Gallerist Column

Fair Game: London’s Frieze Fair Arrives in May, Challenging Armory Show’s Supremacy

So many New York art fairs, so little time: what is an art dealer to do?

March, on the other hand, is jam-packed with fairs. Along with the Armory, there will be the ADAA Art Show and the Independent, which has taken place in the old Dia:Chelsea building since 2010, when it was initiated by New York’s Elizabeth Dee and London’s Hotel gallery. Mark your calendars for March 8-11.

A list of exhibitors for Independent is expected this month. Both Dee and Hotel are participating in the inaugural edition of Frieze New York, and a representative at Dee told us that they expect some of Independent’s exhibitors will sign on for more than one New York fair in 2012.

The Future

While this two-part fair season is certainly exciting for all involved, Gallerist is left wondering what is next. Will fairs continue to expand beyond New York? Can we do a Basel Mexico City, during the winter, a few months before April’s Zona Maco? How about an Armory Madrid, a few months after February’s Arco? A suggestion: there is some dead time in July and August that could be filled with new fairs. Let’s make sure art dealers are never at their galleries, actually organizing exhibitions.

A few months back, off the record, a downtown dealer quipped to us that, with the recent proliferation of art fairs, it felt as though fairs were the new galleries, and that “galleries are the new artists.” With whom, everyone is asking, will these galleries sign?

Can New York actually support this many fairs, and will galleries continue to play ball? Art Basel Miami Beach has long been effective at luring collectors from both winter-ravaged Europe and increasingly cash-rich South America. New York in May, much less March, is not quite the same as Miami in December.

When we spoke with Mr. Winkleman, he was putting the finishing touches on SEVEN in Miami, an alternative fair of seven galleries—including Pierogi, Ronald Feldman, Postmasters and PPOW—that started last year. Housed in a large warehouse, SEVEN features no booths, and works from different galleries are hung side by side.

“Miami is so much the Oscars of the art world that you can do something experimental here, and it can still sell well,” Mr. Winkleman told us. “The space is the real trick: there is an abundance in Miami.” As some galleries and fairgoers admit to fair fatigue (see Observer columnist Adam Lindemann’s article in this week’s paper), one wonders if similar experiments will take hold in New York. Space is a tricker issue here, but the desire for an alternative is growing. Let’s hope someone steps up.

–Andrew Russeth

This article was published in Gallerist’s new weekly column in The New York Observer.

Follow GalleristNY via RSS.