By: Sheila Gibson Stoodley and John Dorfman
Chicago celebrates bigness, and its famous Merchandise Mart is a massive structure, but Art Chicago, which will be held there May 1–4, is going to be smaller this year. The fair was huge in 2008, with 181 participants; in fact, some of the galleries thought it was too big. For its 29th edition, the organizers elected to shrink the event to around 120 participants.
The Mayor Gallery of London will show works that fit one of three themes: Pop art, abstraction and Minimalism. David Hockney’s Big Stone, a 1962 oil on canvas, represents the first category and will be available for $1.25 million. Victor Vasarely’s 1959 painting Bora Mi, priced at $600,000, covers abstraction and Sol LeWitt’s Complex Forms Structure VI (1990–91), one of his so-called “iceberg sculptures,” stands for Minimalism. “Basically, the show will revolve around the ’60s,” says director James Mayor.
Priscilla Vail Caldwell, vice president of James Graham & Sons in New York, has the same idea. Her gallery plans to display a range of selections at a range of prices, from Joe Fyfe’s Window With Orange, a 2008 fabric work priced at $5,500, to Bear Trail, a 1958 abstract by Norman Bluhm that measures almost 6 by 6 feet and is offered at $350,000.
HackelBury Fine Art of London will show photographs by Doug and Mike Starn, identical twins who use art to explore science and technology. A still from the film Attracted to Light, showing a moth fluttering around a lightbulb, is priced at $38,000. HackelBury is making its third trip to Art Chicago, Stevens says, because “there are serious collectors in Chicago. It’s nice to meet them on their home turf and get to know them better.”
Running concurrently with Art Chicago, and under the same roof, is the spring installment of the Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair. (The venue will also host a third fair, Next, devoted to cutting-edge contemporary art.) Over 100 dealers will bring wares ranging from silver, furniture and 20th-century design to paintings, folk art and Asian and tribal pieces. Rita Bucheit Ltd., of Chicago, a specialist in Biedermeier, Vienna Secession and Art Deco, plans to offer a harp-shaped Neoclassic upright piano from Vienna, circa 1810, in mahogany veneer with gilt accents, for $75,000. M.S. Rau Antiques of New Orleans will bring paintings, including a monumental 1883 canvas by William Bouguereau, Alma Parens (The Motherland), priced at $6.45 million, and an 1882 watercolor by Vincent van Gogh, A View of The Hague With the Nieuwe Kerk, at $1.85 million. The dealer will also offer a rare armorial silver coffee pot by Paul Revere, a circa 1898 Tiffany “Peony” table lamp for $498,500 and a George III silver tea service by Paul Storr priced at $98,500.
Kentshire Galleries of New York, a first-time exhibitor, will focus on jewelry, says co-owner Robert Israel, “not big rocks but things that emphasize craftsmanship and design.” Among them will be a pair of circa 1955 Cartier day-to-night gold and diamond earrings priced at $65,000.