Contra-Composition of Dissonances, XVI, 1925 by Theo van Doesburg,  Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands

Art Basel Miami: The Good. The Bad. The…oh, so ugly.

“How much is this and what’s the edition?” – Screamed a woman across a gallery space.

Alright folks. Here’s the low down on everything you need to know just in case Art Basel Miami pops up in conversation at your holiday parties / after dinner drinks / insert artsy function here. Or, you’re just dying to know what in the world goes on down there. So, let’s get you prepared.

 

Party, 2007 (acrylic on canvas and wood) by PJ Crook, Private Collection
Party, 2007 (acrylic on canvas and wood) by PJ Crook, Private Collection

Art Basel in Miami Beach is the country’s largest art fair with 267 galleries from around the world showcasing their work in a massive hall featuring more than 500,000 square feet of exhibition space. Just to put that number in perspective, imagine about 670 of New York City’s average size apartments all clustered together and full of work by more than 4,000 artists. Oh, what fun! Heading up this art extravaganza is its newest director, Noah Horowitz, who is simultaneously teaching the newest members of Sotheby’s Institute of Art how to navigate and monetize the fine line between art and business. 

In the Rain, 1912 (oil on canvas) by Franz Marc,  Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
In the Rain, 1912 (oil on canvas) by Franz Marc, Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

It has been said that Miami is usually pretty sunny around this time of year but, sigh…the sun did not make a very strong appearance at all. Heavy rains and flooding overtook parts of Collins Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Miami, to the point where officials grew concerned about a possible economic hit to exhibitors, dealers and other art-fairing folk who had invested heavily in bringing art and other entertainments to Miami. Don’t worry though, everything was fine (art and commerce alike). Promise. 

Man and Woman in an Art Gallery by Lincoln Seligman
Man and Woman in an Art Gallery by Lincoln Seligman

By the time this past Sunday rolled around, the consensus seemed to be that while some local businesses lost a bit of money, the larger exhibitions maintained their projections and did well over all in terms of attendance. Phew. All in all, Art Basel Miami Beach reported 77,000 people had attended the fair, roughly four thousand more than last year. 

In terms of sales, things got pretty interesting towards the end of the fair with the sale of Francis Bacon’s “Man in Blue,” from 1954 with an asking price of $15 million by Van de Weghe Fine Art and Picasso’s “Buste au Chapeau” oil from 1971, with an asking price of $10.5 million from the same gallery. Mazzoleni, a gallery in Turin and London, reported the sale of three works by Alberto Burri from the 1960s, including a “Plastica” which sold for $2 million. Very well done indeed. 

 

Francis Bacon, Charing Cross, London  © Neil Libbert
Francis Bacon, Charing Cross, London © Neil Libbert

One could argue that in fact the downpours actually prompted visitors to spend more time with the art rather than venture outside to sit on the beach. #Blessings.

As if soaked trousers and soppy wet shoes wasn’t bad enough, things got REALLY ugly when an altercation between two women attending the art fair turned violent. A woman was stabbed after accusing her attacker of following her around the art fair and bumping into her repeatedly. Personal space issues, am I right? The attacker, 24-year-old Siyuan Zhao stabbed the victim in the  neck with a craft knife and later told police, “I had to kill her and two more,” and “I had to watch her bleed!” Unfortunately, fair attendees were not initially sure if the attack was legit or performance art. Fortunately, the victim’s injuries were not life threatening and the suspect was apprehended by police. Again, phew. 

 

The Second of May, 1808. The Riot against the Mameluke Mercenaries, 1814 (oil on canvas) (pre-restoration), Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes  / Prado, Madrid, Spain
The Second of May, 1808. The Riot against the Mameluke Mercenaries, 1814 (oil on canvas) (pre-restoration), Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes / Prado, Madrid, Spain

There you have it. Art Basel Miami 2015 in a nutshell. Now, go forth and share your knowledge. 

 

Find out More:

Art Basel

Images and Licensing:

See all images. Get in touch at nysales@bridgemanimages.com for more information on image licensing and copyright clearance.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*