Bloomberg‘s Scott Reyburn is totalling up the sales and comments at Art Basel (all bullet points are quotes from Reyburn):
- “The idea of bringing a lot of expensive pieces to Basel and just flogging them isn’t going to work this year,” Adam Sheffer, a director at the New York dealers Cheim & Read, said in an interview. “There are fewer buyers around and they’re looking for bargains.” […] Cheim & Read will show photographs by William Eggleston and pieces in various media by Jack Pierson for less than $250,000, Sheffer said.
- New York gallery Deitch Projects will offer at Basel a small 1964 Warhol silkscreen self-portrait based on photo-booth shots, priced at $675,000. The painting is on consignment from fashion designer Stephen Sprouse, who was given the work by the artist, gallery founder Jeffrey Deitch said in an interview. “It’s priced to sell,” he said in a telephone interview. “Last year I would have asked at least $1 million. There’s now much less going on at the $5 million-plus level. A lot of the price gains in 2007 have been reversed and we’re back to 2005 levels.”
- “In this kind of environment there will be two Art Basels,” Todd Levin, director of New York-based advisers, Levin Art Group, said in a telephone interview. “There will be the art on show in dealers’ booths, plus works being offered more discreetly on consignment from collectors in store rooms. This year it will be more like a normal trade fair,” said Levin, who has been visiting Art Basel for 30 years.
- Among the works priced at the fair in seven figures will be a new multi faceted stainless-steel mirror sculpture by Anish Kapoor, offered at the booth of the London-based Lisson Gallery at more than 1 million pounds ($1.6 million). The 7-foot-wide untitled sculpture is one of the Indian-born British artist’s most technically ambitious pieces to date, said Nicholas Logsdail, the gallery’s director. Kapoor is one of the few contemporary artists whose works have continued to sell for consistent prices at auctions and art fairs since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings in September 2008. “His work has a timeless quality,” Logsdail said in a telephone interview. “We’ve also kept our sterling prices the same. This means that anyone whose wealth is in dollars or euros gets a significant discount.” This is the fourth art-market recession Logsdail has experienced and it’s “probably the worst,” he said. “The recovery in the stock markets has helped. We’re back at the levels of business we were doing four years ago. And that’s not bad,” said Logsdail.
- New York dealers Lehmann Maupin will be showing works by the Korean artist Lee Bul priced from $60,000 to $150,000. “The market isn’t dead,” Rachel Lehmann, a director of the gallery, said in an interview. “We’re feeling some demand from Asian clients and from parts of Europe. The pure New York market has really gone, though. I’ve spoken to several New York collectors who aren’t going to Basel this year.”