Carol Vogel looks at the pressures facing art fair organizers and discovers that galleries might not have recovered as quickly as many claim. Credit is exceptionally tight in all industries. Art dealers need it as much or more than most businesses. Then there is the problems with venues trying to solve their own financial problems by raising prices as the Park Ave. Armory seems to have done. Put it all together and you’re losing a few art fairs in New York in 2o1o:
Many dealers who took part in Art Basel Miami Beach this month said they noticed that the market had picked up, at least for contemporary art. But fair organizers, along with dealers specializing in everything from old masters to Impressionist and Modern art, have a more sober story to tell.
For instance, [ . . . ] dealers are short of cash these days and unable to replenish their inventories. Another issue at the armory is the cost of space. The Park Avenue Conservancy formally took over management of the building, a crenelated red brick landmark between 66th and 67th Streets, from New York State in December 2007, and it has increased the rent. The cost is now $30,000 a day, three times what it once was.
Another armory show, the high-end International Fine Art Fair, which is timed to coincide with the May Impressionist and Modern art auctions in New York, may also be canceled. “We are currently in consultation with the exhibitors,” said Magda Grigorian, a spokeswoman for that event’s organizer, Haughton International Art and Antique Fairs, “and no final decision has yet been made.”
Still on the schedule, however, is the Art Dealers Association of America’s annual Art Show of postwar and contemporary art. But rather than taking place in February, the show will be held March 3 through 7, timed to the Armory Show (March 4-7), which despite its name is held at Piers 92 and 94, at 12th Avenue and 55th Street, in Clinton.
“I’m a big believer that more is more,” said Lucy Mitchell Inness, president of the Art Dealers Association of America. “Having critical mass creates a buzz, and that’s a good thing.”
The Art Show will feature 70 dealers, the same as last year. The Armory Show, however, will expand, with 267 galleries, 41 more than last year. But some dealers have been asking for smaller booths, Katelijne De Backer, director of that event, said.