Fairs USA

Less frenzy, more serious

Miami may be a party town, but ABMB attracts sober collectors

Cruzvillegas’s wall piece at Kurimanzutto (G4) sold to a New York collector

Once the frivolous younger sister to Art Basel in Switzerland, Art Basel Miami Beach is forging its own, grown-up identity. Now in its 11th year, the event has become the pre-eminent US art fair in a crowded calendar. “[It] has reinforced itself this year as being a serious art fair. Almost every major US museum is represented by someone visiting,” said the New York gallerist Casey Kaplan (J4).

Kaplan’s gallery was one of the many spaces in Chelsea for which the fair was especially important after the havoc wrought by Superstorm Sandy in late October (the gallery is still closed because of flood damage). “It’s an emotional roller coaster for us right now, and the opening day here was very positive. It’s the first step to getting back to what we do,” Kaplan said. His gallery’s sales included Marlo Pascual’s Untitled, 2012, a digital C-print mounted on plexiglass. The work, which had an asking price of $24,000, was bought by the Miami Art Museum.

The mood in the aisles felt less frenzied than it has in previous years. “It’s a little lighter on the power crowd. You realise certain people are missing, but good things have happened,” said Tim Blum of LA’s Blum & Poe (K21), where sales included two paintings by Zhu Jinshi for $65,000 each.

“It’s going very well. The pace has been nice—we haven’t felt the competitive rush, but it is building up,” said José Kuri of Mexico City’s Kurimanzutto (G4), who sold works including Abraham Cruzvillegas’s Blind Self-portrait as a Hand-Wounded Jaranero Baboon Demonstrating at Banjwai District, 2012, with an asking price of $40,000, to the New York collector Sascha Bauer. Lisson Gallery (J1) had already sold 18 works by the third day of the fair, including Ryan Gander’s marble sculpture I is… (ii), 2012, which went for $75,000 to a US collector. “For us, this is one of the top three fairs in the year,” said Alex Logsdail of Lisson. Regen Projects (C14) also reported robust sales, including Liz Larner’s Caesura, 2012, for $75,000, and Raymond Pettibon’s No Title (This left was), 2012, for $325,000. “I think this fair is every bit as good as it was in 2007,” said Shaun Caley Regen of the Los Angeles gallery.

The art adviser Allan Schwartzman said: “A great effort was made to bring some superior works. In addition, dealers [who brought] more historical post-war works brought some special things.”

Although these big-ticket works normally take longer to sell, the New York dealer Christophe Van de Weghe (D8) made two multi-million-dollar sales on the preview day, including Andy Warhol’s Statue of Liberty, 1986, for $3.85m. At Acquavella Galleries (C4), works by the younger generation sold immediately—Damian Loeb’s Blue moon (Amagansett) I, 2012, $200,000, and Enoc Perez’s Nude, 2012, $220,000—and two “major deals” for blue-chip Modern masters were under way on the second day, said the New York gallerist Nicholas Acquavella.

The fair was launched in part to provide a bridge between North and South America. “Bogota, Lima, Brazil, Mexico—these places are boiling. There is a middle class with a hunger to buy, which is more or less gone in Europe,” said Jaime Riestra of Mexico’s Galería OMR (B19), where sales included Jorge Méndez Blake’s Hotel Monturio 1, 2011-12, which went to a Midwestern US collector for $25,000.

The Parisian gallery Yvon Lambert (L13), which has a representative in Miami, sold two photographs by Francesco Vezzoli to a Brazilian and an Argentinian for $150,000 apiece. “There are lots of Brazilians here, but not all of them are buying,” said Alexandre Gabriel of São Paulo’s Galeria Fortes Vilaça (B15).

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