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Coming just two weeks after the slam-dunk New York sales of contemporary art, Art Basel Miami Beach’s sales were reportedly excellent. At the high end of the market, Thaddaeus Ropac sold a Baselitz sculpture for $2m; Christophe van de Weghe quickly found a buyer for Richter’s “Abstraktes Bild (595-3)” (1986) at a little over $3m, and Gagosian placed Koons’ crinkled blue “Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta)” for some $9m. Sales were as strong lower down the scale, with a host of deals in the $200,000-$600,000 range: John Baldessari, Sterling Ruby and George Condo at Sprüth Magers, Nir Hod at Paul Kasmin, Teresita Fernández at Lehmann Maupin.
And there was plenty of enthusiasm under $100,000, with Casa Triângulo of São Paulo placing three paintings by Mariana Palma at $35,000 each and a work by assume vivid astro focus (sic) at $40,000. London’s Alan Cristea, in the new Edition section, did well with works by Julian Opie ($21,500) and Gordon Cheung ($16,000).
The action was not only in the main fair, but also in the 20-plus satellite fairs. At Untitled and at Pulse some booths sold out: London’s Vigo Gallery sold all its works by the Emirati Ayan Farah, at prices from $2,000 to $9,800, and now has a waiting list for her work.
The overlap between luxury goods, fashion and celebrities was never more visible and intense as at the Miami fair this year. Taking in the action were Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Kanye West, Leonardo DiCaprio, Pharrell Williams, Kevin Spacey and many others, making the event more hip by the year – and more in lockstep with the fashion and luxury-brand worlds. Tie-ups included Louis Vuitton’s creation of Charlotte Perriand’s model house design, a Moncler party in the Herzog & De Meuron car park and a Perrier-Jouët-sponsored installation in Design Miami. “Like art,” say the authors of The Luxury Strategy (Kogan Page 2012), “luxury is obsessed with hedonism and creativity.”
When I hear of yet another new art fair, my heart sinks – there are so many already! Yet another two have just been announced. In Russia, CosMoscow is returning in September 2014 after a four-year hiatus, in a new home – the neoclassical-style Old Manege by the Kremlin – with influential co-directors. One is Margarita Pushkina, who directed the first CosMoscow in 2010; the other is Sandra Nedvetskaia, who until three weeks ago was director of Christie’s Russia. “I spent eight years at Christie’s, working with Russian clients,” says Nedvetskaia. “At the beginning 99 per cent of them were buying Fabergé and 19th-century paintings, but I was working to change their collecting habits and by about 2005-06 they started taking an interest in international contemporary art. It seemed the time was right to move on and launch this fair.” The “tightly selected” group of exhibitors should number no more than 40. Asked about the weak Russian contemporary art scene – the Winzavod centre has seen many closures – Nedvetskaia says that the “market has changed, and there are many 30- to 40-year-old Russians now interested in collecting international art, and foreign collectors looking at Russian contemporary”.
The British capital is also getting a new fair: Photo London, to be held in May 2015 in the galleries around the Somerset House quadrangle. The producers, Candlestar – also behind the Prix Pictet– are looking for 70 high-level dealers and say they already have some very interested parties. Michael Benson of Candlestar sees a clear need for the new event: “There has been a seismic shift in the London photography scene,” he says. “Museums and galleries have become increasingly serious about photography and the number of London-based collectors has risen dramatically. London is on its way to becoming the key international hub for collectors of photography from around the world.” For the moment his New Year’s resolution is to find a director for the fair.
Two months after the inauguration of shows by Damien Hirst, Adel Abdessemed and Francesco Vezzoli, the Qatar Museums Authority has released visitor figures. So far, 60,000 people have attended the events, but the most popular has been Hajj, about the pilgrimage to Mecca, mounted in the Museum of Islamic Art in collaboration with the British Museum. This has attracted 27,000 visitors, beating the Hirst show with its 26,000 visitors. Vezzoli (in the slightly out-of-the-way Katara centre) has had 5,000. The wooden spoon goes to Adel Abdessemed, who is definitely not pulling them in, at just 2,000.
Georgina Adam is art market editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper