Roberta Smith shows art dealers some love in her review of The Art Show at the Park Avenue:
In boom times art dealers tend to get demonized on the way up and the way down. They deserve it, some people say. But the art world’s zealously tended hierarchy — artists on top, art dealers at the bottom — has never been right.
Art dealers put their money where their vision is; only artists take greater risks. They help artists do what we all hope to do: make a living at something they love. If the nonartists in the realm of art achieve this state — and some of us are privileged to do so — it is partly because of the strange, tenuous, sometimes infuriating world that art dealers help construct, one day, artist or artwork at a time. [. . . ]
Razzle-dazzle spectacle, stampeding collectors and buy-it-now pressure-cooking has never been the Art Show’s style; neither has aisle upon aisle of booths stretching as far as the eye can see. But the times may be catching up with it.
The Art Show was founded in 1989. This year’s version has, as usual, just 70 participants. It serves as a reminder that the boom-time art world was only a portion of a much larger, less volatile sphere. The vast majority of artists in this sphere never saw their work go to auction, much less fetch stratospheric prices there. Their boats may have floated a little higher, but they weren’t swamped in dough. Most of the dealers did not have month after month of sell-out shows, nor were their rosters teeming with freshly minted M.F.A.’s.
This fair is loaded with work that you will be grateful to see. There’s little grandstanding and few works that reach out and grab you by the neck.
Rewards and Clarity in a Show of Restraint (New York Times)