The Miami Art Fairs: Final Thoughts and Reflections

by Paddy Johnson on December 6, 2016 Art Fair

Scope Art Fair

Scope Art Fair

A few stray observations now that the fairs are over.

  • Dealers may not have been worried early on last week, but by Sunday it had become clear that many of those participating in the satellite fairs had not sold enough to cover their expenses. I spoke to dealers from UNTITLED., Pulse, Aqua and Satellite on Saturday and Sunday, many of whom suffered tremendously for the reduced foot traffic. Art Basel and NADA were slower, but seemed less affected than the smaller fairs.
  • Anecdotal evidence of slimmer crowds this year: little to no Uber surge rates; the ability to drive from South Beach to the mainland in less than an hour.
  • As I mentioned previously, the reasons for thinner attendance seem more likely to be Zika fears and art fair fatigue than election woes, since many art collectors are Trump supporters. Still, most parties I attended included a lot of grim predictions about the fate of our democracy. Not much dancing this year.
  • No post about Art Basel this time. Why? There’s very little to say about the main fair. Crowds were thinner. The art is the same list of A-list artists we see every year. There were a few highlights, of course, which can be viewed on my flickr feed.
  • Context and Art Miami were oddly buzzy. The two fairs carry a lot of second-rate secondary market work, so it’s not our bag, but according to at least one report confirming the hype, the fairs have been getting better. Not sure this explains the buzz. How much better can it get? It’s still the same fair. But perhaps they are benefiting from being the only game in town on the mainland (save for Design Miami).
  • As per usual, we didn’t cover the Scope Art Fair. They show too much bad art to make a review worth it.  That stopped me from attending years ago, but AFC’s Michael Anthony Farley was more brave. During his visit, I received the following texts:

This is like walking through a sitcom about an art fair.

There are rumors that Kevin Federline is going to come.

There are so many overheard at Scope quotes.  [For example:] “Do you know that rapper Big Sean? He’s actually short, but they call him Big Sean because of a dick pic he put on Instagram. Anyway, he was really interested in this piece.”

There are multiple booths with different colors of Darth Vader sculptures. These ones are clearly the best because they have rhinestones.

The least offensive works here are the Basquiat knockoffs

Miami South Beach mannequins

Miami South Beach mannequins

Gentrification report: The number of Miami swag shops featuring huge boobed mannequins seems to be diminishing. In their place: Chain retail stores like Sephora, Adidas and American Apparel. There also appears to be a lot of developer lead urban blight on Collins and Washington. These are store fronts intentionally held empty until a renter will pay the exorbitant rental price for the retail space. Related: Astounded by the number of cell phone case shops patroned by no one. I guess the market for furry cell phone cases is diminishing? Either that, or these stores are fronts for some other illegal business.

Weather report: Hotter than usual. Temperature in the 80’s every day. It didn’t rain much. Great bikini weather.

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