MIAMI - The mood at the first day of Art Basel in Miami Beach mirrored the recent performance of the stock market, as it often does – robust almost in spite of itself.

Pieces that I liked and asked dealers about were already on reserve, sold or otherwise spoken for. “This year things are good, and expensive,” said Robert Goff, who works with the legendary New York dealer Barbara Gladstone. “It’s been very intense since the doors opened.”


Keith Haring's, Untitled, 1982 from Barbara Gladstone's booth.

The Gladstone booth was stuffed with blue chip treasures, which seemed to be the theme this year. There were at least two classic Richard Princes on view, including What a Kid I Was #2, 1989, and a huge Keith Haring sumi ink on paper, Untitled, 1982. I loved the Carroll Dunham piece Terrible Sun, a mixed media on linen from this year (no sighting of his wife Laurie Simmons or his daughter Lena Dunham, now an Emmy-winning writing and performing phenomenon because of her show Girls).


Carroll Dunham's Terrible Sun from Barbara Gladstone's booth.

The star in terms of interest at Gladstone was the Jim Hodges gold-on-denim piece, then and then and then… (for Sufjian), 2013. “It was creating riots,” said Goff. “I could have sold it 300 times over.” Hodges has been having quite a career moment of late – a big retrospective of his work is up now at the Dallas Museum of Art – and it seems to have increased collector demand for his work.

 
Nathan Carter
Data Collection City is located at the base of Sister Six near the coast of the infamous Northern Shipping Route., 2013.

Over at the booth of Casey Kaplan, the dealer himself was feeling good about the fair. “It’s been getting better every single year,” said Kaplan, “and we’ve been doing it since it started.”

I liked the juxtaposition of Nathan Carter’s strange painting Data Collection City is located at the base of Sister Six near the coast of the infamous Northern Shipping Route.,, 2013 a sort of fantasy Whoville village with odd structures piled on each other, with Jonathan Monk’s hilarious riff on Christopher Wool’s famous text painting containing the phrase “If you can’t take a joke…” Monk renders the Wool with similar type and background, but as a soft baby’s blanket instead of a painting. Taken together, the two works added up to some kind of riff on safety and domesticity. (Incidentally, Kaplan says that the curator of Wool’s current Guggenheim show snapped a picture of the piece to send to Wool.)


Jonathan Monk’s
Wool piece, 2013
.

I asked Kaplan how he survives the intense physicality of Art Basel week, with its ceaseless schedule demands. “Tequila,” he said. “I have a college dorm fridge over there, and a friend gave me a bottle of tequila – I think that new George Clooney one.”

For the record, he hadn’t started in yet. But it was almost 5pm, and there was a whole evening’s vernissage yet to go.