Friday, June 30, 2017

15 Scintillating Art Books to Read on the Beach This Summer

15 Scintillating Art Books to Read on the Beach This Summer

Catch up on the best books from around the art world with this summer reading list.
Summer is officially upon us, and to celebrate we’ve compiled a list of the best new titles from around the art world. Whether exploring the untold history of paintings or contemplating the state of museum curation, 2017 has given us pages of insight and intrigue. From an interrogation of Modernism in veteran curator Darby English’s 1975: A Year in the Life of Color, to a juicy biography of a 19th-century art muse who inspired the likes of Émile Zola and Édouard Manet, there is a summer gem for every taste. See the 14 books that made our list below—and make sure to save room in your suitcase.
<em>The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret</em> by Catherine Hewitt (2015). Courtesy of St. Martin's Press.
The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secretby Catherine Hewitt (2015). Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.
1. The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret by Catherine Hewitt (January 2017)
Originally published in the UK, The Mistress of Paris made its stateside debut in January—but if ever there was a biography that screams summer beach read, it’s the tale of Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne. Born to a poor laundress, Valtesse, as she christened herself, uses her considerable physical and intellectual charms to rise through the ranks of Parisian society, from lowly chorus girl to a courtesan of unimaginable wealth.
A muse to writers and artists alike—Émile Zola based a novel on her, and Édouard Manet painted her—Valtesse surrounded herself with art and culture, carefully controlling her image and brand in a way that could serve as a how-to guide to any 21st-century social media star.
—Sarah Cascone
<em>The Duke of Wellington, Kidnapped!: The Incredible True Story of the Art Heist That Shocked a Nation</em> by Alan Hirsch (2017). Courtesy of Counterpoint.
The Duke of Wellington, Kidnapped!: The Incredible True Story of the Art Heist That Shocked a Nation by Alan Hirsch (2017). Courtesy of Counterpoint.
2. The Duke of Wellington, Kidnapped!: The Incredible True Story of the Art Heist That Shocked a Nation by Alan Hirsch (July 2017)
If you’ve never heard of the theft of Francisco de Goya‘s Portrait of the Duke of Wellington from London’s National Gallery, trust that it’s a tale worth telling. The first painting the UK ever sought to bar from export, the work depicts the man who famously defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and was considered the pride of the nation—which made it all the more shocking when it was stolen under dead of night on August 21, 1961, less than a month after going on view at the museum.
The painting cameoed in a James Bond film, with Sean Connery spotting it in villain’s lair, but like all the best stories, the truth was stranger than fiction. Alan Hirsch has delved into the incredible ins and outs of the crime, the bizarre motive for the painting’s ransom, the sensational trial, and, more than half a century later, the true story of who was responsible—never mind the history books.
—Sarah Cascone
<em>Botticelli's Muse</em> by Dorah Blume. Courtesy of Juicebox Artists Press.
Botticelli’s Muse by Dorah Blume. Courtesy of Juicebox Artists Press.
3. Botticelli’s Muse by Dorah Blume (July 2017)
In Dorah Blume’s capable hands, Renaissance Italy comes to life in all its complexity, historical fact deftly woven into a captivating narrative. Ostensibly the tale of the creation of Botticelli’s famed Primaveramasterpiece, Botticelli’s Muse is in equal parts a story of artistic inspiration, political intrigue, religious faith, temptation, and yes, romance.
To a cast of historical characters featuring the imperious Lorenzo de’ Medici, the pious-yet-tortured Girolamo Savonarola, and the handsome Filippino Lippi, Blume adds Floriana, a forced Jewish convert who became Botticelli’s unlikely muse—a love that would both inspire and challenge the great artist.
—Sarah Cascone
A Primer for Cadavers by Ed Atkins. Courtesy of Fitzcarraldo Editions.
A Primer for Cadavers by Ed Atkins (2016). Courtesy of Fitzcarraldo Editions.
4. A Primer for Cadavers by Ed Atkins (September 2016)
Acclaimed video artist Ed Atkins brings his serpentine and hermetic language to the page with this collection of “part prose-poetry, part theatrical direction, part script-work, part dream-work,” in A Primer for Cadavers. Known for his computer generated imagery, the artist often litters his surrealistic videos with his rapturous poetic speech. Here, however, the book strips us of any visuals and leaves us with the raw textual rhapsody that is elegiac, disturbing, and entertaining. If you’re a fan of the artist, this book is a no-brainer. It resoundingly lets the reader imagine for themselves what Atkins’s garrulous universe looks like.
Terence Trouillot
South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (2017). Courtesy Duke University Press.
South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s by Kellie Jones (2017). Courtesy Duke University Press.
In South of Pico, Kellie Jones deftly examines the historic contributions of African American artists during the ’60s and ’70s in sprawling Los Angeles—a period marked by intense racial discrimination and rampant police brutality. An associate professor of art history at Columbia University, a MacArthur Fellow, and curator of the pivotal exhibition “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980,” Jones brings a tremendous depth of scholarship to LA’s African American art scene in her new book, surveying the works of artists such as Charles White, Noah Purifoy, Melvin Edwards, Maren Hassinger, Betye Saar, John Outterbridge, Senga Nengudi, David Hammons, and many more. Jones paints a very vivid picture the time and place in which these artists lived and produced an impressive repertoire of artworks. South of Pico is a remarkable read and should be on everyone’s reading list.
Terence Trouillot
The Dream Colony: A Life in Art by Walter Hopps. © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 2017.
The Dream Colony: A Life in Art by Walter Hopps (2017). Courtesy Bloomsbury Publishing.
6. The Dream Colony: A Life in Art by Walter Hopps with Deborah Treisman and Anne Doran (June 2017) 
The reputation of curator Walter Hopps precedes him, as a larger-than-life personality who helped shape the art world as we know it. At the tender age of 21, Hopps started his first gallery in Los Angeles. A mere three years later, he opened the doors of the iconic Ferus Gallery with artist Edward Kienholz, where the origin of Pop art began. For those unfamiliar with Hopps, this semi-auto-biographical story will be even more delightful— if only for the anecdotes and images. He began writing the book near the end of his life, and since it was incomplete, the project was taken on posthumously by The New Yorker‘s Deborah Treisman and artist/writer Anne Doran. The colorful life and career arc of Hopps are reminiscent of another innovative and daring curator, the late Marcia Tucker; their biographies should be treasured by art enthusiasts of all stripes.
Caroline Goldstein 
Curation: the Power of Selection in a World of Excess by Michael Bhaskar (2017). Courtesy Little Brown Book Group.
7. Curation: the Power of Selection in a World of Excess by Michael Bhaskar (June 2017)
Newly released in paperback, this nonfiction work by researcher Michael Bhaskar unravels the art of curation, emphasizing its relevance to businesses and individuals outside of the traditional sphere of the art world. Curation, he says, has left the museums and has become a necessary strategy for understanding 21st-century life.
Bhaskar asks: How do we make sense of culture in an age of information overload? Our world is super-saturated with information and goods that have very little to distinguish them from one another. This book advances the argument that the secret to added value lies in curation. By selecting, refining, or arranging goods and information in a certain way, by offering consumers bespoke choices, industry will be able to continue to grow and prosper.
—Naomi Rea
After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni (2017). Courtesy Blue Rider Press.
8. After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni (August 2017) 
In this witty memoir, former It girl Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni spills the beans on Warhol and his inner circle. As Warhol’s last hire before his death, Fraser-Cavassoni offers up a firsthand account of the goings-on at the artist’s studio, dubbed affectionately, “Warhol Land” and at Interview magazine in the last years of his life and beyond.
In After Andy, the former society girl serves up the inside scoop on Factory-clan gossip and backstage celebrity feuds as she hauls the reader through 1970s London, 1980s New York, and 1990s Paris. In hilarious anecdotes and hard-hitting interviews, Fraser-Cavassoni explores Warhol’s indelible impact on the art world and pop culture and along the way introduces us to the rollicking cast of celebrities, socialites, and fashion icons who orbited the artist in his heyday.
—Naomi Rea
The Sagrada Familia:The Astonishing Story of Gaudi’s Unfinished Masterpiece by Gijs Van Hensbergen (2017). Courtesy Bloomsbury Publishing.
In this biography of the famously unfinished Sagrada Familia church, Gaudi expert Gijs Van Hensbergen chronicles the evolution of the extraordinary build from its 1882 inception to the present day, and beyond. As the eccentric design of the church’s iconic spires might indicate, Gaudi’s masterpiece is no ordinary Roman Catholic church. In this detailed account, we learn how the remarkable structure survived two world wars, the Spanish Civil War and the many desperate years of Franco’s rule.
Van Hensbergen also unpacks the religious devotion and unconventional genius of the artist, whose 1926 death interrupted work on the church with more than three quarters left to go a testament, according to Van Hensbergen, to Gaudi’s impracticable ambition. Now the unfinished building is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Van Hensbergen concludes by looking ahead to its anticipated completion in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.
—Naomi Rea
Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press
Young Leonardo: The Evolution of a Revolutionary Artist, 1472–1499 by Jean-Pierre Isbouts and Christopher Heath Brown (2017). Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press.

10. Young Leonardo: The Evolution of a Revolutionary Artist, 1472–1499by Jean-Pierre Isbouts and Christopher Heath Brown (May 2017)
The authors refute the oft-told tale that the young da Vinci enjoyed a promising start as an artist in Italy, delving instead into his struggle to resist the style of his master and his efforts to produce his first masterpiece in Florence. Isbouts and Brown depict the artist’s seminal years in Milan and provide a window into the artist as he hones the groundbreaking techniques that altered the course of European art.
Eileen Kinsella
Georgia by Dawn Tripp. Courtesy of Random House 2017.
11. Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp (January 2017)
Even more suitable for a beach read now that it’s available in paperback, Dawn Tripp’s bestselling work of historical fiction explores Georgia O’Keeffe’s arrival in New York in 1916 as a young teacher, where she met and immediately connected with photographer and publisher Alfred Stieglitz. The book chronicles their often tempestuous love affair even as O’Keeffe began forging her now legendary artistic career.
—Eileen Kinsella
Happy Little Accidents: The Wit and Wisdom of Bob Ross Compiled by Michelle Witte. Courtesy of Running Press 2017.
12Happy Little Accidents: The Wit and Wisdom of Bob Ross compiled by Michelle Witte (May 2017)
“There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us.” Truer words were never spoken, and these were spoken by that silky-voiced television dauber, Bob Ross, known for a perm (that he hated) and for his “happy little trees.” A new book pairs one harmonious painting per spread with one of Ross’s trademark insights. A canvas showing two trees, merged at the roots, accompanies the insight “Friends are the most important commodity in the world. Even a tree needs a friend.” Another gem, facing an image of a burbling stream: “If we all painted the same way, what a boring world it would be.”
—Brian Boucher
1971: A Year in the Life of Color by Darby English (2016)Photo via University of Chicago Press.
131971: A Year in the Life of Color by Darby English (December 2016)
Who doesn’t like to spend long summer afternoons rethinking the history of Modernism? In this exhaustively researched book, the art historian and Museum of Modern Art consulting curator Darby English tells the story of two exhibitions in 1971 that sought to re-write the history of the movement. They were not without controversy. The first show, “Contemporary Black Artists in America,” held at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, prompted 15 of 75 participating artists to withdraw their work amid protests that it had been organized without enough input from black curators. Later that year, “The Deluxe Show” popped up inside a dilapidated movie theater in Houston’s Fifth Ward and is now credited as the first integrated show of work by black and white artists in America. Both shows focused on abstract artists at a time when conceptual art was king, and their enduring impact prompts us to consider how much the canon has—and has not—stretched to accommodate an expanded story of Modernism.
— Julia Halperin
Art Collecting Today by Doug Woodham (2017). Photo: Amazon.
Art Collecting Today by Doug Woodham (2017). Courtesy Allworth Press.
14Art Collecting Today: Market Insights for Everyone Passionate About Art by Doug Woodham (April 2017)
Written by the former director of Christie’s Americas Doug Woodham, this book is an engaging, practical guide to navigating the art market. If you’re just starting your art-world journey, this is an excellent introduction to the marketplace and its practices. Although the book is geared towards non-specialists, even seasoned experts will enjoy Woodham’s perceptive writing style, clever tips, and entertaining anecdotes.
—Henri Neuendorf
Not many art writers define a sensibility so completely as Lawrence Weschler does. The “Weschler-esque” sticks out immediately: a generous, humane interest in the art and creativity as it bubbles up where you least expect it, and an attention to the points where the quirky or esoteric become genuinely poignant and alive, whether in his discovery of the eccentric world of the Museum of Jurassic Technology (Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder) or in his writing on the late artist J.S.G. Boggs, a totally singular figure who blurred the line between artist and counterfeiter (Boggs: A Comedy of Value).
Waves Passing in the Night finds a new and archetypally Wescher-esque protagonist in Walter Murch, the legendary Hollywood film editor of Godfather fame, who in his spare time has dedicated himself with serene conviction to reimagining how the cosmos works. Specifically, he has developed his own rebooted theory of the “music of the spheres,” the way that the circulation of heavenly bodies correspond to the laws of music. Scientists are not having it. Weschler not only hears Murch out, but makes his tale into a whole parable about the collision of art and science, and what the two do, and don’t, have to offer one another.
—Ben Davis
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Why the Internet Won’t Actually Change the Game for Unrepresented Artists

Why the Internet Won’t Actually Change the Game for Unrepresented Artists

In an excerpt from his new book, our art-market columnist examines why dealers don't actually want a digital revolution.
Animation artist Ilya Amosov at the 3rd ArtExpoSPb international contemporary art fair, held at the LenExpo Exhibition Complex. (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk / TASS via Getty Images)
In any marketplace where quality and value are almost entirely subjective, most buyers crave expert guidance. And the primary art market is a textbook example.
Even among relatively experienced collectors, a tacit assumption animates the gallery sector: Anyone with the confidence, passion, and resources to open a for-profit exhibition space in such an uncertain industry must know what he’s doing, at least to some extent. And the less knowledgeable the buyer is, the more willing he will usually be to trust in a purported specialist.
Unfortunately, such trust is not always warranted.
Unlike, for example, an attorney’s need to become bar-certified or a securities broker’s need to pass the Series 7 exam, an aspiring gallerist requires no formal scholarly or business training to sell art circa 2017.
In fact, opening an American gallery today demands less verified evidence of expertise than installing home-entertainment systems, braiding hair, or pumping gas—three occupations for which certain US states still require specific training or certification exams.
Professional associations exist in the art trade, but they are generally by-invitation-only groups with little practical impact. Case in point: As of June 2017, the most prominent such organization in the US, the Art Dealers Association of America, still did not count Larry Gagosian as a member.
The preview at the 2016 ADAA Art Show. Courtesy Art Dealers Association of America.
Instead, the art-sales business has historically had a different kind of barrier to entry: real estate. By controlling a physical exhibition space, a gallerist doesn’t just become a business owner. He automatically becomes a gatekeeper to the primary market.
Yes, his long-term success depends on other criteria as well, such as his sales acumen, management skills, and social savvy. But in the short-term, as soon as someone acquires a space, he acquires a patina of authority and the power to affect the financial futures of at least a small number of artists.

Asymmetry of Power

In light of the above, it’s little wonder that many artists develop deep-seated frustrations with the traditional gallery system. Gallery representation gives them their best chance at establishing sustainable careers, and yet gallerists themselves may have little exposure to art history, little vision for the discipline’s future, and/or little interest in nurturing the talent on their roster.
In the most extreme cases, galleries can merely be the end result of copious wealth, ample free time, and a fascination with the glamour of the art scene—in other words, a somewhat edgier alternative to time-honored vanity projects like opening a bar or restaurant.
This means that the careers of a vast number of artists—who, in fairness, require no more formal training to go into business than dealers—hinge in large part on the potentially questionable judgments of a comparatively low number of gallerists, who are incentivized to minimize the amount of talent they allow into the system at any given time.
These circumstances have historically made selling art a money-losing proposition for the overwhelming majority of living artists. Gallerists simply have too much market influence and too little financial motivation to make their rosters inclusive on a mass scale. With few other options to sustainably monetize their work, most talent has been shut out of the game almost entirely.
Even before Gagosian, Zwirner, et al became global brands, every physical gallery at every level of the hierarchy already acted as a rubber stamp of basic quality in a marketplace short on signaling.
David Zwirner’s 20th Street space in New York.
Photo: David Zwirner.
To use a bit of retail parlance, since gallerists maintain near-total control over who receives physical shelf space, the pure fact that they are showing particular artists’ works communicates to the public that those artists deserve attention. And since collectors also consciously or subconsciously grasp the gallery system’s importance in legitimizing artworks—aesthetically, financially, and socially—they also tacitly agree (via their open wallets) that it’s usually wiser to acquire based more on who is selling the work than on who created it, let alone what it looks like.
To use an imperfect comparison, then, the issue isn’t just that being exhibited by Zwirner does for an artist’s work what being branded and sold in an Hermès store does for a patterned scarf—meaning, instantly transforms it into a sought-after, and therefore expensive, luxury good. It’s also that being exhibited by even a quaint local gallery provides a baseline assurance of “quality.” And even this modest amount of security is worth a significant upcharge.

Digital Dream Deferred

Of course, the internet has complicated this scenario. The traditional gallery system no longer dominates artists’ ability to reach potential buyers. It is now possible for talent everywhere to sell work on primary-market platforms without the co-sign of a supposed expert. And this prospect means that, in 2017, securing representation is less important than ever to an artist’s ability to generate some amount of revenue from his passion.
But this apparent win for democracy is not changing the game quite as quickly as some may have hoped. Clare McAndrew’s 2017 art market report—which, I should remind you, is a study whose numbers I view as skeptically as the punch bowl at an orientation-week frat party—alleges that the online market grew 4 percent year on year from 2015 to 2016. More importantly, though, she acknowledges that this estimate failed to live up to long-held expectations in a fairly dramatic way.
She writes, “The rates of growth… for the last two years are significantly less than the growth rates forecast three or four years ago when estimates predicted double-digit increases in sales in the sector in excess of 20 percent.”
What’s happening here?
A closer look at the underlying dynamics suggests a reality that neither unrepresented artists nor Silicon Valley wants to hear. Open-access e-commerce may solve one of the longest-standing and most distressing problems in the art market, specifically by allowing any and all artists with an internet connection to slip past the traditional gatekeepers and reach buyers directly.
However, this new sales platform also creates (or at least, intensifies) a new problem—one that may be just as antagonistic to rank-and-file artists’ prospects as the old system of exclusivity and discrimination.

A Zero-Sum Game

To try to predict the impact of independent online-sales platforms on contemporary artists, it’s useful to look at three creative media where the model is somewhat more developed: books, music, and film (by which I mean everything from feature-length movies to episodic series to YouTube content).
Before diving into those comparisons, though, we must first acknowledge an important distinction. With the exception of digital artworks—assuming they’re marketed in a progressive way—fine art is what economists call a “rival good,” or a resource whose consumption (see: acquisition) by one party directly affects its availability to another.
A simpler way to say this is that collecting art is generally a zero-sum game. If I buy one of Andy Warhol’s Jackie paintings, you can’t own the same one unless, or until, I decide to resell it. And this scarcity element helps launch the price for sought-after works into orbit.
Gagosian’s opening reception for an exhibition of Julian Schnabel’s recent paintings on February 21, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Books, music, and film, on the other hand, all generally qualify as “nonrival goods.” Scale becomes the route to profitability, whether we’re talking about an Oprah’s Book Club selection, a smash pop single, or a Hollywood blockbuster. The profit from each individual sale is relatively small, but those small profits add up to a large total when sellers get to collect them thousands or, even millions, of times.
Art is the opposite: Instead of making a small profit a large number of times, the gallerist or dealer seeks to make a large profit a relatively small number of times.
Despite this fundamental difference, however, online mass-media sales trends are still useful omens for online art-sales trends. Why? Because their shared reliance on the internet introduces some of the same crucial market dynamics to both.

The Tyranny of Options

Since any author, musician, filmmaker, or contemporary artist can now use an open-access e-commerce platform to reach potential consumers directly, opening a browser tab to peruse independently released works in any of these media now resembles opening a porthole from inside a fully submerged submarine.
The result is an instant flood—one liable to overwhelm the buyer and, in the process, make most independent artists as indistinguishable from one another within their discipline as the individual water droplets barreling into a breached vessel 20,000 leagues beneath the sea.
I call this phenomenon the tyranny of options. It reflects that, to some extent, technology’s overthrow of the traditional gatekeepers backfires. Yes, an open-access market for creative works of any kind is vastly more democratic than the traditional gatekeeper-controlled one.
But such a marketplace also becomes vastly more difficult for the average buyer to navigate. The reason being that the gatekeepers—be they record labels, Hollywood studios, or gallerists—still double as their medium’s most reliable signals of quality. Remove the former and you necessarily remove the latter.
Open-access e-commerce platforms thus strip artwork of many of the traits that made its marketing, valuation, and sale so unique in the pre-digital era. They effectively challenge this niche medium to play by mass-medium rules.
Therefore, any artist who fails to square this circle should expect his number of sales, as well as his profit margins on those sales, to be very low. And in a globalized marketplace sans gatekeepers, the sheer scale of competition means that this outcome will, in all probability, remain the standard for artists.
To look at the results from the collector’s point of view, we’re likely to be left with the phenomenon George Packer captured in a 2014 story about Amazon’s effect on the publishing market: “When consumers are overwhelmed with choices, some experts argue, they all tend to buy the same well-known thing.”
Schneider’s book. Cover image: Tim Schneider.
This is the second of two excerpts from our art-market columnist Tim Schneider’s new book, The Great Reframing, which delves into the primary art market’s fraught relationship with technology. The full book is now available for download on Kindle.
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Is ‘Condo’ The Wave of the Future for Small and Mid-Size Galleries Feeling the Art Fair Pinch?

Is ‘Condo’ The Wave of the Future for Small and Mid-Size Galleries Feeling the Art Fair Pinch?

International dealers find a low-cost way to collaborate.

Dylan Spaysky, Daniel and Alivia (2017), with Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled (1989). Courtesy What Pipeline, Detroit.
Dylan Spaysky, Daniel and Alivia (2017), with Mary Ann Aitken, Untitled (1989). Courtesy What Pipeline, Detroit.

Is Condo the cure for what’s ailing mid-size galleries?
The new art initiative, which debuts in New York City this week after two well-received London runs, is a collaborative exhibition of international galleries in which host venues (in this instance, New York City spaces) share their facilities with visiting dealers, either by co-curating shows or divvying up the space.
Strategically timed for less eventful art world months—think summer slowdown—this iteration involves 16 Manhattan galleries hosting 20 US and international dealers from cities ranging from Los Angeles to London and from Dublin to Shanghai, as well as dealers from Latin America (namely Guatemala and Mexico).
And it couldn’t come at a better time, given the wave of recent gallery closures in New York and California, and hand-wringing over pricey and seemingly necessary (but not necessarily profitable) participation by small to mid-size galleries in global art fairs. With an extremely accessible fee of $850, compared with as much as tens of thousands of dollars for a booth at a major art fair, the program is an especially attractive option for galleries wanting to maximize their footprint and exposure while minimizing risk.
After Carlos/Ishikawa gallery founder Vanessa Carlos launched the quasi-fair in London in 2016, New York dealers Simone Subal (who participated in the most recent London iteration) and Chapter NY principal Nicole Russo rallied for a New York edition.
Installation view at Chapter Gallery which is hosting Agustina Ferreyra for Condo New York.
Installation view at Chapter Gallery, which is hosting Agustina Ferreyra.
“For me, what is quite amazing about Condo is that it’s really focusing on exhibition-making again,” Subal told artnet News in a phone interview. “The triangle that’s formed between the work and the space and the viewer has always been extremely important for me. That sometimes gets lost at an art fair. You see someone for two minutes and it’s hard to have a meaningful conversation.” Her eponymous Lower East Side gallery is hosting Tanya Leighton of Berlin and Gregor Staiger of Zurich.
Smaller and mid-size galleries are in “an increasingly difficult spot, especially at art fairs,” says Subal. “Very often, the way our math works is that we have to sell out the booth just to break even—and that just does not happen.”
“This is potentially a game changer globally,” said Finola Jones, director of Dublin gallery mother’s tankstation, in a phone conversation. The gallery is being hosted by Callicoon Fine Arts on the Lower East Side, and will show works by Mairead O’hEocha, Yuri Pattison, James Hoff, and Benjamin Kress. “The coalition of the little is retaking the ground at the all-important gallery level,” Jones said. “This is doing what we all love to do, and the pressure and expense of fairs can suck the heat out of this.”
Jones said that in addition to filling in an otherwise dead time in the calendar, the London edition served as an experiment to see if the model of inter-gallery collaboration was interesting to gallerists and, more importantly, to the audience. “That certainly worked,” Jones said. “The opening days of the second London edition were magical, with remarkable quality as well as volume of foot traffic, but also tremendous enthusiasm and support from the art public. It’s exciting to see if this translates to New York.”
Participating galleries are extremely optimistic. “We’ve already received positive and excited responses about our participation,” said Alivia Zivich, a partner at What Pipeline gallery in Detroit, who is showing Mary Ann Aitken and Dylan Spaysky at Andrew Kreps Gallery in Chelsea. “Foot traffic is generally lacking for most businesses here, and Condo NY is an opportunity for us to show in one of the busiest gallery districts in the world.”
A still from Joe Zorilla Valparaiso. Courtesy of the artist and Hannah Hoffman, Los Angeles.
A still from Joe Zorilla Valparaiso. Courtesy of the artist and Hannah Hoffman, Los Angeles.
Condo New York co-founder Russo says the collaboration process was interesting to watch. “It was an organic thing,” she told artnet News. “Some people asked us to suggest galleries, while others had ideas for themselves.” Some have overlapping programs or co-represent artists, while others saw it as a chance to connect with a space they don’t normally communicate with.
Los Angeles gallerist Hannah Hoffman is showing LA-based artist Joe Zorrilla at Bortolami Gallery, newly relocated to TriBeCa from Chelsea. Zorrilla is LA-based and went to Cal Arts, says Hoffman, noting that the artist “has a really strong network of support here in both institutional and private collections. Bortolami has a longer history than my gallery does and a very established, well-respected program. To be able to be a part of that for even just a month is really an honor.”
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, the logistics of a three-dozen gallery collaboration were relatively smooth, with both Russo and Subal saying the galleries largely took planning upon themselves after cementing the collaborations.
Subal says it’s a “low budget” deal: “I made sure when I was in London just to keep my shipping as low as possible. I FedExed some things, others I brought literally in my suitcase,” she said.
“The logistical challenges are not that different from any projects that we realize outside of LA,” says Hoffman, “whether it’s an art fair or an artist project.”
What are the challenges for What Pipeline? Says Zivich: “For us, just getting the work from Detroit to NYC, but, this being Detroit, we have a car.”
Amid all the gloom about pressure on smaller galleries, Hoffman says Condo is “a really elegant solution to some of the problems and conflicts being discussed right now, especially at this moment, where the conversation is so international. As a small gallery you’re fixed in a very specific location, and this represents a really intriguing model in terms of expanding influence and dialogue without taking on additional space.”
Subal echoed that notion, saying: “I don’t see Condo as anti-art fair, but I do see it as a different option, an alternative for younger galleries” who realize they cannot compete with mega-galleries like Zwirner or Gagosian.
Finally, she says, “You have to stop complaining and just do something.”
Condo NY continues through July 28.
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