The American Art Fair & The Next Gen of American Artists.

In 1 on December 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm

So much to share, so little time to do it.

This week has been phenomenal.  First, I’ve been working day and night on a project  that is going to put all the sellers of traditional furniture and art front and center

Then David Smith at “The Bee” asked if I could cover “The American Art Fair” at the National Academy  Museum & School of Fine Arts. I couldn’t resist. Talk about Tradition with a capital T.  Most of the works shown were painted by artists who had either studied at the National Academy or exhibited there.

Although it looked like the paintings had come home, the fact is that the National Academy was located on 109th Street and Amsterdam from 1900 to 1940.  Fittingly,  the  Beaux Arts style mansion the National Academy Museum now occupies was originally the home of Archer Milton Huntington and sculptress Anna Huntington Hyatt.  ( Gerald Peters Gallery displayed  several of Hyatt-Huntington’s small bronzes.)  So, in a sense it was as though the art had come home. At least it looked as though the family had never moved out.

National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts

National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts. Photo courtesy of NAM&SFA,

Personally, I love the old mansion. The National Academy is on my walking route down Fifth Avenue. The same short walk takes  me past the Jewish Museum, The Cooper-Hewitt, the National Academy, the Guggenheim and the Met and on down Museum Mile to the Frick. (Culture by osmosis, I guess. )  I’m  always drawn in to the National Academy though because it has such a sensual feel. Marble staircase, statuary, and the gift shop – which has such delicious offerings.

The American Art Fair, which completed its second annual running yesterday,  really is a brilliant piece of work.  Only a handful of dealers do this show. (One reason is that space is limited.) They’re all top tier and clearly adept at uncovering surprises and bringing new works to the market.

The American Art Fair is the brainchild of  Thomas Colville and Alexander Acevedo, two dealers who felt that a  small show during the week of the fall American paintings auctions could mean good things for everybody,  including the National Academy.  A portion of the proceeds of many of the paintings went to the National Academy.

The donation was direct. As several dealers told me, when a painting was sold, “the buyer writes a check for 10% (in some cases 5%) of the purchase price to the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts and a check for the balance to the seller.  Now that’s direct deposit.

Thomas Colville & Alexander Acevedo

Thomas Colville & Alexander Acevedo. Photo courtesy MAD.

The dealers I talked to said that the Fair had been a true success. Most said the Fair had been a must see  for the Curators and Collectors that had flocked to town for the auctions.  I saw a lot of red buttons.  Some dealers told me they had pending sales that would come in over the next weeks.

If there was ever a bittersweet moment, it was when someone said their had been no “new, young buyers.”  “They’re still just into contemporary,” he concluded.  Looking around at the majestic portraits and American Impressionist offerings, I couldn’t help but think that  the young turks  will soon come to understand the depth of  these works. Traditional American Art tells stories you can’t read on a Kindle.

Making the show as story-book as the setting, was that on the 11th hour if the last day,  a woman, clearly a teacher,  with drawing pad in hand,  led a group of about 20 young artists, say ages 8 – 10, through the galleries. They gazed and were enraptured by the stories told on canvas.  When they found what they were looking for, the class stopped and sat down on the black and beige marble floor.  When I left, the drawing class was intently channeling the masters.  The next generation of American artists was hard at work in the Academy.

“Antiques and the Arts Weekly” will be running my detailed wrap up of the show within the next week or so. Watch this link for the full story… “The Bee.”


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