Sunday, December 09, 2018

Art Basel Miami Week: The Last Day

Sunday opened with typical Miami style rains: hard and boisterous, but short! 

The fair opened at its usual time (11AM) and the crowds were plenty and numerous until closing time at 6PM.

By the time Sunday arrives, feet hurt, the body aches and the brain is experiencing sensory overload. It is also the time for some galleries to rejoice if they've had a financially successful fair, a bad one, or even a business-ending disaster. As usual, there were galleries who did well, some which broke even, or were "in the black" and those which did not sell a single work during the event.

The feedback noise from the many experienced collectors this year all seemed to reflect the same sort of impression - they're no doubt that the fair "phenomenon" is undergoing a market check in a sense. 

The most common comment about the namesake fair (Art Basel Miami Beach) has now been the same for a while: that it has become somewhat "stale" and too "secondary market" in its selection of works and artists.  

What was surprising to me was the uniform feedback on the decline of a couple of other satellite fairs which for many years had a sterling reputation. The opposite to that negative feedback was the consistent feedback that the "newish" Untitled Art Fair was one of the best fairs this year and it has now fully established itself as one of the Miami art week top of the food-chain art fairs, somewhat bypassing once power fairs such as Pulse and NADA.

I was super busy at my our booth in Context Art Miami, and as usual I no longer have the time to personally verify this collector feedback, but seeing that it came consistent from multiple sources, it seems like it is solid and decent feedback from experienced collectors.

All of this is not that unusual as fairs and fair directors influence who, what and how art is selected (and even displayed).

At our fair, it was very crowded... and yet, for the first time in a dozen years, we had no sales on the last day of the fair.

The packing started; then the van performed the van dance of coming onto the grounds; then the carrying of the packed art and loading back onto the van for the long trek back home, with the dreaded "snow" word hanging in the wind.

Then LBK headed north.