Sarah Thornton’s been covering Art Basel Miami for the Art Newspaper but here in the Times of London she sums up the fair which seems to have been a place for finding new work and new artists. How can that be bad for the future of the art market?
The five-day fair is the latest barometer of an art market that has so far slowed down dramatically but averted a crash, mainly as a result of the skilful driving of dealers and the return of serious collectors who were “priced out of the market” during the boom by fast and high-spending billionaires. [ . . . ] The mood was more one of deep relief, as there were enough transactions at the fair to demonstrate that art is still a liquid asset. The general verdict was: it could have been much worse. [ . . . ]
Works for less than $100,000 generally fared better than more expensive art, so the market for “primary” works (straight out of the studio) was stronger than that for “secondary” (or resale) work. Moreover, although dealers were loath to admit it, the customary ten per cent discount may have doubled. Dealers were keen to avoid the mistakes of the art-market crash of 1990, particularly the possibility of paralysing the trade in their artists’ work by refusing to lower their prices.[ . . . ]
Although one heard rumours of galleries that hadn’t sold a single work, dealers with the right artists at the right prices seemed genuinely pleased. José Freire, the owner of Team Gallery in New York, declared: “In selling at Frieze in London and Art Basel in Miami, I feel as if I have dodged two bullets. Who would have thought that during this economic crisis that I could actually make a profit?”
Feeling the Pinch in the Miami Vice (Times of London)