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EXPO CHICAGO: The New Dazzling Art Fair
By Brook S. Mason


Top tier art collectors and consultants along with curators and civic leaders converged on the Windy City for the inaugural EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art and Design staged late last month at Navy Pier's cavernous Festival Hall. While the city has long been an art destination what with the Art Institute of Chicago and its Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Anish Kapoor reflective "Cloud" sculpture centering Millennium Park, this new fair with 120 leading international galleries positions Chicago into an entirely new and far more prominent realm.

"The journey for the fair began in June 2011 and now Chicago stands where it should be in the global art world," according to Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO President and fair director.
Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, EXPO CHICAGO Founder and Director Tony Karman, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
New York Social Diary took in the innovative four-day fair and its superb holdings. Distinguishing the fair is the distinctive design by Jeanne Gang, who heads up Studio Gang Architects. A MacArthur Fellow "genius" award winner and designer of the 82-story Aqua Tower, the tallest skyscraper designed by a woman, Gang was inspired by the urban grid of Chicago and patterned the floor plan after the city streets making the fair easy to navigate.

Her firm also designed three massive Mylar cones some measuring up to 50 feet in diameter akin to giant lampshades floating over the fair. The Mylar cones serve as focal points and reflect the fair's high-octane activity. "The truncated cones act as beacons and help the visitor orient the fair," said Gang, whose work is highlighted in an Art Institute of Chicago exhibition on view now.
Jeanne Gang. Steve "Mac" MacLellen and Joan Harris.
Dawoud Bey and Sean Kelly.
Jack and Sandra Guthman with Tony and Sondra Karman.
For the glittering opening night party, Karman cleverly partnered with the Museum of Contemporary Art to revive that institution's long- standing Vernissage benefit. The city's art elite turned out for the Vernissage, which was co-chaired Marilyn Fields, Museum of Contemporary Art Women's Board Member. "With international galleries on the fair floor, we've generated collectors far beyond our city to across the US and abroad," says Fields. Then adding a sophisticated flair to the Vernissage, Karman brought on 14 different restaurants providing hors d'eouvres at the evening event.
Vernissage co-chairs Jennifer Aubrey and Marilyn Fields. Tammye Coleman and Illinois State Representative Kimberly du Buclet.
Adam Fields with Marilyn Fields (Chicago-event co-chair) and her husband Larry Fields.
Strolling the fair Vernissage was Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as fair Honorary Chair. Other noted attendees included Museum of Contemporary Art Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn; New York magazine critic and Chicago native Jerry Saltz; Titanic film actor Billy Zane; artists Theaster Gates and Dawoud Bay; MCA Trustees including Sara Albrecht, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Liza and Marc Brooks, Lois and Steve Eisen, Larry Fields, King Harris, Penny Pritzker, Cari Sacks, and Helen and Sam Zell and more.

Also taking in the fair were curators from the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago, the St. Louis Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston and others.
Sandra Guthman, Dawoud Bey, and Jack Guthman.
Ron Levin, Fifi Levin, and Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Jane Saks, Emma Ruby Saks, Deone Jackman, and Esther Saks.
Sidney and Sandra Epstein. Nancy Firfer and King Harris.
Keith and Claire Koeneman with Scott Eisen.
Setting the fair apart from so many in this country is the quality of art on the floor with dealers hailing from New York, Paris, London, LA and other international cities. The Picasso "Nude" at the stand of Montreal dealer Robert Landau captivated viewers. Other blue chip galleries with Modern art were James Goodman and Richard Gray. Helping anchor the fair was a Jaume Plensa sculpture from the Gray gallery.
Picasso at Landau Fine Art.
Jaume Plensa, Silent Music.
On view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash was a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture. At the stand of the Paris Yvon Lambert galley was a 2012 Zilvinas Kempinas. The artist's "Lemniscate" is composed of floor model fans swirling black magnetic tape. Nearby James Cohan of Chelsea and Shanghai showcased Yinka Shonibare's 2012 "Revolution Kid," a dressed taxidermy fox brandishing two gilt pistols for $85,000.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
Lichtenstein at Michell-Innes & Nash. David Zwirner.
Yvon Lambert.
With Haunch of Venison was Gunter Uecker's assemblage of nails on canvas for $400,000. Design was represented by the Chelsea Friedman Benda, which spotlighted the work of the Campagna brothers. Then Windy City dealer Douglas Dawson, who also participates in the Haughton International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show, featured distinctive tribal work.
Haunch of Venison.
Douglas Dawson Gallery.
Sean Kelly Gallery .
Galerie LeLong.
Pace Gallery.
John Berggruen Gallery.
Matthew Marks Gallery.
Chicago and Berlin dealer Kavi Gupta featured the work of Theaster Gates and opening night that artist's "Thrones," up to ten-feet-tall wooden chairs priced at $65,000 each sold to LA and French clients. At the stand of Carl Hammer, who hails from the Windy City, collectors scooped up work by Cameron Gray, among others. The Zurich and St. Moritz Galerie Gmurzynska quickly red-dotted a pivotal work by Yves Klein.
Kavi Gupta.
Carl Hammer Gallery.
Mathias Rastorfer of Galerie Gmurzynska discusses his gallery's pieces.
Jacob Hashimoto at Galerie Forsblom.
Doug Aiken at John Berggruen Gallery.
Freidman Benda.
Site-specific installations included those by the National Resources Defense Council. That international environmental advocacy non-profit worked with the Rhona Hoffman Gallery to re-create the late Gordon-Matta Clark's so called "Garbage Wall" in Chicago.

Composed of material dredged from the Chicago River and area rivers including tires and surprisingly stuffed animals as well as skateboards, the artwork highlights water pollution problems. This version dovetails with the NRDC mission to protect our water resources. In addition, the NRDC helped bring on award winning artist Maya Lin to create an installation honoring urban waterways. Her "Reversing the Flow" is a topographical map composed entirely of pins replicating the contours of the nearby river.
Gordon Matta Clark, Garbage Wall.
Tony Craig at Annely Juda Fine Art.
Ai WeiWei at Chambers Fine Art.
Chambers Fine Art.
Anthony Meier Fine Arts.
Dzine, La Perla.
Of the successful Vernissage and accompanying sales, Henry Henderson, NRDC Midwest Program Director said: "Now Chicago has a world class fair certain to rival that of the Miami fairs."
A group of guests enjoys the opening Vernissage in CRG Gallery's booth.




© 2013 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com