NEW YORK.- VOLTA NY—the cutting-edge art fair that debuted as VOLTA in Basel 3 years ago—opened today to significant attention and sales, underlining the view that, despite a general economic downturn, it is possible to exhibit and sell contemporary art in a challenging exhibition-oriented context.
Located at 7W 34th Street, just opposite the Empire State Building, VOLTA NY opened its participation in New York’s Armory Week with record visitors in its first 4 hours. Among the collectors in attendance for VOLTA NY’s Preview Brunch were Susan and Michael Hort, Mira, Don and Jason Rubell, Laura Lee Brown, Jill Bernstein, Italian Collector Rocco Orlacio, London-based collector Amir Shariat, Munich-based collector Siggi Lorenz, Marc and Josee Gensollen of Marseille, Cologne-based collector Andreas Hecher as well as dealers and art consultants like Edward Tyler Nahem, Jack Tilton and Cristin Tierney. Among the media in attendance were Anthony Haden-Guest, Walter Robinson of artnet, Charmaine Picard of The Art Newspaper, David Cohen of The New York Sun, Sarah Douglas of artinfo.com and Brian Sholis of Artforum.
Organized as a tightly-focused, curated event, VOLTA NY has introduced a new format that features exclusively solo projects of notable international artists, an effort that has found significant echo among collectors and the media. Some of the works that found new homes at VOLTA NY were David Ersser’s carved balsa wood installation of a London laddie’s room (at Seventeen Gallery), complete with carved posters of Che Guevara and the movie a Clockwork Orange. It sold on opening day for $85,000. Also moving briskly were Jota Castro’s highly political works (at Elaine Levy), William Pope L.’s paintings, photographs and objects (at Rove Projects–Kenny Schachter), Adam Dant’ s intensely Gulliverian ink drawings of such ur-New York locales as the Empire State Building (directly visible outside of VOLTA NY’s bank of windows) and the New York Public Library, Kristof Kintera’s moving povera sculptures (at Jiri Svestka) and Suzannah Sinclair’s seductive watercolors on panel (at Samson Projects). Reportedly, 08 Whitney Biennial photographer Melanie Schiff’s new suite of photographs at the time of this writing is nearly sold out at Kavi Gupta’s space; so are Ian Burns kinetic landscape sculptures at Spencer Brownstone. In fact, sales were brisk in all media: there are Kevin Francis Gray’s shiny realist sculptures at Goff + Rosenthal, Sage Vaughn’s paintings at Bertrand et Gruner, Adriaan van der Ploeg’s series of teen photographic portraits at Haas & Fischer, and Ricardo Rendon’s ghostly mural intervention at Galeria Enrique Guerrero, to name a few.
A cross of an exhibition with an art fair, VOLTA NY is also animated by work that is clearly noncommercial in character: for example, the Swedish Collective International Festival mixed cocktails and blew confetti at Fruit & Flower Deli’s Tiki Lounge-cum-art-space, Julius Popp displayed his science-inspired, computer-controlled kinetic sculpture on the floor of Dogenhaus’ space, and Adrian Williams exhibited her film of a house being literally pulled down a street at Voges + Partner to the musical accompaniment of a live string ensemble. With such a mix of edgy and challenging work, many museum curators were also in attendance and, at press time, the outstanding large scale installation by deceased German artist Anna Oppermann was under serious consideration by the prestigious MUMOK in Vienna.
Also as part of VOLTA NY’s solo presentations, the exhibition features 3 special projects in different parts of its home at 7W 34th Street: these start at the lobby level with a painted mural by German artist Florian Merkel, move into the elevators, where DRIFT, a Russian collective for video-art, accompany the visitor to the building’s 11th floor, and continue near the exhibition’s lounge at Imperfect Articles’ array of limited edition artist T-Shirts.
VOLTA NY remains open from 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. daily through Sunday, March 30. Shuttles run every twenty minutes from VOLTA NY’s 34th Street location to its sister fair, The Armory Show.