The doors have opened at the Miami Beach Convention Center yet again for another December sales event at Art Basel Miami Beach, as collectors, dealers and artists flock to its cavernous halls and pack its renovated structure for several days of sales and showings. The fair’s place as the final major sales event of the year always seems to bring a last flutter of enthusiasm before the last weeks of December give dealers a chance to catch their breath, and this year was no exception, with collectors packing into the queue early in the morning for a first crack at the event’s VIP opening.
The fair’s halls and aisles were bustling in the early hours of the day, with a broad range of artists and buyers strolling the booths and surveying the works on view. Among them was Rirkrit Tiravanija, Jill and Peter Kraus, the Zabludowicz family, and KAWS, whose run of prints at Pace Prints was a smash-hit in its early hours, selling out a run of posters almost immediately.
At Tanya Bonakdar, one could browse a series of works by the gallery’s artists, including reflective, illusive works by Olafur Eliasson, while Gavin Brown’s Enterprise had taken a different tack on optical playfulness, showing a set of pieces by Thomas Bayrle. At Moran Moran, one could browse a series of draped fabrics by Eric N. Mack, while Pace Gallery had work by James Turrell, bathing the booth in the artist’s signature tinted glow. In another corner of the fair, artist Daniel Buren’s work was on view at Bortolami, a large-scale stained glass piece from his last show at the gallery on view, while Theaster Gates seemed to be everywhere at once, his pieces popping up at White Cube, Regen Projects and elsewhere. The artist is also showing at the exclusive Prada Mode pop-up this week, making him the man of the hour in South Florida.
This strength of works on view seemed to translate quite easily to high sales figures, with many galleries reporting impressive figures in the early hours of the fair. Lisson Gallery sold a striking Stanley Whitney piece from its booth for $400,000, while a David Hockney sold for 8 figures at Annely Juda, moving before it even arrived in Miami Beach. Painter George Condo also sold well, notching $1 million for a piece at Sprüth Magers, and at Hauser & Wirth, a Joan Mitchell canvas sold for an eye-popping $14 million to a private collection. Fellow Hauser & Wirth artist Paul McCarthy was also on hand at Xavier Hufkens, where a massive installation drawn from his currently under-production filmic epic was on sale, and ultimately found a buyer for $1.5 million. The gallery also sold a Sterling Ruby for $325,000.
If these early hours are any indication, the fair’s next few days should only add to an already impressive first take, and likely will only continue to rack up impressive sales as a buoyant art market takes a last victory lap for 2018.
The fair is open through December 9th.
— D. Creahan
Art Basel Miami Beach [Website]