Art Basel Miami Beach wraps up with significant sales from Mena artists

Major talking point is sale of work by Canadian-American painter Philip Guston for $20 million

A sculpture by Indian artist Shilpa Gupta is displayed by Neugerriemschneider Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach. AP
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Art Basel Miami Beach closed on Sunday, marking the end of the biggest art market week in North America.

The breezy and laid-back sister of the Basel-born grand dame of art fairs, ABMB took over its usual venue, the Miami Beach Convention Centre, with 277 exhibitors, including 25 newcomers, from across the globe. Nineteen galleries also showed in the ambitious Meridians section reserved for monumental scale works which were too large for the limits of a regular booth.

The highly-anticipated annual event followed the sophomore edition of the Art Basel brand’s most recent Paris leg, Paris + par Art Basel, in October where the sentiment and figures were higher than expected.

The growing impact of ABMB on Miami’s social scene once again permeated the city, with a concentration of events across the fair epicentre South Beach, as well as the upscale Design District, and the warehouse and artist studio-filled Wynwood. Dense traffic stretched across Collins Avenue where high-end hotels were home not only to dealers hailing from across the globe but also to celebrity-studded parties organised by global fashion brands, galleries and even banks.

Although US galleries dominated the overall fair demographic, the event presented a broad spectrum of works from various locales and artist career points.

The galleries this year stemmed from a range of hubs, including Cairo, Shanghai, Kampala, Athens, Manila, Warsaw, Sao Paulo and Busan. The response to the five-day affair was significant, with 79,000 visitors filing the generous layout of aisles starting with Wednesday’s VIP preview.

The talk of the inaugural day was Hauser & Wirth’s sale of Philip Guston’s 1979-dated oil-on-canvas Painter at Night for $20 million. The Swiss mega-gallery, with locations across Europe and US, also sold collector-favourite George Condo’s new oil-on-linen painting Smiling Aristocrat for $2.35 million.

Another global blue chip, David Zwirner, sealed the week’s second biggest sale with Marlene Dumas’s mid-1980s painting The Schoolboys, which fetched $9 million. The other runner-up was Skarstedt gallery’s sale of an untitled Willem de Kooning from 1986 for between $7 million and $8 million.

Other sales that surpassed the million dollar benchmark included Belgian dealer Xavier Hufkins’s sale of a Tracey Emin painting for £1.2 million ($1.4 million); a 2001-dated Tom Wesselman painting at Almine Rech’s booth for $1.25 million to $1.35 million; an Alex Katz painting titled Leigh (2007) for $1.4 million by Kasmin; Gladstone Gallery’s sale of an Ed Ruscha painting for $1.5 million; Thaddaeus Ropac gallery’s Robert Rauschenberg mixed media silkscreen Copperhead-Bite IX / ROCI CHILE (1985) for $1.7 million, as well as a Georg Baselitz oil on canvas, titled Alles fallt vom Tisch, from 2020 for €1.5 million ($1.6 million).

Korean artist Park Seo-bo, who died in October, was the standout at White Cube’s booth, with the sale of his pencil and oil on canvas painting Scripture No. 191-75 from 1975 for $1.5 million.

Works by artists from the Middle East and North Africa also proved to be popular with collectors.

Syrian-American artist Diana Al-Hadid showed a new mixed media sculpture, titled 'Ala Rasi, at Kasmin’s booth which sold for $75,000; Iranian painter Maysha Mohamedi’s earthy-toned abstract painting Apology Received in Peach (2023) left Pace Gallery’s booth for $80,000; another Iranian painter Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s new painting The memorial tunnel was sold by Almine Rech for between €100,000 and €110,000; Marianne Boesky Gallery’s highest sale was Egyptian artist Ghada Amer’s cotton applique on canvas, entitled Because (2023), for $275,000; and Watching the Hours (2021), a ceramic sculpture by Lebanese-American artist Etel Adnan, who has a solo exhibition nearby the fair at Bass Museum, was sold for €300,000 by New York and Paris gallery Galerie LeLong & Co.

At the early 20th century end, a gouache by Rene Magritte found a buyer for $2 million at the Belgian Vedovi Gallery’s booth; Gray from Chicago sold Jean Arp’s bronze sculpture Grand personnage (1957) for $1.2 million in addition to Jim Dine’s 1961-dated oil and wood strip on canvas, titled A Universal Color Chart, for $475,000.

Mazzoleni from Turin handed Lucio Fontana’s 1966-dated Concetto Spaziale, Attesa waterpaint to a collector for between $850,000 and $950,000. Skarstedt’s biggest sale for a Modernist was a pencil on paper by Pablo Picasso from 1968 for $800,000.

German art dealer Zwirner sold three Robert Ryman paintings from a similar time period, all from the early 1960s, for between $2 million and $3 million. The bronze-cast Isamu Noguchi sculpture, Plus Equals Minus, dated between 1945 and 1979, was sold for $450,000 at Pace Gallery’s booth, where the largest reported sale was Alicja Kwade’s monumental sculpture l'ordre des mondes (Totem) for $500,000.

Lehmann Maupin, the New York gallery with multiple international locations, sold two pieces by Teresita Fernandez: a mixed media panel piece for $375,000 and a solid charcoal piece for $500,000 to 600,000.

Parisian gallery Perrotin, which has a location in Dubai International Financial Centre, sold a painting by Emily Mae Smith for between $200,000 and $300,000, as well as seven paintings by Emma Webster, which each sold for $100,000 or below.

Templon, another Parisian gallery with New York and Brussels outposts, sold a Chiharu Shiota painting for $200,000 and a large-scale new cowboy painting by Will Cotton, called Slippery Descent, for $175,000, in addition to a life-size man on a horse sculpture by Hans Op de Beeck for $150,000.

Nara Roesler, a Brazilian gallery with a New York space, sold a 1980-dated untitled Tomie Ohtake painting for $180,000 on the fair’s first public date. Fair veteran David Nolan sold Brice Marden’s an ink on paper from 1986, titled Work Book 30, for $150,000.

The next destination for the Art Basel franchise is Hong Kong. The fair returns to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which will be at its largest capacity since the pandemic with 242 exhibitors. After two VIP preview days on March 26 and 27, the public dates will run from March 28 to 30.

Updated: December 12, 2023, 12:38 PM