Sunday, March 10, 2013

Observations on Art 3.10

It's the last day of Art Week and the breakfast conversation isn't so much about art as the dearth of coverage this year. I should say lack of sleep, not helped by the changing of the clocks, may have something to do with the topic because I have never seen a sorrier looking group of artists. Massive quantities of coffee will be needed today if anybody is going to function properly at all.

In all honesty something does just seem off about the fairs this year. It wasn't the crowds, they were there, but more about the feeling, the buzz for lack of a better word. The usual art publications covered all the shows but even The New York Times reviewed only the three major ones (see previous post for links). Here are some of the reasons our gloomy brain trust has come up with.

The big galleries seemed to have stayed away the piers this year leaving a show full of galleries that normally are seen at lesser events. Good for the galleries' exposure but not all that good for the coverage of the overall show. Granted Gagosian was there but in the Focus section which normally is reserved for emerging markets and artists, not for the crown prince of the art world.

Another possible reason we discussed was the show's current owner, Merchandise Mart Property Inc. of Chicago, which is a holding company specializing in trade shows. A major art fair isn't exactly the same as a home builders show. On their website MMPI says they have "assured the continued development and enhancement of the Art Show division by bringing together some of the top minds in art fairs under one partnership." Funny thing to be saying as rumor has it their art fair holdings are currently for sale. According to The Art Newspaper the leading candidate to purchase the fairs is Louise Blouin who is the publisher of Art + Auction, Modern Painters, and owner of Louise Blouin Media. We shall see.

My pet theory, which I mentioned a couple days ago, is the effect the Frieze is having on the Armory Show. Last year it was new and unknown in New York and it did an awesome job. This year the Frieze is a known and more people are planning for it. Being in mid-May it has weather on its side, it snowed for three days this week, and its location on Randall"s Island lets you be in the city but yet feel like you aren't in it at the same time. The Frieze may also be the reason the Armory Show has turned so much more American. I don't think it has as much to do with some misplaced idea of patriotism as it does with major international galleries planning to do one fair in New York and that fair is in May.

In the end maybe the whole reason is the interwebs as had the whole show online before it even opened. This could be the main issue art fairs have to deal with in the future if they are going to survive as they are now.