First-day transactions are not quite reminiscent of the boom times, when booths would be sold out within an hour of the VIP preview opening, but nearly every dealer at the ADAA Art Show reported sales or works on reserve by Wednesday, with a handful close to selling out.
Tuesday evening’s preview gala at the Park Avenue Armory to benefit the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was crowded as always, with dealers making sales between bites of foie gras macarons and gravlax tartines. Wednesday afternoon — the fair’s official opening to the public — was more demure, with a few handfuls of contemplative collectors, art advisors, and curators wandering around looking for more in-depth conversations with dealers.
The single-artist booths, which account for about half of the shows at this year’s fair, seemed to be selling particularly well. “Given the size of the booth, it’s an opportunity to create a compelling story about a particular body of work by an artist,” said James Cohan, who devoted his space at the fair to the work of artist Fred Tomaselli. By the end of the day Wednesday, more than half of the two dozen Tomaselli works had been sold, for $20,000 each.
Angela Westwater at Sperone Westwater had a very similar take. “I think the fair has gotten better and better over the years. Those booths that are the most successful are one-person shows — it gives the audience a chance to see one person in depth.” Westwater’s booth focuses on the work of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. On Wednesday, the gallery reported sales that reached the low-$100,000 range.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mega-galleries were the ones that had done the most business. Lehmann Maupin came close to selling out of Mary Corse’s monochromatic soft white paintings, which went for $100,000-135,000. Pace almost sold out, as well: Kiki Smith’s funky cast-bronze birds, wolves, stars, and moons sold for $35,000-150,000. David Zwirner reported that just over half of the seven Milton Avery works were spoken for, with two sold and two put on reserve. The gallery would not give exact prices, but said that these ranged from $310,000-380,000.
Gallery 303, which is new to the fair, had one of the more creative booth setups — dark blue walls and wooden furniture matching the antique feeling of contemporary artist Karen Kilimnik’s work. They reported having a great opening day, and weren’t afraid to share details. “We were voted the best booth by many people,” said director Christian Alexa. The gallery sold one painting for around $180,000, another in the range of $80,000, and a drawing for about $45,000.
Lower East Side gallery Eleven Rivington is one of the few to be participating in both ADAA and Armory Show fairs, and has done well for itself at both. At the ADAA fair, eight works by geometric abstractionist Caetano de Almeida sold for $15,000-30,000 each. Gallery director Augusto Arbizo also noted the Armory booth had sold out ahead of Wednesday evening’s vernissage.
Over at Paul Kasmin’s booth, the gallery’s new director Bethanie Brady reported that “Zephyr,” a nickel-plated bronze edition by Brazilian-born sculptor Saint Clair Cemin, sold to a New York collector at the preview. Works by Cemin in the booth ranged from $30,000-250,000, with the editions starting at $40,000. Mary Ryan Gallery had yet to see a sale of works by feminist pop artist May Stevens, but had two drawings on reserve, both in the $20,000-range, and, optimistically, the dealer said she expects to see more interest from museums later in the week.
ADAA President Dorsey Waxter took ARTINFO on a tour of the show packed with solo exhibitions. Watch: