Before the last galleries had packed their booths and the pavilions had closed their doors, we all knew that the 45th iteration of Art Basel had been a resounding success. On Sunday, June 22nd, the fair closed with galleries reporting exceptionally strong sales throughout the week and across all levels of the market. The excellent quality of the works presented is responsible for attracting private collectors and museums from all over the world and record attendance of 92,000 visitors, 6,000 more than last year.
“Art Basel remains the most important week in the art world’s calendar. We were thrilled to place several works in museum collections, including the Bruce Nauman video installation we presented at Unlimited and a painting by Mark Bradford that went to the MAXXI in Rome,” said Iwan Wirth, President of Hauser & Wirth, an established gallery with spaces in Zürich, London and New York. One of their first sales of the week was an abstract painting by Paul McCarthy titled, WS, Dior, which fetched $950,000.
But first time galleries also reported having a great experience at Basel, meeting international buyers and placing items in important European, Latin American, Asian and American collections. “As first-time exhibitors at Art Basel, we were very glad and, at the same time, immensely proud to have had the opportunity to present an exhibition that for us is at the root of our work and efforts. We especially appreciated the profound and sophisticated attention that was continuously present for the duration of the fair,” says Stefania Palumbo, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Berlin’s Supportico Lopez gallery.
New and improved, perhaps, but the truth is that 2014 has seen some changes in the urbanism of the show, and technological innovations, such as the Art Basel Smartphone app with an interactive 3D map that allows virtual navigation through the halls, even after the fair has ended. “Aside from the special addition of the richly rewarding ‘14 Rooms‘, improved architecture and layout added to the feeling of an upgrade in the 2014 edition of Art Basel. The spacious design of the fair delivers a feeling of calm and seriousness. We also witnessed the continuation of an important broadening of the market in geographical terms,” expressed Sadie Coles of Sadie Coles HQ in London, who sold a series of TBD abstracts by Swiss neo-Dada sculptor Urs Fischer for $600,000 each.
Some of the most significant sales at the fair included an Andy Warhol 1986 Self-portrait priced at more than $30 million sold to an American art collector by New York dealer Per Skarstedt and a red and white 1997 abstract by Gerhard Reichter sold by Dominique Levy for $6 million.
After this enormous success, Art Basel gets ready for the next event. The exciting Art Basel Miami Beach, (last year’s review) from December 4th to the 7th, which promises to be another exceptional meeting of the arts on the shores of sunny South Florida. ■