NEW YORK — When the International Fine Print Dealers Association Fair opens its VIP preview tonight at the Park Avenue Armory, it will be New York’s first major art market event since Hurricane Sandy ripped through the city, leaving much of Manhattan without electricity and most Chelsea galleries in serious disrepair. The fair’s opening night was delayed, surprisingly, by only one day; regular fair hours begin tomorrow, November 2, at noon. “Most people in England doubted that I would get here and assumed the fair would be cancelled,” said Gordon Cooke of London’s Fine Art Society.
To be fair, he almost didn’t arrive. If you ever wondered what it is like to try to fly into a city recovering from a hurricane, Cooke can tell you. (The short version goes like this: Board a flight to JFK airport from Heathrow only to have them kick you off, rebook a flight to Philadelphia the next day only to have it be cancelled, and then successfully fly to the next closest city with a functioning airport: Toronto. Try and fail to take a bus from Toronto to New York, and finally nab a flight to Philadelphia and a ride from there to the Park Avenue Armory.)
To be sure, Cooke’s journey is a minor inconvenience compared to the massive destruction of property and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy. But it does go to show that even in the midst of a natural disaster, New York remains an art destination.
“Despite the devastating effects of the storm, almost all of our dealers were able to get their inventory to the fair,” said Michele Senecal, the IFPDA’s executive director. There were some exceptions: out of 90 exhibitors, one received a partial shipment of artwork and another local gallery is unable access its storage unit because of the power outage. Nevertheless, Senecal said, “We are proud of everyone involved that the fair is opening basically on schedule.”
Some local dealers, like Chris Santa Maria of Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, prepped for the fair in the dark. Like many Chelsea gallerists, his 24th Street gallery is currently without power. “We were extremely fortunate in terms of flooding because we are on the third floor,” he told ARTINFO. “We went up and down the emergency stairwell carrying material we’re presenting at the fair.” Unable to reach its Chelsea-based art shipper, Crozier Fine Art, Santa Maria miraculously found another transport service on short notice. Gemini, which is perhaps best-known for its “Artists for Obama” fundraising print portfolio, will present “Cicada,” a print featuring a red crosshatching pattern by Jasper Johns from the 1970s ($47,000) and an untitled 1966 photogram print by Man Ray ($10,000), among other works by Ellesworth Kelly, Richard Tuttle, and John Baldessari.
Other local dealers preparing to exhibit at the fair include Galerie St. Etienne, Susan Sheehan Gallery, and Pace Prints. Among the out-of-towners that successfully made the treck are Cincinatti’s Carl Solway Gallery, Paris’s Paul Prouté S.A., and Crown Point Press of San Francisco. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the IFPDA is introducing a new museum prize: the Champion & Partners Acquisition Prize in Honor of Richard Hamilton. The executive search firm will sponsor the selection of one international museum to be awarded up to $10,000 to support the acquisition of one or more prints at the fair.
As the Armory’s doors prepare to open this evening, exhibitors will see if collectors are as committed to attending the event as they are. In addition to great art, the fair boasts power and electricity. You be able to find a spare outlet to charge your phone.
To preview images from the IFPDA Print Fair, click on the slideshow.