Art Basel part 2

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Art Basel part 2

There is a clamorous cacophony erupting from the contemporary art world. The market has grown so exponentially in the last few years that the amount of art and the amount of money being spent on it is mind-boggling. During my trip to Art Basel Miami Beach, what I learned from dealers is that in the last several years Impressionist and Modern works have stopped changing hands. Collectors and institutions are holding on to these works now considered rare and extremely valuable. So the art market being what it is—a market of luxury goods and stock options—has turned its attention to contemporary art.

On the night I arrived in Miami I randomly bumped into a friend at the airport who needed a lift to the Aqua Fair where she had just been hired to work for the Morgan Lehman Gallery (see Scope Hamptons video above.) By the time we arrived at Aqua, the gallerists were drinking and talking around the hot tub, relaxing after a long day of set up. I peeked through the doors of the hotel rooms, which were being used as gallery space, fully intending to return in the morning for the opening of the fair. I never did. And that pretty much set the tone for my whole four days in Miami. I only had time to visit a fraction of everything once, never having the chance to double back to relook at anything or follow up with anyone.

Completely wiped out after touring through the Basel Fair on Thursday I went to the opening party of Bridge that evening. If it weren’t for the fact I had a friend, installation artist, Chantel Foretich showing at Jonathan Greene’s Gallery I never would have made it at all. Chantel had used the bathroom in Greene’s hotel room/gallery booth as a stage for her intricately designed found object water fountain. She puts a whole new spin on water sports and a nod to the master, DuChamp.

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On Friday I went to the design district with the intention of seeing four of the hottest contemporary art fairs as well as the Rubell Collection. The Rubells are family of collectors who began purchasing important contemporary art in the 60’s and continue to do so today. Their collection is housed in a converted warehouse and open to the public. I only made it to three of the fairs. By the time I got to NADA, I was so burnt out I only made a cursory walk through with the intention of returning the next day. NADA was started by a handful of young hot New York dealers who crossed over from the Williamsburg art scene to become firmly established in Chelsea, the current center of the NY art world.

On my way out the door I met Finola Jones a gallerist at NADA who was on her way back to the Basel Fair, so we ended up sharing a cab together. Finola is the director of Mother's Tankstation a gallery in Dublin, Ireland, which has had a pretty meteoric rise as a gallery. Two years ago Finola who is an artist and lecturer got feed up talking about the art market to her students so she decided to start her own gallery. She prides herself on choosing unique and challenging art, and apparently fair organizers agree. The application process to get into the higher end fairs is incredibly competitive and Mother's Tankstation has been granted entry into several prestigious fairs in the past years. This is Finola’s second year at NADA and this June she has been accepted into the Basel Fair in Switzerland. Being accepted into Basel is an incredible feat for a gallery so young. Finola talked about several of her artists that she had brought to Miami, one in particular, painter, Mairead O'heocha had been getting quite a bit of attention.

On Saturday, I never made it back Mother’s Tankstation to better inspect the art works because I ended up on a artist’s deep sea fishing trip, a story I will save for another blog. But I’m sure it won’t be the last I see or hear of Finola or her gallery of artists.

The video below shows some very random impressions from the Art Basel & Scope Fairs. I think it will give you the sense of the amount of art works in the marketplace. The video ends with a very enlightening interview with Ronald Sosinski the director of The Proposition Gallery in New York. Ronald “discovered” one of New York’s rising art stars Mickalene Thomas. In our interview he talks a bit about how he met Mickalene and the complexity of the contemporary art scene.

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