The pulse of the global artmarket

You have to go to New York if you want to check the pulse of the global art market and encounter the broadest spectrum of artists there is.

New York remains the undisputed epicentre of contemporary art market transactions, thanks to a conjunction of operators: its collectors, its galleries, its auctions and its fairs, which are very numerous but not always very satisfying.

This is because, strange though it may seem, no high-quality global fair of the 20th and 21st centuries really exists there.

It’s the giant Art Basel in Miami (ABMB) in December that assumes this role for the United States. And yet there’s no shortage of offerings in this megacity.

Without even mentioning the new Tefaf New York fairs in November and May which have a rather classic display, in May Frieze, the “made in England” show that leans towards the avant-garde, is having trouble finding its audience on Randall’s Island (located just beyond Harlem).

The Armory show

So this year the Armory Show, with its 198 participants, taking place from 7 to 10 March, appears to be of a failing quality; the usual discoveries of works by “classic” American artists that make it so interesting are notably absent.

Installed around the docks on the shores of the Hudson river, it hasn’t attracted any of the influential behemoth galleries like Hauser & Wirth or Zwirner, who instead chose the ADAA fair on the upper east side held a week earlier (in 2019 from 28 February to 3 March), which was made up entirely of mini booths.


From the 2019 crop of the March fairs in New York it’s clearly Independent that stands out. Situated downtown in Tribeca this show of a specific genre and of a purposefully modest size has been in existence for 10 years. The 63 participating galleries are selected and invited by a curator, Matthew Higgs, who is incidentally director of an alternative exhibition site, White Columns, in New York. He says his aim consists of displaying galleries that tell a story rather than merely showcasing their inventory.



As an antidote to the globalization of tastes in contemporary art and a banality in the global offerings, the director of the fair Elizabeth Dee often describes the selected galleries as “maverick”: independent and unique professionals, with diverse profiles.



Alain Jacquet

This year at Independent you can see a French gallery which for the past 30 years has been based at Nancy in the northeast of France, Hervé Bize. It’s presenting the work of one of the most fascinating painters at the fair: Alain Jacquet (1939-2008). He is known for his Pop style with his pixelated contemporary interpretation of a luncheon on the grass (“déjeuner sur l’herbe”).

In the 1980s he produced wild visions of the earth as seen from the moon which mix with flair certain obsessions of his, from the male sex to Einstein (on sale between 80,000 and 160,000 euros).

Gilles Aillaud

Another French gallery, Hervé Loevenbruck from Paris, is displaying in collaboration with the New York Ortuzar projects the figurative painting of Gilles Aillaud (1928-2005), who has had his moment of glory in France and who produced many scenes of animals in cages; a reflection on the fate of mankind in contemporary society.

See his colossal rhinoceros in captivity, which looks very despondent, on sale for 360,000 dollars, one of the highest sums at the fair.

At auction the artist’s record price was for “Lions en cage” which sold in 2011 for 198,000 euros.

Manuel Solano

The Berlin-based Peres Projects gallery is displaying the work of a  Mexican artist, Manuel Solano (born in 1987).

In 2015 this transgender painter, who contracted AIDS, became blind. They’ve developed a technique with the aid of, among other things, an application that enables them to be aware of what they are painting.

Solano was exhibited recently at the New Museum biennale in New York, until 14 June at the ICA in Miami, and in June at the Palais de Tokyo (the prices of their interior scenes range from 20,000 to 30,000 dollars).

Markus Amm

At the booth of the Kordansky gallery in Los Angeles the German artist who lives in Geneva, Markus Amm (born in 1967), has produced a set of abstract paintings, which all sold immediately, conceived as an accumulation of layers of paint left to run, which invites to a powerful contemplation. In 2017 he was the subject of an exhibition at the Kunsthaus in Basel.

Gertrude Abercrombie

Brendan Dugan from the Karma gallery in New York reveals the surrealist work of Gertrude Abercrombie (1907-1977) from Chicago, who painted many miniatures which address her domestic life: the cat, her washing and dressing etc (between 40,000 and 100,000 dollars).



Lastly, there are two unmissable photo series.

Jean Painlevé

At the booth of the French gallery Air de Paris they’re exhibiting old snapshots in black and white by the biologist, poet and filmmaker Jean Painlevé (1902-1989), who was passionate about marine wildlife immortalized in monstrous close-up (on sale for 7000 dollars).

Albrecht Becher

Delmes & Zander from Berlin are showing self-portraits made using photomontage by the completely tattooed German artist Albrecht Becher (1906-2002), who was mistreated by the Nazis on account of his homosexuality (between 4000 and 6000 euros).

So many fascinating stories and journeys through the minds of artists.

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