art chicago revived



Love by Robert Indiana.

I had the chance to visit the annual Artchicago fair this weekend. Up until about 2003 or so, it was one of the leading commercial art conventions in the world. The kind of event where you could casually drop in and buy that $1m Picasso or Warhol. Due to competitor fairs and problems with the company running the show, Artchicago shrank and almost disappeared last year. Fortunately, the fair was bought by the folks who run the Merchandise Mart and they did a pretty good job reviving the fair. The key strategy is not to be bigger than competitor fairs, instead, combine contemporary art sales with other sales. The created a large “artopolis” (ugly!) by staging the regular contemporary art fair along with an “outsider” art fair, the emerging artist fair (Bridge Art Fair) and an antiques show. They also brought quite a bit of professionalism – the show was well organized, easy to find, well advertised, etc. Basically, one of the world’s best retailers of high end consumer goods did a solid job running an art fair. Bravo!

Ed Winkleman, of the Winkleman Gallery, asked me if the show was worth the drive (about 3 1/2 hours from South Indiana). I thought so. Having access to a wide range of artistic domains (contemporary, antiques, etc) was a good experience. There were, of course, pieces by blue chip artists like Warhol, Matta and Motherwell. There were also good pieces from young artists at both artchicago and bridge. What would probably strengthen the fair would be to have extremely strong pieces from more mid-career and “hot” artists. The range was not as deep and strong in 2007 as it was in 2001, when I first attended the fair. Overall, I’d say that things are looking up for artchicago. If they could expand the range of the works, that would make it even better. Here are a few works that I particularly enjoyed:

1. Hounds by Ulrike Palmbach. Represented by Stephen Wirtz Gallery. From a distance, it looks like a pack of dogs sculpted from hard material. Upon closer inspection, each dog is a hand sown doll. Combines a delicate fibre art feel with a playful stance.


2. See above. Love by Gary Indiana. You can’t go wrong with a classic.

3. 2nd Chance Series: The Fate if Beauty by Tad Lauritzen Wright. Represented by Davis Lusk Gallery. This elaborately lacquered and detailed shuffle board game merges the jaunty fun of a bar with a long essay on memory. And yes, it is functional – the gallerist even let me play a round!


There were many other solid works. If you have the chance, go next year and see for yourself.

Written by fabiorojas

May 2, 2007 at 6:16 am

One Response

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  1. (“Love” is by Robert Indiana, not Gary Indiana.)


    Seth Tisue

    May 9, 2007 at 12:53 am

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