selection of stellar art. Included in the display was Winslow Homer’s 1865 oil on canvas “The Bird Catchers,” an enchanting depiction of young boys in straw hats whiling away the summer. Another Homer, this one a watercolor, “After the Rain, Prouts Neck, 1887,” was also an enjoyable scene.
Edward Hopper’s oil “Dauphinee’s House,” 1932, was attracting a great deal of attention in the Berry Hill stand, as was the Marsden Hartley oil “Movement Sails,” 1916. John Singer Sargent’s vibrant view of “Millet’s Garden” and Childe Hassam’s oil “The East Headland, Appledore – Isles of Shoals,” 1908, were also stunning .
Manhattan art dealers L&M Arts put together a colorful booth with a large untitled colored drawing on paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat that was sporting a sold tag moments after the show opened, Richard Prince’s “Cowboy Gang,” priced at $685,000, and “Black Stabile” by Alexander Calder, $650,000. Other pieces with the tell-tale red dots in the booth included a Willem De Kooning picture titled “Three Women,” Andy Warhol’s iconic “Colored Campbell’s Soup Can,” 1965, and a green “hold” tag had been placed on Pablo Picasso’s 1920 work “Femme assise.”
Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York City, had a good showwith a couple sales recorded early on in the show. Marked with ared dot was Jacob Collins’ stunning nude portrait of the couple”Anna and Arturo,” an oil on canvas, 2006. Also sold was awatercolor over graphite on paper by Frederick Brosen titled “25thand Fifth Avenue,” 2005.
Standout items in the booth also included Frank Stella’s oil on canvas of “The Veiled lady” that was offered price on request, a John Atherton oil on canvas, “Industrial Landscape, 1939,” priced at $165,000, and a captivating oil by George Copeland Ault titled “View from Brooklyn,” 1927, also offered as “price on request.”
The art of Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp was well received at Zabriskie Gallery, New York City, including the sculpture “Ballet Francais II,” 1956/1971, by Man Ray that was marked with a sold tag. Among the other offerings was a vintage gelatin silver print by Man Ray, “Portrait of Jacques Villon,” circa 1922, that the artist had signed in pencil on the verso. “Autoportrait,” 1916/1970″ a screen print on Plexiglas artist’s proof of an edition of 40 was also attracting attention.
PaceWildenstein devoted its entire booth to the work of Alex Katz. The attractive large work “Yellow House” completely covered a partial front wall of the booth, while two paintings and their small scale studies from Maine filled the rear wall. “Alex Walking” and the study “Alex” depicted a young man in shorts and hat walking up a sun dappled road that is lined with majestic pines, while “Vincent Walking” depicted the same scene, although in a much more simplistic view.
Knoedler & Company displayed a varied selection ofmerchandise with one of stone sculptor William Edmondson’s”mirkles” at the front of the booth. “Angel,” a carved Tennesseelimestone sculpture measuring 27 inches tall, was attracting quitea bit of attention, as was a collage hanging next to it by JosephCornell, “Homage to Hans Memling.” Other items in the boothattracting attention included a Milton Avery oil on canvas titled”Dancing Trees” that was stickered at $700,000, and a HelenFrankenthaler oil on paper from 1951 that was marked sold.
The booth of Manhattan dealers Martha Parish and James Reinish was a popular spot with serious art collectors. One wall featured an impressive monumental Thomas Hart Benton tempera with oil glaze mounted on panel that was titled “Missouri Musicians” and executed in 1931. Other pieces in the booth seemingly read from a who’s who of America’s finest: John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Andrew Wyeth, Elie Nadelman, William Merritt Chase and Mary Cassatt. Wyeth’s large-scale watercolor “Orchard Run,” 1956, was a timeless classic, although the liveliness of Marsh’s 1932 tempera on board, “Harlem, Tuesday Night at the Savoy,” also called to viewers.
James Graham & Sons, New York City, devoted its booth to the art of Norman Bluhm and two of the works took up the lion’s share of the booth. Bluhm’s 1974 work “Hecuba” dominated the side wall of the booth, while the entire back wall was filled with the 1965 work titled “Chariot.”
Pace Prints combined its Cubist and Modernist-oriented display with tribal arts from its sister gallery Pace Primitive and thus providing a successful tutorial. Picasso’s linocuts “Nature morte au verre souls la lampe,” 1962, and “Faunes et Chevre,” 1959, flanked a stunning Ligbi mask from the Ivory Coast. On the opposite wall of the booth, Henri Matisse’s 1948 aquatint “Grand Masque” bore a striking resemblance to the primitive round faced Mbunda mask from Zambia.
“Sphinx,” a terra cotta and casein painted sculpture of ayoung nude female, bent at the waist with outstretched arms, byJudy Fox was attracting attention in the booth of PPOW, New YorkCity. “Excavating the Temples of the New Gods” by David Wojnarowiczwas another high point of the booth, as was the interesting”Splendor and darkness,” a c-print on linen tape by Dinh Q Le. BoBartlett’s “Analysis of the Bride,” an oil on linen executed in2006, was also capturing looks.
Willem de Kooning’s “Cow Jumps Over the Moon,” an oil on Masonite, 1938, and “Woman XI,” an oil and pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 1961, were among the highlights in the stand of Mitchell Innes & Nash, New York City. Artists such as Jean Dubuffet, represented by four works including the 1963 oil on canvas titled “Rue de l’Antidote,” stood proudly behind a large bronze by Marino Marini, one of an edition of five titled “Cavallo.”
Prints by James McNeill Whistler, Pablo Picasso and Erich Heckel, along with a complete set of 14 first edition etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1749-1750, were seen in the booth of New York City dealer David Tunick. Highlighting the selection was a drypoint etching, “Le Repas Frugal,” 1904, Picasso’s first print, from a rare deluxe edition of 27 executed on Japan paper. Covering the gamut, the dealer also offered works that spanned the centuries ranging from Albrecht Dürer, “Nativity,” 1504, to Jasper Johns Pop movement print “Decoy,” 1971.
The George Adams Gallery, New York City, featured a boothfilled with the art of California sculptor/artist Robert Arnesonincluding the large ceramic glazed pink shoes, “Homage to PhilipGuston, 1913-1980.” The iconic “This Head is Mine” bronze wasdisplayed as well as the bronze “I Have My Eyes on Me Endlessly.”Other works included “Brick with Hand of,” a charcoal and pencilstudy on paper for “Missile Monument,” and “Lousing Up the Space.”
Three paintings by Grandma Moses were offered by Galerie St Etienne, New York City, including a large oil on pressed wood, 1948, titled “Jenny McCree’s Home.” Also offered was “An Artist,” a 1954 oil on pressed wood, and the 1967 oil titled “Good Fun.”
As part of the fundraising efforts for the Henry Street Settlement, for which the show was a benefit, there was a silent auction that featured four prints donated by artists Louise Bourgeois, Nathan Slate Joseph, Ross Bleckner and Graham Nickson. Also of note was special print created by Jim Dine for the Henry Street Settlement to commemorate the 18th annual Art Show, titled “The Henry Street Robes.” It was offered at the publication price of $2,500.
The Art Dealers of America may be reached at 212-940-8590, or www.artdealers.org.