To whom the bell sells…

The largest work at an art fair is rarely the most poignant, but Kris Martin’s three-ton bronze bell, which swings from a steel frame that is bolted into a concrete plinth, is surprisingly poetic. Titled For Whom…, 2008, and exhibited by Sies + Höke (N34), the sculpture sold for $200,000 to Adrienne Arsht, former chairman of ­Total­bank and a well-known Miami patron. Ms Arsht became a local hero when she saved the Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, which now bears her name, with a ­donation of $30m.

The bell was cast and installed in a church near Antwerp in 1929, then looted during World War II, found in Hamburg in the 1960s, and used until 1971 when it developed a crack. The bell, the steel frame and the concrete plinth spent ten days at sea to travel to Art Basel Miami Beach. The work had to be installed before the fair’s internal walls were constructed. Sies + Höke would not give a total cost for the production, shipping and installation of the work, but admitted that it was “a fortune”.

This bell is one of three works by the Belgian artist that bear the title For Whom…The first bell is in the collection of Christian Boros of Berlin. The third edition is yet to be fabricated. It awaits the moment when, as Alexander Sies put it, Martin “finds another great bell”.

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