Art Basel Public Day Two  Friday June 15th, 2018


The Private Jets May Leave But The Art Continues

Happy Friday afternoon to those us of who are back in New York, and a happy Friday evening to our readers still in Basel. The Canvas apologizes for the recent mixup with Vernissage vs public days- we're operating on very little sleep and the days have a habit of blurring together. We're also sending positive thoughts and energy to Roberta Smith of the New York Times who's recovering from a recent operation at Sloan Kettering and should be leaving the hospital today with her husband, Jerry Saltz in tow. (Editor's note- Jerry specifically tweeted about the recovery today- otherwise The Canvas would have refrained from mentioning it in today's email.) 

Sales reports are still trickling in from the Messeplatz with Lévy Gorvyannouncing the sale of a second Joan MitchellSyrtis, 1961 in the region of $7.5 million. Other sales include 303 Gallery's Doug Aitkenpiece, Future (2017) for $350,000, David Kordansky Gallery's Sam Gilliam’s 1971 work Repeat for $850,000, Marianne Boesky Gallery's Frank Stella painting, Red Star (2018), for $550,000, and another Joan Mitchell work, Red Tree (1976) at Cheim & Read for around $6 million. 

As the fair continues its transition from catering to a small group of serious collectors during the VIP days to ingratiating itself in the hearts and minds of a broader public audience over the weekend, it will be interesting to watch how the social media marketing strategies of Art Basel and its various exhibitors shift in tandem. 

And amid news that Team Gallery is beginning to offer works by Sam McKinniss and Ryan McGinley directly for sale on its Instagram (more on that below), here's an excerpt from our conversation with Brett Gorvyof Lévy Gorvy where he spoke to the viability of such a model for a gallery. 

Q: Amidst the talk of some of the financial pressures that younger or less established galleries are currently facing, do you feel that Instagram (and social media more broadly) can act as a valuable sales tool to combat those headwinds? 

A: I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that you’re going to create a direct marketplace around your Instagram. That I just don’t see. I mean, for all the times that a collector will reach out via Instagram, within two minutes or so I move the conversation to the telephone or email, or I’m meeting with them in person. 

However, Instagram has absolutely led directly to sales because it acts as a promotional tool for any given artwork. For instance, there was the Basquiat from a few years ago. In that case it let someone actually beat the rest of the market by allowing them to transpire time zones, and gave them an access point well beyond anyone else who was actually physically seeing the painting in person. It's about speed of information and being able to use that information very quickly to make a decision or at least take the first step. 

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The Three Things People are Talking About

1. Amid all the talk recently of what fairs and mega-galleries can do to help the emerging and smaller galleries at the lower end of the market, Anna Louie Sussman explores what more collectors can do to help out. While some of the suggestions aren't particularly new or innovative (such as paying for works on time and visiting the gallery in person), the piece published today for Artsy does offer some novel ideas and approaches. Sussman specifically mentions the gallery, Dürst Britt & Mayhew who's founders "approached three collectors they knew for loans totalling €50,000 in exchange for deeper discounts on works by their artists". Other suggestions included picking up the artwork on time so that it doesn't languish in a storage facility, responding to gallery emails even if you're not particularly interested in the work being offered, and bringing your friends to fairs in order to widen the pool of potential collectors. 

2. As Sarah Cascone notes in a recent piece for Artnet, this year was the first in recent memory that Team Gallery didn't have a booth at Art Basel. Instead, the gallery and its owner, José Freire (who has been a vocal critic of art fairs in the past) has decided to opt out of the fair rat race and instead offer a number of artworks directly for sale via Instagram. The gallery has been placing sponsored posts on the social media platform for pieces including works by Sam McKinniss and Ryan McGinley priced at around the $15,000 range. While that's not exactly the type of Instagram marketing that The Canvas has advocated for in the past, it should be interesting to see if any other galleries explore using Instagram in a similar manner to spur direct sales. 

3. It's never a good sign when the difficulties facing the art market trickle their way into the mainstream press. So it should come as a disturbing omen that Reuters published a wire report yesterday (i.e an article syndicated across thousands of newspapers worldwide) talking about the increasingly "squeezed middle". Quoting market heavyweights such as Dominique LévySean Kelly, Marc Glimcher, and Claire McAndrew, author of the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, the piece talks about lighter foot traffic to galleries and rising fair costs as leading headwinds facing the middle spectrum of the market. While the article doesn't really offer any new perspective (especially to regular readers of The Canvas who are fully briefed on these issues), it does serve as a glaring harbinger of the problems plaguing the industry, and the unlikeliness that they're going away anytime soon. 

A Word About Borro

Borro enables individuals with fine art to borrow against it with speed, privacy and impeccable service. With loan sizes starting at $20,000, clients can use the value of their artwork to take advantage of business opportunities, invest in real estate and relieve tax burdens and legal fees. Borro’s services are particularly helpful during fine art fairs and auctions as clients can leverage their existing collections for funds to acquire more artwork.


Four Museum Shows Worth Seeing While in Basel

Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts at the Schaulager

Bacon-Giacometti at the Fondation Beyeler

Sam Gilliam: The Music of Color at the Kunstmuseum Basel

Theaster Gates: Black Madonna at the Kunstmuseum Basel


As Art Basel slowly winds down and we ease into the long, humid days of summer, the New York art world's party circuit begins to peter out- at least until its regulars meet up over cocktails at the Surf Lodge in Montauk. 

So we're going to take this chance and encourage you to head over to our Instagramaccount to continue to follow the action all summer long. It may not look like we've posted much yet, but slowly and surely we'll get there. 

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Have any sales reports, gossip, news, or tips you'd like to share with The Canvas? Email us at to get in touch. And while you're at it, check out our Instagram for pics from Basel.