That’s a wrap: Art Basel Miami Beach 2013

Sun, sand and oil on canvas: Art Basel Miami Beach is back for 2013.

December 10, 2013
by Monica Karpinski
Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2010 at ABMB 2013
Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2010 at ABMB 2013

Emerging from the effervescent haze that shrouds the city’s social life, this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach descending on the glittering shores with all the usual aplomb that it has become renowned for.

As the largest art fair in the US, this year’s event has a scheduled attendance of over 130 museum groups, as well as an array of collectors, critics and art enthusiasts worldwide such as New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery, Pace/MacGill Gallery, Art Observed, Art:Concept and Galerie Thomas Schulte.

But don’t let the glitz of Miami fool you, said White Cube’s Tim Marlow to The Art Newspaper, “The steam around the fair is frothy, but not the work on the stands.”

“We’ve had conversations here over the past decade that have led to serious acquisitions as well as major museum shows.”

Many participating galleries used the event to launch specific appeals to museums, a dialogue that begins long before the fair itself. Said by the artist’s estate to only be sold to a museum, Hannah Wilke’s c.1960 piece Untitled is priced at around $200,000. Insurer AXA Art estimates the total value of artwork estimated to be sold to exceed $3 billion. Over 18 lots reached over $20 million at auctions: Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog sold for a cool $58 million, whilst Andy Warhol’s Silver Car Crash went for $105 million.

Exhibitors were divided into seven sectors within the fair, each with it’s own selection committee, application process and specific focus. As well as exhibitions and particular works on show in conventional gallery spaces, the fair hosts a number of events that include talks, films and workshops.

Whilst the past five years have seen an increase in work debuted at fairs rather than through traditional exhibitions, this phenomenon is not endorsed by all. Andreas Gender of Sprüth Magers told The Art Newspaper that having artists create work specifically for fairs puts undue pressure on them, with art adviser Wendy Cromwell adding that fairs encourage production of homogenous works just to fill demand. “People will see something they can’t get and the gallery says: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have one at the next fair,’” she said.

“The pace of information is so much faster that clients don’t want to wait for a gallery show to see new work, and galleries can’t afford to wait either.”

However, there is no denying the resonance of the event as a cultural hotspot for networking and generating interest in their practice.

Much work on show has been produced specifically for the fair, with some artists even adding finishing touches to their pieces once already inside the convention centre. Artist Daniel turner was flown in by Team Gallery to create the site-specific Untitled, valued at $25,000.

Art Basel Miami Beach ran from December 5-8, 2013.