Mary Lane previews Frieze in the Wall Street Journal drawing a line under the fair’s new PR message about cutting the number of tickets and encouraging single-artist booths and a new tone of discovery. The enemy, of course, is fair fatigue—the been-there-saw-that feeling of so many fairs on the endless art circuit. PR strategy or real strategy, the art market’s great strength is its mysterious ability to create value for certain artists where none previously existed. Many call this hype but it really is the value at the center of the distribution system we call the Art Market:
In previous years, many dealers say, visitors ended up suffering from “fair fatigue”—overwhelmed by the number of galleries and artists represented. To counter this, the New York-based Marianne Boesky gallery is focusing on just one artist: 11 works on paper and oil paintings by Russian-born artist Kon Trubkovich. His eerie, blurry images, often preoccupied with incarceration, range from $9,000 to $65,000.
Gerd Harry Lybke, whose Leipzig, Germany, gallery Eigen + Art represents Neo Rauch, says a safe bet would be bringing to Frieze the superstar painter’s works, which range from about $160,000 to $950,000 on the primary market. But many Frieze visitors already know Mr. Rauch’s work, and it is a better long-term strategy to introduce them to a less familiar figure, Mr. Lybke says. He says he hopes to raise the profile of Mr. Rauch’s contemporary Uwe Kowski, whose works, often hovering somewhere between representation and abstraction, range from $2,700 to $80,000.
It is a risky move at a fair where an average-size booth costs around $35,000—not including thousands more for art transport and lodging. “If you go to a fair like Frieze and don’t earn money, you’re screwed,” says Mr. Lybke. “I’m bringing two people whose sole jobs are to concern themselves with Uwe’s work and explain it to you in a few sentences.”
Lisson Gallery is hosting a solo booth of only one work, asking around $600,000 for an installation by Dan Graham, an American artist in his 70s.
An Art Fair Tones It Down (Wall Street Journal)