Art Basel Miami: Day Three
Today I ventured out from the main fair to some of the satellite events in North Beach and Miami proper. Stepping away from the convention center opened my eyes to one simple observation: There’s too much going on here during Basel week.
As the art market has heated up over the course of the past decade or so, supply has ramped up dramatically to try to meet the seemingly ever-growing demand. Where Basel Miami was once enough, we now have Scope, Pulse, NADA, Context, Miami Project, Red Dot, Brasil… I could go on. But the point is that, at least for this one week, the market is saturated with objects to buy - so much so that I can’t imagine there being enough collectors to make it profitable. Basel itself may nearly sell out. But I find it hard to believe that the smaller galleries working at the margins in the satellite fairs are covering their costs, let alone turning a profit.
All of which raises a number of questions: How does a non-blue chip gallery distinguish itself in the mob? What kind of work does it make economic sense to show here if you can’t get a booth at Art Basel and have to settle for one of the B-list fairs instead? Does it make sense to come at all?
I have a feeling that I’m going to need to explore this scenario in greater detail at some point in the near future. For now, what’s clear is that bringing inventory to Miami this week is a much more complex and fraught decision for any dealer or gallerist than it may have been only five or so years earlier. Yes, the game is expanding. But it’s evolving, too, and only the smart, strong, and adaptable will survive.