NEW YORK—Of the many satellite fairs that have sprung up around Art Basel Miami Beach over the past decade, the veteran Art Miami, held Nov. 30–Dec. 4 at the Art Miami Pavilion in the city’s Wynwood district, continues to stand out among established dealers and collectors as a desirable, and, most say, less hectic venue. Several years ago, the timing of the fair was moved up to coincide with the Basel Miami Beach event, as opposed to running in the weeks afterward.
Exhibitors praised the fair’s layout and organization. Attendance was a record 50,000 visitors, compared with 36,000 last year.
“The fair was truly exceptional,” said Steve Hartman, owner of Contessa Gallery, Cleveland. “If this is any read on the economy, then things have really turned. Everything was selling across the board; the level of interest and the amount of people in attendance was incredible.”
Contessa’s sales included Booster, 1967, a print by Robert Rauschenberg, for $225,000 to a private collection; another print, Off the Continental Divide, ca. 1973–77, by James Rosenquist, sold for $40,000; a drawing by Miami artist Mark T. Smith, Diagram of Life, was sold for $3,875; and more than 27 photographs by David Drebin were sold for prices ranging from $4,800 for smaller unframed photos up to $78,000 for larger works.
Chicago gallery owner Thomas McCormick, who shared his booth and partnered on inventory with New York–based Vincent Vallarino Fine Art in order to cut costs, marked his fourth consecutive year at the Art Miami fair and called it “fabulous.” Among his sales were paintings by John Little, Jack Roth, Stephen Pace and Lisa Nankivil, as well as sculpture by David Slivka.
New York gallery owner Nancy Hoffman said the fair marked the strongest results in the three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008, just two months prior to the Miami season. “Each successive year has been better; there was an ebullience of spirit and people were buying,” Hoffman told ARTnewsletter, noting the success of this year’s edition.
Hoffman said sales ranged from $1,300 to about $100,000 at the top end and “quite a lot in the middle, $20,000” range. The gallery sold works by Don Eddy, Hung Liu, Mark Calderon and Asya Reznikov.
Karen Jenkins, partner in Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York and San Francisco, said her own experience, and feedback from other dealers underscored the fact that “this is one of the best fairs people have had in years. It’s a sign that the economy is growing.”
Jenkins further noted that after the market downturn in late 2008, attendance and demand at the fair seemed to be coming primarily from super-wealthy collectors, while the crowd this year was a decidedly broader range of purchasers buying at different price points.
According to Jenkins, sales included several limited-edition works by Julian Opie that cumulatively totaled about $125,000; work by photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, whose prices start around $6,700 and range up to about $17,000; work by Wisconsin-based artist Melissa Cooke who executes drawings in graphite with brush and whose prices start at $4,800; work by African American artist Nathaniel Donnett; and paintings by Scott Fraser, at prices up to $12,000 each.
Anna Ortt, director of the Mike Weiss Gallery, New York, said sales included three paintings by Kim Dorland ranging in price from $6,800/15,000; five sculptures by Liao Yibai ranging in price from $23,000/150,000; four paintings by Piet van den Boog for $40,000/60,000; and five paintings by Yigal Ozeri at prices ranging from $40,000/50,000. The gallery’s newest addition to its stable of artists, Trudy Benson, had sales of three paintings from the booth priced at $10,000/12,000, as well as four more out of her Brooklyn studio with the help of the gallery’s new iPads, said Ortt.