Making the Art Scene in Miami

MIAMI BEACH, FL  With 15 shows in Miami, the weekend proved to be a remarkable course in the new demographics of the art market. It seems as if everyone under 40 with some discretionary funds is buying art like it might go out of style tomorrow.  Perhaps that’s an apt analogy because much of the art on display is inferior, much of it derivative, and, frankly, some is just bad.

I have a hard time believing that all of the purchases made in Miami are going to appreciate in value. One couple I met bragged that they have 80 works of contemporary art in their collection. Each January 1, they set an art budget for themselves. But they blow it within the first 6 months of the year and then have to go on an “art fast” for the rest of the year.

A young journalist told me she collects “raw art.” When I asked if that was a reference to Art Brut or Outsider Art, she didn’t know what I was talking about. To her, raw is the work of friends. It’s enough to make you ask the question: Is Miami about art or about making the scene?

That being said,  more sophisticated buyers were around too. Here’s a taste of sales at Art Basel.

Mark Rothko’s “Saffron,” 1957,  went  home with actor/producer Adrien Brody for an undisclosed sum.

Mark Rothko's Saffron
Adrien Brody Bought Rothko’s “Saffron”

Richard Serra turns out to be a Calvin Klein favorite. So he dropped $520,00 at  Galerie Elvira Gonzalez for  Serra’s “Slant Wise I and Slant Wise II,” 1985.

Nicholas Hlobo’s, “Qhokra,” went to Laura Ann Farrell, executive director of exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design, for $38,000

Pawel Althamer’s  larger-than-life sculptural portraits, which portray the artist, his father, his brother, all went to Greek and American collectors for $75,000 euros each.

The fragility of Human
Pawell Althamer’s Sculptures at Art Basel

Yves Klein’s “SE 250”  went to Aby Rosen, real estate tycoon for an undisclosed sum.

Just the tip of the iceberg, for sure.  This market runs deep.

Regina Kolbe is an arts journalist and President of PR To the Trade, a marketing firm specializing in arts and antiques. She writes The Art of Marketing the Fine Arts and The Art Release. Regina covered the Miami contemporary art shows for Urban Art & Antiques.

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