The December art fairs in Miami

And the reorganization of codes in the trading of Cuban Contemporary Art

/ 1 March, 2018

The first week of December in Miami has become unmissable gathering for those involved or interested in the art world. Besides the prestigious and coveted Art Basel Miami Beach, which only a privileged and limited number of galleries and artists have access to, many satellite fairs have sprouted and gained importance. These fairs aim to draw part of that audience with purchasing power that visits the more important ones, and attract minor galleries eager to participate (…). Also, some already established fairs have changed their dates to take place on the same week (…) we can mention Art Miami, which after years (…) changed to December a few years ago, becoming the second most important. Another fair (…) which was recently moved to December and to Miami, is PINTA. The latter is specialized in Latin American art and not only provides space for galleries, but it also organizes conference cycles and book presentations (…).

In terms of the Cuban art that is shown and sold at these fairs, there is still interest in modern art, especially that from the so-called Avant-gardes, and more recently the ‘rediscovery’ of abstract art. However, great interest has progressively shifted towards contemporary art, which little by little managed to shake off the regional labels of Cuban or Latin American.

(…) Managing to be included in Art Basel Miami Beach is hard. However, there is a group of internationally recognized Cuban artists that are regulars on the fair’s stands. We can mention José Bedia, Alexandre Arrechea, Los Carpinteros and Carlos Garaicoa. Their works are commercialized by galleries that are considered to be among the most important within this context and that usually participate in this fair.

For a few years now, we have seen a more stable presence of Cuban art in Miami galleries and institutions. This tendency is not only limited to artists that live in the city, there are also others that live for part or all of the time on the island. Up until recently, political circumstances had allowed the artists to visit frequently; it is not uncommon to find their work in a show in Miami, since they travel constantly, exhibiting and selling their work in the United States. Especially during Basel week, they are seen participating in the different fairs, taking part in the exhibitions at the city’s galleries or museums or just visiting and networking.

(…) The renewed interest in Latin American art has allowed the meteoric reappearance and take off of the career of Cuban female artists like Carmen Herrera, and more recently Zilia Sánchez, whose works have reached astronomical prices. Maybe this has been one of the key factors in the recent changes in two of the most important auction houses that sell this kind of art, Sotheby’s and Phillips. (…)

It would be interesting to closely follow the situation between separating and integrating Latin American art with universal contemporary and modern art. This topic has been broadly debated within academic circles, without reaching consensus, and now seems to reach the art market world. (…)

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