Sunday, December 4, 2016

ART BIZ | Sales at Art Basel, Miami Beach

Art Basel, Miami Beach, 2016. Attendance was down.
In an uncertain world, buyers were cautious, but still eager.
Dec. 4, 2016–My mother, artist  Hilda van Stockum, used to talk up art as an investment.

She said that art, unlike most other investments, can be appreciated by its owners while they wait for it to appreciate.

I have from time to time posted on what is selling at some small art galleries that I frequent.

These minnows in the art sea can be measured against the giant whale that is  Miami Beach's 15th Art Basel, which ends today.

From this huge marketplace, the biggest single primary art show in the world, we get a snapshot of what 269 galleries from 29 countries sold in less than a week.

This year the political shocks have forced people to rethink what we know about the world we live in. This surely affected Art Basel sales.

In a word, the art market is softer than in 2015. Robin Pogrebin of the NY Times headlined a story about the art fair with Paul Kasmin Gallery's star $6 million sale of Lee Krasner’s Another Storm (1963) to a private collector. This is one of the Krasner's five largest paintings. Pogrebin quoted Kasmin as saying that buyers have an eye on the long-term marketplace, looking for art that is "rare, good or new".

Mnuchin Gallery in New York City.
One frisson of interest occurred in Miami Beach when it was announced that Steven Mnuchin would be appointed Treasury Secretary, the position Alexander Hamilton first occupied, in the administration of Donald Trump.

Steven is the son of dealer Robert Mnuchin, former long-time Goldman Sachs trader, whose gallery at 45 East 78th Street has carried his name since 2013.

A report I tweeted by Alexander Forbes of Artsy confirms what Pogrebin reports, that medium-priced art work (roughly the $10,000-$100,000 range) continued to sell at steady rate, but buyers in an uncertain U.S. and British marketplace were less inclined to take risks acquiring unknown artists or paying very high prices for the work of known artists.

Artsy quotes Steven P. Henry, director of Paula Cooper gallery, as saying that people buy more art when they feel good, and right now they don't feel good. At Art Basel dealers seemed to be using the fair as an advertising platform for future sales as much as a venue to close—to a great extent sales were made before the fair opened. Here are some major sales, the first one already mentioned:
  • Lee Krasner, Another Storm (1963), as mentioned via Paul Kasmin Gallery, $6 million. Nick Olney of the gallery said: "We were very excited to have this to announce to the world in a very physical way that we’re working with the [Pollock-Krasner Foundation]. I haven’t found hesitancy [among buyers]; it’s maybe just less impulsive."
  • Roxy Paine, 41-foot-tall sculpture Compression (2016), $2 million.
  • Iván Navarro, five works, $50,000 to $150,000.
  • William N. Copley, Under the Stars (Hommage à Picabia) (1994), $185,000.
  • Herrera via Logsdail, Untitled Estructura (Blue) (1966/2015) and Ave Maria (2011), $450,000 apiece. Also several works on paper.
  • Roy Colmer, also via Logsdail, spray-gun work, $50,000, and
  • Anish Kapoor, art, £500,000–£700,000.
  • Marco Maggi, from Brazilian Galeria Nara Roesler, three related paintings–BIG DATA (North and East), 2016 for $42,000 each, and BIG DATA (West), 2016, $36,000.
  • Maggi, Complete Coverage on Oiticica (March, Turner Box), 2016, $14,000.
  • Tommy Ohtake, untitled painting, 1965, $160,000.
  • Julio Le Parc, three works (Alchimie 339: En spirale huit couleurs, 2008 / 2016, €150,000; Continuel mobile transparent, 1962 / 2016, €290,000; and Continuel Mobile rouge, 1962 / 2016, €190,000.
  • Maya Lin, Silver Pearl (2015), $150,000; several small Joel Shapiro sculptures, $125,000; two pieces out of Tara Donovan’s Composition (Cards) series, $65,000; five works on paper by Yoshitomo Nara, $30,000-$65,000; Nigel Cooke, a painting, $50,000, and Leo Villarreal, editions of Cloud Drawing (2016), $85,000 apiece. All via Pace, directed by Ben Strauss-Malcolm.