Collectors Unleash Pent-Up Buying Demand at NADA Miami, Where Concerns Over Speculation Abound

Several of the booths had sold out on opening day of NADA Miami, where buyers were out in full force for young artists in particular.

Installation view of In Lieu gallery booth at NADA. Image courtesy In Lieu, Los Angeles

The demand from collectors evident at Art Basel’s opening yesterday—particularly for works by younger, up-and-coming painters—is spilling over to the dozen other satellite fairs during the ebullient return of Miami Art Week.

Yesterday, collectors flocked to the opening day of NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance), where 170 exhibitors showed a wide range of new work, also with an emphasis on painting, at the Ice Palace Studios in Miami’s art and design district.

Visitors were taking full advantage of the studio’s outdoor green space, where lounge chairs dotted the lawn. Musician Joe Jonas and Bachelor contestant Kit Keenan were spotted milling around the fair.

Danielle De Jesus, <i>Two men and their blue gate</i> (2021). Image courtesy Calderon.

Danielle De Jesus, Two men and their blue gate (2021). Image courtesy Calderon.

The fair kicked off with a bang when NADA and the Pérez Art Museum Miami announced that the painting Two men and their blue gate (2021) by Danielle De Jesus at Calderón gallery had been selected as the museum’s fourth annual acquisition gift, which is funded through ticket sales (the asking price was $16,000). The gallery also sold another work by De Jesus, This stoop is now closed (2021), to a private collection for $14,500.

Kevin Boothe of Towards Gallery in Toronto said he was “very happy” with the first day’s results, which included sales of textile-based work by Afghan-Canadian artist Hangama Amiri, priced at $10,000 to $20,000 each. The presentation focused on the dramatic shift in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s return to power in August.

Hangama Amiri, <i>Eight Steated Women</i> (2021). Image courtesy the artist and Towards Gallery. Photo by Angela Chan.

Hangama Amiri, Eight Steated Women (2021). Image courtesy the artist and Towards Gallery. Photo by Angela Chan.

Katia David Rosenthal of Miami gallery KDR305 showed wild-looking terracotta clay pots by self-taught Nicaraguan artist Joel Gaitan against the backdrop of a booth that was transformed to create the atmosphere of a bodega, including traditional snacks and foods from the artist (also gallerist’s) native Nicaragua displayed between the clay pots. Several were sold at prices ranging from $1,600 to $4,800.

The fair’s focus on up-and-coming painters making the kind of large-scale figurative work so popular right now at auction has prompted some dealers to spell out explicit anti-flipping rules in their invoices, though they’re hard to enforce. Los Angeles dealer Nino Mier said that he resorts to another deterrent: “If you do it once, you’ll never get anything from me again.” 

Mier’s opening day included sales of paintings by Jonathan Wateridge at prices ranging from $100,000 to $120,000, a series of 2008 drawings by André Butzer for €32,000 ($36,000), a piece by Mindy Shapero for $60,000, which went to a local foundation, and the debut painting by emerging artist Cindy Phenix for $28,000. 

Ornis Althuis, co-owner of Althuis Holland Fine Arts, said he doesn’t see much potential for speculation at the price points where he sells, but that the gallery guards against it by not overselling, say, “10 works to one client.”

Eva Beresin, Boots off (2021), Image courtesy Althuis Hofland Fine Arts, Amsterdam

Eva Beresin, Boots off (2021), Image courtesy Althuis Hofland Fine Arts, Amsterdam

The gallery showed work by Eva Beresin, a Hungarian-born painter was on view. The paintings were first championed by Artnet News columnist Kenny Schachter three years ago, and ultimately drew Althuis’s attention, he said. It also displayed smaller, intimate self-portraits by Polina Barskaya. 

“Sales were booming,” Althuis said. “We’ve sold multiple works by all artists in the booth,” where prices range from €4.000 to €15.000 ($4,500 to $17,000).

The tightly curated booth of Los Angeles gallery In Lieu showed paintings by Maren Karlson, charcoals by Nihura Montiel, and ceramic sculpture by Amia Yokoyama. Four works sold on opening day in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Founder Ethan Tate added that speculation is a concern, but “it’s tough when you’re in the fair environment to vet someone given the fast pace,” he said. “We’re purposely showing things that are not on that trend as much. We’re pushing things that are a little bit different.”

Maren Karlson Imago (God Flower) (2021). Image courtesy in lieu, Los Angeles.

Maren Karlson Imago (God Flower) (2021). Image courtesy In Lieu, Los Angeles.

Visitors entering the fair immediately encounter Haitian artist Nyugen E. Smith’s hanging, almost shrine-like sculptures at the booth of Sean Horton (Presents). Each of the works, titled “Spirit Carriers,” are intended as vessels to carry and protect people of color who have been murdered by police. The works incorporate materials like netting, scraps of fabric, tubing, and other bric-a-brac objects to make the shapes that the artist derives from the crowns of West African Yoruban chiefs.

Several of the sculptures had sold for $7,000 to $12,000 each, but the gallery’s owner, Sean Horton, expressed hope that an institution would pick the rest up as a set. 

Several booths had sold out entirely on opening day—among them was San Francisco’s Friends Indeed, which hosted a solo booth of work by Lauren Quin, an emerging Los Angeles-based painter whose detailed and highly delicate brushwork has made her an artist to watch. Three vibrant and mesmerically chaotic paintings sold at the booth, two for $28,000 and a third for $30,000.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Burnaway sold out its booth of 10 pictorial paintings by Dianna Settles for between $4,000 and $6,000. And New York’s 56 Henry sold everything it had on display, which included a soft sculpture by Al Freeman for $15,000, a folder of the artist’s famed “comparisons” for $4,000, and six drawings, which Freeman did with her left-hand and backwards, all for $2,000 a pop.

The gallery’s founder, Ellie Rines, had her business cards out on display, which all double as a $100 gift card, redeemable by getting in touch with the gallery. Perhaps the trick works: Aside from the Freeman sales, the gallery also sold three figurative paintings by Jo Messer for $10,000 to $20,000, and a mixed-media piece by Kunle Martinis for $12,000. 

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