See You in Miami?

This will be my tenth year at the Miami fairs. I'll take a lot of pictures, and I expect to post some reports here on the blog once I return. In the meantime, here's a summary of what I'm planning to cram into four and a half days.

The view from my hotel is about as much beach time as I'll get in 

Below: Toe donuts (aka callus cushions), because if your feet hurt, you're going nowhere.

Out of 20+ fairs, four collections, at least three museums, and multitudinous gallery exhibitions, I've whittled my agenda down to a manageable (?) 15 or so venues. Planning was possible courtesy of the Xipsy guide. If you're going, download this baby. Print out both sides and fold it into quarters (and give silent thanks to Franklin Boyd of Boyd Level and Bulletin 41 for putting it together).

Don't leave home without it
(Additional info at Art-Collecting)

I'll pick up a bunch of press and visitor passes. If time and weather allow, I'll visit the Scope opening in South Beach and/or the Satellite opening some 70 blocks north.

I'll spend the day at Art Basel Miami Beach as a member of the press, seven hours of aisle after aisle of mostly surprise and delight. I've been looking at art for 40 years, and I'm still not jaded. Don't listen to the negative nabobs who piss and moan about it. If you see one fair, this is the one. It will cost you $47 for the day ($30 for students and seniors with valid ID).

ABMB floor plan: It doesn't look so large here, but it's the size of several football fields, and it takes a full day to view with any degree of thoroughness 

In the evening I'll be at the Aqua Art opening, where several of my paintings will be part of the installation at Projects Gallery, Suite 116. I can't get you into the opening, but here's a link to a free day pass, which will get you into Aqua, Art Miami and Context. 

Two from a selection of my Silk Road paintings that will be at Aqua Art 

Page from the Aqua Art catalog, which you can view in full here
That's Frank Hyder's illuminated sculpture on the left page. I'll show you more when I get to the gallery

I'll venture across the bay to Miami, making a loop that crosses the MacArthur Causeway in South Beach, travels north in Wynwood, and returns to Miami Beach via the Julia Tuttle Causeway. I'm giving myself two hours the Perez Museum, which opens at 10:00 am. Then it's up to NW 23rd Street, where I'll stop into N'namdi Contemporary to see an abstraction show that includes Deborah Dancy's work, and the Square Foot show at Projects Gallery's Wynwood location, an everybody-into-the-pool exhibition that gives lots of artists a chance to show during fair week.

The Perez Museum

Deborah Dancy at N'namdi Contemporary

Above: Lynda Ray at Project Gallery's Square Foot Show 
Below: Ray's shot of a section of the installation

Art Miami and Context are next. I'm planning to do a quick walk through (i.e. about three hours), before getting a taxi back across to the beach. where I'll be at Pulse until it closes for the evening.

The Pulse tent in early evening. Image from the Pulse website

Having wooed back many of the galleries that made it an exciting venue in years past, as well as a complement of new galleries, Pulse promises to deliver a great experience. Many of my favorite galleries are participating: Lesley Heller Workspace, McKenzie Fine Art, Morgan Lehman, Thatcher Projects, and Pavel Zoubok from New York City; Robery Henry Contemporary, Brooklyn; Gregory Lind and Patricia Sweetow from the Bay Area; PDX Contemporary from Portland, Oregon; Miller Yezerski from Boston; and from across the pond, Patrick Heide from London, and Rubicon Projects, Dublin.

Do I go to the parties? No. Call me a wet towel. But I do meet friends for dinner before reviewing the days pictures (ideally by the pool).

I'll be in South Beach: Ink, Aqua, Untitled and Scope. Untitled came out of the gate three years ago at a gallop and has been running a great race ever since. It's a favorite; the light and sweep of the tent--right on the beach--is worth the visit alone.

A view from under Untitled's big top

Below: A planned stop at Scope

I've organized a no-host lunch at Rosinella Ristorante on Lincoln Road for artists, Facebook friends and others, 1:00-2:30. You're welcome to join us, but email me (joanne @ joannemattera.com)  if you plan to come, because I need to let the restaurant know how many to set up for.

Rosinella Ristorante, four blocks in from Collins, from 1:00-2:30 on Friday

I'm heading north up Collins Avenue to Miami Project and Art on Paper, both taking over NADA's former home at the Deauville Beach Resort; NADA, now at the Fontainebleau Hotel (it can't seem to get away from the glitzy venues, ironic since its aesthetic is largely provisional); and the Satellite Project, of which I am most interested in the Tiger Strikes Asteroid's takeover of the formerly vacant Ocean Terrace Hotel.   Yeah, it's a lot to squeeze in for one day, but what's the point of going if I'm just going to loll around the pool all day. (Did I just say that?)

Below: Art in America, curated by Julie Torres at the Ocean Terrace Hotel, will feature 51 works, one  per state and Puerto Rico. I'm looking forward to it

I head home. Yeah, I thought about staying the extra day--I particularly enjoy returning to ABMB when it opens at noon, because for an hour or so the aisles are almost empty--but I've got a few looming deadlines this year. And the expense of it all would curl your teeth.


Giorgio Morandi, “Peculiar Realist”

Detail of Autoritratto (Self Portrait), 1930, oil on canvas
This is the last of the very few self portraits Morandi painted

There are several ways I could begin this report. The first would be to tell you that when you walk off the elevator on the fourth floor of the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) in SoHo you encounter a
many-times-larger-than-life photograph of Morandi’s rectangular palette, which, though scraped clean, retains a deep ochre hue—except for the place by the thumb hole where the wood remains clean.  

Another would be to start with a portrait of the painter as a young man, somber of mien and hue. This modest easel-size painting is set in the center of a wall that faces you as you enter the main gallery, not so much to greet you as seemingly to square off with you. He's not smiling.

Panoramic view of the main gallery at CIMA, with the Morandi self portrait just to the left of the center poles

Still another would begin with a panorama of the main gallery, dramatic in the way its space and light set off the paintings. And finally, it could begin with an almost-life-size black and white photograph of Morandi's studio, located in a corner of his bedroom in his Bologna home.

But for the narrative, we’re going to follow the lead of the CIMA fellow who took my group around: starting in the kitchen of the loft and then working our way around the galleries.

Inset above left: the Morandi palette;  above: view of the artist's studio on Via Fondazza, photographed by Antonio Masotti in 1982 

I’ve wrestled with how much to show and tell you. While the Institute encourages visitors to photograph the works and blog or tweet about them, I don’t want to ruin the experience for those who will see this exhibition. At the same time, for those of you who will not see it in person, I want to share as much as I can with you. So, spoiler alert: If you plan to see the exhibition, you may want to read this after you’ve visited. (And then I’d love to know your comments.)

In the Kitchen: “A Vocabulary of Objects”
There’s a reason we're starting in the loft’s fabulous modernist kitchen. The tour is set up in the same way visitors to the Milan apartment of collector Gianni Mattioli experienced the work of Morandi, beginning with an espresso before being led through the apartment. Mattioli’s daughter, Laura, founder of CIMA in New York City, has maintained the tradition here.

Looking around the kitchen you see a beautiful series of photographs of the glass and tin objects Morandi painted. Joel Meyerowitz photographed them last summer, the group was told.  What I knew about these objects from my conversations with the dealer Stephen Haller, which were confirmed here by our tour leader, Matilde Giudelli-Giudi, is that Morandi altered the appearance of the objects by covering them with matte paint or filling them with paint, or wrapping household boxes with paper to transform them from quotidian objects into something more quirkily his own.

This photo, by Walter Smalling Jr. from CIMA's website, gives you a sense of the enormous kitchen in which Joel Meyerowitz's photographs are placed

Above and below: A selection of Joel Meyerowitz photographs showing Morandi's collection of the objects he placed in his still lifes

Above: An object that appears frequently in Morandi's painting, like the still life, below, Natura Morta, from 1955

What I didn’t know is that Morandi set up his still lifes at three different levels: on the table, and on shelves at two different heights, so that even when he  painted the same motif—he revisited similar compositions many times—he may have altered them via perspective, as well as by light source, or by adding or subtracting the number of objects in the composition. I mean, I'd noticed the difference in perspective, but I didn't know until the visit that Morandi had a system for it.

Here’s another thing I didn’t know until I saw the photographs: The table on which the objects rest contains numerous pencil marks. It became quickly apparent that these marking indicate the placement of certain objects in particular still lifes.

On Morandi's table, the marks he made to indicate placement of objects.  Also, you can see how the object at left has been painted matte white

Giudelli-Giudi referred several times to Morandi’s “vocabulary of objects,” noting that the dust resting lightly on some of them was integral to the artist’s vision. “A merging of object and ground” is how she described the dusty vessels. She also described the artist as a "peculiar realist," which provided the title of this post.

In the Main Gallery: Paintings and Prints from the 1930s
For the most part, the many paintings and several prints in this room are from the Thirties, a time when Morandi’s palette was largely ochre toned and his brush strokes thick, almost impasto.

The facts of Morandi's life are simple enough. He was born in Bologna in 1890, lived in a large apartment with his three unmarried sisters, taught etching at the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) in the Thirties. According to Giudelli-Giudi, Morandi traveled with some regularity to Florence and Venice to view art. She describes 1930 as an “eventful year” for Morandi, because it was when he abandoned portraiture and figuration in favor of the still lifes and occasional landscapes he would produce.  Additional comments about the artist and his work are included in the captions.

Panorama of the left side of the main gallery. On the white wall: Paintings from the 1930, of which Natura Morta (Still Life), 1931 is shown fourth from the right, and directly below in full view. Near the windows are three etchings, one of which is shown below. (In the foreground is a sculpture in wax by Wolfgang Laib)

 Above and below selections from the panoramic shot. I much prefer the painter's slightly wobbly lines--each paintings feels like it's breathing--to the printmaker's perfectly crosshatched etchings

Continuing around the main room we come to Morandi's self portrait

Autoritratto (Self Portrait), 1930
I love how Giudelli-Giudi described it: "Morandi looked at himself so long he's almost disappearing."

We turn to the right side of the main room and its centerpiece, the fireplace, above which are two related works

Giudelli-Giudi noted that Morandi frequently revisited not only same themes but same compositions

These two still lifes are identified as being from 1931 and 1929 respectively. I would have thought differently, that the brushier, more textured one was earlier, but the labels don't seem to indicate that

View of the wall perpendicular to the fireplace

Below: One of the paintings on that wall, Natura Morta, 1937.
The graphic quality of this painting is one of the few I've seen that bridges Morandi's paintings and prints. (But that gilt frame seems so un-Morandi-like, no?)

In the Other Rooms: Earlier and Later Work
At the opposite end of the hallway from the large main room is a small space dominated by a copper vessel on a pedestal, one of the rare objects that wasn’t painted or covered. Nearby was a beautifully chromatic painting in which the vessel figures prominently. This room holds a selection of paintings from the Teens, Fifties, and Sixties, a lovely rounding out of Morandi's oeuvre, and an opportunity to see how much changed (or didn't) over the years.

Above and below: A copper vessel that Morandi has specially made for his still lifes

Still Life from 1963, with that copper vessel. This painting features a lovely washy brush stroke and a surprisingly chromatic palette

A wall of paintings from different decades, two of which are shown below

Natura Morta from 1955, above, and 1916, below

My favorite painting in the show, also from 1963: a single, almost purplish vessel set against forms that appear architectural. The oil was brushed on in a wash so light it looked like watercolor

The Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) is located at 421 Broome Street. Its mission is to examine and exhibit the work of Italian modern artists—Giorgio Morandi is its third annual exhibition—and to foster scholarship through a fellowship program. The guided tours are led by these fellows. CIMA is open to visitors by appointment on Fridays and Saturdays. To see Giorgio Morandi you must reserve a place. The exhibition runs through June 25, 2016.


Morandi: A Look Back (at a Look Back)

With two Morandi exhibitions in New York City right now--at the Center for Italian Modern Art in Soho. left, and David Zwirner in Chelsea, below--I'm linking to a 2009 interview I did with the art dealer Stephen Haller, who spent time with Morandi at the end of the artist's life. Click here for the story.

Haller with a book on the artist. The frontispiece is from a photograph, shown below, taken of the two in Bologna in the early 1960s

Below: Haller showing photographs of himself with Morandi, and of Morandi's home in Grizzana, outside Bologna