Art Basel settles into a ‘new normal’ despite market uncertainty
The fair’s opening day was buoyed by the presence of a new generation of artists, collectors and dealers
Historically, the home for emerging and undiscovered artists at Art Basel has been upstairs. Here, Mariane Ibrahim, who is exhibiting at the fair for the first time, is showing all new works on her stand. Prices range from $25,000 to $400,000—for the Ghanaian-born artist Amoako Boafo’s Puppy Blankie (2022), which sold on the opening day to a private collector. Boafo’s market has swiftly risen in recent years, in large part down to a run of auction sales—against the artist’s wishes.
Ibrahim notes how the “shift in power” in the art market also comes at a cost to younger galleries. “We take the risk of nurturing young artists; mega galleries won’t change diapers,” she says. “But if they are working with established artists as well as young artists, that becomes difficult—it’s like having a seat at the adults’ table as well as the kids’ table.”
It is also a matter of supporting an artist through the early—and often challenging—stages of their career, Ibrahim argues. “We have to give space and time for an artist to breathe, for them to find their signature style,” she says, noting how each of the artists on her stand has been subject to museum exhibitions and acquisitions.
“We have done the groundwork, now it’s time to show them here,” she adds. By the end of the first day, the gallery had sold half of its stand.