Artist Kathleen Ryan has created monumental sculptures. But for his participation in Art Basel Miami Beach this week, dealer François Ghebaly chose a four-foot-tall piece, beach scene, adorned with a pink parasol and semi-precious stones. Retailing for $175,000, it sold out at the VIP preview on Tuesday.
“They don’t take up too much space,” said Ghebaly, whose booth featured other small sculptures by gallery artists who often work on a much larger scale. “They are more manageable for customers and for us.”
Signs of renewed pragmatism were visible throughout the country’s largest contemporary art fair as art market players continued to adjust to rising shipping costs and prepare for tough times. more sober after two years of market frenzy. Most of the kiosks featured commercial, eye-pleasing material that wouldn’t be too difficult in terms of price or scale.
While sales were still buoyant across the fair, especially for emerging artists, many big-ticket items faced resistance and went unsold during the two-day VIP opening at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
“Art Basel is a big buffet of works of art, but compared to years past, the works are less spicy, easier to digest and are much more suited to the taste of the general public,” said Tom Danziger, a lawyer specialized in artistic transactions. . “Lots of pretty pictures.”
Blum & Poe showcased its young stars, including Lauren Quin and Asuka Anastasia Ogawa, with prizes exceeding $75,000, bringing instead, say, a large-scale painting by Mark Grotjahn, which costs up to $5 million. . Rachel Uffner presented four miniature sculptures by Munich artist Curtis Talwst Santiago, who transported them to the fair in his suitcase. Two sold quickly for $22,000 and $25,000.
Asking prices throughout the fair reached $32 million for Warhol’s self-portrait in a freight wig at Acquavella Galleries. Nahmad Gallery, usually a good barometer of the high-end segment of the market, brought an impressive large-scale Dubuffet painting to this level, but not a $50 million Rothko like in 2018. David Zwirner had a 20-year-old Jasper Johns millions of dollars. , which, dealers whispered, had already been privately offered for $35 million. None sold during previews.
The Peter Blum Gallery did not bring a single painting by Alex Katz, usually a staple of its art fair booths, despite the artist’s retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. Instead, the gallery has dedicated its booth to two solo presentations by emerging artists Rebecca Ward and Kamrooz Aram, priced no more than $60,000. Most were sold on the second day.
“The market is more selective,” said Christophe van de Weghe, whose stand was one of the most expensive at the show. While several works priced between $1 million and $5 million sold on opening day, the most expensive pieces remained unsold, including a $20 million Basquiat.
Legendary Swiss dealer Karsten Greve featured brand new figurative paintings by Israeli artist Gideon Rubin on the outside wall of his stall, priced at $14,500 to $34,500, with red dots next to many, but not paintings and expensive works on paper by Cy Twombly inside.
Demand for emerging artists remained strong at the main fair as well as satellite shows like NADA and Untitled. “I couldn’t find any bargains,” said Lio Malca, a New York-based private collector and dealer. “Instead of having 10 people in front of you, there are now three or four.”
He bought several works priced at $10,000 to $100,000 but was outbid many others, including a $4.8million Keith Haring painting that had been pre-sold at Gladstone, he said. he declares.
Things were slower above $5 million, a sign of the dislocation between what sellers expect and what buyers are willing to pay.
At White Cube, a yellow basket with giant Jeff Koons eggs was unsold at $7.5 million. So did another landmark show, an enormous twinkle ball by Olafur Elliason, priced at $1.25 million, perilously close to the artist’s auction record of $1.5 million, at Neugerriemschneider Gallery. There were no immediate takers for a 1962 Calder sculpture, priced at $7.5 million, at the Gray Gallery, or a 7-foot-tall red Calder at Pace, priced at $12 million.
“If the super-rich think we’re heading into a bear cycle, they’re expecting rebates,” said Evan Beard, a former Bank of America executive. And if they get too much shock from the stickers, they walk, at least if the hospitality industry is any indicator.
Some hotels have become so expensive during Art Basel week that even ultra-wealthy collectors are saying no – and looking for better options, said Blum & Poe’s Tim Blum.
“It’s definitely something I haven’t heard in years,” he said.
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