Frieze Fair Has John Thain, Speyer Pondering $35,000 Pea

Carole Server, a New York collector, bought lunch and three paintings at the VIP opening of Frieze Art Fair on New York’s Randall’s Island on Thursday.

“I haven’t seen everything,” she said. “I keep running into friends. There are more European collectors here this year, people I wasn’t expecting to see until Art Basel next month.”

Hedge-fund manager Adam Sender, tennis champion John McEnroe, Tishman Speyer Properties LP Chairman Jerry Speyer, and CIT Group Inc. Chief Executive John Thain were seen in the crowded aisles lined by 180 contemporary art galleries from 32 countries. The works for sale were as small as a green pea and as large as an 80-foot-tall dog made of giant red balloons.

Eight trendy restaurants also operated beneath one large, light-filled white tent as the second New York edition of the British fair opened during a downpour. The sales pace picked up as the sky brightened.

Hauser & Wirth quickly sold 40 small versions of the gigantic puppy outside by Paul McCarthy. Titled “White Snow Balloon Dog,” the piece came in 40 unique colors, each with the asking price of $25,000.

The gallery also sold works by its two younger artists, Rashid Johnson and Matthew Day Jackson, ranging from $90,000 to $175,000.

Much Enthusiasm

New York dealer James Fuentes sold three large paintings by his gallery artists -- Noam Rappaport, Jessica Dickinson and John McAllister -- ranging between $20,000 and $40,000 within the first 45 minutes of the fair.

“It’s not manic energy but there’s definitely a lot of enthusiasm,” Fuentes said. “People decide they like something and they don’t hesitate to pull the trigger.”

The booth of Luhring Augustine gallery was devoted to Tom Friedman, whose five food sculptures -- made with Styrofoam and paint -- looked quite appetizing. All sold within the first 90 minutes.

A large pizza pie and a slice of white bread hung on the walls; a group of sweet treats, including a Twinkie and a Snowball, sat on the floor. The tiny green pea could have been easily missed on the white wall where it resided -- were it not for the hefty price of $35,000.

“That’s classic for Tom,” said co-owner Lawrence Luhring. “There’s always something in his work that’s minuscule.”

Solo Koons

David Zwirner, fatigued after the Wednesday night’s celebration of his gallery’s first solo Koons show, was briskly selling Thomas Ruff’s photographs, with prices ranging from $7,000 to $95,000.

There was a line outside of the booth of Marian Goodman, where performance artist Tino Sehgal had created a claustrophobic room with bare walls.

Every few minutes, a long-haired, preteen girl from a rotating cast walked in to talk about the meaning of art and ask visitors how they are doing but not answering any questions.

The piece, which is bought through an oral agreement with the artist, comes in an edition of four. The first sold at the fair for $80,000.

Women were well-represented at the fair. New York dealer Alexander Gray dedicated his booth to three pioneering feminist artists, Joan Semmel, Lorraine O’Grady, Harmony Hammond.

A canvas covered with tiny pearlescent beads by Liza Lou quickly sold for $225,000 at the booth of L&M Arts Los Angeles. The Ivan Gallery of Bucharest offered quiet, mesmerizing work by 87-year-old Geta Bratescu, which included a group of 15 crumpled paper collages; it sold for $55,000.

Tobacco Barn

Marianne Vitale’s monumental sculpture, commissioned for the fair, was made from pieces of a collapsed tobacco barn.

Mika Rottenberg’s video installation showing full-bodied matrons performing absurd manual tasks sold for $150,000 at Andrea Rosen gallery.

Adriana Lara’s paintings evoking bark and grass were nearly all gone at Algus Greenspon booth, for $6,000 each.

Mendes Wood from Sao Paolo sold three vibrant paintings, inspired by geometric abstraction and local life, by Patricia Leite, with prices ranging from $8,000 to $28,000.

“We are here to look and to learn and possibly to buy, but nothing major,” said Norah Stone, a San Francisco collector, who scoped out the fair with her husband, Norman.

Kenny Schachter, a private art dealer from London, had the opposite dilemma.

“My problem is I can buy 1,000 things here,” he said. “The fair is a fabulous success.”

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater, Greg Evans on TV.

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