Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 – Review & Videos

Art Basel Miami Beach has taken place December 4 – 7, 2008. It is one of the most important art show in the United States. Sometimes called “The Winter Rendez-vous of the International Artworld” just completed its 7th year.

Let’s first talk about the ART aspects of Art Basel Miami.

Who was to be seen at Art Basel Miami Beach 2008?

There were more than 250 galleries from around the world partaking in this year’s art fair. As many as 10% of them are new galleries, offering new perspectives to the art community present here. Collectively the galleries show works by over 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

We’ve collected a series of videos made of the just ended Art Basel Miami Beach 2008. offering a range of impressions and insights.

A First Visit ..Art Basel Miami Beach 2008

(If you can’t see the video, click here: Art Basel videos)

Galleries, artists & art works in this video include: Xu Zhen’s Yetis looking for BaBa and MaMa at ShangART Gallery, William Cordova’s bisected car at Arndt & Partner, Jon Kessler at Deitch, Duane Hanson at Van de Veghe, and Rodney Graham’s Rotary Psycho-Opticon sculpture at 303 Gallery.

Art Positions, ‘The Containers’

Teresa Margolles at Galería Salvador Díaz, Martha Friedman at Wallspace, Tercerunquinto at Proyectos Monclova, Matthias Bitzer at Galerie Iris Kadel, Raúl Denieves / Mikilandia Productions at Newman Popiashvili, José Dávila at Renwick Gallery, Claire Fontaine at T293, Dagmar Heppner at Galerie Eva Winkeler, Martin Soto Climent at Broadway 1602, and My Barbarian at Steve Turner Contemporary. This year, Federico Díaz and E-Area created an architectural installation titled “Ultra Environment” with surround-sound audio, video projections and mood light, and live radio broadcasts by Art Radio

Photo Miami

Now that we had a look at the art itself, let’s talk about the FINANCIAL aspects of Art Basel Miami.

Art Basel Miami Beach, Reduced Sales

The recession sculpted Art Basel Miami Beach into a much shrunk volume this week, with almost half of the galleries reporting drops in sales. Crowds have also dropped off at Art Basel Miami Beach from 43,000 attendees last year to an estimated 40,000 this year. The Design Miami fair, held in tandum with Art Basel Miami has experienced a similar slowdown. We should be reminded however that the fair was held in a week when it was confirmed that the U.S. economy has been in a recession for the past year.

Art advisers and collectors are seeing opportunities in the downturn ~ shopping for quality art at a discount. Dealers are offering up to 40% off on pieces by newer art stars. As even Picassos have remained unsold at the fair, post-fair offers are now considered.

”There’s more negotiating,” said Serra Pradhan, a director at New York’s Richard Gray Gallery during the fair. At earlier fairs, there was a sense of urgency among buyers.” ”All the sellers think it’s 2007,” Sheffer said from the gallery’s Art Basel booth “and all the buyers think it’s Miami Beach real estate.”

Shrunk, but Still There

Sales were made however, and several pieces have even drawn raves from attendants of the fair. These include art by artist Michael Heizer’s pair of tombstone-like sculptures. His “Negative Wall Sculpture #6” made in black diorite granite sold for $750,000, reported the Peter Freeman gallery. Kris Martin’s silent swinging bell, “For Whom…,” was sold for approx. $253,000 to an anonymous Miami collector, according to German gallery Sies + Hoke. New York-based gallerist Sarah Hasted was quick to sell a 2004 portrait of Obama by Martin Schoeller. Overall, Obama art appeared to be a popular amongst artists and collectors.

Mark Spiegler, co-director of Art Miami, said the fair had exceeded expectations, highlighting the resilience of art even in hard times. “To the extent that you can draw a conclusion from this show, there’s still a lot of money out there for art works of high quality,” said Spiegler. Many dealers said the level of sales had been reassuring, however, despite declines that Art Newspaper, a trade daily, reported ranging from 30-50 percent compared with last year.

Associated Art Fairs

There are several art fairs associated with Art Basel Miami, SCOPE being one of them. Actually,
SCOPE is Miami’s original emerging contemporary art fair. It returned for its seventh year. Expanded in size and global reach, SCOPE hosted 89 exhibitors from 22 countries in a new 60,000 square foot pavilion. SCOPE is now centrally located in the Wynwood Art District, close to the Rubell Family Collection, the Margulies Collection, and Miami’s top galleries.

miami08-9-nanako_kawaguchi.jpgpartial close-up of exquisite artwork by Nanako Kawaguch

Asian Art stole the show at SCOPE. Work by Asian (-descent) artists appeared to dominate the Scope Miami fair this year. The sheer volume on display proofed that Eastern art has been finding its way into Western markets, and given the quality of the work, rightfully so.

The SCOPE Exhibition was worth the time. For example, the Miami-based gallery Abba Fine Arts displayed the human hair sculptures by Korean artist Ja Young Yoon. The artist had shaved off all her hair. She had made her many, very fine, art works by tying strands of her own together. A miracle indeed.

Her work varies in format from installation to sculpture, photography, drawing and performance. She says about her recent work, “I deal with perception to be able to approach being present.” Hair is one of the corporeal materials and images being used to explore issues of representation, identity and power. Hair also is the “remnant” in Ya Young Yoon’s works, a remnant of “what-has-been,” a memory and a memorial. Since its physical properties make it last long after death, hair is an especially appropriate symbol of remembrance and spirituality.

Further Reference Materials Art Basel Miami

Background video on the Art Fair

Background video on Art in Miami

Other art galleries showcasing their input into the Art Miami.

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