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Art Basel: The Works That Sold — and Sparked Conversation

All revelry aside, the art that’s shown — and, especially, sold — at Art Basel Miami Beach and its satellite fairs sets the tone and tastes in the art world for months to come. New stars arise, power reshuffles, and deals are done. And while there weren’t many deals in the seven-figure range this year, there were a lot of deals in general. What did it all look like? Sculpture was ubiquitous (there’s an art-dealer adage: “When collector walls are full, sell them sculpture”), black-and-white photography not so much. Stainless steel and good old-fashioned paint-on-canvas were the mediums of choice. As for sales, (cheaper) editioned work was popular, and very recent work did surprisingly well. Latin art had something of a mainstream breakthrough, popping up all over, and some Middle Eastern and Asian artists sold well. Here are top examples of what got taken home or talked about, and why.

Nathaniel Mellors Breakout star: Nathaniel Mellors. This chilling animatronic trio of heads by the British artist and rock musician drew crowds. It sold swiftly, price undisclosed.
Robin Rhode Four collectors snapped up Rhode’s 36-panel photographic series, at $85,000 each. If it looks familiar to culture-lovers, it’s because the work also exists as a digital animation the artist did with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (it debuted at Lincoln Center).
Olaf Breuning Metro Pictures brought a few works by Olaf Breuning; this one sold. Dealers said they knew Art Basel was going to be good when they started getting “e-mail holds” on art even before the fair officially began.
Roxy Paine Los Angeles collector Eli Broad bought this huge stainless-steel Roxy Paine sculpture on the second day of the fair for about $500,000; Val Kilmer followed suit by buying another. Dealer alert: Broad told us he’s looking for a good Murakami.
Stanley Whitney Philly-born Stanley Whitney, 62, is well-known in Europe but just gaining a market here; Team Gallery said young collectors, in particular, were drawn to his bright works, and that he has a solo show coming up.
Burt Young In some quirk of pop-culture fate, both Sylvester Stallone and Burt Young (“Paulie” in Rocky) showed their paintings at art fairs in Miami; this nude by Young was offered at Art Miami for $14,000.
Ai Weiwei Ai Weiwei was one of only a handful of artists — David LaChapelle, Kehinde Wiley, and Shepard Fairey among them — who showed up at the fair. (Jeff Koons skipped it even though Ikepod was introducing the $30,000 Koons watch.) Weiwei’s work was both on sale in the booths and on view at the Rubell Collection.
Peter Doig Koons and Cindy Sherman are just a handful of the artists who have made beach towels to benefit Yvonne Force Villareal’s Art Production Fund in the past; this year, Canadian-born artist Peter Doig was tapped. The oversize towels are $95 on the Fund’s website.
Kate Clark New York sculptor Kate Clark specializes in mythical and mutant creatures. This work, which arrested viewers at the entrance to Art Miami, sold “in the $30,000 range and is going to a great collector in Paris,” says her Chelsea dealer, Claire Oliver.
Ryan McGinley The “emerging artist” galleries were difficult to find at the reconfigured main fair, but Team Gallery still thrived. This oversize image by Jersey-born McGinley is from an edition of three; two sold.
Marilyn Minter Gallery Salon 94 had considerable success with recent artworks by both Marilyn Minter and Wangechi Mutu.
Faile The Brooklyn art collective Faile turns ten this year; sales of their work were strong. This piece is acrylic and silkscreen ink on wood, in a silver frame.
Okay Mountain The most-talked-about artwork in all of Miami? Maybe. Austin art collective Okay Mountain argued that their life-size convenience store was a tongue-in-cheek critique of the art-fair phenomenon.
Art Basel: The Works That Sold — and Sparked Conversation