Fresh Trends Emerge at Art Basel Miami Beach 2021

Fresh Trends Emerge at Art Basel Miami Beach 2021

Artists and art collectors alike rejoiced as they were, once again, able to come together for Art Basel Miami Beach. After a year hiatus, the prominent December international art fair was bursting with energy, vibrant color, and excitement. Chubb was proud to be an official partner of Art Basel and feature the work of New York Academy of Art Fellows from 2019, 2020 and 2021, including Atalanta Xanthe, Jed Smith, Lydia Baker, Shiqing Deng, Wilba Simson, and Zachary Sitrin at their space in the Collector’s Lounge.

As they navigated the art fair, Chubb’s team of fine art specialists paid close attention to what collectors were buying and identified some prominent trends.

Digital art and NFTs

Absent a banana and duct tape, the leading buzz this year was digital art, specifically Non Fungible Tokens, or NFTs. Throughout Miami, over the week, our team found panels, events, exhibitions, and happenings dedicated to promoting artists well-versed in NFTs and generative artwork.

Art Basel Miami Beach hosted an exhibition of NFTs, designed in collaboration with the open source blockchain, Tezos, and included works of art by Helena Sarin, Iskra Velitchkova, Matt DesLauriers, and Sutu. Central to the booth was a series of interactive, algorithmic works by Mario Klingemann that invited guests to generate their own unique abstract portrait and download the token to their digital wallet. Pace Gallery and Kavi Gupta were among galleries exhibiting NFTs. Using Pace Verso, the New York gallery’s new dedicated NFT platform, Pace Gallery sold Block Universe (2021) by DRIFT artists, Lonneke Gordijm and Ralph Nauta, for $550,000[1] on day two of the fair. At Kavi Gupta, there was much interest in Rewind Collective’s NFT Remember Us X (2021), which celebrated eight groundbreaking women, including Harriet Tubman and Frida Khalo. Their portraits, each originally painted by important female artists, were digitally altered and interwoven.

Document - Julien Creuzet

Ultra-contemporary artists, female artists, and artists of color

Art Basel Miami Beach was saturated with fresh works by ultra-contemporary artists, many of whom have experienced strong demand at auction over the past year from collectors looking to circumvent lengthy waiting lists. It seems that ultra-contemporary art (work by artists born after 1974) recovered more than any other genre post-lockdown. In fact, from January through June of this year, sales in the category reached $302.6 million, almost 300 percent above its most recent peak in 2019.[2] Our team saw strong representation from female artists and artists of color as well.

Victoria Miro exhibited a large, gestural painting by Flora Yuhknovich for £150,000, along with small works on paper, each priced at £15,000.[3] All of these pieces sold on the first day of the show. Kehinde Wiley’s Portrait Abdoulaye Thiaw (2021) at Sean Kelly Gallery sold to a museum for $425,000[4], and coincides with Wiley’s current solo exhibition at London’s National Gallery. An intricate porcelain sculpture by Simone Leigh, who will be representing the US in the 59 th Venice Biennale, sold for $400,000 at Matthew Marks Gallery[5]. And a work by Julie Mehretu, whose solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum recently closed, sold for $3.95 million, as well as a vibrant yellow, mixed media work by Mark Bradford for the same price, both from White Cube[6].

Ceysson and Benetiere - Sadie Laska

Textile art and vibrant colors

Not only was there a plethora of works created with sewing, stitching, weaving and braiding different materials and objects, but our team noted fair guests donned a welcome array of vibrant colors—matching the hues seen in art at the fair.

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones’ triptych of blue figures against an orange background, displayed in the Meridian section, was among the most vibrant works of art noted at the fair. A large Frank Stella painting in pastel neon colors was exhibited near Colorfield works by Kenneth Noland and Louis Morris at Yares Art. And Al Held’s Padua III (1981), a large painting in vibrant orange, stood out at Cheim & Read. Other refreshing works in neon included a fresh piece by Peter Halley titled Mass (2021) and a vibrant color pencil drawing by Tony Lewis titled Shown (2020).

For textile works of art, we noted South American artist Bonolo Kavula debuted at the art fair this year, her solo exhibition with SMAC Gallery presented tapestries that incorporate printmaking, weaving, and sculpting. April Bey’s Colonial Swag: Dune, Not Palm Springs (2021) at Gavlak and Phyllis Stephens’ Jungle Fever (2021) at Almine Rech were two textile works that stood out as strong portrayals of women of color and technique. Also on view was textile artist Diedrick Brackens’ Once More to the Lake (2021), a woven tapestry of contrasting turquoise and red that was featured in Art Basel’s magazine, and Julia Bland’s tapestry Canyon (2020) in vibrant pink, a significant break from her more muted palette.

Chubb was an official partner of Art Basel Miami Beach. Our team of fine art specialists was onsite to share their expertise in Modern and Contemporary art with collecting clients. Learn more about their sponsorship at