Art Basel 2024: Market Pulse

Joan Mitchell | Sunflowers
Joan Mitchell, Sunflowers (1990-1991). Source: David Zwirner

Contrary to the persistent doomsday narratives in the art market, Art Basel 2024 opened with a record-breaking first day. Top-tier galleries reported solid sales, including multi-million-dollar purchases, highlighting the tenacity and ongoing demand in the art market.

The top galleries, such as Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, Pace, White Cube, and David Zwirner, remain relatively unaffected by the current market conditions, as the main aisle at the fair, known as the “avenue of the stars,” continues to be bustling with activity.

Experts note a trend toward consolidation in the dealer-based art market, with a focus on larger, well-known galleries. In uncertain times, both new and experienced collectors are opting for safer options, preferring to invest with established galleries rather than smaller emerging ones.

This year saw top dealers opting for safe choices, featuring classic contemporary works spanning the last 80 years along with recent pieces by established artists like Bove.

Sales from Hauser & Wirth total over $40 million; among them are the $16 million sale of Arshile Gorky’s “Untitled (Gray Drawing (Pastoral)”), the $4 million purchase of a Blinky Palermo piece, and the $3.5 million purchase of a Louise Bourgeois sculpture.

With the day’s highest transaction of $20 million for Joan Mitchell’s “Sunflowers” (1990–91), David Zwirner Gallery outperforms the competition. Deals for a $6 million Gerhard Richter painting, two over $2.5 million Josef Albers works, and a $1.3 million Mitchell picture are also secured by the gallery.

The sale of Agnes Martin’s “Untitled #20” (1974) by Pace Gallery for an undisclosed but probably substantial amount and Thaddaeus Ropac’s $3.85 million purchase of Robert Rauschenberg’s “Market Altar / ROCI MEXICO” (1985) are two other noteworthy transactions. Dealers such as Gladstone Gallery and Xavier Hufkens report closing seven-figure purchases, demonstrating that sales go beyond the mega-galleries.

Mid-range galleries are also quite active. Four pieces are sold by Lisson Gallery: “Wall of Light Green Mountain” (2022) by Sean Scully is sold for $562,500, and a sculpture by Lee Ufan is sold for $850,000. Fred Eversley and Jonas Wood’s artworks are valued in the upper six figures at David Kordansky Gallery, while Chiharu Shiota’s sculptures are a hit at Templon.


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