Lower East Side gallerist James Fuentes sold no fewer than 12 works by
at Frieze New York this year, priced from $6,000 to $15,000. “We’ve always known Benjamin is really special,” said gallery director James Michael Shaeffer. Fuentes began working with the artist while he was still at the Royal College of Art, giving him his first show at the gallery in 2011. “Even though that was only five years ago, thinking about what art was doing at that time, to choose this was not at all cool,” added Shaeffer. (That has, of course, changed thanks to the strong trend back towards figurative painting that has taken over the conversation around emerging art in the past couple of years.) Shaeffer noted that while they’re not eager to react to trends in the market, Senior will have a solo show at the gallery this coming winter. “We work with each of our artists one on one,” he said. “It just happened to sync up with what was happening in the market,” he said.
Even more effusive about his positive experience at the fair was Sultana
founder Guillaume Sultana. “It’s totally a dream,” said the Parisian gallerist of his third outing at Frieze New York. “Things are very busy and I’ve only been selling to new people.” Sultana had sold all of the new works by Pia Camil
featured in the booth for €9,000 to prominent collections from Miami and London. “She’s had a great amount of visibility because of her recent New Museum
show, but these ceramic pieces are completely new,” he said of the works, which consist of ceramic masks placed on plinths created out of the slatted walls stores use to hang their wares. Also selling well were new paintings by Jacin Giordano
, priced between €5000–12,000. The works are based on Native American culture and see the artist carve into many layers of acrylic in a way that recalls woodcutting. (So smitten with his purchase was one collector that he had to stop back by the booth to admire his new work: “I’m looking at it and thinking to myself. Oh my god, what did I buy; it’s wonderful. Tell Jacin I love him.”)
Sultana said the success at Frieze New York was a welcomed relief. “In Europe, it’s a very bad time in the economy,” said the gallerist. “We had a very hard time last winter in Paris. Nobody was coming to the gallery.” While the election might have some spooked from major acquisitions in the U.S., in his hometown Sultana has felt the continued effects of the November 13th terrorist attacks, which killed 130 individuals. “American collectors don’t want to travel to Europe at the moment. It’s so sad because terrorism can happen anywhere,” noted Sultana, adding that galleries had reported that Americans had shied from traveling to Brussels during Art Brussels
and Independent in April and that some had discussed canceling their plans to attend Art Basel. “I hope it’s going to change with time,” he said, suggesting that in the meantime, this might be accounting in part for his added success at Frieze, as New York collectors continue to spend closer to home.