Art Basel 2018: still in!

On 12 April 2019, by Pierre Naquin
 
© Art Basel 2018

In six days, from 13 to 16 June, more than $250 M's worth of art works changed hands at what remains the leading contemporary art event for dealers. Inflated prices? Yes, says Christophe Van de Weghe, who explains why: “People see art as a solid asset, and there are many more players." As every year, the major sales take place the first two days – with three levels of VIP. The historical pieces were a huge success: for example, the dealers Lévy and Gorvy sold Willem de Kooning's Untitled XII (1975) for $35 M in the first few hours, and the French dealer Franck Prazan found a buyer at €2 M for a monumental 6-metre painting by Georges Mathieu, presented at Unlimited. Those that got the raw end of the deal were the small galleries in the "Feature" and "Statements" sectors, where they were forced to present expensive, risky solo shows like the one with Etienne-Martin at the stand of Parisian dealer Bernard Bouche. "I have noticed for the last three years that not one, but three fairs take place in parallel," says Victor Gisler, director of Mai 36, who has participated in the fair for 27 years: "The ground floor with the front-line names; the first floor, oriented towards a "collector" experience with small and mid-sized galleries, and finally one far more exclusive section, organised by big players for major customers." Also worth noting, according to the Alison Jacques Gallery, is the increasing presence of Asian collectors: "The Hong Kong and Basel fairs mutually nurture each other." With the fringe events, while Art Basel Miami Beach gives them plenty of room, the European version is more of a hegemony. The Liste dealers above all sold their works at low prices; those of Scope were a flop, and Design Miami/Basel, while taking advantage this year of an extra entrance from the floors of Unlimited, was sadly lacking in visitors. Meanwhile, a new arrival, Frame, reported numerous sales. A try to be converted in 2018.

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