Published: November 28, 2006
Anchoring the extremely popular New York Fine Art Print Week, a series of events, exhibitions and auctions that take place in and around Manhattan between October 30 and November 5, is the highly revered Print Fair, a show that is made up of the cream-of-the-crop dealers belonging to the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA). With its stellar selections, the IFPDA Print Fair, now in its sixteenth year, provides a welcome and satisfying platform for print enthusiasts and art collectors alike.
This show has long had a reputation as a serious venue that attracts a serious clientele, and this year was no exception to the rule. Merchandise includes everything from six-figure to moderately priced art that ranges from Sixteenth Century masters, such as Albrecht Dürer, to the revered names of the Twentieth Century including Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, and Twenty-First Century up-and-comers like Julian Opie.
The roster includes major dealers from Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Zurich and Frankfurt, as well as a virtual who’s-who list of American dealers from every major art community in the country. Ninety-one dealers participated in this year’s show, and the diversity was unprecedented.
The opening night preview was a benefit for the department of Prints and Illustrated Books at The Museum of Modern Art and a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters turned out for the lively event. Red dots began appearing right away as the show opened to the public with sales being noted by many of the dealers throughout the evening.
“I really think this fair draws the most tightly focused group of serious collectors as well as every curator in the field in America and many from Europe,” stated dealer David Tunik. Of Manhattan’s David Tunik Inc, the dealer had a stand at the entrance to the show and he offered a superior selection of Old Master and Modern prints, including a rare James Abbott McNeil Whistler. The piece, titled “Study: Maud Franklin, Seated,” was an 1878 lithotint in brown ink on a white woven paper that had been highlighted with a brush and white wash. The study was said to have been Whistler’s second experiment with lithotints, a technique that achieved variations of tones through the use of washes applied to the stone by brush.
Another of the items in the booth that was attracting quite a bit of attention was a Fifteenth Century engraving by Andrea Mantegna titled “Entombment with Four Birds,” circa 1465. Considered to be the earliest of the prints by Mantegna, who is considered to be the artist to have “invented printmaking in Italy,” it is of “particular importance in the history of graphic art,” according to the dealer.
Hirschl & Adler’s stand was filled with a quality assortment of American icons such as Jackson Pollock, Winslow Homer and Mary Cassatt. Taking center stage was Homer’s “Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake,” an 1889 etching and aquatint from an intended edition of 100. The signed and dated etching was also inscribed by the artist, $180,000. Works by Pollock included a 1951 untitled screen print, $85,000, from a set of six that were executed to compliment his landmark show of drip paintings at the Betty Parsons Gallery of that same year. Also offered was a rare double-sided copper plate, price on request, thought to be one of the first that Pollock engraved, circa 1945, for a “series of daring intaglio prints undertaken at the encouragement of Stanley Hayter of Atelier 17,” who worked across the street from Pollock’s apartment on 8th Street.
London dealer William Weston’s stand caught the eye of collectors from the start of the fair to the finish. Attracting customers with stylish and vibrantly colored art, the booth featured works such as the colorful lithograph “Acrobata” by Marino Marini, $7,500, circa 1956, and also Andy Warhol’s 1972 screen print in colors “Mao” that was stickered at $58,000. Other lithos in the booth included Pablo Picasso’s “Tete de Femme,” 1945, $50,000, and Fernand Leger’s “Marie L’Acrobate,” 1948, $32,000, the latter of which had a reserve placed on it during preview.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untitled monotype on paper that was signed, dated and inscribed “85 Dallas” was among the offering in the booth of London dealer Ian McKenzie. With a strong exhibition history and having been extensively published, the rare print was marked at $230,000. The dealer also offered several works by Henri Matisse such as the 1929 litho “La Persane” that was marked $90,000, the 1924 litho “Nu au cousin bleu,” $95,000, and a 1925 litho “Nu assis a la Chemise de tulle” that was priced at $72,000.
The show featured a somewhat more friendly floor plan with several of the booths having entrances from opposite sides of the aisles. One such walk-through booth was that of the Old Print Shop and proprietor, and IFPDA president, Robert Newman took full advantage of the extra wall space that the booth provided to offer an unparalleled selection of works by artist such as Thomas Hart Benton, John Marin, Stuart Davis, Arthur Wesley Dow and Winslow Homer. Among the offering was Homer’s “Perils of the Sea” etching from 1888 that had a hold placed on it during the opening preview, “Hermes, with Mirror,” a lithocrayon, ink and ink wash by Rockwell Kent, and an exceptional small color woodcut by Dow, “Rain in May.”
A Wassily Kandinsky color lithograph titled “Kleine Welten VII” was featured in the booth of Worthington Gallery, Chicago, and it was marked with a red tag shortly after the show opened. From the 1922 portfolio, the print was number seven from the Kleine Welten series. Max Pechstein’s “Portrait eines Mannes,” a drawing, India ink and watercolor from 1918, was also attracting attention.
Boston’s Childs Gallery was a popular stop for visitors attending the fair and claiming a prominent spot on the back wall of its booth was an Edvard Munch lithograph, 1902, “Henrik Ibsen at the Grand Café.” The rare litho, termed a “fine impression printed on Japan paper” was sporting a sold tag that appeared moments after opening. Another lot that was attracting attention was John Singer Sargent’s 1920 portrait of “Myra Hess,” charcoal on paper, that the dealers had priced at $140,000.
London dealer Simon Theobald offered a definitive selection of German Expressionist art including a popular Otto Dix image, “Kupplerin (Procuress).” The bright color litho, 1923, priced at $44,000, was but one of a couple Dix images offered. Other German Expressionists represented in the booth included Erich Heckel, Max Beckman, Otto Mueller and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Capturing interest from Theobald’s selection of late Twentieth Century art were two Jasper Johns lithos including “Ale Cans,” 1964, that was priced at $220,000, and “Coat Hanger I” at $110,000.
Also heralding the Modern side of the print market was Marlborough Gallery, New York City. Among the numerous items attracting attention from the booth was Jasper Johns’ “Flag I, 1973,” a screen print in colors on J.B. Green paper, from an edition of 65. Hanging on the wall next to the Johns was an Ellsworth Kelly colored and pressed paper pulp image titled “Dark Green Curves,” from an edition of 17, 1976. Other items of interest in the booth included a Cy Twombly mixed media “Natural History, Part I Mushrooms,” and a Richard Diebenkorn etching titled “Softground Cross” from 1982.
While Stanley Johnson, R.S. Johnson, is well known for his extensive selection of Old Masters prints, the prints occupying center stage in the stand were two highly sought-after works by Pablo Picasso. “Grand Nu Dansant,” a linocut in colors, 1962, was said by the dealer to be a “very fine impression with pristine colors” and also “one of Picasso’s most powerful and accomplished linocuts.” Also from an edition of 50, was Picasso’s “La Mere et les Enfants” from 1953, a striking image from a series of portraits of Francoise Gillot and the two children that she had borne with the artist. Gillot, according to the dealer, “appears to be the only woman in Picasso’s life known to have left the artist.”
A stellar selection of illustrated books and manuscripts were offered by New York City dealers Ursus Books and Prints Ltd, including Fernand Leger’s colorful 1950 edition of Le Cirque . The dealers described the copy, priced at $50,000, as “spectacular” and “one of the great livres des peintres [books of the painters] of the Twentieth Century.”
Also offered by the dealer was Jacques Gautier D’ Agoty’s Myologie complete en couleur et grandeur naturelle, a 1746 first edition in complete original condition by the dealer as “fine and fresh as we have ever seen.” It was offered at $100,000, while Georges Roualt’s Cirque de l’etoile filante , 1938, was marked $85,000.
Robert Indiana’s screen print on four sheets “Four Panel Love” was an early seller from the booth of Dranoff Fine Art, New York City, as was Walton Ford’s color etching titled “Dying Words” from 2005. A large Chuck Close self portrait, 1995, from an edition of 50, was marked at $95,000, Richard Diebenkorn’s color woodcut “Ochre” was $60,000, and Ellsworth Kelly’s color lithograph “Red Curve” was offered at $25,000.
For further information regarding the Print Fair or IFPDA activities and offerings, www.ifpda.org.
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