10th anniversary of Art Basel Miami Beach



Created in 2002, Art Basel Miami Beach (Florida, USA) has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. From 1 to 4 December, the American version of Art Basel (Switzerland) hosted more than 260 galleries from around the world, exhibiting work by 2,000 artists with a total value of almost 2.5 billion dollars.

The galleries and their artists
Marina ABRAMOVIĆ and AI Weiwei were among the best represented artists and there was a particularly dense offer of works by John BALDESSARI, Georg BASELITZ, Louise BOURGEOIS, , Willem DE KOONING, Lucio FONTANA, Donald JUDD, Sol LEWITT, Robert MAPPLETHORPE, Richard PRINCE and Christopher WOOL on offer at 9 different galleries!
But by far the most ubiquitous artist was the King of Pop himself, Andy WARHOL, with works on sale at 20 galleries! Incidentally, there is no shortage of Warhol’s works on the secondary market with more than 1,000 lots offered at auction every year (and 32% remaining unsold, excluding prints).

Other galleries decided to player safer with artists like Alexander CALDER, Alberto GIACOMETTI, Amedeo MODIGLIANI, Pablo PICASSO, Joan MIRO and Marc CHAGALL.

Nowadays, art is more than ever associated with luxury consumer products and all manner of bling-bling. Art Basel Miami Beach was no exception with Dior, Fendi, Swarovski, Ferrari, Ruinart (an official sponsor of the fair) all very present. Some artists are manifestly aware of the connection, like Damien HIRST with his roughly 2.4 metre skull made of 345,798 Swarovski cristals.

But not all the galleries were seeking to project opulence. Some of the “small” galleries focused on novelty, originality and, above all, quality, allowing the fair to continue to attract highly selective collectors and museum curators (a record of 150 grouped visits of collectors and museums were counted). The Landau Fine Art Gallery of Montreal presented a number of exceptional works with Hans ARP whose price index has risen 28.2% in 2011 alone. Landau offered a Torso by the artist at $1.5m. The Richard Gray Gallery offered a painting by Franz KLINE for $2.5m and a Alberto GIACOMETTI sculpture for $1.5m, to mention just some of the safe investments offered at the fair.

Among the galleries that were most satisfied with this 10th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, there was the Zurich-based Hauser & Wirth Gallery which offered works by Louise Bourgeois, Martin CREED and Matthew Day JACKSON. The French Gallery Thaddaeus Ropac offered works by Georg Baselitz, Tony CRAGG and Jules DE BALINCOURT. The Cheim & Read Gallery from New York also had works by Louise Bourgeois alongside works by Hans HARTUNG and Joan MITCHELL.

Side events
Another specificity of this year’s ABMB were the private collections open to the public during the fair, including those of Don and Mera Rubell, Craig Robbins, Adam and Lenore Sender and Rosa de la Cruz.

The magnetic power of the ABMB fair and the crowd of international art buyers that it attracts presents a superb opportunity for the proliferation of all kinds of side events. This year, no less than 17 independent spaces, exhibiting works of extremely variable quality, were open to the public at the same time as the main fair. In the main fair we noted a strong contingent of Asian galleries (notably at Scope and Art Asia), American galleries of course and some European galleries mainly from Germany and Holland.

This year, the fair attracted 50,000 visitors (versus 46,000 last year). We do not yet have the fair’s revenue figures, but we hope they match expectations and were as good as last year! The organisers were targeting a 4% revenue increase versus 2010 (+ 11 million dollars).