Articles

Miami Basel 2010 Proves Market is Back!?

by Kyle Chayka on December 7, 2010

The vibes being sent up North from Miami to the now-snowy climes of New York City over the past week have carried with them a message: the contemporary art market may just be back into something like its previous swing. Gleaned from tweets, news pieces written from flashy parties and newfound sense of optimism, is this intuition of market return reality, or just self-fulfilling prophecy? Check out a collection of picks, pics, links and insights into Art Basel Miami Beach 2010 below.

Let’s go through the initial impressions from the fairs, reviews and documentary that give all of us non-Miami-goers our raw view of the fairs. Here at Hyperallergic, editor Hrag Vartanian traveled to Miami and sent us back the goods, including a ton of photo essays that are essential reading for anyone who wasn’t there. Also noted are Hrag’s impressions of the fairs, plus other writer’s takes.

Art Basel Miami Beach

Gmurzynska Gallery’s booth designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid with a Mark Rothko at Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach included the worse Basquiat ever, some tasteful abstraction and a whole booth by Zaha Hadid. Check out the pictures here. Over at Art Fag City, Paddy Johnson notes the extreme prevalence of John Baldessari at the fair and gives Hauser and Wirth the prize for best booth. Kate Taylor at the NYTimes notes a buoyant chorus of “The art market is back!” at the fair as well as an “elated” Marc Glimcher of Pace Gallery, who had collectors in mortal combat over a De Kooning. My bet’s on the Rubells.

Lindsay Pollock gives a market-driven account of the fair proceedings at Bloomberg, supporting Taylor’s claim of the art market return. Pollock notes that even though things were being bought, it’s the lower end that’s being snapped up more, with works under $150,000 selling quicker than those priced in the millions. The Financial Times has a blow by blow of the multitude of high-end sales at Miami’s flagship fair. The Wall Street Journal reports that a significant Mark Rothko on sale for $30 million ended up without a buyer by fair’s end.

Art Market Monitor has a massive list of individual sales on Friday if that kind of thing turns you on. They follow that with a list compiled from Artinfo’s Judd Tully of further sales. Here’s a Vernissage TV video shoot on Art Basel Miami Beach, that swank-fest.

Aqua

A view of the Aqua fair courtyard between branches of the hotel-cum-art space

Aqua featured mermaids and art stashed in hotel rooms, which certainly seems to make for a unique viewing experience. Catch Hrag’s coverage here. More importantly, the Miami News Times praised Aqua as “a good place to soak your bunions,” which is an important thing for all hard-walking fair-goers to take note of. Also included is a nice photo essay of art highlights.

Pulse

Humberto Diaz' "Tsunami" from Pulse art fair (image from miaminewtimes.com)

Pulse seems to have done pretty well for dealers and artists. 2010 was noted as one of the better editions of Pulse, and the sales matched up with the quality of the art on display: Artinfo quotes dealer Mark Moore with “I don’t know if it feels like 2007, but it’s pretty damn close.” Impressive or delusional? We probably won’t know until next year’s Miami Beach. Also, here are some exhibition highlights and party pics from Miami New Times.

Scope

The Scope Miami party at Charcoal Studio (image from miaminewtimes.com)

Scope was also better than normal this year, according to our own coverage on Hyperallergic. Highlights included teddy-bear pelts by Agustina Woodgate and giant internet pills by Edie Nadelhaft. Miami News Times has the Scope party pix. Here’s a Sotheby’s TV episode documenting Scope 2010, including some interesting interviews. It looked to be a pretty good time, judging from the photo above.

NADA

Installation by Steven Bankhead at Country Club Gallery in NADA

The NADA fair (so-called for the New Art Dealers Alliance that runs it) showcases emerging artists and evidently got a fair measure of commercial success, even in these established artist-friendly times. Artinfo reports on the sales, remarkable for their lack of extra zeros added on to the end: only one piece listed in the article was priced above $10,000. Seen in the context of the above sales, shocking. It pays to keep things accessible and affordable.

Blackbook has a selection of the top 11 most original works in the NADA fair. Genesis P-Orridge’s fishy reliquary for her teeth got a lot of attention, not to mention inclusion in the “original” list. We at Hyperallergic called NADA Miami Beach’s Lower East Side for its snazzy selection of younger artists that didn’t fail to impress. Beached Miami has a nice photo essay from the fair that includes the people as well as the art in attendance.

Seven Art Fair

An installation of works at Seven Art Fair

Seven Art Fair, made up of seven independent, not-so-blue-chip galleries, was a new addition to the Miami ecosystem, but it turned out to be one of the strongest showings in the 2010 miasma. At Hyperallergic, Hrag noted that “It was good to see some galleries try something that felt interesting and less commercial than the run-of-the-mill exposition,” and highlighted some of the impressive installations in his photo essay.

Seven also played host to #rank, a sequel to the institutional critique exhibition/lecture series/melee #class created by artists Jen Dalton and William Powhida. We highlighted some of the projects that made up #rank, but the best place to get a blow by blow of #rank events and its general feeling is probably William Powhida’s twitter feed. There, the artist has gone back and forth on the project, ruminating on what exactly it means to be anti-art world while still participating in a hierarchical fair environment.

Fountain

A view of the performance by Sisters Adina &Arielle Bier in the Grace Exhibition Space at Fountain.

As Hrag points out, Fountain preceded Seven’s indie spirit and took the art fair business into its own hands. A photo essay, including some special murals from street artist Dick Chicken, showcases the unorthodox approach Fountain still takes, even on its fifth year anniversary as a fair. Dig In Magazine has an interesting interview with Fountain artist Carly Ivan Garcia about the fair.

Conclusion

Yeah, the market’s kind of back. There are blue chip sales aplenty, and emerging artists and galleries are also seeing their cut of the action. Collectors are generally exuberant and gallerists are too, especially in front of art market reporters, I’m sure. But all this (irrational?) exuberance does not a recovery make. Miami is fun in the sun, sure, and it’s great that things got sold. But let’s not forget the galleries that closed and the art institutions that folded, and those that continue to have trouble, despite the pick up in commercial activity. On to the next round of fairs!

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  • William Powhida

    Hi Kyle and Hrag,

    Just want to say one thing about ‘being anti-art world’. I’m pretty sure I’m not anti-Hyperallergic, or any of the art that I admire. I am anti-oligopoly, where only a small fraction of the decisions of the art world and art market matter in establishing, maintaining, and increasing the value of a small group of artists. It’s not that I don’t think the market works, indeed it does, but I take issue that it works all too well for a relatively small number of patrons, collectors, dealers, and artists who can readily take advantage of inside information. There is a kind of institutional collusion the occurs within the top tiers of the art world, that most participants probably think of as simply a benefit of their position. I’m talking about collectors, dealers, and trustees all sharing information about impending sales and museum acquisitions to make decisions about what artists to buy or sell. I’m talking about the inherent proximity all of the stakeholders in the market share when they attend the same galas around the world. It’s no coincidence that major collectors are also friends and they clearly talk about their collecting habits.

    This overlap creates a system that is resistant to external criticism and can be incredibly difficult to break into without appealing to the tastes and whims of the top tier of active collectors, dealers, and taste makers.

    So, If the art world is like an iceberg, I’m just chipping away like an idiot at the tiny island seen from the surface buoyed by the invisible mass submerged below holding it’s collective breath.

    -William

  • Lisa Levy

    Yes William That is very well put. As I like to say that monied part of the art world is an excuse for rich people to travel and shop at an exclusive level and not feel like idiots because art is “intellectual.” But the art is really used for a non democratic form of entertainment.

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