IFPDA Print Fair

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October 31 to November 6, 2011 was print week in New York City. I did what any respectable, adventure-seeking printmaker would do. I hopped on a Greyhound bus and headed to the Big Apple.

My first cultural visit was the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) Print Fair. The event was housed in the elegant Park Avenue Armory, known for its magnificent 19th-century interiors, including a veteran’s room and a library designed by Louis C. Tiffany.

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Armed with my press pass, I entered the main exhibition hall and experienced two hours of bliss. The fair featured over 90 international art dealers from Europe and North America, all members of IFPDA. Notable dealers participating this year included Pace Prints, Marborough Graphics, Two Palms, David Tunick, Inc., The Paragon Press, Hill-Stone Inc., Gemini G.E.L. and Barbara Krakow Gallery.

The IFPDA Print Fair is the largest international art fair dedicated to exhibiting fine prints from all periods. There was a good balance of historical and contemporary work. I saw masterpieces by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrant van Rijn, Fransisco de Goya, Juan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and Richard Prince, to name a few. Prices ranged from a few hundred to a few million dollars.

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There was a smattering of red dots beside prints, mostly in the foreign exhibitors’ kiosks. The fair was teaming with sixty and seventy-something collectors making the rounds. I spotted mostly women and some couples. The women were smartly dressed in classical casual designer wear, usually black, offset with gold necklaces or colorful silk scarves, pacing the aisles in patent leather pumps, clutching their big purses with big bucks.

I enjoyed catching bits of conversations between collectors and dealers. “Put a red dot on that one.” “When can you have it shipped?” “I’ll use my wife’s checkbook, it’s easier.” Or referring to the frame that a dealer was trying to push, “I might as well take it. One less thing for me to do.” My favorite conversation took place between a woman and a dealer with whom she had a working relationship. Pointing to a black and white etching, the woman said, “I have that one.” Dealer: “No, you have a very similar one.” Woman: “I could go across the street (Park Avenue) to check. Of course you do know they all end up on the floor.”

Besides eavesdropping, I looked at the art. The interesting thing about viewing art in such a generous setting that overflows with images, is that certain pieces manage to jump out.

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Robert Cottingham

As one enters the exhibition hall, Tandem Press welcomes visitors with An American Alphabet, a striking set of lithographs by American artist, Robert Cottingam. These alphabet prints are based on photos taken by the artist while traveling across the United States. While not highly original, these images emit the nostalgic aura of bygone Americana.

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John Baldesari

My favorite piece was a mixografía print on handmade paper by John Baldessari, a contemporary American artist. A B C Art (Low Relief) Part II: PMBWFDLJ (Pangram). A pangram is a sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet. The visual impact, whimsical message and impeccable execution caught my eye.

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Sophie Calle

I enjoyed the work of Sophie Calle, a French writer, photographer, installation and conceptual artist. The Bronx is a set of 9 Iris prints with accompanied texts. Calle went to the Bronx and asked strangers to take her to their favorite place in neighborhood and to describe the significance of these locations to her. The stories are moving, well written, and with the photos create a revealing portrait of the Bronx. The cultural anthropologist and writer in me thrived on this piece. The gallery owner thanked me for reading each of the stories.

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Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, an English artist, showed Death or Glory, a series of two-color gold foil block prints of his trademark skull imagery. Foil blocking is a commercial process where a metal block is heated on a press and a metallic or colored foil is branded onto the material. The titles, such as Death or Glory Hazy Gold include the actual names of the gold pigments used to create the dazzling iridescent effects.

As with mixografia and foil block printing, the fair showed several examples of work executed in non-traditional printmaking techniques: luminescent prints, laserjet prints mounted on plexi, and stereoscopic prints. I also noticed an abundance of highly embossed prints, sometimes bordering on gaudy.

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The IFPDA Print Fair is a fascinating destination. Not only does it attract high profile collectors, museum directors, celebrities and noted philanthropists, It draws its fare share of artists. As I left the exhibition hall I saw a sign: NO ART WORK LARGER THAN 3X4 FEET MAY BE CARRIED OUT THE DOOR. My empty hands hinted that I belong in the last and best category of visitors.

www.printfair.com

Talleen Hacikyan

2 Réponses à “IFPDA Print Fair”


  • Sounds like I’ll have to make the time to see this fair sometime. Out of all the work you talked about, I like Robert Cottingham’s work the most. Thanks for posting.

  • Yes, the fair is worth a visit and a perfect excuse to go to New York. Thanks for the feedback.

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