basel blog

Who Bought What at Art Basel Miami?

Art fans at the Miami Beach Convention Center yesterday.Photo: Getty Images

Miami. A city lit by tiki torches and scored by dance music for an entire week. With Art Basel Miami over and satellite fairs finishing up, the work begins of figuring out who bought, who sold, and what that means for contemporary art now. Forget the parties — the event matters, giving tip-offs to tastes and trends.

Hot now: Bright, shiny art; big, sprawling pieces (Tobey Maguire bought a 53-inch-long painting by Japan’s Kaz Oshiro); video and even virtual art. Two artists broke out of the pack: Aaron Young — he of the motorcycle riders scorching over his giant fluorescent panels at the Armory last fall — and Hernan Bass, whose homoerotic installation at the Rubell Collection was the talk of the town. (At least when people were sober.)

Who shopped? Stephen Schwarzman, Alberto Mugrabi, Michael Ovitz (heading right to the “SuperNova” booths of young art) were leaders of the pack. Jean Pigozzi, the French-Italian auto heir, bought “a lot,” he says, mostly at Chelsea’s ATM gallery, preferring “emerging artists” under $25,000. His one regret: “I missed Richard Prince” when he was still inexpensive.

Video art made a breakthrough here. Crowds gathered on the streets as, on a garage-size screen, John Baldessari and Dara Birnbaum offered new pieces in the city’s design district, broadcast over a Y3 store. One new convert to the medium was Mandarin Oriental CEO Edouard Ettedgui. He’s been collecting traditional Asian art for nearly a decade but says he bought one video piece out of his own company’s show of contemporary Asian art. He declines to name the artist, but “I was surprised by it,” he says. “I watched it and feel good.”

The theme of much of the work on view seemed to be “all that glitters,” said curator Renee Riccardo, who noted the “luxurious surfaces” of many of the pieces. Anselm Reyles shined, and sold, at L&M Arts; Tom Friedman glittered in Gagosian. At Deitch, which turned over much of its booth four times, “collectors love shiny things,” noted dealer Jeffrey Deitch, tongue in cheek. He added that the works he offered by Young got a “tremendous response.”

While the NADA fair was not the breakout success it’s been in the past, there was tremendous buzz and strong sales for Adam Cvijanovic’s paintings at Bellwether (the artist was a star of Saatchi’s “Made in the USA” show, now on view at the Hermitage in Russia) and for Nathalie Djurberg’s cute claymation takes on cruelty and manipulation. (Think Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer meets Les Liasions Dangereuses.) Her works were some of the few about sex — there was almost no nudity or politics; a lot of art was about looks and surface. Then again, it was Miami. —Alexandra Peers

Who Bought What at Art Basel Miami?