(noun) nonchalant absurdity with a dash of embarrassment.

(verb) to be shark bitten.

(adverb) in a manner that is nonchalantly absurd and embarrassing.

08 April 2013

The Affordable Art Fair

This year was my first time visiting the Affordable Art Fair, and my apologies in advance, for posting after the fair has finished, but at least it’s informative for those seeking to attend next year. Naturally, I was overwhelmed at the amount of people on the opening night reception, yet quite impressed with the work throughout the fair. Galleries from all over the world showcased art that ranged from $100-$10,000, with more than half priced at less than $5,000. What I loved most about the opening night was the humbleness of the attendees and the eagerness of the gallerists to talk you about the work. For those who travel to the fairs each year, you know the snooty gallerists with their noses raised to the air, those who find it tacky to place a price tag or even a label near the work. God forbid! The Affordable Art Fair labeled all its work and all came with a price tag. When you buy a piece of art you are allowed to take it with you that night, making the galleries dynamic, not static. When art sells, a new piece replaces it––a constant, rotating stock of art. I saw a lot of smiling faces, perhaps it was the first piece of art these smiling faces had bought or they were just happy to add a piece to their collection.

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre
The work in the fair itself is safe and relatable, most pieces incredibly livable. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit were among my favorite. Printed in a series of 15, the photographs (each priced between $7,000 and $8,000), document a city in ruins: “Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.” The photographs have an eeriness to them, like one is looking at that pinnacle moment in history where an empire falls and the city is left, disintegrating, falling apart. The artists capture the beauty of once iconic structures that have simply been left to decompose.

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre
James Sparshatt’s Graciela, a platinum print, edition of 12, priced at $3350 framed, pictures an older woman with small framed glasses, a wise and wrinkled face, with a crooked smile and a big, fat cigar in her mouth.

James Sparhatt
Photos of flowers constructed from mice bones? An interesting, slightly grotesque, but equally serene image–a black background and white flower. In Hideki Tokushige’s Bone Flower/ Spider Lilly (priced at $3,000 unframed) you can distinguish the skeleton (the spine as the stem, the hands and feet as the petals) of the once living creature. It’s a bit creepy, but I like this type of art.

Hideki Tokushige
And getting back to art that is a bit more livable: Thomas J. Hagen’s The Bridge, oil on linen, priced at $3,000. That fiery red, and smoky background caught my eye from 20 feet away. Safe, affordable, a true painting, but is it an investment? Will this art appreciate? That is what the buyer risks when purchasing from a fair such as this. However, if you are buying art for the sake of buying art, then who cares about whether or not you will double your money on this work at next year’s Sotheby’s spring sale. You are a patron, an art enthusiast, not a business man or woman who treats the work as a commodity. Congratulations.

Thomas J. Hagen

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