Dallas Art Fair 2024: what to see

The Dallas Art Fair celebrates galleries in the U.S Southwest. This year artists share a penchant for wide open spaces and a focus on the natural world. Here are our highlights

Dallas Art Fair
(Image credit: Left: Claudia keep Right: Kathleen herlihy-paoli)

It truly feels like spring in Texas, where the Dallas Art Fair opened on a warm and buggy weekend (April 4-7) at the Fashion Industry Gallery (f.i.g.), a 74,000 square foot mid-century modern building in downtown Dallas.

Representing galleries across the U.S. Southwest region in addition to the usual European and New York City suspects, DAF proves more colourful than other art fairs and not just by dint of the season; from compositions to outfit choices, bright colours abounded.

The Dallas Art Fair: our highlights

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: Matthew Chambers)

With an intimate collectors base that keeps demand for the fair alive, and through the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Preview Benefit which raised over $2M for local institutions like the Dallas Art Museum, Nasher Sculpture Center, and Dallas Contemporary—DAF is enjoying its 16th year.

'I love seeing younger galleries with ambitious programs in conversation with the secondary market,' Dallas Art Fair Director Kelly Cornell said. She's especially excited for this year's newest feature of the fair, Within this Deep Breath, an installation of sculptures outside of the fair curated by Sara Hignite, including Karla Garcia's clay barrel cacti and Sarah M. Rodriguez 'Crossing' (2024), who shows sculptures with The Valley, in Taos, New Mexico.

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: Sarah Rodriguez)

As for trends and highlights, figuration is on its way out, abstraction never left and has found its fresh home in landscape paintings, which far outnumbered the fair's offerings. As if in an exchange, a trend toward a sort of formal and mystical collapse between the earth and the body simmered through. Flatness and forced perspective in both interior and nature scenes repeated in a number of painted works as well as borrowed elements from 19th century painting and early Modernism. Subject matter ranged from intimate domestic spaces framed as still lifes to diasporic legacy—and plenty of Western imagery.

Sculptural craft like embroidery and weaving—from Jeffrey Sincich's quilted panels at Charlie James to Claudia Alarcón crocheted wool tapestry in neon proto-Modernist shapes at London-based Cecilia Brunson Projects.

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: jean lowe)

'House Jewelry' by Crystalle Lacouture in Praise Shadows' booth is a wall-sized cluster of beaded strands cascading from ceiling and pooling at the floor. Affixed with bells and meant to be touched, each cord is patterned in binary codes that spell various benedictions and messages like 'Protect this home' and 'Safe and sound.'

Over at Half Gallery, Raul De Lara's, 'Torito' (2021), a spiky phallic horizontal cactus, fit with a leather saddle, and made with earth materials like cedar, pine, and horse hair warmed the booth corner beneath Chang Ya Chin's still life of three bandaged peaches. However, my favourite work of art at Half was French Fry, the gallery dog.

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: Francesca Fuchs)

Speaking of favourites, 1969 Gallery is, in my mind, the best painting gallery in New York City. The roster for the booth was 'equatorial,' as founder and director, Quang Bao put it, with a program featuring desert scenes, psychedelic landscapes, magical realist references, and Latiné symbolism, reconfigured. In particular, Aaron Zulpo pulls from the Romantic Old American West vernacular painters like Charles Russell ('the Cowboy painter') and Thomas Hill to expertly capture the light of the high desert in California.

I was equally happy to spy San Diego painter Jean Lowe's sculptures of paper mache vases filled with flowers and a stack of fantastical books with titles like, 'A Passion for Insolence' and 'Cachet: What it is and how to get it' stacked into the corners of Luis de Jesus Los Angeles's booth.

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: Sophia Heymans)

Brackett Creek Exhibitions presented drawings from two artists who live and work in Montana, where the gallery is based. Work in coloured pencils by Matthew Chambers plucked scenes from the American Plains and his personal life—wheat fields and peanuts, wildflowers and a water glass held by a hand with nails painted red—all rendered in scratchy and graphic portraits. Inspired by lesser known pencil sketches by Georges Seurat, Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli applied soft pastel, almost pointillist marks on paper of highways, stone buildings, and pink Fiestaware.

The Dallas Art Fair is young—it's new blood mixed with old money sharing a penchant for wide open spaces. It makes sense that the natural world is trending in art—we're watching our planet wither and transmogrify at climate change's alarming clip. A focus on the interior and the nested, contrasted with the monumental and a contemporary sense of the Sublime reflects the ambivalence of the times and the market. Stillness and introspection never looked so expansive.

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: Jeffrey Sincich)

Dallas Art Fair

(Image credit: RF Alvarez)