Art Meets Fashion at Art Basel Miami Beach

Following the VIP crush of Art Basel Miami Beach’s opening salvo on Wednesday, sales continued at a clip later in the week, further indicating that the North American art market is fit and largely unaffected by churning global headlines.



That was readily evident at Galerie Nordenhake, of Berlin, Stockholm, and Mexico City, where a large, luscious geometric abstraction by Stanley Whitney, Open Conversation (2019) sold in the $300,000-$400,000 range.

Painterly abstraction was also in high gear at Los Angeles’s Marc Selwyn Fine Art, with octogenarian Frank Bowling’s mixed-media canvas Turmoil (2019) selling in the region of its $325,000 asking price.

“There’s been a lot of attention on him,” said Marc Selwyn, “In the wake of the Tate Britain retrospective,” which closed in late August.

In Selwyn’s power-packed presentation of Lee Bontecou works, an untitled soot drawing from 1958 that resembles an orifice or portal sold in the region of $475,000. Making the work, the artist used a blowtorch with its oxygen turned off to extract soot residue.

Speaking of abstraction, an early and dynamic 1915 Francis Picabia composition, Intervention d’une femme au moyen d’une machine (Intervention of a woman by means of a machine), in pencil, watercolor, and gouache on paper mounted on cardboard, measuring about 30 by 20 inches, sold at New York’s Francis M. Naumann Fine Art in the vicinity of its $850,000 asking price.

Commerce was also hopping at New York and Taipei’s Sean Kelly Gallery, with Dawoud Bey’s striking 40-by-30-inch black-and-white photograph A Girl with a Knife Nose Pin, New York (1990) selling to an unnamed museum for $20,000. (It is from an edition of four with two artist’s proofs.)

The gallery also sold Hugh McCloud’s large composition Push Pull (2019) for $55,000. Remarkably comprised of single-use plastic bags on wood, it features two men struggling to load huge bunches of bananas onto a delivery bike.

Kehinde Wiley’s crowd-drawing bronze sculpture of a horse and rider, Rumors of War, was selling for $600,000. It is an edition of nine with three proofs.

“We sold a number of them,” Sean Kelly said, without showing more of his hand.

Asked if he sensed any differences between this year’s fair—the 18th—and previous editions, the seasoned dealer said, “We always do well here, so that’s normal, but there is a slight changing of the guard from old-school, mostly New York–based collectors to younger collectors from different parts of the world. It may be one of those generational moments.”