Published: March 2, 2004
ADAA’s The Art Show
Sweet sixteen: The Art Show has come of age. Not that it has not been an impressive and important event in the past, but this year’s effort seemingly solidified its standing as the leading art show in the country.
A spectacular and stunning event, the show was well received by the art collecting community between February 19 and 23. The fair, presented by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), took place at the lavishly appointed 67th Regiment Armory. According to manager Sanford Smith, The Art Show hosts the “best American art dealers… presenting the best American and European art available today.” Smith, who has built the show over the past 16 years into one of international importance, has continually groomed and manicured this event, nurturing it all along the way to achieve its current robust stature.
The event got off to a grand start on Wednesday evening, February 18, with a gala preview party, a benefit event for the Henry Street Settlement. Tickets for patrons ranged from $2,000 to $500 per person to gain entry at 5:30 pm, $275 at 6:30, and $150 for entry at 7:30. The show was unexpectedly crowded as the doors opened at 5:30 to a long line of art aficionados and socialites alike who seized the opportunity for both some elbow rubbing at a societal event of enormous magnitude and, more importantly, the Big Apple’s most serious art buying opportunity. The show witnessed the largest crowd for a preview since its inception, with more than 2,500 reportedly in attendance and an initial $900,000 raised for Henry House on preview night alone. That number is expected to climb with the sale of numerous works of art that remained on view in a silent auction throughout the show.
Management reported more than 11,000 paid patrons, not including preview attendance, at the show during the four-day run. Thursday’s opening to the public was well attended, according to Smith, Friday’s crowd was moderate and Saturday and Sunday were “body to body- just like the old days. It was the best show we have had in three to four years,” he said, “and pretty much all the dealers did well.”
Seventy dealers participated in the event with merchandise ranging from cutting-edge contemporary to Old Masters. The cavernous hall is transformed into a series of copious museumlike cubicles adorned with spectacular works of art, but unlike the formal institutions, these masterpieces sport price tags (sometimes spectacular in themselves).
Seven-figure prices for American and European masterpieces are commonplace at The Art Show. Whether your wall is in need of a Picasso, a classic Luminist painting by the likes of Martin Johnson Heade, Modernist works by Jackson Pollock or Wilhelm de Kooning, an Impressionistic piece by Hassam, svelte sculpture by Bugatti or stumpy sculpture by Botero, Pop by Andy, or just sweet whispering watercolors by Andrew Wyeth, your wall needed to look no further than this fair.
Martha Parrish and James Reinish offered an exemplarily selection of American art including a watercolor by Edward Hopper, circa 1931, “Roofs of the Cobb Barn,” that hung in the forefront of their booth, price on request only. A blaze of color emanated from the rear wall of the booth where a Marsden Hartley landscape, circa 1922, hung. “New Mexico Recollection, #13” featured a rolling red landscape with plays on light and spots of green vegetation against a clouded blue sky. The stunning piece was priced at $1.5 million. Another eye grabbing highlight of the dealers’ booth was a Charles Scheeler oil on canvas, circa 1952 entitled “Convergance.” The picture, priced at $900,000, is almost an exact duplicate of a Scheeler double exposure photographic print with Rockefeller Center skyscrapers layered on top of Park Row townhouses.
“I have never seen anything this major on the market,” stated Berry Hill Galleries director James Berry Hill in regard to what many considered the star of the show, a monumental Martin Johnson Heade oil on canvas. The painting, entitled “Coast of Newport, 1874,” dominated the entire rear wall of the stand. The Luminist sunset scene measured 51 by 72 inches with a brilliant red cloud filled sky rising from the horizon with sailing vessels silhouetted in the foreground and waves rolling into shore. “Heade only painted a few paintings this size,” commented Hill, “but they were mainly Florida subjects done in St Augustine.” The dealer further stated that few examples of New England scenes of this magnitude and size are known.
Pace Wildenstein served up a single-artist extravaganza at their stand located prominently in the front of the show. Moderate sized sculptures of twisted metal shards salvaged from crushed automobiles that seemed to be enameled in everything from brilliant bursts of color to plain old black and white were presented, but not for long. The dealers sold out of their John Chamberlain works on opening night.
Kennedy Galleries, New York City, offered up a diversified selection of art with a wonderful Charles Burchfield watercolor as the frontispiece of its booth. Entitled “Backyards in Golden Sunlight,” the stunning monumental piece depicted a colorful floral foreground filled with brilliant flowers, barns and trees and a large radiating sun dominating the sky. More traditional pieces displayed in the booth included a magnificent C.M. Russell oil on canvas, “Buffalo Hunt #7,” that measured 221/2 by 35 inches, which was flanked on the opposing corner with a James Clooney oil entitled “Which Way Shall We Go” and a small Thomas Eakins oil entitled “Columbus in Prison.”
“We have a little bit of everything here tonight,” commented Louis Newman of David Findlay Jr as he glanced around the display. One wall featured Indian Space artists such as Steve Wheeler’s “Woman Eating a Hot Dog,” circa 1975, the back wall offered up Modernist pieces such as a Robert Richenberg oil on canvas, circa 1958 entitled “Fidelity,” and the other wall featured the masters such as the William Glackens.
The Glackens, “Cafe de la Source,” circa 1900, was a tempera, ink wash, chalk and Chinese white on board that had been exhibited at the City Art Museum in St Louis, the Smithsonian and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The piece was one of the earliest known Glackens illustrations executed for a mid-1880s magazine article relating the story of the hermit of Rue Madame. Gallery owner David Findlay, Jr, reported serious interest in the piece as the show closed and said he had done well. “We sold well,” stated the dealer, “and we also have 50 to 100 follow-ups to do.”
Findlay also commented that two abstract impressionistic portraits by Nicholas Corone were thought to be sold. Corone, one of the founding members shown in the Stable Gallery exhibitions from 1953 to 1957, created “haunting and beautifully done portraits,” according to the dealer.
A large selection of paintings and drawings by Pierre Bonnard was offered by Manhattan dealer Jill Newhouse from several different periods in the artist’s career. Featured in the offering was a 201/4- by 135/8 -inch Impressionistic oil in muted earthy colors entitled “The Artist and Marthe in The Bedroom,” circa 1898, while a few feet across the booth, in stark contrast, hung a 1921 colorful Impressionistic oil entitled “Le Port de Saint Tropez.”
Zabriskie Gallery offered numerous prime examples of both three dimensional and flat art with a Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray collaboration moving from the booth early on in the fair. The mixed media framed chessboard with artists’ model, circa 1946, was titled “64 en 146 Vieux Jeu.” A painted papier mache figure of two women by Elie Nadelman was also a highlight, as was the large William Zorach oil, circa 1920, “The Prize Fighters, Johnny Dundee and Frankie Callahan.”
James Goodman offered a good selection with a Marc Chagall oil, circa 1980, catching eyes with its brilliant blue landscape and sky. Entitled, “Couple at Bouquet dans le Ciel,” the piece had a large floral in the center with a man in a blue suit presenting flowers to a naked woman while floating in the sky. The art of Fernand Leger and Joan Miro was also offered along with a Pablo Picasso oil on canvas, circa 1943, “Buste de Feme.”
Hirschl & Adler Modern offered a grand selection of works highlighted by an Andrew Wyeth watercolor on paper, circa 1978, entitled “The Belfry” and priced at $285,000 Hanging just below that was another classic American watercolor, an Edward Hopper titled “Freight Car at Truro,” circa 1934, price on request.
Sculpture of extraordinary quality was seen the booth of James Graham & Sons with highlights including an Antoine-Louis Barye bronze, “Turkish Horse #2,” and an extremely rare casting of Rembrandt Bugatti’s “Walking Panther,” circa 1904. The stand also featured a fine selection of flat art including two Walter Gay oils. “Interior of a Salon with Le Benedicte by Cardin” was offered along with “The Council Chamber Fountainbleau.”
Lillian Heidenberg reported a very good show. A large portrait by Fernando Botero graced the front wall of the booth depicting a lady in a see-through green polka-dotted dress who was wearing a cameo decorated with Botero’s self portrait.
A Jackson Pollock Christmas card was attracting attention in the stand of Forum Gallery. The piece, a tempera on irregular shaped board hung along side a Max Weber oil on panel, “Music Abstraction,” circa 1914. Also displayed was a stately Reginald Marsh oil on Masonite, entitled “Burlesque, 1945.” Contemporary art from Forum featured Robert Cottingham with a 183/8- by 12-inch gouache on paper from his typewriter series “Red Corona.”
Contemporary American Realism was the theme of Fischbach Gallery’s display with a wonderful selection of miniature portraits by Victoria Getman attracting a great deal of attention. The pieces were reasonably priced ranging from $4,000 to $17,500. Also catching (fooling) the eye of patrons was a selection of contemporary trompe l’oeil paintings by Denise Michilowski. In vibrant colors, the works exquisitely depicted fruit in baskets, carriers and boxes and were also reasonably priced from $3,500 to $7,500.
For more information regarding ADAA, 212-940-8590, or www.artdealers.org.
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