The Intersect Aspen art fair (a rebranding of the formerly titled Art Aspen) opened its inaugural online edition on Wednesday, hosting a total of 110 galleries hailing from 28 countries, tripling last year’s vendor participation and besting expectations amid a global economic downturn.
The fair’s representatives reported robust initial online traffic, an excess of 100,000 page views within the first three days. “The rhythms of traffic and engagement are different from in-person fairs. We are 24/7 over these days” said Tim von Gal, co-owner of Intersect Art and Design, who confirmed Intersect will extend buying channels through August 22nd via Artsy’s sale platform.
Comprising a roster of regional dealers alongside contemporary galleries based in New York and abroad, the online fair responds to the expanding demand for access to global collecting bases as the virtual marketplace broadens. “The nice thing about the market moving remote is that it intrinsically becomes a globally engaged platform. Collectors from all over the world are exploring Intersect Aspen’s site,” said Rebecca Hoffman, Intersect’s Managing Director.
Local Aspen gallery Casterline|Goodman Gallery, as well as New York-based dealers Marianne Boesky Gallery (who also runs a space in Aspen), and Paula Cooper brought blue-chip artists to the online initiative. “The high level and number of leading galleries from around the world has exceeded our expectations” said von Gal. “We and the broader community of fairs have moved quickly to reimagine our three-dimensional, in person presentations as digital platforms.” In addition to the fair’s virtual programming, Intersect tapped a group of experts, both curators and art advisors—Karen Boyer, Victoria Burns, Elizabeth Fiore, Tyler Blackwell, Laurie Ann Farrell, Scott Indrisek, Alan Klein—to tag notable works from the fair’s showcase. “The greatest challenge, I believe, is to be as compelling as possible while offering ease of navigation and alluring elements,” said von Gal.
“While all of the new connections we’ve made thus far have been US–based, we’ve publicized the fair to our entire list and know that collectors from abroad have visited the virtual presentation.” said representatives at Paula Cooper Gallery in a statement to ARTnews.
“Perhaps one of the most exciting consequences of the new online platform and the broader shift to virtual collecting has been greater flexibility in programming our viewing room.” The gallery also noted the online format has allowed the showcase of large-scale which are typically excluded from booth shows at fair. “Without the limitations of being indoors, or having a fixed booth size, we have been able to present a range of works of varying scale and material that otherwise might not be possible.” Paula Cooper gallery placed works by American artists, Tauba Auerbach and Jennifer Bartlett with buyers at undisclosed sale prices, but the group offering was priced at a range between $3,600 to $60,000.
Smaller contemporary galleries looking to promote cutting-edge talent note the fair’s online expansion as an invaluable resource. “We especially appreciate the enabling of video content on our page and dynamic ability to prove our artist’s multi-dimensional practice” said Carolina Wheat, Director of Elijah Wheat Showroom in New York. “No other online fair we’ve been part of had that functionality.”
Wheat confirmed the sale of New York-based emerging artists, Azikiwe Mohammed’s showcase A Place to Sit with Magnolias, yielded the sale of Watermelon, Armstrong Farms, Bastrop, LA (2020) to a private New York dealer/collector for $1,200. The gallery also fielded additional inquiries from potential buyers for two works by Mohammed priced at $2,100 and $6,400. Along with a listing of solo shows in New York, Mohammed has been featured in notable group exhibitions at MoMa PS1 and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, among others.
Wheat noted that fair participation has still be a positive despite recent challenges to the marketplace. “We’ve gained blue-chip collectors, inquiries and we are thrilled to have been introduced to a larger pool of art lovers,” said Wheat. “Does the work sell as easily as in real life fairs? NO! The fairs have been refreshing solutions to the Pandemic and each have been unique in their missions, innovative yet so varied in their functionality, programming and lengths. I suppose it’ll be a while before the online experience is just-right, if it ever is,” added Wheat, candidly. “The playing field has been leveled somewhat as galleries enter the online market.”
For other galleries, despite strong showing of high value works, sales have leveled. Casterline Goodman Gallery was among the few dealers bringing bluechip names to the fair’s audience. Among its offerings, the gallery touted editions by contemporary staples like Ed Ruscha, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockney and David Yarrow at prices between $28,500 to $525,000, but did not confirm any sales made at press time.
While big sales at regional fairs are less commonplace with summer months historically slow across the market, for mid-sized dealers pushing emerging talent, the exposure to a global client base is crucial. Rebecca Beers of BEERS London confirmed interest among collectors for works by Milo Matthieu and Andrew Salgado. “We’ve found that during this uncertain period, collectors seem to be taking more time to consider their options before committing” said Beers. Works by the gallery’s stable of newcomers, Mathieu, Martin Daiber Adebayo Bolaji, Adam Lee and Jonni Cheatwood, among others were available at prices between $4,800 to $14,000.
Intersect representatives confirmed additional sales made at Fredericks & Freiser, Marianne Boesky, and Albertz Benda.