Surprisingly positive reports have been coming out of Frieze all morning as the press drills down into the galleries to get their reported sales. Could this all be spin? Probably not, and there are intimations of a whole new class of art buyers emerging who are contributing to the rotation into new artists and their lower-priced works. Here’s an example from Scott Reyburn of Bloomberg: “I must have seen a million pounds of handbags,” said London-based modern design dealer Gordon Watson, who said he made many sales of pieces priced at less than 50,000 pounds. “There’s a whole new spectrum of buyers here.”
Reyburn provides an exhaustive take on the fair (all bullet points are direct quotes from Reyburn’s story):
- “The winds are changing,” said David Fierman, director of the New York-based Salon 94, which sold an installation priced at $1.5 million at the Frieze Art Fair to the Greek food magnate Dimitris Daskalopoulos. “This year’s Frieze demonstrated that people still want to buy art. They seem to be after unique works, and things have to be priced right,” said Fierman.
- “The timing couldn’t have been worse last year,” said Jeffrey Peabody, director of the New York-based Matthew Marks Gallery. “There’s been a distinct difference. Things have turned around. People are much more confident.” All five of an editioned 3-foot-high bronze female figure, “Fascia II,” by the U.K. sculptor Rebecca Warren sold for prices between $100,000 and $150,000, he said.
- Ruscha’s 2009 “mountain” painting “A Riot of Atoms” was an early sale at Gagosian Gallery, director Pilar Ordovas said. The painting, measuring 6-feet-wide, was priced at $1.5 million, she said. “There was a lot of interest,” said Ordovas. “We sold five or six works in the first few hours.”
- “Harmlos,” an 8-foot-high canvas from 2002 by the Leipzig School painter Neo Rauch, sold on the stand of New York-based dealer David Zwirner. The asking price was $1 million. “We did well the first day, then it tapered off, though we sold each day,” said Julia Joern, director at David Zwirner, in an e-mail. “The overall impression was that people were taking their time.”
- East London gallery Seventeen exhibited the U.K. artist Susan Collis’s “trompe-l’oeil” urban debris sculptures made out of precious materials. All nine pieces on the booth sold, ranging in price from 6,000 pounds to 35,000 pounds. Five sold to New York-based collectors, said gallery associate director Paul Pieroni. “People are committing again,” said Pieroni. “It seems the awareness is higher. Collectors do their research before coming on the booth now.”
- Seoul-based dealers Kukje Gallery also had success with younger artists at this year’s Frieze, selling 20 works by Korean artists under 50. All three of Gimhongsok’s Jeff Koons- inspired, large editioned sculpture of a puppy made out of trash bags cast in resin sold for $50,000 each, said gallery director Randy Moore. “Collectors were holding back before,” said Moore. “People are now more positive, more relaxed.”