Just a week after the Armory Show and the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair wrapped up, the Affordable Art Fair arrived to New York City to celebrate its 14th year anniversary in New York.
On March 25, 2015, more than 70 local, national and international galleries came together for this four and a half day event to showcase a wide range of contemporary artworks, offering a diverse collection of art priced from $100 to $10,000, with more than half the works priced under $5,000.
In addition to a few returning galleries, there were quite a few exciting newcomers such galleries as Sugarlift (Brooklyn, NY), Corridor Contemporary (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Lawrence Cantor Fine Art (Venice, CA), which will infuse new energy into Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion. Among returning exhibitors are DECORAZONgallery (London, UK), known for its international collection of emerging artists and Michele Mariaud Gallery (New York, NY), a staple of the downtown New York art scene. After a brief hiatus, the fair welcomes back, Will’s Art Warehouse (London, UK), which epitomized the unique spirit and true culture of this city’s Affordable Art Fair. For me, being a big fan of the British artists and designers, I love seeing British artists at the New York art fairs.
“Part of the selection process is knowing what is most likely to sell at each fair, so it’s crucial we comb through every application to create the most engaging and inspiring experience for both exhibitors and visitors,” says Cristina Salmastrelli, Director of the Affordable Art Fair NYC. “For example, the New York editions are typically comprised of smaller pieces, abstracts and photography because that’s what New Yorkers gravitate toward the most.”
If I could say – the art flew off the “shelves” during those four days of the fair – I would and I just did. Some of the artists’ works were sold out by day two.
When I spoke with a few galleries last Saturday, they told me that they were “lucky to bring a few works of the same artists because they were sold out so quickly that those who came the third and fourth days would have missed a chance to at least see them.” For example, the sculptures of Theodore T. Gall, represented by Evan Lurie Fine Art Gallery were very popular and were replaced every day due to selling out. When I spoke with the gallery’s representative, he told me that Gall’s work is lost wax cast into bronze, aluminum or stainless steel or welded Cor-ten stee. The original sculpture is either welded or formed with wax or clay. A mold is then made. Hot wax is poured into the mold. The waxes are detailed and sent to a foundry for casting into metal. But what impressed me the most is that Gall used the actual plants/flowers from his own garden which he then molded. They did look like bronze though. It always helps to learn about the artists’ processes to understand how much effort is, actually, being put in the works.
Unlike the previous art shows I talked about, the art at the Affordable Art Fair is not kept on the walls once bought, it’s taken right there and then, so it’s smart to see it in the first two days. One could see a long line by the entrance with the visitors waiting to frame and/or wrap up the art works they bought. Some just come to look at the art. Otherwise keep their smartphones and social networks close by and buy art for those who didn’t attend. Leonardo Di Caprio, for example, bought his art piece that way – over the phone after seeing the piece on the Instagram. In this day and age, art can now be bought via many other non-traditional ways.
The Affordable Art Fair celebrates the idea that art is for everyone. Since its launch in 1999, over 1.6M people have visited an Affordable Art Fair, and over $367M in art has been sold at the Fairs. A global brand, the Fair now takes place in Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, Maastricht, Milan, New York, Seoul, Stockholm and Toronto.
One highly anticipated art fair feature was Amazon Art’s Artist-in-Residence, Piero Manrique. Represented by UGALLERY (San Francisco, CA), this edition’s Artist-in-Residence was made possible by our contributing sponsor, Amazon Art. Piero paints artworks with a vivid luminescence and bright color palette, finding inspiration in change, evolution, and discovery. Piero was working on-site each day of the fair (hours below) giving all visitors a chance to interact with him and witness his creative process. “My art is like nature; it never repeats, it keeps changing and evolving,” said Piero.
“It is so important to have engaging, interactive activations for our visitors” – said Cristina Salmastrelli, Fair Director, Affordable Art Fair. “For example, workshops, such as Amazon Art’s Artist-in-Residence, allow visitors to truly understand the creative process, ask questions and engage with the artist, as well as retrieve insights about a work that they could potentially fall in love with and live with everyday.”
Appointed in 2012, Salmastrelli brings an innovative, dynamic perspective to one of New York’s most anticipated events. She has an extensive background working at some of the most highly regarded and iconic art fairs including the IFPDA Print Fair and the ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair. In her new position, Cristina is excited to further the Affordable Art Fair’s mission to promote emerging artists and make contemporary artwork accessible to all.
A world traveler and true international art enthusiast, Cristina believes that fairs are truly the heart of the art world, as they are the only place where galleries, collectors, professionals and visitors come together in one place to learn and exchange ideas.
Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Cristina currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. She frequents museums across New York and in every vacation spot she visits, which explains the diversity of the galleries and artists the fair usually has.
Top 5 art styles that dominated at the fair:
- This year, as it seemed, the fair presented a lot of collage work, which is one of my personal favorite art styles. And the works were quite interesting. A lot of them combined the paper – magazines or newspaper cut-out – with other mediums, like paint and graffiti. One artist’s work, in particular, has drawn my attention. The collages by a San Francisco resident, Diane Flick, were quite detailed – the entire scenery was collages from very small pieces of various print materials, so detailed that from far one couldn’t tell it was just the paper. It looked like the oil paintings from far.
- Cubism: at this year’s fair there were quite a few works done in the cubism style. One gallery had some of the best representation of the cubist works – the Cube gallery from London, UK.
- “British” pop-art & street graffiti inspired art: a Los Angeles based Bruce Lurie gallery had a very good street art works, which does not surprise me. While living in LA a few years back, I remember seeing a lot of street graffiti, especially in the Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney (the “Soho” part of the city) parts of the city, some of which are very impressive and I’d encourage everyone to check it out when visiting the Southern California. Every time I visit LA, I make sure I visit those parts of the city.
- Drawing, writing quotes and/or collaging over the book pages: I’m seeing more and more of it. A few years back I came across the works of the Russian graphic designer Ekaterina Panikanova and I thought her way of using the old book pages are absolutely exquisite because she’s not using just one page, she makes a collage of many pages and draws one image over it. A while ago I bought a few prints like that with the illustrations of my favorite quotes and scenes from Alice in Wonderland. One of my favorite local artists who uses a lot of book pages for her art is Lauren Denitzio – a Brooklyn based illustrator and graphic designer. Now, there are so many of them. Click here to see what I’m talking about. At the fair I liked “What was the question” by Orson Kartt.
- Maps & Mapping: Just as with the book pages collages, I’ve been seeing a lot of maps lately. Personally, I love maps. I have a vintage map of Moscow that I really love and I do maps as well. That makes me very picky about the maps and using maps as the medium for the overall design. Here are a few of the artists whose use of maps I really liked at the fair:
- Manhattan Boroughs and Hello From Around the World by Jess Wilson
- I Fucking Love This Place NYC by David Buonaguidi
- Metallic Manhattan by Stanley Donwood (Donwood’s work, actually, reminded me a lot about Paula Scher’s work.)
I would have loved to see the MAPS by Paula Scher in person one day, but I’m not sure if she exhibits them anymore. It was more of her personal projects, which came to become a book. Scher is one of my favorite American graphic designers, whose works, I’d say, defined the American graphic design of the 80s, 90s and 00s. She has designed half of New York City – from NY Ballet and Public Theatre to High Line and The Metropolitan Opera identities. Some of my favorite works by her are the promotional material she does every year for the Public Theatre, where she uses the reference to the Russian constructivism and Swiss design – both are my favorite graphic design schools of thought. She’s now a partner of one of the most prestigious graphic design companies in the world, Pentagram.
Moreover there were quite a few works that were very close to the works and styles of the other artists. For example, there were a few artists, whose works were almost copying the works of Banksy, which is, somewhat, disappointing. I still don’t know if it where his works or not. I also saw some art works in the style of Henri Matisse paper cut-outs, which, by the way, were recently on display at the MoMa.
I was a bit surprised that this year the fair didn’t have as much of the video/audio (media) installations as it had in the past. I wish there were more; their absence was very noticeable to me. Ones of my favorite video installations this year were by Ernesto Fernandez Zalacain (Capital Culture Gallery, UK). The series’ called Todos mis vecinos quieren ir al cielo. Zalacain: “All of my neighbours want to go to heaven… It is just 90 miles from Havana to Florida. Two worlds separated by more than a stretch of water. A dream or a reality that has driven thousands of Cubans to risk everything”.
My top 15 favorites from the fair:
- It was really nice to see Elizabeth Lecourt to come back to the fair this year. Her “dress” works made out of old maps were some of my favorite art works from the past fairs. Lecourt’s works are represented by Byard Art gallery from Cambridge, UK;
- As I’ve mentioned many times, I’ve been always a big fan of the British artists and designers. While studying Graphic Design, I always looked up to the British graphic designers for inspiration. Banksy and Neville Brody are among my favorites. And this year, I had a pleasure to see more works of the British artists. I was especially entertained by the Jealous art gallery, which brought quite an impressive and fun collection of the British pop-art – from whimsical collages to poster arts and quotes. “Fuck the Culture”, “Hello from Around the World”, “Blackboard Alphabet”, “Manhattan glasses”, “Kissing Magritte II” and “Life Line Twiggy” by Jason Poremba;
- I was very excited to see the original work by one of my all time favorite graphic designers and illustrators, Tomi Ungerer, whose one of the many illustrations he did for the New York Times could be bought for $5,000;
- The Romance of Philosophy by Mike Stilkey (Tag Fine Arts, London)
- “I Miss Being a Small Girl” lasercut by Rob Ryan;
- “Photo Bot” by Diane Flick;
- The collage works by Mark Rother (Juliane Hundertmark, Berlin);
- “Moca” and “Police” by Claudia Furlani (MZ Urban Art);
- “Life’s IV” by Roy’s People (Panter & Hall)
- “Doors” by Lin Osborn: this is one of these works, which make you think “I was actually thinking of doing the same thing, but never found the time”, just to realize that someone else did find time & now it’s exhibited and priced at $2,000. My point is – just do it if you have creative ideas, don’t wait until someone else comes up with the same idea!
- “Topographical Facial Series” by Andrew Myers (Lawrence Cantor Fine Art gallery, Venice, California);
- Collage works by Charles Wilkin (Saatchi Art) and Melissa Arendt;
- “Young Queen” by Jane Perkins (Will’s Art Warehouse, London);
- “Elvis on Gold” and “God Save the Queen” by Keith Hayness (Will’s Art Warehouse, London); and
- Video installations “Todos mis vecinos quieren ir al cielo” by Ernesto Fernandez Zalacain (click here to see the video from the fair.)
Overall, I think this year’s Affordable Art Fair has been one of the most successful ones with many interesting works. For more information about the Affordable Art Fair and to see the full list of Spring 2015 exhibitors, click here.
Follow me on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for more.