Art Basel Vernissage Day Three Thursday June 14th, 2018


The Sales Continue 

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As the sales continue and the parties commence (we hear Perrotin's bash was a spectacular showcase of extravagance and debauchery as the gallery continues its transformation into a powerhouse institution meant to compete with the likes of Gagosian and Zwirner), the doors at the Messeplatz opened up today to a wider audience than the well-heeled collectors who stalked the aisles the past two days. 

There's been some talk lately regarding whether fairs should hew more closely to their roots of catering to serious collectors, or if they should broaden their offerings to reach a more diverse- and potentially less discerning- crowd. As Art Basel and Frieze continue to pump out content year-round and offer increasingly different types of programming, it's a question worth bearing in mind as you see the general public interact with the art over the weekend. Luckily for you, we asked Marc Spiegler this very question for our monthly report, and have included the back and forth below. But seriously- support The Canvas and sign up here

Q: There's been a kind of generalized debate over whether art fairs should try to hew more to their 'trade show' roots and be more focused on sales and the segment of the audience that attends fairs specifically to buy art, or whether to be more like "malls" (as Jerry Saltz memorably described it) and strive to appeal to as wide an audience as possible in order to open up art to new audiences and hopefully cultivate younger or newer buyers. Which strategy can we expect the Art Basel fairs to employ for future iterations? And why do you prefer to stick with that model?

Marc Spiegler: I don’t think these approaches are mutually exclusive. Art Basel serves the artworld and we serve the public in very different ways. We attract established collectors and at the same time are focused on bringing new collectors to the fair, because we see ourselves as a platform for gallerists to meet new collectors and form long-lasting relationships. In one year, we work with over 500 galleries across our show and therefore have very diverse clients with very diverse needs and try to respond to all of these.


The Three Things People are Talking About

1. There were perhaps no bigger winners from last month's round of auction sales than Kerry James Marshall, his dealers, Jack Shainman and David Zwirner, and the lucky patrons who have collected his work over the years. As The Canvas has previously reported, Sean Combs (i.e 'Diddy') was the purchaser of 'Past Times' for $21.1 million at Sotheby's; with Marshall telling The Art Newspaper afterward that the sale was "probably the first instance in the history of the art world, where a black person took part in a capital competition and won”. 

While The Canvas isn't quite sure what that means exactly, there is clearly no doubt that it was a historic moment for artists of color in general and for Kerry James Marshall's market in particular. As The Art Newspaper's Anny Shaw notes in its Basel daily coverage, both Zwirner and Shainman brought works by the artist to the fair this year, and both pieces were sold almost immediately (with both declining to reveal the selling prices due to the "sensitive nature" of pricing Marshall's work. Shaw also notes that David Zwirner's London gallery is planning an exhibition of new work by the artist in October to coincide with Frieze London. Read the full article for all the details.  

2Artsy published an inside look into Arcis, the new art storage facility in Harlem that's been marketing itself as "New York City’s first and only federally-designated Foreign Trade Zone". As Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, the author of the article notes, "The terms 'free port,' 'free trade zone', and 'foreign trade zone' are used interchangeably in the art world" and it's not entirely clear what tax advantages are to be gained by having such a facility in New York. 

While Arcis is outfitted with the latest technology in art storage and security apparatus, it appears that the "Foreign Trade Zone' moniker is more of a marketing gimmick than an actual cost advantage to its customers. As Abrahamian notes, "a tax-free anything sounds good to a certain clientele, even if the actual benefits are limited". The piece goes on to quote Crozierpresident Simon Hornby saying that "Crozier also consulted with advisors on the utility of an FTZ, and the benefits came up short. 'Art is not a dutiable good. There are no duties on art in the U.S".  

This is a long-read piece and one clearly worth the time for any serious collector or art market professional. Kudos to Abrahamian and the editorial team at Artsy for taking the necessary steps to shed a light on the dubious promises being made by the founders of Arcis. 

3. Everyone is talking about the Fondation Beyeler's recently announced 'The Early Picasso: Blue and Rose Period' exhibition; slated to open in February 2019 and already promising to be a blockbuster. The show is a joint venture of the Beyeler with the Musée Picasso and Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and will feature some of the artist's most well known works including the recently auctioned 'Fillette à la corbeille fleurie' which sold to the Nahmad family for $115 million as part of Christie's Rockefeller estate auction. Check out Andrew Russeth's article for Artnews for all the juicy details.  

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 Satellite Fairs Worth Visiting in Basel

Volta Basel

Liste Art Fair

Design Miami

Frame Art Fair

Scope Basel (Skip it- it's just not worth it this year) 

The Party Circuit

The Met: Young Members Party (Spotted: Meri Goldstein, Michelle Coleman, Emma Barchi, and Shannon Mulholland) 

Glass House Summer Party (Spotted: Brooklyn Rider, Bill Sofield, Jae Joseph, Sarah Meyohas, and Christa Carr) 

Arthemisia Presents ESCHER: The Exhibition & Experience (Spotted: Mark Veldhuysen, Rock Walker, and Hannah Gottlieb-Graham) 

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.