Art Basel in Basel 2017: Luxury, Art and Great Sells – The 48th edition of Art Basel in Basel was great in terms of sells and Anna Louie Sussman from Artsy tryed to find the reasons for this fact…
«Was it the function of a European economy that has performed stronger than most had expected? Relief that populism may not be sweeping the Continent after all? A stronger influx of Asian buyers? The long days of nonstop sunshine? The contagion of the miniature dance party in the plaza outside of the conference center in which the art fair is held, courtesy of artist Claudia Comte? This depended on who you asked.
The world’s major economies are also, on a long-term basis, potentially at the peak of the current cycle, noted Mark Andersen, the managing director of UBS’s chief investment office. Historically, periods of economic growth tend to last around seven years, followed by a downturn of one to two years. Since the crisis of 2008, the upturn has been largely sustained across the major global economies for the past nine years, an unusually long period. “People are feeling relatively good at the moment,” Andersen said.
The fair’s mega-dealers were certainly feeling good. Many used phrases like “best ever” and “record” to describe their opening days at Art Basel this year. Zwirner said he thought this year’s fair was on track to be his best ever, and the numbers back him up. By day two, he had pulled in upwards of $40 million in sales. Highlights included Alberto Burri’s Sacco (Sack) (1954) for over $10 million, Sigmar Polke’s Nachtkappe I (Night Cap I) (1986) for €8 million, a selection of paintings and works on paper by Marlene Dumas priced between $150,000 and $3 million, and more works by Wolfgang Tillmans than he could count (upwards of 20, according to a sales report released by the fair), following the artist’s current retrospectives at Tate Modern and the Fondation Beyeler. Even younger artists in his roster got a nod, with a pre-sold untitled work by Whitney Biennial bad boy Jordan Wolfson from 2017 selling for $350,000.
This edition of Basel also had the tailwind of a $1 billion-plus New York auction week behind it, a factor that might have loosened collectors’ grips on works they may have been waiting to put up for consignment after two-plus years of auctioneers and dealers complaining of a lack of supply. Zwirner said the fair was in some ways an opportunity for dealers to prove they can reel in sales results that consignors expect from a heated auction room floor—minus the risk of a public flop.»
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