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Visual Arts

MIAMI ART BASEL 2019

Photos by Stefania Carrozzini

The eighteenth edition of Miami art Basel has come to an end.  As always, it was an important event, not to be missed by those who love art and above all for collectors from around the world who have had before their eyes, not only a vast choice but a choice for all pockets.  

It is an institution where the art market often dictates the laws of art “consumption”.  There was no lack of scandal, if we can call it that, as these days we are so used to extremes.  I of course refer to the work “Comedian” by artist Maurizio Cattelan and exhibited by Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery.   

A real banana fixed to the wall with duct tape sold for $120,000 dollars. The gallery owners confirmed to me that it was sold to an American collector.  Obviously, the authenticity of Cattelan is undeniable, and in reality the work is authentic  as a conceptual staged event. Without the banana, which is perishable, and must be replaced, it would have no value.  This work yielded a lot of publicity at the end when the artist David Datuna approached the work and ate it. Was everything staged?    

Cattelan’s staged event has produced much public speculation about the value of art as a concept and of the  meaning of art in general.   However, His slick operation had the merit of enlivening the fair, of creating a playful moment, so much so that there was a queue to take selfies beside the banana. Then it degenerated after an artist tore the fruit and ate it, the end of the film and everyone at home after Perrotin Gallery decided to remove the work from the wall. 

Most of the fair, however, was aimed at the more traditional art market, confirmed by the presence of works of great visual impact.   One hopes that the more traditional forms of art such as painting, sculpture, installation, stand the test of time.  

In addition to Cattelan there were no works that left you breathless, and perhaps the era in which you were looking for and finding sensational works has ended. For those who expected the scandal, were satisfied with Cattelan.

Photos by Stefania Carrozzini

It is difficult to stay focused on individual works as there is just too much to see.   And then there is fact that more and more people are glued to their smart phones.  If the climate is changing, and in Miami there is talk of a true emergency due to climate change, there is also another emergency that is not small.  Of how to save the human mind from catastrophes that are not natural but created by man, including the excess of technology which is one of the most important. For this reason, apart from Cattelan, Miami Basel demonstrated a healthy return to painting. There was less sensationalism and works of value were to be found.

But what did Miami collectors buy?  The von Vertes gallery sold two pumpkins of Yakoi Kusama for a million dollars .   There was great success for Georg Baselitz early on, with the Thaddeus Ropac Gallery which sold a bronze sculpture, Sing Sang Zero (2011), for almost $4 million and, subsequently, a large painting of the same year, Herdoktorfreud Grüßgott Herbootsmann, for a million dollars. The gallery also sold works by Donald Judd, Robert Longo, Gerhard Richter and David Salle, all above half a million per work.

Among other works sold, a new work by Anish Kapoor sold for $821,000 by Lisson Gallery.  Untitled (Silver Tapestry) (2008) by David Hammons exhibited by Hauser & Wirth sold for almost $2.5million. David Zwirner sold two new paintings by Oscar Murillo for $450,000, while White Cube presented Dominion (2019) by Damien Hirst: $750,000 for the last work of the great artist composed of butterfly wings. Prices around a million (and more) were also achieved by Pace Gallery, which sold that work by Agnes Martin and Robert Rauschenberg.  

These are just some relevant examples of the great success of Miami Art Basel: many sales that confirm this fair as one of the most important art market opportunities. For those wishing to compare this year with prior years, here are the facts: Art Basel in Miami Beach brought together 269 premier galleries, presenting works ranging from early 20th century Modern art to the present. While galleries from the United States and Latin America continued to be strongly represented, the show also featured new and returning exhibitors from across the globe, including Asia, Europe, and Africa.

The show welcomed 20 first-time participants, of which 12 galleries came from the Americas: Barro Arte Contemporáneo from Buenos Aires; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery Company Gallery, and Karma from New York; Central Fine from Miami Beach; Cooper Cole from Toronto; Document, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, and Moniquemeloche from Chicago; M+B and Parker Gallery from Los Angeles; and Galería Agustina Ferreyra from Mexico City. 

Photos by Stefania Carrozzini

Art Basel Miami Beach’s global emphasis was demonstrated by a strong lineup of galleries and artists from Asia. New entries to the fair from the region included 10 Chancery Lane Gallery from Hong Kong, Magician Space from Beijing, and ROH Projects from Jakarta, while Hanart TZ Gallery from Hong Kong participated for the first time in the Galleries sector. In addition, Taka Ishii Gallery from Tokyo and Edouard Malingue Gallery with exhibition spaces in Hong Kong and Shanghai both returned to the fair after a hiatus. 

As debuted at its Basel fair this past June, Art Basel applied a sliding scale pricing model in Miami Beach and welcomed a younger generation of galleries to the main sector for the first time, including Clearing, Gaga, High Art, hunt kastner, Karma, Maisterravalbuena, Revolver Galería, Tyler Rollins Fine Art, and Société. Additionally, the fair launched a new sector titled Meridians, which provided a unique platform for galleries and their artists to show work that pushes the boundaries of the traditional art fair layout. Curated by Magalí Arriola, Director of Museo Tamayo, the sector was staged in the new Grand Ballroom of the MBCC, a column-less exhibition space of almost 6,000 square meters (60,000 square feet), and featured 34 new and historical large-scale sculptures, paintings, installations, film and video projections, as well as performances.

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