American International Fine Art Fair to open with ‘big dealers and good art’ – Palm Beach Daily News
Don’t look for big changes at this year’s American International Fine Art Fair. “It’s going to be the same as always — big dealers and good art,” said organizer David Lester, who operates International Fine Art Expositions with his wife, Lee Ann.
The fair’s 18th edition will open Tuesday with a preview and run through Feb. 9 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.
At around 43 dealers, AIFAF is about the same size as it was last year. The lineup includes longtime exhibitors such as paintings dealer Richard Green, antique arms and armor purveyor Peter Finer, 20th century silver and decorative arts dealer The Silver Fund and Chinese art gallerist Michael Goedhuis. New and returning dealers include Belgravia Gallery, whose mix includes art benefiting charities; Japanese contemporary art dealer Gallery FW; and Galerie Jacques Bailly, which specializes in post-impressionist and Ecole de Paris artists.
AIFAF, once widely regarded as the most glamorous art and antique fair in the country, has not yet turned into the high-end art and design fair of Lester’s aspirations. That’s because the struggling economy put the brakes on housing sales and construction and consequently on the interior design trade, Lester said.
But the market is picking up now, he said. “We will start to see the design dealers come in during the next year or two. There’s always a year or two lag.”
He also expects IFAE’s new Miami Art + Design Fair to fatten up AIFAF’s dealer list because exhibitors will get more bang for their buck in shipping, insurance and other costs by dipping into two markets. The Miami fair runs Feb. 13-18 in Bayfront Park.
Michael James, owner of The Silver Fund, agrees with Lester that the market has shifted from older art and antiques to more contemporary art and design. He established his headquarters in December in a 2,500-square-foot shop on Worth Avenue.
“There’s a new generation of house buyers,” he said. “People in their 30s to their 50s are buying serious properties in Palm Beach. That’s why we opened a shop here. Things made from the 1930s to the 1960s speak to them more loudly than the older generation.” Among the pieces he will exhibit are a circa 1940 sterling silver Georg Jensen covered fish platter and a circa 1930 Portuguese art deco sterling silver lamp.
Jacques Bailly, returning to the fair after a four-year absence, is banking on Jean Dufy’s popularity. Bailly, who is working on Dufy’s catalogue raisonné, will exhibit a number of paintings by the artist. “During the art fair in West Palm Beach, I already have 27 meetings set up,” he said.
Green also is counting on the market’s appetite for post-impressionist French art. The gallery will mount an exhibition of paintings by Henri Le Sidaner, Gustave Loiseau and Henri Martin in its booth.
One of Belgravia Gallery’s featured artists, the late Nelson Mandela, isn’t usually associated with art fairs. The South African leader was in his 80s when he took up art. In 2002, he returned to Robben Island, site of his long imprisonment. He used impressions from that visit to create lithographs that raise money for his charities in South Africa that help HIV sufferers and homeless and orphaned children.