Art Basel in Miami Beach Blasts Out of the Gate

The artworks on offer are nothing short of spectacular.

Katharina Fritsch’s Octopus (2010) at Matthew Marks's Art Basel in Miami Beach Booth Photo: Ivo Faber, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; ©Katharina Fritsch / VF Bild-Kunst, Bonn / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.
Galerie Gmurzynska's Booth designed by Baz Luhrmann and Nellee Hooper at Art Basel in Miami Beach Photo: Courtesy Galerie Gmurzynska

Galerie Gmurzynska’s booth designed by Baz Luhrmann and Nellee Hooper at Art Basel in Miami Beach
Courtesy Galerie Gmurzynska

Crowds poured through the entry to Art Basel in Miami Beach at 11am sharp this morning. The vast array of art inside is nothing short of spectacular with works ranging from blue chip masters to cutting-edge art. As the elegantly dressed visitors—many in towering heels—flooded the venue and sipped champagne, most gallery owners were present in their respective booths, flanked by an army of staff, and all with game faces on as they fielded inquiries while scouring the aisles for big collectors on approach.

The crowd was heavy with both art world celebrities and regular celebrities alike. We spotted P. Diddy, Marina Abramović, and collectors Aby Rosen, Alberto Mugrabi, and Jean Pigozzi in the first few hours of the VIP opening. And they were buying at a dizzying pace. Just a few hours into the action, Mnuchin Gallery had sold Robert Ryman’s Page (1998)—they were asking $1.5 million—and an untitled work from 1969 by David Hammons for approximately $300,000.

Among the major attractions this morning was Galerie Gmurzynska’s enchanting booth celebrating its 50th anniversary, titled “A Kid Could Do That” and specially designed by film director Baz Luhrmann and Nellee Hooper. The superbly-lit booth features wood floors and olive green painted walls with classic works by Francis Bacon, Kurt Schwitters, Joan Miro, Yves Klein, Wifredo Lam, and others. A crowd filled the booth, milling about a large wooden table in the center, as curious visitors continued to drift in (see “P. Diddy Zeroes In on Picasso Mural at Gmurzynska’s Art Basel in Miami Beach Booth” and “A Peek at Baz Luhrmann’s Collaboration for Art Basel in Miami Beach“).

Also packed was the Gagosian Gallery’s booth, where the power dealer himself, Larry Gagosian, stood front and center. The booth features a wide range of works, heavy on pieces by Ed Ruscha and also has works by Picasso, Willem de Kooning, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Katharina Fritsch’s  Octopus (2010) at Matthew Marks's Art Basel in Miami Beach Booth Photo: Ivo Faber, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; ©Katharina Fritsch / VF Bild-Kunst, Bonn / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Katharina Fritsch, Octopus (2010) at Matthew Marks’s Art Basel in Miami Beach booth
Photo: Ivo Faber, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; © Katharina Fritsch / VF Bild-Kunst, Bonn / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Skarstedt Gallery has a standout booth too, with Juan Muñoz’s eye-catching life-size sculpture Piggyback (1997) showing a figure perched on another’s back and leaning into a mirror with a frozen expression, caught somewhere between fear and humor. Other blue-chip works in the well-curated stand include a signature painting of a torqued face by George Condo and an abstract painting by Christopher Wool.

Karsten Greve’s sprawling booth features many works by Louise Bourgeois, including an exemplary large Spider sculpture, but with a bulb-like container of blue liquid attached to the head. Many of Claire Morgan’s dazzlingly delicate assemblages of animals and flies submerged in nylon, including Be Careful What You Wish For (2014) and a taxidermied jackdaw buried in multicolored torn ribbons, are also on offer.

The animal theme continues at Matthew Marks, where Katharina Fritsch’s day-glo orange Octopus (2010) rests on a single plinth, clutching a tiny black figure and holding it aloft.

Meleko Mokgosi works on view at Honor Fraser's Art Basel in Miami Beach Booth Photo: Courtesy Honor Fraser

Meleko Mokgosi works on view at Honor Fraser’s Art Basel in Miami Beach booth
Courtesy Honor Fraser

São Paulo’s Luisa Strina gallery had already sold a suite of photos by Anna Maria Maiolino In-Out (Anthropophagy) (1973) just a few hours into the fair and was drawing interest with both a large sculpture by Pedro Reyes and a wall installation by Clarissa Tossin, titled Sneaker Thief (2009). The latter consists of a retail-like display of plaster casts of sneakers, a reference to violent crime in her home country, Brazil, and the reality that a person can be killed for their shoes alone.

The fair’s “Positions” section is particularly rich with exciting projects this year, including Meleko Mokgosi’s large installation of paintings at Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Mokgosi, who is from Botswana and combines history painting with post-colonial theory, has been gaining global exposure. We spotted his distinct work at the 2013 Lyon Biennial in France.

Another must-see booth was that of Freedman Fitzpatrick, which features large scale inkjet prints by Lucie Stahl. Our favorite was Critic’s Pick (2014), showing a giant hand reaching into a shopping basket and plucking out a tiny New York Times paper. It had already found a (presumably discerning) buyer for $10,500 by the time we spotted it.

Lucie Stahl, Critic's Pick (2014) Photo: Michael Underwood, Courtesy of the artist and Freedman Fitzpatrick

Lucie Stahl, Critic’s Pick (2014)
Photo: Michael Underwood, Courtesy of the artist and Freedman Fitzpatrick


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