Bloomberg News

Greenspan, Tuymans ‘Eyes,’ 1,141 Artists Mark VIP Fair

January 31, 2012

(Updated with other VIP events in final paragraph.)

(For more Bloomberg Muse, click on MUSE <GO>.)

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- The online VIP Art Fair is returning for its second cyber outing.

The fair, whose initials stand for “viewing in private,” invites visitors to browse the virtual booths of about 130 exhibitors from 36 countries, Feb. 3 through Feb. 8.

“The difference from a regular art fair is that your feet don’t get tired,” said Jane Cohan, a co-founder along with art dealer James Cohan and Internet entrepreneurs Jonas and Alessandra Almgren.

Technical problems affected its 2011 debut, including a jammed live-chat system between buyers and dealers.

“The system had a lot of glitches so it was easy to lose interest quickly,” said Lenore Schorr, Los Angeles-based art collector.

VIP 2.0, previewing on Feb. 2, has more sophisticated technology and a simpler interface. The company also increased its staff, hired a chief executive officer, Lisa Kennedy, and received $1 million in investment. The chat platform is hosted by an outside company on a separate server, which should prevent the main website from getting overloaded.

“I think they took into account everything that didn’t work and made it better,” said Magdalena Sawon, co-owner of Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan, who is participating in the fair for the second time.

More than 50,000 people from 139 countries have registered. Free access allows searching the website by artist or price range, devising personal tours and sharing links to artworks on Twitter and Facebook.

Chat Functions

It costs $50 to use the live-chat function, unless you’ve received a complimentary pass from the exhibitors.

Like last year, prices range from less than $5,000 to more than $1 million. More than 90 galleries have artworks priced at less than $10,000. The biggest surprise: Gagosian gallery, offering Hirst’s spot prints at $3,000 to $7,000.

There are 10 artworks priced at $1 million or more, down from 50 in 2011. This group includes a 2001 Luc Tuymans painting, “Eyes.” New York’s Van de Weghe Fine Art lists a 1990 Richard Prince joke painting at $1.3 million.

Alan Greenspan

Postmasters will devote its booth to New York artist William Powhida. His giant 44-by-90-inch print “Griftopia,” based on Mike Taibbi’s 2010 book, depicts Alan Greenspan, Lloyd Blankfein and other major players involved in the recent financial crisis. It comes in an edition of 13; the first three will be priced at $4,500.

While painting is the dominant medium, with 389 examples, some galleries opted for more unusual choices. Elizabeth Dee Gallery will only show video art and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac will stream a live, 24-hour performance-art piece by Terence Koh on Feb. 3.

“The more transparency and the more digital opportunity there is in the art world, the better,” said Dean Valentine, a Los Angeles-based collector.

VIP 2.0 runs Feb. 3 through Feb. 8. Information: www.vipartfair.com. VIP will also be holding events devoted to works on paper and photography running from April 20- 22 and July 13-15 respectively.

--Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Lili Rosboch.

To contact the reporter of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at kkazakina@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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