Paintings Sold Out at Armory? Galleries Had More on IPads

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A red abstract painting by Puerto Rican artist Angel Otero hanging at the Armory Show in New York was purchased for $50,000. Demand was so high that dealer Kavi Gupta used his iPad to sell four other canvases ahead of Otero’s gallery show later this month.

“People saw the work at the booth, so they had a feel for it and went ahead and made the purchases,” said Gupta, who has galleries in Chicago and Berlin. The gallery said it sold a total of six of Otero’s works for $35,000 to $50,000 each.

As a week of art fairs wrapped up March 8, dealers reported strong sales and attendance even as a snowstorm hit the region. The New York events are the first major stop this year on the global art fair circuit and were anchored by the Armory Show, which saw a protest against racial inequality on March 7 by a group called Artists for Justice NYC. About a dozen participants were escorted out.

Collectors, however, were active. Cardi gallery from Milan and London sold a 1968 canvas by Lucio Fontana for $2 million. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, with branches in Paris and Salzburg, sold a new Georg Baselitz painting for $550,000 and a work by Jules de Balincourt for $195,000.

Sprueth Magers from London and Berlin sold two Jenny Holzer paintings for $275,000 each, including a 2012 oil on linen “Text: U.S. Government Document.”

Thea Djordjadze’s abstract sculptures were a hit with collectors and museums, priced at $10,000 to $50,000. She is among the artists selected for this year’s Venice Biennale.

Ceramic Vases

Art dealer Carl Freedman from London sold several anthropomorphic glazed ceramic vases by German artist Sebastian Stohrer, each priced at $5,000 to $8,000.

Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles sold a cartoonish painting by Eddie Martinez for $75,000. Grimm Gallery from Amsterdam sold a new Matthew Day Jackson painting for $150,000 and a Nick van Woert sculpture for $30,000.

Nicelle Beauchene Gallery in New York, participating for the first time at the Armory Show, sold out its booth of $10,000 photographs by Chris Wiley, to buyers including museums. Each depicts an urban view of Los Angeles and is framed in unusual materials such as fake alligator skin.

Paintings by Belgian artist Michiel Ceulers, with surfaces that were torn, patched and beaten up, were in demand. At the Armory Show, Los Angeles-based Mihai Nicodim gallery sold one painting for $10,000 to Chicago collector Susan Goodman and a triptych of mismatched canvases for $18,000 to an art foundation in Paris.

Ceulers Triptych

At the Independent fair in Chelsea, Nogueras Blanchard gallery from Barcelona sold another Ceulers triptych for $15,000 to a collector from Peru.

At Pulse Contemporary Art Fair, director Helen Toomer moved the show from May to Armory week at the request of exhibitors.

“People have the thirst” for art fairs after a quiet January and February, she said. “By the time May comes around, the excitement has subsided.”

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio bought a figurative painting by Jean-Pierre Roy from Copenhagen-based Gallery Poulsen, a first-time Pulse participant. He saw an image on Instagram and made the purchase by phone, said owner Morten Poulsen.

“He’s been following Jean-Pierre for a decade now,” and owns other works by the artist, said Poulsen, declining to give the price. The gallery sold all seven works by four artists in its booth, priced at $10,000 to $30,000, and another seven from its inventory using images from the iPad.

Waiting List

“Selling stopped because we were out of things to sell,” he said. “Now there’s a waiting list of 30 collectors. It was wild.”

Conduit Gallery said it sold eight of British artist Sarah Ball’s works within the first hour of the fair. Ball’s paintings, which were $2,500 each and are less than one foot tall, are recreations of mugshots against a gray background.

Cynthia Corbett Gallery of London sold 13 large photographs of dilapidated interiors by Fabiano Parisi including two to 21C Museum Hotels in Louisville. Asking prices were $6,500 to $8,500.

At the Spring/Break Art Fair held in about 60 unused wood-paneled offices at post office in Manhattan, the theme was “Transaction,” with artists asked to comment on exchange in all its forms. More than 90 curators showed work by 400-plus artists.

Blessing, Kiss

In a booth curated by Jennie Lamensdorf and Sonia Dutton, collectors could get a painting by conceptual artists Alina and Jeff Bliumis in exchange for $1,000 and something less tangible: a song, a blessing or a kiss. The exchange rules were spelled out on each canvas. One collector bought a painting depicting a gorilla with the instruction: “Thank you for your tweet.”

Jazon Frings, an artist from Paris, created currencies that he said had no value except what the owner assigned it. The bills had titles including Love, Hate, Erotic and Friendship.

“No bill is worth more than another,” he said on March 8, the last day of the fair. “Love has been the most popular because that’s classic, and the second most popular is hate. Erotic is stable, but fellowship isn’t in demand.”

The artwork, however, had monetary value: a package of six bills went for $10.