Published: December 4, 2012
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, The American Art Fair (TAAF) made a sumptuous presentation at the National Bohemian Hall November 26′9, with 17 specialists in American art filling galleries on the third and fourth floors and even the fifth floor balcony with wonderful works from the Eighteenth⁔wentieth Centuries
Kicking off American Paintings Week in the city, the show is unique in focusing on the American art subset of the art market. Works by renowned Nineteenth⁔wentieth Century American painters like Charles Burchfield, Julian Alden Weir and William James Glackens and modernists John Marin and Stuart Davis were liberally sprinkled around the fair, and there was a stunning depth and breadth of works from a variety of artistic styles and eras. The fair was co-founded by Thomas Colville of Thomas Colville Fine Art, Guilford, Conn., and Alex Acevedo of Alexander Gallery, New York City, both renowned art dealers that specialize in American art.
The opening preview was well received, Colville said, drawing around 450 people, and interest ran high throughout the fair’s run. Also popular was the fair’s lecture series that presented “A Global Perspective on the Hudson River School,” a talk given by Elizabeth Kornhauser, curator of American paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and “Myth, Controversy, and Modern Art: Reconsidering the 1913 Armory Show,” by Kimberly Orcutt, the Henry Luce Foundation curator of American art at the New-York Historical Society.
“With the two talks and the excellent attendance, both on opening night and during the run of the fair, we feel we have become a destination and the anchor event for American Paintings Week in New York,” said Colville, who had already sold two paintings by the second day of the fair.
A featured work in Colville’s booth was Frederic Arthur Bridgman’s “The Mosque Fountain, Evening in a Desert Village, Algeria,” 1882. Born in Alabama, Bridgman made his first trip to North Africa in the early 1870s, focusing on Egypt and Algeria, and made hundreds of sketches that he later used to make his vivid and naturalistic Orientalist scenes. Other highlights were Willard Leroy Metcalf’s “The Red Oak,” circa 1911, and Alexander Harrison’s “Beach Tides,” circa 1895, and Werner Drewes’ “Composition 132, in Grey with Vertical Axis,” 1936, an oil on canvas.
Amid the wonderful landscapes at Alexander Gallery, New York City , including some fine Hudson River scenes, were signed oil on canvas paintings by Alfred Copestick (1839‱859) titled “Coney Island, New York,” 1857, 14¼ by 201/8 inches, and “Fort Hamilton from the Narrows, New York,” 1857, 14 by 20 inches. Another highlight was Herman Fueschel’s (1833‱915), “Lake George Narrows,” circa 1862, oil on canvas, 30½ by 48 inches.
Fine works by several well-known artists could be found in booths around the fair, giving visitors ample opportunity to compare and make studied purchases. Among them was William Glackens, who was seen at Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York City, which offered the artist’s “Long Island Garden,” circa 1911‱6, while a later work, “Hillside near Le Ciotat,” 1930, was a standout at John H. Surovek Gallery, Palm Beach, Fla., which also offered Henry Francois Farny’s “Through the Pass, Winter,” 1897, a fantastic gouache on paper showing a Native American leading his horse through the mountains, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s delicately shaded oil on canvas, “Road Past the View.”
Hirschl & Adler also showed Regis-Francois Gignoux (1816‱882) “Along the Hudson at Peekskill, N.Y., 1846,” a large oil on canvas at 45½ by 723/8 inches; Levi Wells Prentice’s (1851‱935) oil on canvas “Baskets of Currants,” 1891, and Charles Caleb Ward (1831‱896) oil on board “His Only Pet,” 1871.
Eric W. Baumgartner, the gallery’s senior vice president and director of the American art department, had nothing but praise for the fair, saying the gallery has done the show all five years and wishes the fair had been around five years prior to that. “We love it, we think the show is something that should have been done years ago. It really is a show that brings in the absolute right kind of person for our specialty in the art market.”
Among works getting the most attention at the show in the gallery’s booth was the portrait by Boston Impressionist Samuel Burtis Baker (1882‱967), “The Black Mantilla,” as well as a large work by George Bellows, which also depicted a young woman in a black mantilla. “We have these two grand manner portraits of very beautiful women in Spanish costume in a way that they make an interesting A-B comparison,” Baumgartner said. Bellows is also red-hot these days, as he is the focus of an exhibition on view through February at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gallerist also noted dealers were pleased that the show attracts many museum curators and directors who have an interest in American art.
A TAAF veteran, Questroyal Fine Art, New York City, has been part of every year’s fair. This time around, the gallery offered Charles Burchfield’s “Maytime in the Woods,” a masterful watercolor on paper laid down on board, 3913/16 by 33 inches. Burchfield (1893‱967) grew up in Ohio but became successful after moving to Buffalo, which influenced his painting style, and saw him embracing a more realistic approach to landscapes and architecture. The adventurous and well-traveled Rockwell Kent was represented with the oil on panel “Snowy Peaks, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska,” circa 1919.
Two works getting much attention from visitors were Frank Myers Boggs’ “The Statute of Liberty,” which like many of his works, masterfully blended tonalist and impressionist elements, and Frederic Edwin Church’s “Autumn in the Catskills,” 1886. The gallery’s newest acquisition was the highlight of its booth: Martin Johnson Heade’s “Jersey Meadow (Salt Marsh Haystacks at Sunset),” circa 1866‷6.
“We are happy to report that this year’s fair has been very well attended by an enthusiastic audience, knowledgeable collectors and museum staff. This should be no surprise, however, since the show offers some of the best American art currently available on the market,” said the gallery’s research associate Nina Sangimino. “The concept is great and leads to the success of the show: to bring together top American art dealers in New York during American art week.”
Among the many fine works in its booth, Gerald Peters Gallery, New York City, showcased the artistic husband-wife team of William and Marguerite Zorach. Marguerite was represented by her 1915 oil on gesso board on panel titled “Jimtown †New England Village,” 12 by 16 inches, which was hung next to William’s bronze, “Grouper (Large Fish),” 1963, 11½ by 27 by 4 inches. Another fine vignette here was a booth corner that featured the bronze “Torso (Classic Torso)” by Gaston Lachaise, cast 1970‷4, flanked by Preston Dickinson’s “Still Life (Vase, Kettle and Fruit),” 1918, and Hugh Breckenridge’s “Window Bouquet,” circa 1925. “I’ve done the show all five years, and we love this venue †how could we not? It’s new, elegant and a block and a half from Sotheby’s. I give Tom Colville and Alex Acevedo all the credit,” said gallerist Reagan Upshaw.
Jonathan Boos, New York City, paired John Atherton’s modernist piece, “The Wharf,” circa 1932, with the abstract painting, “Trees in Autumn Foliage, Maine,” 1948, by John Marin, creating an interesting conversation between the two works hung together.
Conner-Rosenkranz, LLC, New York City, offered fine sculpture in both stone and bronze, including the dynamic “Panther and Cubs” by H.K. Brown.
Fine portraiture was sublime at Adelson Galleries, New York City, which paired William Sergeant Kendall’s “Portrait of Mildred Stokes,” a 1901 oil on canvas mounted on panel, with John Singer Sargent’s oil depiction of Thomas Jefferson, 1890. Both sitters are well dressed and gaze confidently at the viewer. A work with a more modern bent here was Stuart Davis’ gouache on photostat, a color sketch for a Drake University mural, “Allee.”
Choice works seen at Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, Penn., included John White Alexander’s charcoal on paper “Silhouette of a Young Girl;” Francis Augustus Silva’s “Lighthouse at Sunset,” 1878, and Daniel Garber’s realistic oil on canvas, “Lone Sycamore,” circa 1940.
Debra Force Fine Art, New York City, displayed Allan Clark’s bronze, “In the Path of the Sun,” circa 1925″0, and Edward Henry Potthast’s painting, “At the Seaside,” 1920. Hung together were George Copeland Ault’s “Moonlit Desert,” and Charles Ephraim Burchfield’s “Late Winter Dawn,” dated 1956‶5. Midweek buzz around the fair among many of the dealers was over Force’s major sale of a Thomas Le Clear painting early on. The circa 1862 painting was a genre scene of figures on a street corner in Brooklyn and was an important work by the artist, Force said. The upstate New York artist, a key member of Buffalo’s art community, was known for his portraits and genre scenes.
“I thought the fair was a great success regarding sales, meeting collectors and showing some of the best American works in town. I have done the fair for all five years and except for the first year, have sold every year, major works in the six- and seven-figure range,” Force said.
Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York City, was also pleased with the fair. “The response has been terrific with fairly steady traffic and some very good collectors and museum curators coming through,” said gallerist Hilary Goldsmith. “We have some very serious interest in several works in our booth, particularly in the Marins and the abstract works (Charles Biederman, Frederick Kann and Albert Swinden). We’ve had some sales at the gallery as a result of the fair and a few other things are pending at the booth,” she said while the fair was still going on.
An untitled oil on canvas by Kann (1884‱965) from 1931 on offer here embodies his Abstraction-Creation works, while a painted aluminum piece by Charles Biederman (1906′004) dated 1952 echoes a similar abstract vocabulary, shaped by Cubism and Constructivism.
Gavin Spanierman, New York City, which specializes in circa 1880‱960 American art, set up an eye-catching display covering two booth walls with framed landscapes (one side featured all gilt frames and the other side had silvery frames, mostly seascapes). On an opposite wall were several fine portraits, including Lila Cabot Perry’s “Mother and Child,” circa 1912, and J. Alden Weir’s “The Muse of Music,” 1881.
James Reinish & Associates, New York City, offered a fetching WPA-era oil on canvas from Paul Kelpe titled “Man and Machinery,” circa 1934, showing Kelpe’s vision of the “American scene” and one of several such works the artist painted featuring geometric machinery. A pair of bronze figures by William Zorach were also seen here: “Young Girl (Dahlov),” 1921, and “Young Boy (Tessim),” flanking Milton Avery’s “Robed Nude,” 1960, an oil canvas that at 58 by 68 inches towered over the roughly 22-inch-tall figures.
For more information, www.theamericanartfair.com or 212-987-5306.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm