Here’s What Sold on the Opening Day of the Independent Art Fair, From Fantastical Anime Paintings to Figurative Ceramics

Art collectors’ pent-up demand and enthusiasm for buying was on full display this week at the Independent art fair in New York, which returned to Spring Studios in Tribeca after a one-time stint in downtown Manhattan last fall.

The unofficial theme of the multi-floor presentation? Painting, painting, painting.

Reflecting the current fervor for all things figurative and cartoonishly exaggerated, the dealers who set up shop hocked everything from diminutive works on stone to large-scale examples that had serious “wall power,” as an auctioneer may put it.

At the sold-out booth for the Berlin-based Peres Projects, which was showing Paulo Salvador’s large paintings of animals and humans in unusual, often ambiguous poses against day-glo backgrounds, Artnet News even overheard a would-be buyer pleading to be added to the gallery’s wait list.

“We saw confident acquisitions in every category, from historical material in the $100,000-plus range, to living artists priced at $80,000 and under,” said Elizabeth Dee, who founded the fair in 2010, told Artnet News. 

Zoé Blue M., Kachi-Kachi (2022). Image courtesy the artist and Page-NYC.

Page NYC’s unmissable booth presented five large paintings by Zoé Blue M. with her signature mischievous girls set in fantastic, mythical scenes. All five pictures sold ahead of the opening for between $20,000 and $30,000 each.

Meanwhile, Jack Hanley brought works by painter Emma Kohlmann and ceramicist Roger Herman, while Kasmin gallery showed wares by vanessa german that had long and whimsical descriptions of media. One work was made in part from “prayerbeads in the shape of healing the broken heart, desperation, flight, small bluebook with the word LAZY on the front cover and a little black dog on it, too.”

By the end of the day, the gallery had sold nine german works for prices ranging from $30,000 to $45,000.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was virtually no digital art on view, with the notable exception of the Athens-based Allouche Benias Gallery, which gave its booth—strategically located in a corner nook overlooking the street—to Artnet News columnist and artist Kenny Schachter, who filled the spaces with a cheeky installation. 

vanessa german, Sometimes I Think That I Am You (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Kasmin, New York.

Meanwhile, dealer Chris Sharp sold three of Altoon Sultan’s small-scale paintings, notable for their depictions of industry, rendered in clean lines and a vibrant palette. Each work was priced at $14,000.

“We had a great day,” Sharp told Artnet News. “Not only were sales strong, but I had a lot of long (for a fair) conversations with curators, institutional directors, and writers, who were generally delighted to discover the 73-year-old Sultan’s work. This fair definitely feels like a game-changer for her.”

Ulala Imai, Strangers (2021). Image courtesy the artist and Karma Gallery.

Ulala Imai, Strangers (2021). Image courtesy the artist and Karma Gallery.

Karma gallery was abuzz with a crowd of viewers taking in paintings by three artists: Andrew Cranston, Reggie Burrows Hodges, and Ulala Imai, each of whom had their own skillfully installed wall presentation. Imai, who is inspired by family life and popular culture, was even a draw for artist Maurizio Cattelan, who was spotted checking out her work. 

Another crowd favorite was the booth for White Columns, where red “sold” dots abounded just a few hours into the preview day. Matthew Higgs, who runs the space, was showing paintings and related photo-based works by Ghanian-American aritst Lloyd Foster.

Installation view of Ruby Sky Stiler at Nicelle Beauchene at Independent. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Installation view of Ruby Sky Stiler at Nicelle Beauchene at Independent. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

At Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, another buzzed-about draw was a series of mixed-media works by Ruby Sky Stiler that evoke both dazzling Op Art and classic sculpture. Four sold at $25,000 each.

If the show is any indicator, there is little doubt that fairs are primed to come roaring back. As art dealer Chris Sharp told Artnet News, the Independent preview day was just “full on.”

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