At the world’s most important art fairs, you can expect to find dozens, if not hundreds of booths showcasing works from today’s hottest artists. But at a new fair in New York in September, almost everything will be presented by artists active in the 20th century.
This fair, entitled Independent 20th Century, will bring together some thirty galleries from around the world at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. This will be the second fair currently organized by Independent, which is already hosting another in the spring focusing on contemporary art. The first edition is scheduled to take place September 8-11 and will run concurrently with the Armory Show at the Javits Center.
Although other New York fairs, like TEFAF and the ADAA Art Show, often include presentations by well-known 20th-century artists, this new fair will operate a little differently. Not only will the entire fair be dedicated to this period of art history, but Independent 20th Century also has a stated goal of revising the canon to create a more diverse picture of art history.
Independent director Elizabeth Dee, who organized this fair with Matthew Higgs, the director of alternative space White Columns, said she was looking to reflect some of what happens in the galleries she cares about. .
“Over the years, there has been a shift, with new generation merchants showing a more diverse group of artists and territories, geographically, socially, politically,” she said in an interview. “They are looking forward and looking back, saying, “We have to have a canon that looks like our program.”
The fair also taps into a trend seen in biennials around the world, which increasingly rely on deceased artists to explore the aesthetic shifts underway at the moment.
“The key curatorial conversation in the 21st century has been reclaiming historical voices from prior art,” said Higgs, who also serves as an advisor to the Independent’s spring edition. “There’s been this lingering interest in the past and its relationship to the present.”
At the current Venice Biennale, for example, curator Cecilia Alemani explored a re-emergence of surrealism by tracing the movement’s initial rise in a series of historical sections, relying exclusively on women to do so.
Many of the artists Alemani has focused on are personalities who, because of their gender identity, race, sexuality, location, or any combination of these factors, have not yet made it into the mainstream. cannon, as is often the case with many deaths. artists appearing in biennials. For this reason, their work is generally not highly valued in the market.
There have, however, been some attempts to give these under-recognized artists more weight by raising their prices at auction. At a sale of 20th century art at Christie’s last week, new auction records were set for artists like Ernie Barnes, Grace Hartigan and Howardena Pindell, none of whom enjoyed the same level of beware that Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and others whose work usually sells for the highest price.
Dee said she designed Independent 20th Century as a fair where artists who are “emerging into market potential” receive high-quality surveys that are useful to curators as well as buyers. However, not everything will be for sale – the fair will also include museum loans which will help galleries provide the most complete picture of the artists they present.
“It will be a place where people will research,” Dee continued. “There’s a reason it’s all here, and that’s because it’s right for this moment.”