And so this is how it goes. Last year everyone, including galleryIntell complained and complained, sighed and moaned at the flat monochromy of the exhibitors and a loud collective yawn it generated among the collectors, members of the press and just everyone, who bothered to comment. As excess of commas on the price tags that didn’t relate to the quality of art exhibited at the show was enough to render the venue as a whole – a tiresome labyrinth of mediocre, overpriced art.
It is little surprise, therefore, that this year, out of town collectors and press are, shall we say, thin on the ground. Of course your staples of the art and celebrity world were there, including Sean “Puffy” Combs with entourage in tag, arguing with his advisor on which house a certain art work would go to. Advisors and dealers glued to their iPhones and iPad minis, but other than that the crowd was a chilled, reduced (in the port reduction sense) version of itself from 12 months ago.
See our Art Basel Miami Beach photo album on Facebook.
So, what changed?
This year the crazy energy is nowhere to be found. Dealers are smiling, gallery directors are not twitching with anxiety at every passing collector who didn’t walk in and hand over their Amex. In fact, several dealers we spoke to reported that the majority of the items in their booth have already been sold! This is before the fair is even open to the public! Marianne Boesky Gallery director Adrian Turner was happy to report that the two precious Svenja Deininger paintings, similar to the ones we profiled earlier this year, were sold before the fair even opened. Several of Patrick Wilson’s hard-edge geometric abstractions were also sold at the Los Angeles-based Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Credit cards were flying faster than the dealers could swipe them across their “Squares” and advisors were heard whispering “this is really a great deal for this artist” to their clients.
There is a definite sense of ease and pleasure this year. And, clearly, many of those present read our article on how to navigate an art fair and arrived in comfy flats! Well done! We are hereby taking some of the credit for all the smiles and happy people!
All in all, galleries brought better art. It’s just as simple as that. Most of the booths had engaging pieces that you actually wanted to look at. This year there is color, there is wonderful variety of ideas and a better range of artists at a wider price range. Not an insignificant point as the galleries probably understood the value of a young collector who is making first attempts at contemporary art. Possible too, that ABMB organizers paid attention to the praise, sales numbers and attention garnered by the “other” fairs and made drastic changes to their program. If that’s the case, we should applaud them for their flexibility and their ability to adapt to the market.
So, well done Art Basel Miami Beach! We are smiling back and ready to give you another chance! See you at the Vernissage!
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