Elena Soboleva (@elenasoboleva) is a New York gallerist and an art-world observer. Here’s her take on the busy Hamptons art fair season.
Though it may be summer, the art fair circuit does not quit. The growing trend seems to have spread to Long Island with no saturation point in sight as three consecutive weekends this July, the Hamptons are home to art fairs, opening night benefits and collector previews.
Two weekends ago the season kicked off with the largest and most established of the lot, ArtHamptons. In its fifth year and located in Bridgehampton, the fair brought together a collection of very sellable art and patrons for whom the casual afternoon entertainment was welcome. Featuring 77 exhibitors, the booths were largely hung with colorful, face-mounted photographs, wall sculptures and celebrity portraits at every turn. There were established names, like Babcock and Danziger Gallery as well as a trove of galleries one sees at the peripheral fairs during Armory week. Amongst my favorite was Aicon Gallery, which specializes in contemporary East-Asian art. They showed the Calcutta-based Debanjan Roy, whose India Shining II, a sculpture of Gandhi on a cell phone, was on reserve for $40k. It was the gallery’s first time at ArtHamptons though they have participated in Art Dubai and India Art Summit in New Delhi. The director commented that they “loved it so far and have had a lot of great conversations.” Let’s hope great sales as well.
Spreading the fairs over multiple weekends allowed some galleries to participate in several. Woolff Gallery from the London, UK was showing at both ArtHamptons and Art Southampton fair this year since as Nick Woolff explained, “once the staff and inventory are here, it made sense to stay.” He added that “we see a certain type of client here, but fortunately people seem to like what we’re doing and we keep coming back.” Other European galleries including Villa del Arte Gallery from Barcelona and Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London were also taking advantage of the opportunity and were partaking in both ArtHamptons and Art Southampton fairs.
Eli Klein, whose booth was largely hung with the chameleon artist Liu Bolin’s work (ranging from $9,000-$40,000) has been exhibiting at ArtHamptons since the start and commented that at the fair, “we have terrific clients and make terrific clients, so it’s a no-brainer.” The gallery sold $117,000 on the first day and were back this past weekend for artMRKT.
The boutique fair artMRKT Hamptons, running July 20th through to the 22nd, took place on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historic Society. Despite its commercial name, it has attracted some of the trendier Lower East Side galleries including Allegra LaViola, Envoy Enterprises and MULHERIN along with other New York names such as DC Moore and P.P.O.W.
The newcomer on the scene is Art Southampton, produced by the Art Miami family, taking place the last weekend of the month from July 26th to the 30th. It promises to bring together a diverse selection of 48 galleries from across US and abroad and will likely benefit of the Watermill Center Annual Gala, which draws the city’s art crowd east that weekend.
The model of multiple fairs spread over one season being sustainable may be a good sign for next spring, when Armory and Frieze face off once again. What remains to be seen is whether the market is willing to support the volume of art and entertainment around it, and the dealers willing to participate without succumbing to ‘fair fatigue.’