Mostly Five-Figure Checks Written at Armory Show

If you were an art dealer at Armory Week with expensive paintings to sell, you probably went home disappointed, like David Zwirner, whose Bernie Madoff portrait didn't find a buyer. "I went there with low expectations, said Zwirner gloomily "and they were not met." According to New York's Alexandra Peers, the works that sold at the Armory Show and its satellite fairs like Volta and Pulse were cheap (meaning under $25,000) and tended to look "homemade, handmade, self-conscious."

There were a few expensive pieces by Anish Kapoor, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul McCarthy that sold for more than $200,000. But no one was left in any doubt that the power balance in the art world has shifted dramatically, with collectors in a position to bargain and spend time thinking about whether or not to make a purchase.

In such a grim market, the Times wonders: What will become of the brash King of Chelsea, Larry Gagosian? With art prices "falling like bank stocks," and with Gagosian's bread and butter clients—wealthy collectors who were once so eager to compete for sought after pieces—tightening their belts, even the man whom New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl calls "a shark, a feeding machine" is said to be vulnerable.

Not so vulnerable, though, as to curtail his lifestyle: You'll be happy to hear he's still wearing Hermès suits, flying around by private jet, throwing parties, refusing to talk to journalists, and no doubt—probably now more than ever!—humiliating underlings.

The Art World Embraces Arts & Crafts at Armory Week [NYMag]
Collectors Grab $1,500 Helmets, Ponder $500,000 Hirst in N.Y. [BN]
Pulling Art Sales Out of Thinning Air
[NYT]
Photo: kellerkeller [Flickr]