Art Southampton, a four-year-old baby in the crowded world of art fairs, has an ace up its sleeve. Located in the Hamptons, where collectors demand superlative art works, it is one of the most exclusive fairs in the business. Nicholas Korniloff, director and partner of the organization that produces Art Southampton and six other top art fairs such as Art Miami, Art Miami New York and Art Wynwood among others, shares his views on the fair market, the future, and new emerging trends in an interview with BLOUIN ARTINFO.
Besides Art Southampton, your team produces many fairs hosted at Miami, New York and Silicon Valley / San Francisco. How do you ensure that your fairs stand out in the crowded market place?
After 26 years in the business, the Art Miami brands are recognized as the leading and one of the longest-running fair organizations globally. We are devoted to creating new relationships for our network of galleries, their artists, and our attending audience. We focus most of our time on cultivating a qualified audience for all our fairs and bringing new qualified buyers into the market, which will have positive effects on the art market for many generations to come.
Collectively, we have more experience, resources, and international contacts than many other art fair organizations, which often follow our lead, and our events stand out primarily because of the competitive vetting process and focus on quality, as well as ambience, amenities and infrastructure. All guarantee a high level of consistent excellence that our dealers and the public know and expect. Each year, we receive more qualified applications than we can accept, which ensures sustained high standards. That’s the reason that our qualified buyer attendance at all of our seven fairs increases each year with impressive numbers.
Our longevity comes from a thoroughly experienced and dedicated professional team combined with outstanding international galleries that provide quality works of art, knowledge, and an understanding of how to build an important collection at many levels. Our fairs also have a very strong cultural and social platform that gives back to the community and provide educational symposiums that support the mission of our galleries and the art market.
Every year, either new fairs are born or the older ones are repackaged. Are we at the top of the growth curve of the art market? How long will this last?
The art market continues to strive and the art market continues to grow! The reality is that not every dealer, collector, or curator can be everywhere at once. I believe that there will be a contraction of the smaller weaker regional shows that exist without much strategy or feel for the marketplace – this will be driven by the importance of the larger fair markets and the infrastructure and critical mass of attendees they provide. Niche fairs must have a plan to continue in a healthy manner and service not only the smaller current community of collectors, but also have the opportunity for emerging collectors to develop over the long-run.
We still believe that there are markets to pursue that make sense for the future and we also think that there are some very good potential fair markets that have been neglected, not managed correctly, and have lost touch with the social and cultural fabric of their communities. We don’t foresee a slowdown in the near future for properly programmed art fairs like ours that become an important alternative to auctions, or the behemoth fairs that necessitate the demand for split second decisions with multiple bidders from around the world after the same objective.
Could you talk about the atmosphere of a fair in the Hamptons vis-à-vis at your other venues that are demographically different from Southampton?
Most of our fair locations are naturally connected to affluent communities that have a strong interest in collecting art. Miami, New York, and San Francisco/Silicon Valley all have remarkable demographics and Southampton is certainly no exception. While the Hamptons may seem somewhat secluded, the relatively modest physical scale of the surrounding communities actually is a distinct advantage for visitors coming to Art Southampton. The group that vacations, plays and lives in the Hamptons understands quality, design and the current movements of the art market. The region is rich with a strong cultural history, and some of the most collected artists in the world, from Pollock and de Kooning to Lichtenstein and Chamberlain, among many others, have originated from this region and some of the biggest international collectors live out East during the summer and entertain other collectors from around the globe. The feel at the fair is very relaxed and collectors are buying for more than one home, and there are many art advisors, architects, designers and decorators that visit the fair. Art Southampton has a wide breadth of quality work to select from and the social engagement and reinforcement of cultural relationships that are formed globally year-round is just as important as art. It’s a lifestyle event that has a built-in serious group of collectors and connoisseurs.
This year, the fair will be hosted at a new venue. Could you take us through the process that brought about the change in the venue?
Each year we review the advantages of each venue in terms of our ultimate goal of serving the best interests of our dealers and their clients. Logistics played an important role in making a location change and the move to the respected Nova’s Ark Project turned out to be a clear advantage for many reasons. The property had become available and we thought that it provided a more central location between the towns of Southampton and East Hampton. The Nova’s Ark Project has a proud tradition of innovation, and that’s what our fairs are all about. This area, originally conceived for exhibiting art, retains the existing “spirit” of the grounds where many have enjoyed great creativity and inventiveness.
What are the significant changes/ additions in the fourth edition of the fair compared to the previous editions? Could you also sum up the fair’s journey so far?
The significant change to this year’s fair is a larger international presence from respected dealers and an impressive showing from North American galleries. We have participation from the UK, Germany, France, Korea, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Venezuela, Colombia, Austria, and Switzerland. Our fair also has the highest concentration of local galleries involved, which allows us to have a tremendous focus on the important artists past and present that lived and worked on the East End represented in the fair.
We also have introduced Design this year and will have many objects, sculptures and functional art for acquisition. Our Opening VIP Preview that benefits both the Parrish Museum and Southampton Hospital has become in its first four years a ‘can’t miss’ event for serious collectors and art enthusiasts. In addition, our fair is open on Monday, which allows collectors headed back to New York City for work on Tuesday to visit the fair. The fair is still in growth mode and the integration of high level design and more blue chip contemporary and modern works will remain a central goal.
I believe from our strong gallery renewals over the last four years that the fair definitely has a following and our dealers are satisfying a need unfulfilled by the other fairs. Our first year clearly was about separating ourselves through a quality standpoint and proving that serious art will sell during a fair in a vacation community. Year two was about reinforcing our position and proving that the price points for selling works in the Hamptons could be increased and diversifying the fair with more primary works, new and estate driven, that would be reinforced by strong secondary market works for sale. Year three really was about sustaining year two’s model and continuing to provide philanthropic support to the community. The future is bright for Art Southampton!
With Christie’s Real Estate as one of the sponsors of the fair, do we see real estate becoming an integral part of art fairs in future? Is the trend of delivering homes along with haute art already here?
Christie’s is an illustrious International Real Estate company and has been a main sponsor at our Art Miami fair for years now, they have a logical interest in the demographics of our visitors to the fair. They are fantastic partners in helping to market the fair to a proven list of collectors and those who meet the profile of a potential art buyer. It’s especially true for the Hamptons area, where some of the most expensive real estate in America is represented by Christie’s. It’s a natural sponsorship position for them to continue their partnership with Art Southampton, where they will have the opportunity to meet new prospective buyers, reinforce relationships, provide onsite amenities to all guests and generate new potential listings for their network of global affiliates.
Moving forward from 2015, what are the trends in the international art market that you see emerging?
With record-breaking private and auction sales around the world and secondary market works commanding a premium, the art market will remain strong and confident. The availability of inventory of the very best artworks will still be an issue. The next generations of great artists and collectors will grow together as buying cycles will change for the baby boomers and the millennia’s who are amassing great fortunes. This younger group eventually will step in to be the next significant group of caretakers and ambassadors of the market. Investing in blue chip works will only get stronger as supply and demand dictate. This is a positive sign for confidence and a strong and enduring art market. Technology driven work, the potential of the tech buyer coming to fruition, and new emerging markets are going to be key for the continued globalization and sustainability of the market.
Any particular genre of art or region of the world that is likely to catch the attention of the buyers in the market this year?
Often serious buyers stick to a formula that has worked well for them in the past, collecting images that they are familiar with and enjoy. For example, China has emerged as a leading international market, surpassing Britain and the United States in overall sales. However, the strongest market for work produced by Asian artists, new and old, is not surprisingly buyers from Asia. Brooklyn by comparison has become an undisputed melting pot for new and emerging talents that are entering the market guided by prestigious dealers and curatorial acquisitions. There is a tremendous community of collectors in New York that enjoys the challenge of discovering and obtaining new art that is produced nearby, and that support keeps the evolving art market super-charged.
Do you have any plans for branching out Art Southampton to other locations? I posed this question to Katelijne De Backer in April in an interview for Art Miami New York, and she said that you would have answered that question more freely a few years ago.
I would say that Art Southampton has its own distinct identity, strategy and reason for existing – it’s about the galleries and their programs that cater to a very diverse audience that enjoys a luxury lifestyle in everything they do. Yes, this formula could be utilized in other regions around the world, if the demand for it existed. At the moment, our plans are to continue to provide a positive role as advocates for the gallery system and what it has to offer to all levels of collectors, new or established, and the communities where we host fairs. Our main responsibility is to represent galleries and reinforce their important contributions to the cultural, social and economic development around the world. Our other goal is to continue to develop collectors into the market and provide new relationships for our galleries and their clients, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t always looking for promising opportunities. We will keep you posted!
– Art Southampton runs July 9 -13 at Nova’s Ark Project, 60 Millstone Road, Bridgehampton, NY 11976
Sail Into Art Southampton
If you take a look at an aerial view map of Long Island it won’t take you but a moment to figure out why the celebrated seaside resort area affectionately called “The Hamptons ” (originally settled in 1640) became so popular. Not only is it teeming with pristine beaches, historic homes and cool ocean breezes, but it’s the most preferred destination, an escape really, for fast-paced Manhattanites looking for the shortest route to get out of town as they seek the serenity of the gentrified countryside. This area also features some of the most expensive residential properties within the United States; for example, the former Montauk compound of Andy Warhol, which was purchased in 1972 for $225,000, is now on the market for $85 million. When you blend all this together, mixing fame and fortune and beautiful people, it’s not surprising that this remains a unique community of serious high level art collectors and dealers, along with many renowned artists-in-residence, all of which seem to fit comfortably together into one concentrated, fabulous fraternity of art world personalities that has no seasonal equal.
Art Southampton, directed by Nick Korniloff, who also brings you Art Miami, Art New York and Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco, among others, offers the value and prestige that attracts participation by leading galleries from around the world, making this fair an outstanding international event. The fair opens with a VIP Preview on July 9 that spotlights some of the finest blue chip works of art by emerging, mid-career and cutting edge artists, as well as from the Post War and Pop eras, with an additional focus on design and functional art. Outstanding galleries from cities around the world include Paris, Berlin, London, Seoul, Brussels, Bogota, Barcelona and Quebec, among many others, as well as the United States, including Miami, Palm Beach, Santa Fe, San Francisco and New York. The five day event, concluding on Monday, July 13, will be held this year on the expansive grounds of Nova’s Ark Project in a 100,000 square foot pavilion.
Art Southampton also provides a robust programming schedule, including receptions with artists and book signings, and a daily art symposium sponsored by One Art Nation that brings together leading opinion leaders and art industry experts to speak on a wide range of topics covering everything from artist spotlights to panel discussions on contemporary art market trends. For the last couple of years, the fair has included a juried exhibition of promising students from the New York Academy of Art and for 2015, April Gornik, the celebrated painter (and wife of artist Eric Fischl, also summer residents in the Hamptons), has selected seventeen young talents whose work will be on display.
Included in this NYAA students’ exhibition at the fair is At the Motel by Elisabeth McBrien, who seems to take a cue from Edward Hopper, along with a dash of Diebenkorn and a pinch of Hockney in this fresh and handsomely mature painting that also incorporates some minimalist geometric passages of colorful squares and rectangles. Twin peaks look over the motel’s roof as a girl sits patiently by the door, like a classic Hopper-esque subject. After checking out McBrien’s website (www.elisabethmcbrien.com), it’s clear that the artist is a rare talent in the figurative tradition, whose consistency of imagery is uncanny. (www.nyaa.edu)
While it’s a challenge to carefully examine everything presented at the fair, the seasoned crowd seems to work out their own exploratory strategy for covering all the bases, although it may take more than one visit. The images featured in this review offer a brief tour of some of my favorites that I’ve had the pleasure to view in advance, along with a bit of commentary:
Looking for a big impressive condo with a nice view as a promising investment? Arcature Fine Art of Palm Beach is presenting an outstanding large-scale painting by George Condo titled The Sailor of the Indoor Seas. Condo historically coined the term “Artificial Realism” to describe his hybridization of traditional European Old Masters painting with a sensibility informed by American Pop. A curator from MoMA stated, “George opened the door for artists to use the history of painting in a way that was not appropriation.” (www.arcaturefineart.com)
No respectable art fair can do without at least one impressive Rauschenberg painting, and this work presented by Casterline Goodman Gallery is a perfect example of the vibrancy and inventiveness of one of America’s most influential artists. Like many artists, particularly from the Pop art movement, Rauschenberg appropriated printed imagery from a range of sources, until a lawsuit was settled unfavorably concerning copyright infringement, then he shifted immediately to using his own photographs exclusively as compositional elements, which are evident in this remarkably idiosyncratic mixed media work. (www.casterlinegoodman.com)
Christiane Richter’s work brings a unique emphasis to the art of dealing with perceptions and documentary interpretations. The questions of the observer’s point of view regarding light, color and form are central to her vision. Richter’s stark, lovely and somewhat eerily tinted photographs are reminiscent of stained canvas in abstract color field paintings, which have a fresh narrative viewpoint; in this instance, flowers that may have been influenced by early darkroom experiments by Man Ray. (www.priveekollektie.com)
Charlotte Park’s important contribution to the Abstract Expressionist movement has been recently acknowledged, and it’s about time. Writing in The New York Times, just before Park died in late 2010, Roberta Smith called Park “A natural painter and a gifted colorist.” She was overshadowed by the attention given to the work of her husband, James Brooks, even though she painted some of the strongest and most brilliantly colored canvases of her time. (www.berrycampbell.com)
Martin Mull is an amusing storyteller in language, music and film and in his painting, which matured as a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he was a brilliant photorealist airbrush painter. Although celebrated as an actor and comedian, not as many know that his real love and dedication is to his art, polishing his already superb and often sarcastic and witty slants on everyday American life as he frequently portrays a juxtaposition of middle class nostalgia and values with overlapping passages of underlying tension and unlikely possibilities. (www.hirschlandadler.com)
Vee Speers’ Untitled #32, The Bulletproof Series is a hauntingly beautiful and somewhat peculiar portrait of a young girl in a white dress leaning on a white wall, embellished with a fawn on her shoulders and a boomerang in her hand. Born in Australia and living in Paris since 1990, Speers’ timeless portraits have been exhibited worldwide. Her recent monograph Bordello has a foreword by Karl Lagerfeld. (www.jacksonfineart.com)
Untitled by Georg Baselitz is a distinguished example of the artist’s continuing exploration of pioneering German Neo-Expressionist imagery. His work, like this one, evokes disquieting subject matter rendered feverishly with a variety of marks as a means of confronting the realities of the modern age. Drawing upon a dynamic and myriad pool of influences, including art of the Mannerist period and African sculptures, Baselitz developed a distinct painting language. (http://www.galerie-terminus.de)
It’s been said that the most uniquely American contributions to planetary culture are jazz and Abstraction Expressionism. The best known artist in this distinguished category is de Kooning, but based on Jack Tworkov’s House of the Sun Variation above, a good argument can be made that this is an equal or perhaps superior painting. For my money, it’s a picture worth having for daily visual pleasure and as a solid investment, as it’s my very favorite at the fair, and a remarkable canvas like this one is a rare find indeed. (http://www.hollistaggart.com)
For more information: http://www.art-southampton.com