The tenth edition of the largest contemporary art fair in the U.S., Art Basel Miami Beach drew a record 50,000 visitors while the city's anchor fair, Art Miami, more than doubled its collective sales figures over last year and achieved a record gate of 55,000.
Bloomberg reports it was "more Art Bacchanal than Art Basel," with some exceptions, during last week's biggest of the bevy of art fairs which runs alongside a series of over-the-top parties as well as satellite fairs and museum exhibitions.
But some exhibiting dealers reported that Americans are back to buying art on a major scale and that younger collectors, in their 30s, are starting to become active players.
"We were impressed by a new seriousness in Miami, as collectors were committed and focused on acquiring major challenging works by artists in depth," remarked Iwan Wirth, President, Hauser & Wirth, who reported strong sales to an international clientele.
Exhibiting at Art Basel, Madrid's Galería Elvira González noted strong interest in works by Donald Judd. From Landau Fine Art, Jean Arp’s abstract marble “Torso” (1960), priced at $1.5 million, was just one of the modern masterpieces available. L & M Fine Arts showed a focused installation of Andy Warhol drawings from the 1950s to 80s, starting at about $25,000.
Of the who's who of major collectors and curators on hand, L.A. billionaire Eli Broad was reported to have picked up an early Cindy Sherman photograph, among other works.
Art Miami disclosed that by the close of the fair’s fourth day (Saturday) collective sales exceeded 2010 figures by more than two-fold. Works priced in the five- and six-figures went briskly as did some in the seven figures and many in a lower range. A handful of highlights:
McCormick Gallery/Vincent Vallarino Fine Art sold a Robert Motherwell acrylic painting titled “Untitled 1971” for approximately $325,000.
Hollis Taggart Galleries sold a Theodoros Stamos painting “Low White Sun Box” for approximately $225,000 and a Giorgio Cavallon painting “No. 84” for approximately $75,000.
William Shearburn Gallery sold a Jules Olitski painting “Prince Yellow” for approximately $350,000.
Michael Goedhuis sold a Wei Ligang ink and acrylic on paper “Qin Fan Yuan Wen, Ri Mu Kong Shan Xiang (2011) for $225,000.
Contessa Gallery sold a Chuck Close jacquard tapestry “Lucas” (2011) for $150,000
Galerie Michael Schulz sold a Gerhard Richter painting “Abstraktes Bild” for $1,600,000.
Rosenbaum Contemporary sold a Robert Indiana sculpture for approximately $325,000.
Mark Borghi Fine Art sold a Jean-Michel Basquiat work for approximately $250,000, and Alexander Calder’s painting titled, “Red and Black” for approximately $85,000, along with Alex Katz painting titled “Daytona Beach” for approximately $38,000.
Osborne Samuel sold a Henry Moore sculpture for approximately $250,000.
David Klein Gallery sold a Kim McCarty watercolor titled “Black Tips” (2010) for $18,000 to a MOMA trustee.
“This year’s fair has exceeded all of our expectations, from the vast array of high-quality works and extraordinary galleries to a record number of important sales,” said Nick Korniloff, Director of Art Miami. “The high volume of transactions and record attendance at Art Miami are also strong indicators that the art market is thriving. We anticipate millions of dollars in sales will be finalized in the coming weeks as a result of the strong interest and serious collectors at Art Miami this year."