Art Market

PULSE’s 15 Best Buys under $10,000

Alexxa Gotthardt
Mar 4, 2016 2:17PM

At PULSE’s 2016 edition, great buys abound across mediums, be they fresh figurative painting, cheeky conceptual photography, or mesmerizing post-net animation. After scouring the fair, we bring you our selection of top works that won’t break the bank, from rising talents, like Tony Gum and Brenna Murphy, to more established practitioners, like Andy Holden and Deborah Cass.  

Brenna Murphy, Other Spaces: Lattice~Mesh, 2016


Photo by Alexxa Gotthardt.

Murphy mines digital editing toolkits in Photoshop and Blender to create her kaleidoscopic prints and videos. Here, a mesmerizing animation of a slowly-spinning, latticed cube is projected against wallpaper built from the same pattern. It’s a shape-shifting artwork, and its price structure follows suit. Intrigued parties can purchase a print and video together on a sliding scale that is based on dimensions chosen by the buyer—the wallpaper on view amounted to a mere $2,000.

Joe Johnson, Gold Display

$2,100, Pictura Gallery, A-203


This image is part of Johnson’s “Playing Field” series, which explores the visually chaotic casino interiors and quiet desert exteriors that define Reno, Nevada. Gold Display represents the latter, and captures the uneasy relationships between man-made object and nature, artifice and authenticity, and luxury and economy—holding a mirror, quite literally, up to all three sets of opposites.

Nicky Broekhuysen, Encyclopedia of Ashes IV, 2016

$10,000, Davidson Contemporary, A-114

Encyclopedia of Ashes IV, 2016
Davidson Contemporary

It’s unclear whether this work represents an ethereal cloud or the residue of an explosion. It’s this kind of powerful ambiguity that laces all of Broekhuysen’s work, and is emphasized by the fact that she builds her high-detail compositions from binary code. The billowing form on view is made up entirely of 1s and 0s, numbers that can be rearranged—or brought together en masse—to communicate infinite meanings.

Tony Gum, Free Da Gum I, 2016

$4,200, Christopher Moller Gallery, A-212

Free Da Gum I, 2016
Christopher Moller Gallery

As Gum will tell you, Frida Kahlo once said, “I paint myself most, because I know myself best.” It’s a maxim that’s inspired this young South African artist’s photographs, in which she places herself at the center. Here, Gum conjures Kahlo, but imbues the character with an exuberance not typically associated with the Surrealist master. Across Gum’s body of work, which is quickly gaining renown, she emphasizes the triumphs of her personal history—and of her native Africa—over failures.

Lala Abaddon, hall of mirrors, ca. 2015

$3,000, Garis & Hahn, A-216

hall of mirrors, 2015
Garis & Hahn

Abaddon’s meticulously woven works on paper resemble sacred tapestries or psychedelic fields of computer glitch. They’re also compelling meditations on duality. To craft them, she takes analog photographs—usually one abstract and one figurative—then cuts them into thin strips and layers them in intricate patterns that can take months to complete.

Andy HoldenOne Fine Day, 2014, Love Is All, 2015, and Sweet Adeline, 2015

Set of 3, $3,700, PITT PROJECTS, A-111

Images courtesy of Pitt Projects.

Holden is best known for large-scale installations and dramatic interventions (which he’s shown at the likes of Tate Britain and the Zabludowicz Collection). But here, he siphons his explorations of the relationship between objects, sense of place, and human emotion into works that you can hold in your hand. Each of the three pieces, sold as a set, is an old shellac record, melted, molded, and covered in paint and patterns made from Charlie Brown cartoon cutouts. From afar, they look like pieces of ancient Greek pottery; up close, they’re vessels embedded with personal and pop-cultural history.

Deborah Kass, Enough Already, 2014

$2,000, Visual AIDS, A-306

Enough Already, 2014
Visual AIDS

With works in major museum collections, from MoMA to the Whitney, it’s not easy to find a work by Kass for under $5,000. Here, the pop wordsmith riffs on one of her early neons to create a print, with sales going to support the organization Visual AIDS. In the context of fair week, the phrase “Enough Already” seems to sympathize with weary fairgoers—it’s also a poignant call to arms when placed in the context of the AIDS crisis.

Hiba Schahbaz, Self Reflection, 2015

$1,200, Thierry Goldberg Gallery, A-115

Self Reflection, 2015
Thierry Goldberg Gallery

Schahbaz, who lives in Brooklyn, studied the ancient art of miniature painting in Lahore, Pakistan. She now applies the medium to artworks that would be controversial to publicly exhibit in her home country. This small, stunning nude—a self-portrait—is one such example.

Sue Williams A’Court, Anonymous 4, 2015

$1,500, bo.lee gallery, A-304

Anonymous 4, 2015
bo.lee gallery

British artist Williams A’Court’s meticulous paint and graphite works feel like windows into distant paradisical lands. At their core, they teem with lush foliage, the kind you might see in the background of a Gainsborough painting. But in Williams A’Court’s work, landscapes are contained within rigid geometries, which float in pastel fields of paint, further emphasizing the inaccessibility—and perhaps ephemerality—of nature.

Macon Reed, Pool table and light with cue balls and sticks, 2016

$5,000, Mackin Projects, Bar

Image courtesy of Mackin Projects.

Part of Reed’s immersive installation, Eulogy For The Dyke Bar, this to-scale replica of a pool table, complete with ombre cues and balls bearing colors that look like they were lifted from a 1990s ski suit, holds its own. It also stands as a relic of what the artist sees as an epidemic of fast-disappearing lesbian bars, havens of feminism and gender flexibility, across New York. (If the pool table isn’t enough, you can buy the bar itself, complete with stools, for $9,500.)

Derrick Velasquez, Untitled 129, 2016

$3,900, Pentimenti Gallery, A-307

Untitled 129, 2016
Pentimenti Gallery

Drawing on the language of early minimalist sculpture, Velasquez updates the approach of his 1960s forebears by adding imbalance and construction materials to the mix. Here, he layers strips of marine-grade vinyl (the kind you might see covering a boat or pool in winter) and hangs them over a small piece of wood. The resulting object looks weighty and alluringly off-kilter, but it’s lighter than you’d think—held up by a mere two screws.

Margriet Craens & Lucas Maassen, Chair Affair 08, 2015

$1,400, kinder MODERN, A-106

Chair Affair 08, 2015
kinder Modern

When Craens, an artist, and Maassen, a furniture designer, first started dating, they would exchange tiny, humorous drawings of chairs in the throes of lovemaking. This photograph represents a more mature exploration of the theme. Fusing whimsy with formal rigor, the images in “Chair Affair” manifest the awkwardness and extreme intimacy of physical contact.

Giuliano Sale, Queen of the Pub, 2016

$5,800, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, A-211

Queen of the Pub, 2016
Antonio Colombo

In recent years, the Milanese painter has inched further into the realm of abstraction, with paintings that show figures blurred, fractured, and intercepted by monochromatic fields of paint. In Queen of the Pub, while some body parts blend with the background, others cheekily stand out—namely, a single breast and a fuming cigarette.

Vicki Sher, Household Objects Series #1, 2015

$2,200, Uprise Art, A-208

Household Objects Series #1, 2015
Uprise Art

Here, Sher achieves a dynamic, intimate composition with several lines and even fewer colors. Three strokes become a table on which a bowl of fruit sits, like a sculpture might on a pedestal. Isolated from any other domestic trappings, this everyday scene is elevated from afterthought to deserving of homage.

Bradley Wood, Briar Boudoir, 2016

$6,000, SIM SMITH, A-210

Briar Boudoir, 2016
Sim Smith

A veteran of CalArts and the Rhode Island School of Design, Wood now resides in Westchester, NY, and makes paintings full of thick brushstrokes, jewel-toned backdrops, and figures lounging about opulent rooms. They recall the dark, expressive portraits of Chaim Soutine, but are in fact inspired by Wood’s well-heeled neighbors, whose lifestyle he can’t access—save for through his fantasies.

Alexxa Gotthardt