Despite the palpable calm in the convention center, sales were in full swing.
The first thing we heard from nearly every dealer, collector, art advisor, or other expert we spoke to in the opening hours of Art Basel in Miami Beach VIP preview was that traffic was down and the mood was more mellow.
Despite the palpable calm in the convention center, sales were in full swing during opening hours, and the trend persisted on Thursday, with many dealers openly expressing surprise about the strength of demand and pace of sales.
“It ran counter to what we expected, but the majority of things sold,” said Darragh Hogan of Kerlin Gallery in Dublin. The gallery showed work by Callum Innes, Eoin McHugh, Isabel Nolan, Siobhán Hapaska, and William McKeown.
One work that struck a chord with viewers but had not yet been sold was a large scale painting by Brian Maguire of bombed out apartments in Aleppo, Syria.
“We sold very well,” Galerie Gmurzynska CEO Mathias Rastorfer told artnet News on Thursday, noting about ten works that found buyers, including photographs, drawings, and paintings that were priced between $100,000 to $400,000.
The gallery’s booth, smack at the main entrance of the fair, was a major highlight, featuring Russian avant-garde work in homage to the 100-year anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Rastorfer said buyers this year seemed to be taking their time looking at the art and making decisions as opposed to running around and “buying with their feet.”
Sales were also brisk at Paul Kasmin Gallery, where the dealer was showing works by several artists for the first time, including Bosco Sodi, as well as a large scale work by Lee Krasner, the latter titled Storm (1963) sold for $6 million.
Also on view was a stunning work by Roxy Paine, a steel tree “dendrite” maquette titled Compression that formed a perfect square despite having branches spreading in all directions.
The Roxy Paine (not the maquette, but the actual commission) sold for $2 million. The gallery also sold work by Ivan Navarro and Ian Davenport.
Acquavella Galleries enjoyed a successful opening day, including the sale of a 1964 Kenneth Noland, Mach II, in the region of its $1.25 million asking price, as well as a 2014 Miquel Barceló painting, Little Big Bang.
Among sales at Tornabuoni Art—which has locations in Paris, Florence, London, Milan, Forte dei Marmi, and Crans-Montana—were an Enrico Castellani canvas that sold for about €1 million; a work by Agostino Bonalumi, Rosso (1984), which sold for about €200,000; and Francesca Pasquali’s White Straws (2016), which sold for about €25,000.
Sean Kelly Gallery reported strong sales during the VIP preview on Tuesday. Some of the highlights included Kehinde Wiley‘s sculpture Akilah Walker (2015) for $185,000; Hugo McCloud’s aluminum painting, veiled love (2016), for $45,000; and Sam Moyer’s Delta Dawn (2016) for $45,000. Other artists whose work sold included Sun Xun, Los Carpinteros, Sam Moyer, Callum Innes, Jose Davila, James Casebere, and James White.
Galeria Nara Roesler of Sao Paulo and New York sold two works by Artur Lescher, his brass and fishing line Grande Marcho (2016) for $37,000, as well as his stainless steel Rio de Parede (2016) for $50,000.
Brazilian art star Vik Muniz was also in demand with buyers, evidenced by sales including his mixed-media inkjet on paper, Handmade: Sem Titulo (Folded circles Blue Ash) (2016), which sold for $20,000, and Handmade: Cut Squares Orange (2016), which sold for $18,000.
Marco Maggi’s color adhesive alphabet on black museum board, Big Data (South) (2016) sold for $32,000.
Lisson Gallery sold an early spray-gun work by Roy Colmer for $50,000. The gallery announced its representation of the artist’s estate as well, and it will hold an exhibition of his paintings and late photo collages at their New York Gallery this coming January. Carmen Herrera‘s Untitled Estructura (Blue)(1966/2015) and Ave Maria (2011) sold at $450,000 each.
Several Anish Kapoor works were sold for prices between £500,000 and £700,000. Other sales at Lisson included sculptures by Shirazeh Houshiary and Ryan Gander, and works by Cory Archangel, Natalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, Stanley Whitney, and Pedro Reyes.
Within half an hour of the opening yesterday, Pace Gallery sold a multimedia work by Leo Villareal entitled Cloud Drawing, 2016, for $85,000. Villareal will have his first solo exhibition with Pace in fall 2017.
The gallery reported significant interest in its presentation of small-scale geometric sculptures by Joel Shapiro in bronze and aluminum, several of which sold to private collectors for $125,000 each.
Additional sales highlights included Maya Lin’s Silver Pearl (2015), made of recycled silver, which sold for $150,000. (Lin was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.). And Sol Lewitt’s Form Derived from a Cube (1983) sold to a prominent private collector for $250,000. Two paintings by Lee Ufan sold for $750,000 each.
Lehmann Maupin Gallery said their fair kicked off with the sale of two editions of Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s large-scale sculpture, Big Disobedience (2016), which is on view as part of the fair’s Public Sector. One edition sold to Turnberry for the Arts—Aventura Mall, a luxury shopping mall in the Miami area, and another sold to Koo House in Korea, which opened earlier this year in July. Wurm will represent Austria in next year’s Venice Biennale.
A large new Interior painting by Brooklyn-based artist Mickalene Thomas was bought in the range of $200,000–$250,000 USD.
At Los Angeles-based David Kordansky, sales included Soak (2016), one of John Armleder’s signature puddle paintings, for $130,000; a 1970 acrylic on canvas by Sam Gilliam entitled Shimmer (1970) for $400,000; and Aaron Curry’s large-scale sculpture Brain Muscle in a Weird Headspace (2016) for $180,000.