Art Basel Miami Beach has reported a successful return to the fair with strong sales and outstanding exhibits, marking a milestone 2021 edition.
Has the fashion industry hijacked the Art Basel Miami Beach fair?
Despite the risk of being overshadowed by the NFT craze (2021’s hula-hoop) not to mention the Omicron variant of COVID, which is threatening to push us back to 2020, the latest edition of Art Basel Miami Beach has moved ahead fearlessly. There seems to be more and more fashion and collateral products cluttering up the commercial side of the fair but Art Basel’s first in-person fair in the United States since 2019 – brought together 253 leading international galleries from 36 countries and territories, presenting the highest quality of artworks across all media, from painting and sculpture to photography and digital works. Forty-four galleries joined the fair for the first time this year, including Central Galeria and Galeria Estaçãofrom São Paulo, Curro from Guadalajara, Galeria Patricia Ready from Vitacura, Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala City, Wilding Cran Gallery from Los Angeles, Reyes Finn from Detroit, Daniel Faria Gallery from Toronto, and Gallery Hyundai from Seoul.
This year’s show was more diverse than ever before and welcomed four first-time participants from Africa, including friars Gallery from Kampala; First Floor Gallery Harare with spaces in Harare and Victoria Falls; SMAC Art Gallery with spaces in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Stellenbosch; and Rele Gallery with areas in Lagos and Los Angeles. In addition, in recognition of the changing gallery landscape, this year Art Basel and its Selection Committee relaxed many of its exhibitor application requirements, including the minimum number of exhibitions a gallery must hold per year, the need to have a permanent space, and the number of years the gallery must have been in operation. The changes allowed the fair to welcome a broader range of first-time participants, including the newly-opened Nicola Vassell in New York and the roaming Kendra Jayne Patrick Gallery.
Collector attendance this year was similarly internationalizing years past, with leading private collectors and institutions from 72 countries across North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East visiting the fair, as well as leading patrons and curators from over 170 museums and cultural organizations including Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; ICA Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MOCA Los Angeles; MUAC (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo), Mexico City; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham; New Museum, New York; Palais de Lomé; SAHA, Istanbul; Serpentine Galleries, London; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Americas Foundation, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
‘This show marks the first truly international art fair to take place in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic,’ says Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel. ‘It has been incredible to witness the energy again in the halls and the enormous pent-up demand for seeing, buying, and selling art in person. In addition, we featured a much more diverse range of voices than ever before, making this show vibrant in discoveries.’
Following its success in Basel and Hong Kong, Art Basel Live amplified onsite presentations in Miami Beach, with a digital program comprising Online Viewing Rooms, virtual walkthroughs, live-streamed conversations, and social media broadcasts transmitting the vibrancy and excitement from the show floor to the broadest possible global audience.
Art Basel implemented comprehensive measures to create a safe, fair environment, including a mandatory mask policy inside the venue in light of the ongoing pandemic. In addition, a timed entry system was put in place to control occupancy inside the halls.
Galleries exhibiting in all sectors of Art Basel shared their enthusiasm about this year’s edition:
‘As a first-time exhibitor at Art Basel Miami Beach and as a gallery based in Kampala, Uganda, Africa, we were more than thrilled to be at the fair and do so well. Our presence here proves that the world is opening up to a variety of artistic voices, and I am leaving the fair more optimistic about the art world’s future.’
Daudi Karungi, Director, Afriart Gallery, Kampala
‘A huge win for Miami and the metaverse this week! We were thrilled to place so many works from the fair in great collections, including pieces by Robert Nava and Marina Perez Simão with museums. Art Basel brought us new opportunities in the digital sphere, too — the coming-together of creative minds and tech innovators at the fair provided rocket fuel for our digital artists, including the debut of several NFTs.’
Marc Glimcher, President and CEO, Pace Gallery, New York, Palo Alto, Palm Beach, Hong Kong, Seoul, Geneva, London
‘We were so pleased to see Art Basel Miami Beach back in full swing and encouraged to have met so many new people at this edition of the fair. It felt like a shift in gear, even more energy than the previous fair pre-pandemic. The week was certainly a great success for us, with brisk sales, and it was rewarding to be making these sales in person on the booth again. We’re leaving on a high, having enjoyed all that Miami’s expanding art scene has to offer.’
Thaddaeus Ropac, Founder, Thaddaeus Ropac, London, Paris, Salzburg, Seoul
‘It felt great to be back in Miami. The enthusiasm among the collectors, curators and advisors was wonderful. The conversations were incredibly lively – all a reassuring reminder that the art world is truly a community and that Art Basel Miami Beach is its leading fair in the United States. We had an amazing first day with almost 20 works sold, including several, like paintings by Christina Quarles and Rashid Johnson, going to major institutions. Every work in our stand came from our gallery artists and estates, so the enthusiasm from private and institutional collectors was even more gratifying for us. It’s clear that American art continues to lead the market with top quality being the north star on the compass.’
Marc Payot, President, Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Somerset, St. Moritz, Zurich, Gstaad, Menorca
‘We were thrilled to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach for the first time with Karon Davis. Sales couldn’t have been stronger and it was an honour to exhibit with the other galleries in the Positions sector. We look forward to returning next year.’
Anthony Cran, Owner, Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles
‘We had a very successful Art Basel Miami Beach and were happy to be back at the fair. The quality of visitors at the preview days was excellent, with top-tier collectors, curators, and museum directors all attending. The slightly more relaxed pace suited us very well, giving us the chance to have in-depth conversations about our artists and the works on view. Sales were robust across the board, and we left Miami with high spirits!’
Monika Sprüth, Co-Owner, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong
‘Our first presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach’s Galleries sector has been a fantastic experience. We met new collectors and reconnected with many old friends. Sales have been strong, and we placed work for every artist in our booth, including a Jameson Green painting to the ICA Miami and a sold-out Ellen Lesperance Kabinett booth.’
Derek Eller, Owner, Derek Eller Gallery, New York
‘We returned to Miami Beach after two years to tremendous energy and great colleagues, clients, and curators from around the world — many old and many entirely new to our program. US collectors, in particular, arrived with a real desire to buy — sales were swift and strong for a wide variety of our artists and estates, with placements in prominent private collections and institutions. Once again, we are reminded how vitally important the art fair is to our community and ecosystem.’
Xavier Hufkens, Owner, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
‘Miami is back with a bang. There was demand and desire to see art in person, resulting in strong placements with museums and private collections, including the acquisition of Dominic Chambers’ work by a prominent museum in China, to the placement of multiple works by Teresita Fernández for over $1.3 million. Together with our seasonal presentation of new works by Do Ho Suh in Palm Beach, the fair gave us confidence closing out 2021 and looking ahead to next year.’
David Maupin, Co-founder, Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London
‘This year, we came hoping and expecting the fair to be very focused on collectors from the Americas but were very pleased to see that Europeans and Asians also came in solid numbers. We met several new clients and also reconnected with so many ongoing clients. The results were powerful and reconfirmed for us the leading position of the fair in the US and their support for our program.’
Javier Perés, Founder, Peres Projects, Berlin
‘It was important that Art Basel Miami Beach happened this year. We have connected with local collectors and started planning new institutional projects. It feels great to be back again and finally offer a physical art experience. So far, the best fair we have done for years.’
Mariane Ibrahim, Founder, Mariane Ibrahim, Chicago, Paris
‘Art Basel Miami Beach is officially back. This was an inspiring fair where enthusiasm about Qualeasha Wood’s work resonated between art collectors, art institutions, and the art-seeing public alike. Sales were immediately strong, and we are pleased to have found wonderful and notable homes for her work.’