There's nothing the art world loves more than the Next Big Thing. That's why the market's top dealers, collectors, and tastemakers are scouring the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center's Greater New York show this summer, hoping to find the next Elizabeth Peyton or Cecily Brown—two stars who made their names at the show in 2000.
Held every five years, the exhibition runs through October at the Museum of Modern Art's Queens outpost. It's known for casting a spotlight on rising New York area artists, and past participants have benefited mightily from the exposure—as have discerning dealers and auction houses. When painter Lisa Yuskavage took part in the 2000 show, her works sold for $40,000 to $60,000; seven years later, her portrait of a bosomy femme fatale fetched $1.4 million at Christie's in New York.
This year's 68-artist roster is led by painter Tauba Auerbach, whose abstract canvases resembling folded fabric have caught the eyes of powerful dealers like David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian. "Her work sells before it is finished," says art adviser Lowell Pettit. Her paintings are priced from $16,000 to $40,000, and all her current works are sold out. Their worth is sure to appreciate.
The show's other most promising talents, according to Christie's postwar and contemporary art specialist Alexandre Carel, start with the Bruce High Quality Foundation, an artists' collective that contributed an elegant installation of empty podiums. Another headliner is Iranian-born Tala Madani. Known for colorful, cartoonish paintings, Madani earned a Yale MFA in 2006 and has already been purchased by collectors such as Andrew Hall and French billionaire François Pinault. There's a waiting list for her paintings, currently priced at $10,000 to $60,000.
Great things are expected of Brooklyn artist Alex Hubbard, whose labor-intensive resin paintings and video installations impressed tony art adviser Candace Worth. All but one of his pieces, priced from $8,000 to $25,000, have been sold. Video artist Tommy Hartung was considered a lesser-known name coming into the fair, but he has attracted interest on account of The Ascent of Man, a video that blends stop-motion animation with film footage to show human evolution from ape to modernity. He is shown at On Stellar Rays, a small New York gallery that's becoming a force itself—four of its seven artists were picked for this year's show.
The art world's inner circle is also closely monitoring David Benjamin Sherry's color-saturated photographs, A.L. Steiner's graphically homoerotic photo collages, and Zak Prekop's abstract canvases, which sell for $1,800 to $3,600. "Prekop is a former art handler who is having a real moment," says Pettit. Alisha Kerlin's solitaire-inspired paintings are also stirring interest; her still-available piece, priced at $4,500, is on hold for a buyer at the shoe-box-sized Y Gallery in New York's East Village. In a few years that might seem like a bargain: Collage artist Wangechi Mutu's pieces sold for a few thousand bucks a pop when she took part in the 2005 show, and three years later one of her large ink-and-collage works was purchased for $406,772 at an auction at Christie's in London.