NEW YORK.- PULSE Miami concluded its largest edition following a week of solid sales and rave reviews by press and public alike, cementing its status as the strongest fair after Art Basel Miami Beach despite recent economic developments. “While it was not the feverish, trend-oriented seller’s market of 2007, all our dealers said that buyers were serious collectors who carefully selected art, often placing reserves that were finalized later in the week,” said Helen Allen, Executive Director of PULSE. Twelve thousand visited the fair over the course of its five-day run, which was approximately the same attendance as PULSE New York in March 2008.
Following a well attended VIP preview, sales picked up and by Thursday, the mood and weather had turned to sunny and warm. The dealers attributed the fair’s success to the quality of its production and of works for sale. This includes Jamie Angell, owner of Toronto’s Angell Gallery, who said: “If Angell Gallery had not been accepted into PULSE, I had no intention of exhibiting in Miami this year. Next to Basel it's the finest fair. It's professionally run, well laid out and showcases respected galleries representing quality artists.” Nick Lawrence, owner of New York gallery Freight + Volume, reported a sold-out booth and commented that, "surprisingly, this fair turned out better than last year's. It's renewed my faith that the art market follows its own rules. A lot of deals were closed after midnight at the Raleigh and Le Baron."
One trend noted by multiple galleries was an interest in new media works, particularly videos mounted in artists’ frames, which were snapped up by buyers. These included bitforms gallery, whose booth sold out of a video “shadow box” by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, which began at $90,000, while Angles Gallery experienced heavy sales of Ori Gersht’s Falling Bird. The edition of eight began at $45,000. Other new media successes included a sell out of Siebren Versteeg's series of large internet-enabled touch screen monitors at Max Protetch. The work was produced in an edition of 10, and started at $25,000. A real time 3D animation by artist John Gerrard, represented by Ernst Hilger, sold multiple works at $70,000 a piece.
A long roster of VIPs were in attendance, including Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker, artists Chuck Close, Takashi Murakami and Leo Villareal; LVMH Art Advisor Herve Mikaeloff; Director of the Brooklyn Museum and collector Arnold Lehman; Armory Show Director Katelijne de Backer; and a flock of A-list collectors including Shelley and Phillip Aarons, Marty Marguiles, the Rubell family, Joel and Sherry Malin, Raul and Lilly de Molina, Tony Goldman and Jean Pigozzi, as well as Diane Ackerman, Laura Skoler and John and Julie Thornton from Texas. Also noteworthy was the presence of major dealers who were seen cruising the aisles of the fair, among them Jeffrey Deitch, Tim Blum and Sean Kelly. They were joined by a host of museum curators and other professionals, notably SITE Santa Fe Director Laura Steward Heon, David Smith Foundation Director Peter Stevens, Donald Judd Foundation Director Barbara Hunt McLanahan, and newly appointed Andy Warhol Museum Curator of Art Eric Shiner.
Other highlights of PULSE Miami included New York nightlife and fashion icon Amanda Lepore’s performance and preview of her new limited-edition fragrance Amanda, which was produced by exhibitor Artware Editions. Envoy Enterprises had a surprise hit with their performance by Gill and Jill Bumby. The anonymous duo sold visitors “fair and accurate appraisals of their appearance” typed on notecards for $5 a piece, which drew crowds.
The Financial Times and CORE: conversations drew great praise from attendees who packed the café for the series and PULSE’s original programming was also in full force, with major installations throughout the fair, as was a new PULSE PLAY> selection.
GEISAI Miami, produced by Kaikai Kiki, was a runaway hit. The fair, which allowed 26 artists to exhibit without commercial representation, was thronged with curators, gallery owners and press. Brooklyn-based painter Asha Canalos sold out her entire booth to German collectors in one fell swoop, while Japanese photographer Keita Sugiura placed scores of works in the hands of collectors that included SITE Santa Fe Director Laura Steward Heon, New York gallerist and PULSE exhibitor Max Protetch, and Italian collector Jean Pigozzi. All 26 artists were in agreement that the fair was an incomparable, positive experience. Painter Nikki Katsikas, of Sea Cliff, New Jersey, was the recipient of the inaugural GEISAI Miami award.
The $2,500 PULSE Prize, sponsored by The Financial Times, was awarded to Emilio Chapela Perez, represented by EDS Galeria of Mexico City in PULSE’s IMPULSE section.