Fair and Fair Alike: Miami 2009. An Overview Before the Individual Fairs

Fair and Fair Alike coverage so far:

A big surprise at Art Basel Miami Beach

Having gone through some 4000 images of the fairs at least three times (thoroughness: a blessing and a curse) and posted a few preliminary reports, I now know how I’m going to proceed: I’ll write a brief overview of each fair, posting more or less every day for the next week. I’m going to try to give you a sense of what they were like—size and sabor, the scope and flava of each—because they’re all quite different from one another.

Then I’m going to connect the dots. “Curating” my reports is the part I like best, showing you what turned up from fair to fair. Whether blue chip or hole-in-the-wall, the galleries seem to have tapped into the zeitgeist for a number of themes.
Trees were the most obvious, but there was a strong showing of textiles in a variety of incarnations; a D.I.Y. craftiness that involved constuction materials like cardboard and a recycling or repurposing of all kinds of castoffs; and the recurring image of house and home, not a surprise given the way things went this past year. Often these elements overlapped.
... .

Big statement for the big fair: At ABMB, the two-ton rag rug (no exaggeration) by Michael Beutler at Galleria Franco Soffiantino, Torino

Below, Pulse: Portia Munson's green vitrine; at P.P.O.W., New York


Scope: the D.I.Y. approach in Elena Monzo's cardboard-framed drawings, with detail below; at Bonelli Arte Contemporanea, Mantova


ABMB: Jose Davila; at Travesia Cuatro, Madrid .

ABMB: Delson Ochoa's painting, made like an early-American floorcloth and hung like a tapestry; at Galeria Luciana Brito, Sao Paolo .

Aqua: Plenty of trends here--small , often tiny, work; a homemade esthetic; even the home; at La Familia Gallery, Seattle

Even for the big fairs, there were a lot of small paintings and drawings. But of course the big names were out in force. It wouldn’t be a big fair without John Chamberlain’s metal sculptures (almost always paired with Albers or a minimalist work) and one of my favorites, Louise Bourgeois. And there are always surprises. Last year it was Carolee Schneeman at Carolina Nitsch. This year: Hannah Wilke at Alison Jacques Gallery. (I’ve got a post coming on Wilke, Bourgeois and Benglis.)
Art Miami: Blue-chip offerings from Scott White Contemporary Art, San Diego. Here, Donald Judd and John Chamberlain

ABMB: Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer
Blue chip with a little less testosterone from Cheim & Read, New York


As always, geometry was much in evidence: modernist offerings from the blue chips, contemporary abstraction from all levels at all the fairs, and plenty that tapped the Latin American tradition. While there was no getting away from ostentation at the big fairs, the amount of glittery shininess was toned down. (I’m guessing this means that even the most over-the-top collectors were flying a little closer to the ground this year.)
Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol were everywhere—and everywhere imitated. There’s a post coming on that, too. I laughed at a typo I made. I wrote "Any Warhol." But maybe the fingers had it right. .

ABMB: Sarah Cain's fabulous geometries; at Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York

Art Miami, below: Carlos Evangelista; Kreisler Galerie de Arte, Madrid

.. ABMB: A little less glimmer and glitz this year. Even the disco ball is painted black. Kendall Geers sculpture; at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London






The Ubiquity Award goes to Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol
Left, Warhol at Gagosian
Right, Robert Indiana at Paul Kasmin; both at ABMB

“Deals were being made,” said a gallerist friend who wasn’t showing but went to see what was going on. I wasn’t tuned into the commercial transactions--especially at the big fair, where no one puts red dots on anything --but the relaxed faces of the dealers said it all. I did see a lot of showing and pondering. And at the smaller fairs, I saw a number of people walking out with bubble-wrapped packages. (Too bad they had such a hard time getting a taxi.)

Showing (and selling?):
Above, at Aqua: Daniel Diaz-Tai; at Cancio Contemporary, Miami
Below, at ABMB, Galleri Bo Bierggard, Copenhagen

The fairs were widely scattered. Too widely scattered. NADA, at the renovated Deauville Resort, was 50 traffic-clogged blocks north of the Convention Center, which held the big fair. The Viceroy Fair was some 20 blocks south of the Convenion Center. The distance from NADA to Viceroy? Some six or seven miles. (And me, without a subway.)

The Wynwood section of Miami proper, across the causeway from the barrier island that is Miami Beach, was home to everything else, so there was much back-and-forthing by some 40,000 fair goers. Sure, there were shuttles, but their schedules were erratic and the small vehicles were often packed. I spent $228.50 on taxis. Don't be surprised if I start soliciting donations via Pay Pal.

A lot of ground (and water) to cover: From NADA on Collins at 67th Street--by the "1" in the upper right; to Viceroy at the very tip of South Beach--about where the "12" is; and across the three causeways--Julia Tuttle, Venetian, and MacArthur--to Wynwood, where venues were located in the 20s and 30s on and around N. Miami Avenue. Image from the Internet


The nominal iconoclast: Taking a stand--but hitting the fairs anyway

Late tomorrow: Art Basel Miami Beach

Meanwhile, take a look at the four Miami editions of The Art Newspaper, which are viewable and printable via PDF

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