It is said that when bankers gather over drinks they talk about art and when artists do the same, they talk about money. In my experience (I do not drink with that many bankers), the latter is true. Artists are obsessed with art prices, who is getting what and whether the prices are fair or not (as though that has anything to do with market success).
I have written about money in my Art Basel Miami Commentary this week but some facts deserve repeating. Nearly half of all the ceramics on show at Basel Miami were priced at exactly $30,00—so amazingly uniform that one imagines an art cabal meeting to fix the price. Another quarter was at $60,000 and the rest somewhere between $4,500 and $450,000.
So who took home the $450,000 prize? It was George Adams Gallery, not on Basel Miami but another fair, Miami Project: elegant and spacious, with better quality art overall than the other satellite fairs. In a swelteringly hot and humid Miami, it was a cool drink.
The work is Balderdash-dash by Robert Arneson. The second prize went to…Robert Arneson again for Guston’s Shoes ( titled Homage to Philip Guston) at $360,000, a wonderful, over-sized homage to a great artist and perhaps a question from the father of ceramic funk—could he fill them? This has been a great year for Arneson’s art, including an exhibition of his early trophies at David Zwirner Gallery (see my CFile review of the show below).
Coming in at third was Ai Weiwei, with a group of Colored Vases priced at $300,000 on Anthony Meier’s Basel Miami booth. Ai had other work on the show that I had not yet seen, a group of five, small Chinese pots (the dealer did not know whether the pots were new or antique). They were glazed the actual colors of Mercedes Benz cars which made me feel uneasy (irony or endorsement?) and so did the price, $160,000. These works lacked the Chinese artist’s usual conceptual snap and visually were a tad dull.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile and apologies for the photographs.
Above image: Robert Arneson