Monday, March 24, 2008

Fairs and Ballast

Q: How many fairs does it take to determine whether the art market's crashing or not?
A: I'll tell you after the contemporary auctions in April.

For now, however, get yourselves a new pair of sneakers, 'cause the fairs, they are a comin' to New York!

Paddy Johnson has a nice round up of where they are, including a map from Artlog, and there's even more info and another map on Art and Art Fairs. So you can't say you don't know where to go. Seriously...I don't want to hear none of that. Tomorrow (Tuesday) we begin installing our booth at the PULSE New York Art Fair (which has moved People! Don't go to the 26th Street Armory. We won't be there. We're at Pier 40 now). We'll be featuring work by Christopher K. Ho with Troy Richards, Cathy Begien, Thomas Lendvai, Yevgeiny Fiks, and Andy Yoder (whose giant Licorice Shoes were also selected as a Special Project for the fair [see image below]).

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Pier 40, as that was one of the locations I hosted my series of guerrilla-style, three-day shows back in the late 90s (it was called "hit & run" [very original, I know]). There's a free Shuttle Bus from The Armory Show that shoots down the West Side Highway in no time at all. Here's the general info on PULSE NY:

Pier 40
353 West Street
(at Houston)

New York, NY 10014

Thursday, March 27 - Sunday, March 30, 2008


March 27
12pm - 8pm
March 28
12pm - 8pm
March 29
12pm - 8pm
March 30
12pm - 5pm

General Admission $15
Discount Admission $10 (for Seniors & Students with valid ID)
Children under 12 FREE

Tickets may be purchased at the door - no advance purchase necessary.
Blogging will most likely be light through the week. Do drop by to say Hi if you're visiting PULSE. And Don't miss the ArtBloggers@ panel discussion on Sunday!

Labels: Art Fairs, Pulse


Blogger Evan said...

Could you explain how gallery/art fair business relates to auctions. They seem unrelated to me. Don't know how the sales of established artists who are already in museums relate to emerging or mid career artists in galleries/art fairs. Frankly, I can imagine a divided market where the auctions are strong, but gallery/fair business weak, sort of like the housing market. In LA, the 800k market continues to appreciate, but the 400k and under has declined 25-35%. Business for sure bets in auctions might be strong, but that may not indicate how sales of lesser known artists do. Thanks Ed.

3/24/2008 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Could you explain how gallery/art fair business relates to auctions.

It depends on what level the artists you're working with are in relationship to the secondary market. I'll come back to that, but I should note that my opening Q&A; refers to the fact that you can't really tell from an art fair what the market is doing, unless it's an obvious ghost town, because, well, dealers will (let's say) euphemistically describe how they're doing, psychology being such a big part of keeping things moving. The more fairs you have should be an indication of whether or not the market is strong (and the fact that some are dropping out in other cities would suggest it's slowing down), but this is a record number of fairs in New York, I think, and even if some of them totally flop, we won't know until months from now whether they'll come back next year, so the fairs won't tell us much.

As for how the art market compares to the housing market, conventional wisdom has it that you're right on the upper end of things, but art has two tenacious categories: high-priced work ($500K and up) and relatively affordable work ($29K and below). What tends to suffer first if the market slows down is the work in the middle. The work that less-than-super-rich collectors would have had to stretch to buy. What happens if the market stays hot is they'll indeed stretch their budgets to avoid missing out altogether, but if the market shifts (from a seller's to a buyer's market), then they'll flex their muscle a bit, refuse to overpay, and galleries who depend on those mid-priced sales will feel the hit.

Why the auctions matter to those galleries and artists in that mid-range (those artists who you would think aren't auction-ready yet) is collectors who were speculating all the while will dump such works on auction when they think the prices have peaked. Some of that work will under-perform naturally, and this will make it difficult for galleries to sell other work by that artist of which they had raised the prices on to keep up with the previous demand (which can bottom out). Or so the theory goes. What will happen in our immediate future is still anybody's guess. The Europeans/Asians may flock over and snap up everything, the dollar being so weak. The confidence in the art market may remain strong enough that all the fair organizers can do it all again next year. Or some fairs may do so badly we'll see a few less next year. Again, we won't know for months, so those folks looking for a bellwether should look to the April auctions, where some of the work being offered is rather risky for those artists if you ask me.

Personally, I'm optimistic about the NY fairs, as are most of the other dealers I talk to. This isn't euphemism talking here either. Indications are we'll be happy this time next week.

3/25/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Will there be fashion/gossip reportage' from the fair? See you there.

3/25/2008 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Ed: best of luck with the PULSE install, and I hope it's a fabulous as last year (and then some). It's interesting about the middle being vulnerable.

PS: wrote a brief post yesterday on "I Dream of the Stans" here.

all best, til soon,

3/25/2008 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Giant. Licorice. Shoes.

Will someone eat them?

3/25/2008 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Barry Hoggard said...

We'll be covering the art fairs at the ArtCal Zine.

3/25/2008 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I'll do some coverage, too (certainly nothing like my monster Miami posts, though). I'm also going to cover the ADAA panel at MoMA on Saturday Morning: "Is the Killer Art Market Killing Art?" Should be interesting.

Ed, Much success at Pulse.

3/25/2008 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mike @ MAO said...

Hey Ed..
Good Luck at Pulse.. I'm sure you'll do very well...

and actually, I think "Luck" will have nothing to do with it.. you guys have a great gallery program.

See you at the Pulse Preview!

3/25/2008 09:40:00 PM  

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