As the Art World Contends With Political Discord, Art Basel Miami Beach Marks an Optimistic Turn for the Markets

Nasim Hantehzadeh, Near Drowning, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.

As the black curtains parted for Wednesday’s VIP preview on a surprisingly chilly morning in Miami, Art Basel Miami Beach once again unveiled 500,000 square feet of superlative contemporary art. This year, however, the specter of global events roiling the art world was impossible to ignore, with dealers, curators, and artists clashing over political and moral stances throughout the fall. Add higher interest rates to the equation, and it’s no surprise a collective miasma presaged Miami Art Week. But by Thursday, the numbers had spoken and a measured sense of relief flooded the industry: the pull of the premier U.S. art fair endures. At ABMB, collectors absorbed a stream of significant new artists with upcoming solo shows at more attainable price points, alongside a strong roster of museum bonafides.

Andrew Brischler, Self Portrait (as Elvira), 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Gavlak Gallery.

At Gavlak Gallery, one of Andrew Brischler’s new film still series sold within hours of opening: Self Portrait (as Elvira), 2023, for $30,000 (Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock in Scarface). Brischler’s latest hyper-graphic, figurative works are a notable departure from his celebrated pop text and psychedelic pencil abstractions. The already sold-out “Andrew Brischler: Self Portraits” is currently on view at Gavlak Palm Beach. (Honorable mention at the booth to mid-career painter Deborah Brown, whose Louis Vuitton, 2023 captures Canal Street’s knockoff designer emporium, an amuse bouche for the upcoming “Street Smarts” at Gavlak Palm Beach, opening Dec. 21).

OSGEMEOS, Luz Própria (Own Light), 2023. Image courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Among Lehmann Maupin’s impressive early sales was a $250,000 painting from Brazilian artist duo OSGEMEOS—composed of identical twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo—presented as part of the fair’s Kabinett sector. On May 18, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is mounting their first U.S. survey and largest presentation to date with a more than one thousand piece exhibition of the brothers, whose graffiti art is somewhat of a worldwide sensation.

London’s Pippy Houldsworth Gallery quickly placed Nasim Hantehzadeh’s oil stick painting Near Drowning, 2023, for $26,000. The LA-based, Iranian artist creates bewitching patterns based on calligraphy, Persian rugs, and genitalia, and is still undervalued.

Eamon Ore-Giron, Talking Shit with Viracocha's Rainbow (Iteration I), 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

A new discovery for me at James Cohan Gallery, artist Eamon Ore-Giron’s three paintings flew off the wall the first day, each to an American collector for $85,000. A musician and DJ, as well as an accomplished visual artist, Ore-Giron vaults Brazilian Neo-Concretism and Italian Futurism into the present with a signature, geometric language using earthen linen and pigmented flashe paint for extra intensity.

Didier William, Moult 1, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Altman Siegel Gallery.

At San Francisco's Altman Siegel Gallery, Didier William’s acrylic, ink, and wood carving, Moult 1, 2023, sold for $58,000. (In their booth, I also couldn’t pry my eyes from Troy Lamarr Chew II, who sits atop my artist-to-watch list in the new year).

Indeed, the institution-to-fair pipeline is strong as ever. This fall, Jammie Holmes is just off his first solo museum show, “Make the Revolution Irresistible,” at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, said Marianne Boesky, whose eponymous gallery had already sold Out the front door, 2023, for $65,000 by Thursday morning. “We’re also showing two artists at the fair that utilize technology in really different ways,” she added. “Sarah Meyohas is showing a piece that is generated by A.I. technology, while the Haas Brothers are showing work using JavaScript, an ‘old’ technology, in a new way.”

Always at the forefront, the ICA Miami purchased a spellbinding Alicia Adamerovich, Big and sweet by the light, 2023, at Michael Kohn Gallery for $58,000.

Meanwhile, Jessica Silverman sold Julie Buffalohead’s Hunger, 2023, for $50,000. The artist, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, captivated me in the Meridians section preview with an immersive, 59-by-230 inch two-panel canvas depicting a birthing mother, various creatures surfacing from her womb into a blue ether.

Thomas Houseago, Study for Moonrise - Sunset, 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Lévy Gorvy Dayan.

Created en plein air in his Malibu studio, Thomas Houseago’s splattered, palm frond landscape Study for Moonrise - Sunset, 2023, fetched $200,000 at Levy Gorvy Dayan on opening day; this artist, otherwise known for figurative sculpture, is another name to watch closely in 2024.

“Collectors like coming to art fairs, as they feel it’s more democratic and less pretentious,” said gallerist David Nolan, who first exhibited at Art Basel in Switzerland in the mid-1990s. “They can see many different artists under the same roof.” Art Basel Miami Beach began in 2002 and quickly became a hot spot for Latin American collectors and Europeans who love coming into the sun and the ultra-contemporary culture of Miami, he concluded.

During VIP hours, David Nolan Gallery sold contemporary masters like Brice Marden (Work Book 30 (6), 1986, for $150,000) and Carroll Dunham (Untitled, 2003, for $120,000), as well as Paulo Pasta, who let go of 24 pocket paintings for $9,000 each (as of 6 p.m. Wednesday). “We’ve sold to many newer art collectors this year, and it’s only the first day,” he concluded.