By Lindsay Pollock
New York’s Park Avenue set has begun buying art again--battered stock markets be damned!--judging from the buzz and sales Thursday at the opening night of the 56th Winter Antiques Show.
Just ask Barbara Israel. In the first half-hour of the upscale art fair, the New York-based dealer who specializes in garden statuary sold 10 pieces, including a pair of life-size doe-and-fawn groups once owned by Doris Duke for $135,000.
“The stock market wasn’t great this week, but the mood is good,” said Arie Kopelman, chairman of the show committee and vice chairman of Chanel SA. “I’ve seen a bunch of red dots and the show just opened a few minutes ago.”
Tickets to attend the first hour of the annual show, held at the Park Avenue Armory, cost $1,000 to $2,500. Publisher and collector Peter M. Brant and Sallie Krawcheck, president of Global Wealth & Investment Management at Bank of America Corp., the fair’s main sponsor, were among attendees.
“Last year was somber,” said folk-art dealer David Schorsch. “This is a different year and it’s back. It’s not crazy, but it’s back.”
Sales were sluggish at the 2009 edition, amid a dismal economic outlook. A year later, buyers are more confident and eager to spend.
The Winter Show, known to cater to the tastes -- and pocketbooks -- of New York’s rich, hosts 75 exhibitors this year and runs through Jan. 31. Proceeds benefit East Side House Settlement, a South Bronx nonprofit organization.
The fair presents a smattering of American and European furniture and fine art. London arms-and-armor dealer Peter Finer offered a 16th-century suit of German armor for $750,000 and an impressive 1574 German sword for $48,000.
Other marquee offerings include sculptor Paul Manship’s neo-classical, 9-foot-tall pink marble urn, priced at $6 million, at dealer Gerald Peters’s stand. Manship’s best-known work is Rockefeller Center’s golden “Prometheus” statue. The 7-ton urn, featuring American Indian-themed designs, was originally commissioned in 1914 for the driveway of Cleveland, Ohio, industrialist William Gwinn Mather’s estate.
Peters is also selling four gilt-bronze panels by Manship, originally designed for the facade of the American Telephone & Telegraph building on Lower Broadway. The panels represent the four elements -- air, fire, water and earth -- and are available as a set of four for $6 million.
Less expensive yard fare is available from Maine dealers James and Nancy Glazer, whose stand is dominated by a 1903 turquoise copper elk, which formerly topped an Elks club in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The price: $425,000.
There is art for walls as well, including Winslow Homer’s black-and-white 1884 charcoal of a Maine landscape, priced at about $500,000 at the Thomas Colville Fine Art booth. The work is among the artist’s earliest renderings of Prouts Neck, Maine. Modern American art at dealer Bernard Goldberg’s stand includes Arthur Dove’s jagged 1937 landscape, once owned by Inland Steel Co., and now available for $850,000.
Several other art souks have sprung up around New York, timed to coincide with the Winter Show, including the New York Ceramics Fair at the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts.
Berlin artist Hinrich Kroeger presented his own ornate vessels, plates and wall hangings, priced from about $400 to $19,000. A witty white poodle with a gold nose, titled “Poodle in Love,” was for sale at $5,900. Other work featured large phalluses and erotic couplings.
“Some people smile,” said Kroeger, of the reactions he’d been receiving among tweedy ceramic fans.
While most of the ceramics fair seemed sleepy Thursday afternoon, Paul J. Katrich’s shiny glazed vessels were a hot item. Katrich sold out a dozen within the first hour of the fair and stuck a handwritten sign in his glass vitrine reading “Sold Out! We Love New York.” His work sells for $400 to $4,000.
“If you don’t blow your own horn, who is going to do it for you,” Katrich said.