Is it possible to collect hot, hyped-up, fresh-from-the-Whitney Biennial artists at the fairs, for a fraction of the cost?
Absolutely -- if you patronize the nonprofit organizations, always in need of funds, which have turned the benefit print into a thriving business niche (god bless the generous artists). As you hunt through the aisles of the art fairs, you can usually find the tiny nonprofit booths tucked away in odd corners, perhaps next to the cloakroom, or the bathroom. At Pulse, for instance, while on your way to the café, be sure to check out the Art in General benefit edition by Pae White, a star of both the Whitney show and the recent Venice Biennale. Her bronze table sculpture of a Sycamore leaf, done in an edition of 20, is $1,800.
At the booth around the corner is the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s newest fundraising edition: "Photography Portfolio IV," a collection of works by ten blue chip contemporaries, including Roni Horn, Louise Lawler, Richard Misrach and Paul Pfeiffer. Ordinarily priced at $24,000, BAM is offering a special fair discount price of $18,000.
If that sounds like a little too much of a good thing, the pioneering photo nonprofit Aperture, which supports the publication of its magazine with photo editions, is showing off a new edition by Curtis Mann, still another rising star of the Whitney Biennial. His Sculpture, remnant (Lebanon) (2008) is available for $900, although it was selling fast. Also available at the Aperture stand is a photo from Michael Wolf’s celebrated "Architecture of Density" series, priced at $2,000. (Large-format versions of the prints were selling for $13,500 at Bruce Silverstein’s booth at Pier 92 at the Armory Show.).
Speaking of the Armory Show, print dealers there were snapping up Matt Mullican’s new etching, I Love Coffee, published by the Institute of Contemporary Art in London to accompany the artist’s exhibition, "For the Blind Man," which closed Jan. 31, 2010. This little jewel -- and who could disagree with its sentiment? -- is priced at $270, as is Matthew Brannon’s print, Misused Pronoun.
The Armory Show has its own highly collectible editions, which fund the cancer foundation named after its late co-founders, Pat Hearn and Colin de Land. Susan Collis, who was one of the buzz-worthy artists at London’s Frieze Art Fair, was commissioned to make three editions for the 2010 show. As of this writing, only a few copies remain of her lithograph, The Devil You Know, which is fashioned as a facsimile of a drippy paint splotch. The price: $1,000.
On your way to the lavatory on Pier 94, be sure to drop by the Blind Spot booth. This nonprofit publication specializes in the presentation of photo-based artworks, and to support itself the magazine produces wonderful editions by a range of artists, including John Baldessari. His Iris Prints, in editions of 25, are priced in the $800-$1,200 range.
Next to the VIP lounge at the Armory Show, Yvonne Force’s Art Production Fund is offering a wide selection of beach towels by artists, priced at $95 and a perfect preparation for the coming summer. Included are designs by Peter Doig, Karen Kilimnik, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton and Ed Ruscha. And what bather wouldn’t want to rub up against Ed Ruscha?
DEBORAH RIPLEY is Artnet’s print expert.