Jerry Saltz is answering questions from his readers on New York’s Vulture site with his Ask an Art Critic feature. One question was about the importance of the Frieze fair to which Saltz sees a sea change:
The five-figure sums spent on booths, the one-person shows of lesser-known artists, the backroom after-hours deals that paid for it all — they were gone. Apart from Frame, an excellent section of the fair with smaller booths for newer galleries, about 85 percent of the booths were hung with group shows. A sameness set in, and inspiration ran low.
Why? I think it’s because prices have gotten too high. It’s more difficult than ever for newer galleries to open, get traction, and survive their first five lean years, with prices of emerging artists’ work being as high as $30,000. Mid-career artists sell for well over $100,000. I want artists and dealers to make money, but the experimentation necessary for fairs like Frieze to remain vital disappears when so much is at stake. At the fair, I found myself fantasizing about the idea that everyone from top to bottom, across the board — even Damien, Takashi, Jeff, Maurizio, and Richard — should drop prices by 20 percent or more. It’d be good for everyone, even them.
Ask an Art Critic (Vulture.com/New York Magazine)