Written by: Samannaz Rohanimanesh
United State’s foremost modern and contemporary art show (Art Basel) ended Sunday December 6th after being soaked and flooded down by bizarre visit of El Niño’s rain. Many outdoor exhibitions and tent parties were cancelled and a bunch of gallery sale appointments were postponed due to the weather condition. Yet it promoted visits to the shelters of art shows instead of ventures on the streets and notorious Miami Beach. Overall in terms of attendance, Art Basel reported 77,000 attendees, to be 4,000 more than the previous year.
The highest reported sales include a Francis bacon 1954 oil on canvas “Man in Blue” from Van de Weghe Fine Art Gallery with a price of $15 million and a Picasso 1971 oil on canvas “Buste au Chapeu” from the same gallery with a price of $10.5 million.
Speaking of the parties, Miami Beach and Downtown was a venue for celebrity splashed parties and pop-up clubs for nightlife lovers and high-heeled fashionistas.
At Art Miami, known as Miami’s premier anchor fair located in Miami’s Midtown neighborhood, visitors could savor mediocre to high quality art with its world famous stylish gallery-like décor from 125 international galleries. Combined with its sister CONTEXT, both are famous to house the most eccentric artworks, which are overrun by branding and commercialism. It is somehow distressful to see the profit-making and decorative art, grotesque taxidermies and cut paper works on display next to Rauschenbergs, Basquiats and Chagalls.
Where Does the Middle Eastern Art Scene Stand in Miami?
Unfortunate to see, Middle Eastern art had a minor effect on the show. Shirin Art Gallery was the only one representing Iran and the Middle East, although a few Middle Eastern artists such as Mounir fatmi and Hassan Hajjaj were exhibited in some satellite art fairs such as UNTITLED.
Speaking to one of the moderators and speakers of the Salon, Art Basel convention center, Arie Amaya-Akkerman, believes that Art Basel is the godmother of all fairs, which is targeting the Americas (focusing on Latin America). The collectors are more mature and more conservative this year, which has to do with money in regard to economic recession. Collectors are looking for safe investments.
“We see mostly very safe art compared to other editions of Art Basel Miami, it’s serious heavy art, no Mickey Mouse. When you go to Art Basel there are no surprises. You know what you’ll see. Middle east is not definitely in the big art scene. There are two special rooms in the big art world; one china and the other Latin America. China because it’s the world’s largest economy and Latin America because they have strong ties and heritage to the European art history. They’re not savages (compared to the Middle Eastern) for Westerners” he admits.
“Middle East is a very young market. We have Art Dubai which is a major art fair, on the second rank of art fairs compared to Basel. But things are happening for the Middle Eastern art. There has been huge progress. We lack new emerging artists and big names; artists in the Middle East are living at times of war and it is difficult to make art. Among these, Turkey has more privileges and money yet there is not a global art scene in turkey, only Turkey-centric art community.
We still have many challenges. In the Middle East the exhibitions of art is difficult because there is no audience for contemporary art and no good critics. Also the art market depends of the economy and Middle East does not stand on a good economical platform right now. Yet Art has very positive effects and we will observe considerable breakthrough in the future to come.”
He concludes that Art Basel gives a wrong impression about the art world. Art world is a lot more diverse than what you see there. Basel is merely an economical representation of art.
“There are many art worlds and here we just see the top surface of them but I guess we have to layer them out.”
Art Basel bids farewell to Miami leaving high expectations of a more diverse, all-inclusive international art fair for the future years to come.
For more photo gallery from the fair, check out our Facebook Page.