It’s in the books. Another edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach — the 18th edition — closed on Sunday with reports of robust sales to private collections and institutions by galleries across all sectors of the market. Leading private collectors from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East attended this year, as well as representatives from around 200 museums and institutions. The Fair saw visitors from 70 countries with an overall attendance of 81,000.

All images courtesy of Art Basel

“The fair has been fantastic for [our] gallery both in terms of exposure and sales. We have sold to many new collectors and have had the chance to meet several important museum curators who have taken interest in the work of our artists,” said Zurich-based gallery owner, Maria Bernheim, Galerie Maria Bernheim.

Art Basel in Miami Beach brought together 269 premier galleries, presenting works ranging from early 20th century Modern art to the present in the form of art works by over 4,000 artists, including paintings, sculptures, installations, photography, film, video, and digital art. There were some interesting developments here this year including the debut of a new sector, Meridians, dedicated to large-scale works and a new sliding-scale pricing system allowing the participation of smaller and mid-size galleries and energizing the show.

Noah Horowitz, Director Americas, Art Basel noted that “This year, the main sector featured the most diverse representation of galleries — in terms of region, generation, and beyond — we’ve ever presented, while reinforcing the strength of exhibitors with footprints across the Americas. The gallery presentations were of exceptional quality throughout the fair, reinforcing Art Basel as the leading forum for modern and contemporary art in the region.”

But probably the most talked about, and visited, gallery was Galerie Perrotin with its banana, an actual banana, not a gold one, that sold for $120,000 and was later eaten. The banana, taped to the wall, had been called “Comedian” by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Cattelan had sold at least two editions of “Comedian” to private collectors for $120K each. Performance artist David Datuna later took the banana off the wall and ate it.

Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin

Calling himself the “Hungry Artist”, Datuna posted a video of his eating the high-priced banana to Instagram. Neither the gallery nor the artist planned to press charges against Datuna saying the banana itself didn’t represent the value of Cattelan’s piece, since it can be replaced for about 70 cents. The value is proven by a certificate of authenticity that contains exact instructions for installation and authenticates that the work is by Cattelan. The owner of the “piece” will have to continually replace the banana in the future as each one ripens and rots. Ahhh, the bizarre nature of the art world.

Art Basel Miami Beach, whose Lead Partner is UBS, took place from December 5 to December 8, 2019 at the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC).

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