PHOTO: The Affordable Art Fair, held last weekend in Manhattan, featured diverse artwork for every taste and budget. This huge, showstopping collage from Villa del Arte Galleries was priced at $8,500. Forum Photo by Eugénie Bisulco
Twice every year the Affordable Art Fair, an international show founded by the U.K.’s Will Ramsay in 1999, makes a home in New York for a few days, displaying and selling works by hundreds of artists across the globe. This fall’s fair was held from Sept. 10-13 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea and featured works from 71 galleries and collectives.
Many gallery representatives agreed that the average cost of artworks was higher than usual, and some mentioned hearing murmurs from attendees about whether the artwork on display could logically be classified as “affordable.”
“The euphemism is ‘there’s something for everyone,’” said Manhattan-based Art Angler founder Jason Dick cynically, his enthusiasm for the fair nonetheless evident.
Dick was showing some impressive mixed media pieces by an artist named Aurelio Ayela that were priced around $500, but he explained that, actually, Ayela’s larger, more costly works generally sell better, even at a venue called the Affordable Art Fair. Art collecting novices with spendable cash might buy a few key pieces in their color palette when a decorator tells them they need something to accent home furnishings — not because they genuinely love the work they’re buying.
Even though the prices had gone up, there was indeed something for everyone at the fair, and several smaller original paintings (subject matter ranging from dark and abstract to more traditional landscapes) between $200 and $500. The Art Fair’s website features a sign-up page for free personal shopping sessions, tips on framing and collecting, and even definitions of art terms. It also displays this enlightening quote from its founder:
“Buy a painting because you like it, not because you think it’s what you should be buying,” says Ramsay.
Beyond framing postcards (a great way to add pizzazz to a humid, non-art-friendly bathroom) or mass-produced posters of iconic paintings, starting a legitimate art collection is well within the grasp of the un-wealthy art ingénue. Many artists will take a table at a flea market or set up impromptu street sales, hawking original pieces for under $25. Naturally, smaller works tend to be less expensive, because there are fewer materials and less labor involved in creating them. Frame a row of smaller pieces for a similar effect to that of hanging one large showstopper. If bigger pieces are a “must,” start by buying numbered and signed limited edition prints or photographs. Works on paper should not be placed in exposed rooms, as over time sunlight will wreak havoc and degrade the paper, causing fading or other damage. At the fair, framers were on-site to handle professional, archival matting and framing for those shoppers who purchased unframed works but wanted to leave with them ready-to-hang.
The spring Affordable Art Fair will be held March 30 – April 3 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street. For more information and plenty of how-to advice, check out affordableartfair.com.
By Eugénie Bisulco firstname.lastname@example.org