Home Arts Dealers Report Strong First Day Sales as Biggest Expo Chicago Draws ‘Critical Mass’ of Midwestern Collectors

Dealers Report Strong First Day Sales as Biggest Expo Chicago Draws ‘Critical Mass’ of Midwestern Collectors

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Sales were promising during the first day of Expo Chicagothe largest art fair in the American Midwest, according to dealers, the city’s art scene is enjoying a renaissance as the city’s artists and institutions attract national and international attention.

VIPs began pouring into Navy Pier’s sprawling party hall at noon on Thursday (April 13), passing a massive neon installation by Italian artist Andrea Galvani and hanging sculptures by Julien Creuzet, which will represent France see you next year Venice Biennale. Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson officially kicked off the fair with a champagne toast and a Chicago native luck the rapper browsed the booths, chatting enthusiastically with vendors before chatting with artist Hank Willis Thomas on the fair’s Dialogue stage.

By the end of the fair’s VIP preview on Thursday night, New York’s Kasmin Gallery had sold a bronze sculpture by Max Ernst for $225,000 and Chicago’s Monique Meloche Gallery had placed an important Ebony G tapestry. Patterson for $130,000 from a prominent Chicago collector. The Los Angeles-based Kohn Gallery said it sold a large painting by Ilana Savdie to an East Coast institution for $110,000 and two paintings by Siji Krishnan, one to an East Coast collector for $58,000. and another to a private American museum for $70,000. Local dealer Kavi Gupta placed a work by Marie Watt in a public collection and a work by Roger Brown, member of the Chicago Imagistswith an important private collector.

Monique Meloche has sold a monumental Ebony G. Patterson tapestry to a Chicago collector for $130,000, the gallery announced Thursday. Courtesy of Chicago Expo

New York gallery Ryan Lee sold a painting of an ice cream parlor by Anne-Karin Furunes to a private collector for $40,000 and Brazilian gallery Nara Roesler sold three works by André Griffo ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 $. Miami Beach-based Jupiter Contemporary has sold two works by Yirui Jia for $25,000 each. New York-based Half Gallery said it sold its stand of works by Yoora Lee – with prices ranging from $5,500 to $24,000 – to collectors including trustees of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum. . The Claire Oliver Gallery in New York has sold its stand of works by Stan Squirewell, BK Adams and Gio Swaby, whose work is the subject of an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago until July 3. Sean Horton Presents, also based in New York, sold its solo booth of works by Lauren Delaroche. Sales on the first day of the fair appear to be stronger than Last year; reported sales after the VIP preview day in 2022 topped around $100,000.

This week’s Expo Chicago (through April 16) marks the fair’s tenth edition and largest to date, with more than 170 galleries (up from more than 140 in 2022). Fair director Tony Karman said this year’s growth wasn’t entirely intentional, citing the space available at Chicago’s Navy Pier, which has hosted the city’s art fairs for decades. “We are bound by our size,” says Karman. “We never intended to necessarily become a 200 or 250 gallery fair, because in practice we can’t.” (Art Chicago, a previous version of the fair under different operators, peaked at around 200 booths.)

The growth of Expo this year has been largely driven by the fair allowing more galleries to participate in the Exhibition section, reserved for galleries that have been in existence for ten years or less and curated by Aimé Iglesias Lukin, Director and Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the Americas Society in New York. This year, 41 galleries are participating in Exposure. Lukin said the original plan was to choose 30, but after receiving around 80 applications, including many from international galleries, fair organizers allowed more attendees.

Works exhibited at the 2023 edition of Expo Chicago Justin Barbie. Courtesy of Chicago Expo

Expo’s growth over the past decade reflects the upward trajectory of the city’s cultural scene as a whole, according to merchants at the fair. Evan Boris, partner at Monique Meloche, one of the city’s top galleries, says social media has helped people around the world “discover art in a different way than they used to.” to do, which breaks down the geographic barriers that have existed historically,” allowing people outside of Chicago to see what the city has to offer.

Dealers say the strength of Chicago’s art scene comes in part from the city’s institutions. Chicago is home to some of the best MFA programs in the country and world-class museums, like the Art Institute of Chicago. These structures, coupled with a more affordable cost of living than in other major US cities, make Chicago an attractive place to live and work for artists and allow them to experiment freely.

“Chicago allows us to get away from the hubbub and craziness of other art centers. It gives you space to breathe and think about how you can innovate,” says Phillip Barcio, Associate Director of Interpretation at Kavi Gupta, who adds that Chicago’s art ecosystem can support a “pretty crazy gallery to simply throw away money, resources and time. in an artist.

Works by Gio Swaby on display at the Claire Oliver Gallery booth at Expo Chicago Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery

Chicago has been “a great incubator of creativity for a very long time,” says Claire Warner, co-founder of local space Volume Gallery. “And now people are kind of looking here, ‘Oh my God, there’s all this really great stuff going on,’ which I don’t think people were doing before.”

Karman says the Expo has helped raise Chicago’s reputation around the world by inviting collectors and curators to explore the city’s art scene. Visitors to the VIP preview included New York collectors Susan and Florida-based Michael Hort Beth Rudin DeWoody and influential Cleveland collector Nancy Lerner, as well as Chicago collectors Richard and Ellen Sandor, Jack and Sandy Guthman, and Helyn Goldenberg.

Boris says the Expo draws a “critical mass” of Midwestern collectors to Chicago looking to buy art at the fair, and some dealers said a majority of buyers visiting their booths on Thursday were from the out of town. Barcio says Kavi Gupta’s booth was visited by several Los Angeles collectors and the gallery sold a piece to a Wisconsin collector.

“We’re only a week away from the schedule, but this week I think we’re showing our collaborative nature well and it also gives some perspective on what’s been going on all year,” Karman says.

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