Another year has come and gone for the dizzying spectacle that is Art Basel Miami Beach, which closed its doors last night after 5 hectic days of art sales, exhibitions, special events, parties and appearances. The following is a summary of the Main Fair with a photoset and newslinks.
The fair seems to be starting ever earlier each year, and 2013 saw attempts to push the proceedings to almost a full week of events, when Untitled announced its special VIP vernissage, hosted by Marina Abramovic on Monday, December 2nd, a full two days before the VIP preview for the main Art Basel fair. Events continue on until Sunday the 8th. Given the already full schedule of the week, one has to wonder how scheduling will bode for future events, and if the exhaustion normally felt by attendees will be become even more acute.
Even so, ABMB itself saw no drop-off in enthusiasm for this year’s edition; attendance counts smashed all original estimates with a final tally of 75,000 visitors, and the VIP preview was as bustling as ever, with collectors and advisors swarming the booths of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Works by Jeff Koons continued their exceptional performance with the pop-hungry collectors of Miami Beach, no doubt helped by the artist’s performance at auction last month. Gagosian Gallery’s enormous Baroque Egg sold for $9 million, while a smaller cartoonish elephant sculpture at David Zwirner was sold for a whopping $20 million, indicating that the continued duel over Koons between the superpower galleries is far from over. Koons’s Dom Perignon bottle design was also ubiquitous during the fair, appearing at a number of sponsored events and branded parties. Another Zwirner affiliate, Yayoi Kusama sold well at her British representative Victoria Miro, which commanded a $500,000 price tag for her work Flowers that Bloom Tomorrow.
“I’ve participated in Art Basel in Miami Beach since its inception in 2002 and without any exception, this is the most successful of all its editions in terms of quality, conversations, volume of visitors and new audiences.” Said dealer Sean Kelley in a release from the fair.
But the fair offered prime successes beyond the highest ends of the market. Middle market galleries also performed well at the well-attended fair. “Art Basel Miami Beach was great this year. The quality of the Nova section, where we were exhibiting, was very high. Our two person booth with Shannon Ebner and Chris Johanson was very well received both critically and in terms of sales.” Said dealer Claudia Altman-Siegel of Altman-Siegel Gallery. Also of note was artist Bradford Kessler’s Eternal Boy, a limited edition sculpture available just outside the fair’s main grounds at the Printed Matter booth. Paying a winking tribute to the classic Renato Bertelli sculpture of Mussolini, Kessler replaced the dictator with the profile of Bart Simpson, offering a bizarre yet apropos take on commercial culture and the art historical.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Val Kilmer, Lionel Richie and Sean (P. Diddy) Combs could be seen wandering the aisles of the fair, all basking in on the feverish buying atmosphere that some compared to the immense sales counts of the 2007 edition of the fair. Combs was said to have bought four works, including a Sam Durant lightbox.
Ai Weiwei sold well, matching the popularity of his enormous bicycle sculpture at the newly opened Pérez Art Museum in Museum Park with two smaller configurations of the same project, selling one at Urs Meille, and another at Lisson. The artist’s immense popularity has boded well for Asian art in general, and the fair boasted a fair number of Chinese artists to meet the increasing demand, perhaps best evidenced by Tang Contemporary’s Wang Yuyang installation, where the artist created a full office installation where every object inside appeared to be breathing.
At Collins Park, the fair returned its wildly popular “Public” section as well, featuring installations and performances spread around the grounds outside the Saul Bass Museum. Pieces by Oscar Tuazon, Thomas Houseago and Olaf Breuning were scattered across the park lawns, complemented by performances like that of Katie Gilmore, where a group of men and women, eerily similar in appearance, simultaneously smashed on metal boxes with sledgehammers, filling the park with a din of heavy noise.
With the conclusion of Art Basel Miami Beach, gallerists and artists are now on their way home for a much-needed rest before preparing for what promises to be another bustling year for the art market.
Art Basel Miami Beach [Art Basel]
“In Miami, Crowds and Confidence” [Wall Street Journal]
“What a difference five years make” [Art Newspaper]
“Culture Club’ [Artforum]
“Pop Goes Miami’s Art Scene” [Art Newspaper]
“Art Basel Miami Beach 2013 The Final Verdict Is In” [ArtLyst]
“Art Basel Miami Beach: Let the bright lights shine” [The Telegraph]