The Master, Judd Tully, has the first report from the fair’s opening day for VIP collectors. It’s available at ArtInfo. Read the whole story, Tully has valuable and interesting details throughout the whole piece but here’s the overall accounting of the mood:
“It’s not a gun-to-your-head art fair,” mused one New York art adviser, who appeared pleased with the calmer tenor. “Outside (the exhibition tent) it feels somber, but inside it feels good.”
This seemed to be the general sentiment at the fair. If before the fair people were fearing a near-apocalyptic situation for the market, inside, elite fairgoers seemed almost relieved that the jostling and commodity-pit atmosphere of previous Friezes had disappeared in a cloud of recessionary fears.
Make no mistake: Commerce is taking place here — the art market isn’t in cardiac arrest — but not many things are flying off the wall.
Bloomberg‘s Scott Reyburn chimes in with these sales:
Among the few works to sell for more than $1 million was Robert Gober’s 2007 mixed-media sculpture “Leg with Anchor.” The piece sold to a private U.S. collector at the booth of Matthew Marks Gallery for $1.2 million. An untitled Gober sculpture, featuring a pair of breasts protruding from a wooden chair seat, also went to an American collector for $650,000. Despite these sales, gallery founder Matthew Marks described collectors at the fair as “cautious.”
Collectors tended to congregate at the booths of the more- established dealers. Hauser & Wirth sold 10 works on the opening morning. Indian artists were in demand with Subodh Gupta’s 12- foot-wide painting, “Still Steal Steel #9,” selling for 450,000 euros ($607,590). Bharti Kher’s 18-foot-wide triptych, “I’m going that way,” made of thousands of arrow-shaped Indian bindi-beads, went for 300,000 euros.
“The numbers feel better than we feared,” said London and Zurich gallery owner Iwan Wirth. “We’ve seen plenty of Americans. The crisis didn’t make them stay away.”
ArtInfo’s Sarah Douglas has her own report from the fair where art is moving cautiously but steadily:
“Dealers were nervous yesterday, talking about what would happen,” said the laid-back San Francisco and New York dealer Jack Hanley, sitting in an enclosed room in his booth filled with works by young artists. “I got here late today, and by that time collectors were fighting over stuff.” Behind him were 18 drawings by American artist Ajit Chauhan, some priced for as little as $600. They had all sold to the same London collector.
New Sobriety at a Slowed Down Frieze (ArtInfo)
A Soft Landing at Frieze? (ArtInfo)