Despite being a relative newcomer to the art scene, Chicago’s Art Expo, held from September 19 – 22, 2013 at Navy Pier, has all the hallmarks of the more established fairs, as well as a few surprising twists. Blue chip galleries from around the world were at Expo Chicago in full force, showing their latest and greatest.
A personal favorite, London’s Max Wigram Gallery, had an impressive new piece from artist Jose Davila, entitled Topologies (III), 2013. Wigram showed another Davila work, Monuments, at the Armory Show back in March, which also employed his sort of anti-collage technique of cutting out central figures. In Topologies, Davila turns his focus to light rays reminiscent of Flavin and the other minimalists. To my mind, this piece summed up Expo Chicago– a smartly edited version of the classic, well-heeled fairs.
In an innovative and bold move, Expo incorporated the online art site Artspace as partners, signaling the growing importance of online fine art markets. Artspace co-hosted several events intended to highlight the Chicago art scene, including a tour of collectors Larry and Marilyn Fields’ home as well as participation in the Dialogues program.
The NRDC also had a booth featuring works of art that highlighted environmental issues and engaged fare-goers in a participatory manner. In perfect harmony to the NRDC booth, Chicago’s own Kavi Gupta Gallery displayed a perfect counterpart, a large recycled material piece, which mirrored the environmentally conscious sensibilities across the aisle.
Perhaps the most notable distinction at Expo was the prevalence of Chicago-based attendees. Despite the presence of international galleries, many of whom can be found at Basel, Frieze, and the other New York shows, Expo maintained a truly accessible and distinctly unpretentious feel. In fact, Expo is so collector-friendly that some galleries even dared to reinstate prices, as well as the largely considered “gauche red dot” to signal a sale. Perhaps these changes signal a larger shift in the artworld, but either way, Expo is a fair for industry-insiders, in addition to casual art enthusiasts,