Monday, February 12, 2007

The Nomadic Second Gallery

There's perhaps no clearer indication of how strong the primary art market is at the moment than the number of galleries that are opening satellite or second spaces in other cities (or other countries). The list is long and (because not all continue to operate two shops for long) constantly changing, but when I talk to the gallerists branching out almost all explain they simply don't have enough months in the year to do all the solo exhibitions they want to do in their one space.

With a few exceptions, though, what I find really intriguing about this growth is how many of such galleries are about 10 years old or younger. In fact, most of the ones I can think of opening second spaces are about 5 years or so old. More established galleries (perhaps because they're too busy to handle the logistics of opening another space or perhaps because they're settled into a comfort zone they see no point of breaking out of) are tending not to add a second city to their letterhead as frequently as younger ones. Still, there is evidence (in addition to how many galleries now operate virtually year round) that many of them too are feeling there are just not enough months in the year to squeeze in all the solo exhibitions they want to host and hence are using the art fairs as a sort of nomadic second gallery. At least that's one possible explanation for the increase in the number of established galleries choosing solo installations for the major fairs. From
Artnet.com:

This year’s Art Dealers Association of America Art Show, which opens Feb. 22-26, 2007, at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue, features an unprecedented 15 solo shows from the 70 participating dealers. Three of the shows feature works by Asian artists: Yayoi Kusama at D’Amelio Terras, Ai Weiwei at Robert Miller Gallery and Suling Wang at Lehmann Maupin.

Other solo shows feature works by Janine Antoni -- including Lick and Lather -- at Luhring Augustine, Jennifer Bartlett’s signature paintings on steel plates at Locks Gallery, recent small bronzes by Louise Bourgeois at Cheim & Read, Anish Kapoor sculptures at Gladstone Gallery, new paintings by Malcolm Morley at Sperone Westwater, and a suite of black-and-white works on paper by Sigmar Polke at Michael Werner Gallery that have never been exhibited before.

Still more attractions include a survey of works by Lesley Dill at George Adams Gallery, work from 1991-92 by Jim Hodges at CRG, landscape paintings by David Klamen at Richard Gray Gallery, works by Giacomo Manzù at Tasende Gallery, "Ad Reinhardt: 1945 Works on Paper" at PaceWildenstein, and Pop paintings from the 1960s by Richard Smith at Richard L. Feigen & Co.
As I noted a while back, fairs are increasingly encouraging solo installations or curated booths, but they don't usually insist outside of project-oriented contexts. I also noted that I resented this encouragement, because I was tutored in a gallery that saw fairs as an opportunity to sell off inventory and their gallery as the place they curated exhibitions. Now, however, I'm beginning to see the wisdom of the nomadic second space. Full disclosure: for the second year in a row, we'll be featuring only one artist at the phenomenal Pulse New York art fair (last year it was Jennifer Dalton, this year will be Ivin Ballen [image above: Ivin Ballen, Fake Box with Pink Tape, 2005, Fiberglass, FGR95, and acrylic paint, 29" x 19" x 6"]...more on that soon).

Fairs are much shorter than normal exhibitions of course, but the traffic is generally much better. More than that though, solo installations do provide for the one thing I consistently criticize fairs for not providing for artwork: more controlled context. Granted the viewers are still under great pressure to keep moving and being bombarded from all sides with loads of distractions, but since the fairs are supposedly the new biennials and apparently here to stay (and because galleries are doing more fairs every year it seems), I'm encouraged by the increase in solo installations. It's one small step toward helping everyone slow down a bit, perhaps.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Solos in art fairs is what would make me attend them.


I congratulate the galleries who dare venture in this avenue, transforming art fairs into biennials.

Cheers,

Cedric Caspesyan

2/12/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous pp said...

bla bla bla - man, you write A LOT. Nice picture...

2/12/2007 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

ahh gee, PP...I'm sorry to tax your attention span. All that nasty reading. When will they invent the comic book blog anyway, eh? ;-)

2/12/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Hi Ed
We did the Affair at the Jupiter in Portland last year with one artist and the response was great. People really felt that they had an better understanding of the artist's work and that it gave them something to focus on rather than yet another room full of lots 'o work. Good luck with Ivin at Pulse.

Cheers
Stephen
Platform Gallery

2/12/2007 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ballen's fake boxes are great. The most recent pieces are getting a little too literal in that the gap is beginning to close if there were such a way.

2/12/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

I'm getting a real kick out of the work of Ivin Ballin on his website and as seen above. The fake boxes and the fiberglass pieces in general appear to have a very sharp, witty presence, at least as seen in the .jpg images. There's a lot to chew on -- intelligent, while also very liberating and playful. Best of luck at Pulse, Edward!

2/12/2007 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous markcreegan said...

I agree with Bil about Ivin's work! And i appreciate the studio and process shots on the site as well.

On the topic of the solo in fairs, it does seem to be a refinement of the whole fair presentation. And perhaps because there are so many of them offers many opportunities for galleries to do many different things.

2/12/2007 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't do it Ed.

No solos at fairs unless it is at Basel Miami in the convention center in one of the sections( booths) for that and still keep different work in your hotel room. (Have a party there one night.) Solo's at fairs are for alternative spaces. What is the motivation behind the fair's selection group? Think about it. Are you becoming the laboratory for bigger galleries?

Bring less artists, change your booth everyday and have all price ranges.

IAC: You need a very "hot" artist to get away with it and you use the opportunity only to raise the profile and prices of that individual.

Failure to sell enough or lack of reaction could kill any gallery. The investment is very high. Fairs are meant for selling as much as you can and be exposed even more.

mls

2/12/2007 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does "mls" stand for something or is that your initials?

2/12/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Do I remember wrong, or did you do a solo at Pulse last year with Jennifer Dalton, Ed?

2/13/2007 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Sorry, I just re-read your post and answered my own question...

...did a solo with JD 'kill' you last year? I mean, I thought it looked more memorable, but did you sell?

2/13/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

We did very well indeed with that piece by Jen we featured last year, fisher6000...

2/13/2007 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think mls stands for "my laws stand"

or else she's a member of the modern language association.

2/13/2007 10:44:00 AM  

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