The 23rd edition of the International Fine Print Dealers Association Print Fair closed on an exuberant note as its 90 dealers gave it enthusiastic praise and reported excellent sales. The excitement commenced on November 5, when some 2,000 guests, including collectors, curators and interior designers, flocked to the Park Avenue Armory for the opening-night benefit preview for the IFPDA Foundation. Over the course of the following four days visitors poured into the historic drill hall to see upwards of 10,000 original works of art by revered Old Masters and cutting-edge contemporary artists.
“By every account, this year's Print Fair was our most successful to date,” said Michele Senecal, executive director of the IFPDA. “The dealers pulled out all the stops and presented an impressive selection of material that appealed to curators and collectors—both young and old—across the board.” Ms. Senecal reported that 9,500 visitors attended the fair representing an increase of 15% over 2013.
Throughout the Armory acclamation for the event abounded from the participating dealers, all of whom concurred that the opening night drew the right crowd that created a palpable frisson of excitement in the air. Some of the notable artists and collectors spotted at the four-day fair included Ronald, Jo Carole and Aerin Lauder, Leon Black, Len Riggio, Kiki Smith, Donald Sultan, and Alex Katz.
One such collector was Jordan D. Schnitzer, the Portland, Oregon-based real estate developer whose eponymous foundation’s collection exceeds 8,000 works. “The Print Fair is a feast for the eyes. The quality of the dealers and publishers, and the level of the prints and multiples set a new standard. The partnership between artists, master printers and publishers came together in the most exciting way.” Mr. Schnitzer’s foundation also sponsored the Print Fair’s inaugural lecture series featuring Mel Bochner, who spoke about the role of print-making in his own work to a standing-room only audience.
Another great strength of the Print Fair is that it draws curators from the major international museums. More than 500 curators attended this year, with many of them reserving prints for their museums. They too sang the Fair’s praises.
“The Print Fair is the Art Basel for the print world,” said David W. Kiehl, Curator of Prints and Special Collections at the Whitney Museum, who put three prints on reserve for the museum’s collection. Mr. Kiehl also pointed out the Fair’s advantages for newcomers who want to buy art. “Everyone, novice and expert, always learns something new.”
Stephen Coppel, Curator of Modern Collections, Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum of Art, also gave a ringing endorsement to the Fair. “I've always regarded the Print Fair as an essential destination. The quality of material is excellent across the board.” Mr. Coppel reported that he made several acquisitions for the museum’s print collection, among them Ed Ruscha's 000, as well as Stars and Stripes by Emma Amos.
New York’s top interior designers were also spotted shopping for their clients. Among them were Carey Maloney and Hermes Mallea, Scott Salvator, David Ling, Mariette Himes Gomez, Juan Montoya, Ronald Bricke, Harry Heissmann, Sam Allen, Christopher Boshears, Matthew Patrick Smyth, and Sandra Nunnerley.
Here’s a survey of some of the other items sold during Print Fair, which concluded on November 9:
William P. Carl Fine Prints of Durham, North Carolina, was happy to report that Mary Chapin, the curator at the Portland Art Museum, acquired James Ensor’s etching The Cathedral, dated 1886, one of the most outstanding examples of the artist’s virtuosity and Belgian print-making at its best. The purchase was made possible by Champion & Partners, the leading global executive search firm, which generously sponsors the annual The Richard Hamilton Acquisition Prize of $10,000.
Mary Ryan of New York saw the sale of Donald Sultan’s Black Tulips and Vase February 26, 2014, a screen print with tar-like texture, and seven impressions of Alex Katz’s linocut Diana, 2014. Ms. Ryan also reported sales to The British Museum of Art and that three prints are on reserve for a major American museum.
Dick Solomon of Pace Prints reported that he sold seven multiples by Ryan McGinness (from an edition of ten) in woven silk, Untitled (Woven Mindscape II), 2014. Solomon who has been with the Print Fair since its inception was pleased with the many younger buyers he saw at the Fair.
Dolan/Maxwell of Philadelphia sold a number of works: Seer, Actor, Knower Doer 4, an etching, collagraph, lithograph, relief, hand coloring on hand-made paper, 2014; Morris Blackburn’s Reverse Movement (study), 1947; a pair of color screenprints; and Orchestration, a color screenprint, 1947. “We had an excellent show with numerous sales to private collectors and museums,” said Ron Rumford, gallerist at Dolan/Maxwell.
According to Anne-Françoise Gavanon, the action never stopped at Frederick Mulder. Ltd. She noticed that more people were buying this year, that she sold to new clients and that the booth was very busy from start to finish. She reported numerous sales of prints by Henri Matisse from the Jazz portfolio, as well as etchings from Picasso’s La Suite Vollard and Wayne Thiebaud’s Gumball Machine, a 1971 linocut.
Evie Lasry of Two Palms in New York reported brisk business and said Mel Bochner’s Blah, Blah, Blah and It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This found a home with a prominent collector.
At Senior and Shopmaker, Betsy Senior and Lawrence Shopmaker featured the work of a single artist: Robert Mangold. They reported lively sales of his woodcuts, including a rare set of four that Mangold printed himself, which was snapped up an important collector. Both Senior and Shopmaker said the Fair looked the best it ever had and were impressed by the caliber of people who attended.
Carl Solway, whose Solway Gallery is based in Cincinnati, also presented a single-artist: Jay Bolotin, notably prints from his latest project, The Book of Only Enoch. Said Michael Solway: “The Print Fair is the most important venue to show Bolotin’s work. The energy is fantastic and the quality of the attendees has been consistently strong.”
Mixografia’s Shaye Remba of Los Angeles reported sales of multiple prints of Ed Ruscha’s Rusty Signs series, as well as Jason Martin’s Untitled White, 2014, printed on handmade paper, and Kwang Young Chun’s Aggregation 12. “We had an excellent response to our stand this year,” said Remba, whose father founded the workshop.
At Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, Chris Santa Maria said: “The opening night was the busiest we ever experienced at the Print Fair.” He reported numerous sales, including works by Julie Mehretu, Richard Tuttle, John Baldessari, Roy Lichtenstein and Ellsworth Kelly. “We appreciate the opportunity to debut our workshop’s publications of both old and new works.”
London-based Sims Reed Gallery sold a number of prints by American artists Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha and Sol Lewitt. “We had an excellent run and were happy to report that we made such good sales.”
Paul Stolper of the eponymous London gallery said: “This is our favorite fair. All the right people are here, and this year we noticed that more people were interested in buying.” Those new buyers picked up Damien Hirst’s The Cure, multiple neon-colored prints from a series the artist calls Schizophrenogenesis.
Paula Panczenko of Tandem Press of Madison, Wisconsin, said that she witnessed a significant increase in the number of visitors and was pleased that the Allentown Museum of Art and the Madison Wisconsin-based Chazen Museum of Art each purchased Alison Saar’s Cotton Eater, 2014, while The Baltimore Museum of Art and The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. each acquired Saar’s Cotton Eater II .
Marjorie Devon of the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Tamarind Institute reported numerous sales, including Elaine de Kooning’s two-color lithograph Taurus IX, a color trial proof, and Lesley Dill’s Hummingbird Dress, 2013, a seven-color lithograph. “I love the Print Fair,” she said. “It’s a great venue with a wide variety of material, and seeing the artists who live and work in New York enriches our experience even more.”
Alan Cristea of London reported the sale of multiple works by Jim Dine, including Blue Points, 2014, and Chartres, 2014, both offset lithographs and copper-plate etchings, as well as works by Julian Opie and Ian Davenport.
Ursula Johnson of Chicago-based R.S. Johnson Fine Art was delighted that two Édouard Vuillard prints are on reserve by a major museum, while Aaron Galleries, also from Illinois, reported sales of Untitled by Sam Francis and a lithograph by Robert Motherwell titled Elegy Study, 1979.
Print Fair newcomer Robert Delaney from London said that he met many interesting people, many of whom picked prints by Sol Lewitt, Sam Francis and Robert Motherwell. “Having only done Art Basel in Basel, I felt that this was a much more focused fair, with people who were very knowledgeable and understood what they were looking at.”
Old Master specialists all reported energetic business, too. David Tunick was “busy from beginning to end,” he said. “The floor was packed with good collectors and curators. I love this fair because it is focused and people are knowledgeable and know what they want.”
Said Emanuel von Baeyer of London, “We were very pleased with the Fair and made a sale within the first 20 minutes of the preview. From that point on we were replenishing our walls daily.”
Gordon Cooke of The Fine Art Society in London was pleased to sell James McNeill Whistler’s very important etching Nocturne: Dance House, 1889, while Gerrish Fine Arts and Helmut H. Rumbler Kunsthandel agreed that they met numerous curators and were very pleased by the openness and elegance of the Fair.
The next IFPDA Print Fair will open on October 28 and run through November 1, 2015 at the Park Avenue Armory.