San Francisco’s FOG Design+Art Fair opened its fifth edition this past Wednesday in an atmospheric, waterside building at Fort Mason, formerly occupied by the US army. With 45 galleries in attendance, what material did local and visiting dealers bring along in hopes of attracting armies of potential buyers?
San Francisco has a fair share of long-time art patrons of a traditional kind. Yet, art and design purveyors are certainly taking note of the major demographic shift in the foggy Albion of the West Coast, home to an increasingly growing number of potential new entrants to the collecting field, who are amassing quick fortunes by harnessing the power of technology.
Some dealers took a fairly straightforward path and displayed work by artists that they know locals already collect, perhaps hoping that they will do so in depth or inspire their social circle to follow suit. Take, for instance, Lévy Gorvy Gallery’s display of photographs by Diane Arbus. The artist is favored by serial start-up founder and member of a deep-rooted San Francisco family, Trevor Traina. Traina once paid a then-record price of $600,000 for Arbus’ iconic “Identical Twins” photo, a well-publicized fact that did not escape the attention of the dealers.
In a similar fashion, David Zwirner Gallery thoughtfully displayed two monumental interior shots by photographer Stan Douglas at the opening section of the fair, which was certainly meant to grasp the attention of Pamela and Richard Kramlich. Work by Douglas graces the home of the local power duo, who are also major collectors of video art.
Yet, numerous dealers cast a wider net and attempted to cater to new prospective buyers from the tech industry. One way to do it was by showing work overtly referring to the field or containing objects associated with it. A notable example was a large-scale horizontal panel by Ethiopian artist Elias Sime offered by James Cohan Gallery. The geometric abstract composition is a collage of reclaimed electronic components, such as circuit boards and wire, which the artist often purchases at a huge open-air market in Addis Ababa. The work exposes the physicality of what makes the virtual possible, as well as a terrifying amount of industrial detritus produced in the West and settling in Africa.Continue Reading