By Liz Cantrell
With major art fairs—like Art Basel in Miami, Frieze in New York, and Masterpiece in London—being canceled, rescheduled, or presented entirely online this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it's clear that how (and where) art is seen and sold has changed. But even if clients aren't currently browsing in the bigger cities, there is still plenty of action in smaller, seasonal locations.
This summer, many Manhattan auction houses and galleries opened new brick and mortars in the Hamptons, catering to clients who had decamped from the city to make their Long Island homes into permanent pandemic residences. But this winter, the action seems to be in Palm Beach, where plenty of wealthy collectors ride out the colder months. Acquavella Galleries, Pace Gallery, Lehman Maupin, and Sotheby’s have all opened temporary (and some even permanent) outposts in the Royal Poinciana Plaza, the resort town's luxury shopping destination, making Palm Beach a bubble for art this season.
Acquavella's move is particularly noteworthy, as the Palm Beach space is the gallery’s first physical space outside of New York in its 99-year history. The inaugural exhibition (open until December 18) will feature works from some of the greats: Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollack, to name a few.
Sotheby's also made a conscious investment in Palm Beach, opening a massive 2,700 square foot gallery earlier this year. The auction house is presenting jewelry (there will be a rotating monthly exhibition, beginning with Parisian high jewelry house Édéenne) alongside design and fine art, with major paintings by Basquiat, Warhol, and Damien Hirst.
Also on view is a show of sculpture by Gisela Colón—who's also collaborating with Dior on a 2021 handbag—that will open at GAVLAK gallery on December 5
If all these offerings—clustered together in the John Volk-designed Royal Poinciana Plaza, which retains its iconic 1950s Palm Beach style—aren't enough, walk over to Pace Gallery, which is exhibiting three unique aperture wall installations by James Turrell (until December 5) and will follow with a series of solo and group presentations by major contemporary artists like Tara Donovan and Kiki Smith, and modern masters like Alexander Calder.
A short drive south of the plaza, Lehman Maupin is also opening an exhibition space with an initial group show with works by Mickalene Thomas, Marilyn Minter, and McArthur Binion.
Not all of the action is happening in galleries. Hotels like The Ben in West Palm Beach are partnering with local galleries and dealers, like Paul Fisher, to feature rotating exhibitions of high-end works. The idea is to get more art into public spaces and in front of wealthy buyers, who are drawn to the town's warm weather and a change of scenery after months of city living. And it worked: a Jay Steven Manolis painting shown at The Ben received a six-figure offer the week it was installed.