FAIR WEATHER: Art Basel and the Containers

Miami Art Fairs, Art Basel Miami, Aqua, Art Miami, Bridge, Pulse, Red Dot, Scope, Rubell Collection
Already posted:

The cavernous Convention Center, site of Art Basel Miami Beach

"Art Basel and the Containers” may sound like a South Florida doo-wop group, but it’s Art Basel Miami Beach, the big enchilada at the three-block-long Convention Center, and its satellite, Art Positions, aka The Containers, a group of metal shipping boxes set up in nearby Collins Park a stone’s throw from the beach.

Within the Art Basel fair, where the galleries with big buckaroos have set up their booths, there’s Art Nova and Supernova. Art Nova, organized around the perimeter of the large hall, is a platform for emerging and smaller galleries with adventurous programs. Supernova, set apart in a smaller space, is for smaller galleries to show emerging artists. Yet another category, Art Kabinett, is a smaller space within some of the main fair booths in which the work of one artist is featured. It took me two years to understand these various categories, and even now, when I’m wandering the labyrinthine space, it’s hard to keep track of what’s what. I'm disregarding them in this report, focusing instead on what I saw, not where I saw it.

Even our esteemed leader-elect couldn't pull in the crowds. People were browsing, but not in the numbers of previous years
If you spend enough time there you get to see just about everything. I usually do it in two visits, the first at the Vernissage on Wednesday night to get an overview, the second later in the week to allow myself to wander and get lost. Eventually I do a thorough row-by-row, but I like being able to go where the art takes me. It helps that I had a press pass and could photograph what I saw and liked. (If you didn’t, you had to check your camera at the door—though surreptitious cell-phone photography was taking place all around me.)

Art Basel Overview

. Bigger than last year
with 250+ galleries from 33 countries (205 participated last year)
. Fewer visitors. I didn't stand at the door with a clicker, but the Vernissage crowd was smaller, and the aisles were much less congested later in the week.
. Not groundbreaking--many dealers brought blue-chip modern and contemporary work—but great for anyone who is interested in painting and sculpture from mid-century to the present. You know these names: Josef Albers, Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlin, Antony Gormley, Mary Heilmann, Donald Judd, Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mangold, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol. And some guy named Pablo Picasso. There was of course more adventurous work in Art Nova and Supernova, but even there, it seems the dealers weren’t taking chances. And with this economy, who could blame them?

John Chamberlain and Josef Albers at Galeria Eva Gonzalez, Madrid
Helen Frankenthaler at Ameringer & Yohe, New York

Louise Bourgeois at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich and London

Antony Gormley at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

Mary Heilmann at 303 Gallery, New York (For those of you following the gallery's no-photography brouhaha via the blogs, no one here made a peep--true also at Pace Wildenstein.)

Lynda Benglis poured latex piece at Cheim and Read, New York

Yayoi Kusama at, I think, Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York

An early Frank Stella (1967) at Knoedler and Company, New York. This gallery was one of the few that posted prices. Sinjerli III, below, was listed at $1,200,000.
(Of course the casual fairgoer never knows what sells here because no one puts up red dots.)


. Missing this year: Chocolate santas with butt plugs, Chinese convenience stores, and unsettlingly odd body parts (well, except for what looked to be genetically-altered animal bodies at Yvon Lambert, below right). But there were plenty of references to the body

Beauty and the Beast: Ana Mendieta ink-on-paper drawing at Galerie LeLong, New York; and Berlinde De Bruyckere at Yvon Lambert, New York, wax and epoxy on metal

Not bodies, but suggestive of the physical presence: Lynda Benglis at Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles; Arturo Herrera cut felt sculpture at Sikkema Jenkins, New York

. In abundance: Geometric abstraction (my personal favorite), including work by Bridget Riley, Sarah Morris, John McLaughlin, Odili Donald Odita. Then there was Heimo Zobering (I’d never heard of him either), but his paintings were shown by four galleries, and everyone had something good. I’m planning a big post devoted to geometric abstraction, so you’ll get just a taste here.

Bridget Riley at Pace Wildenstein, New York

Sarah Morris (in distance) and Jorge Pardo at right at the booth of Gisela Capitain, Cologne/Freidrich Petzel, New York

A grandfather of geometry: John McLaughlin at Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

The ubiquitous Heimo Zobering, here at Galeria Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid

. Nice surprises: Carolee Schneeman’s Interior Scroll and b/w images from the original performances in 1975; this is feminist art history, and I loved that it’s becoming part of art history. Vanessa Beecroft’s eerie sleeping beauty in wax at Jeffrey Deitch. A complete exhibition at the Robert Miller booth devoted to the work of Lee Krasner. The black and white geometry at Krobath Wimmer from Vienna, with a dimensional installation that made you feel as if you had walked into the painting. Loved it!



Carolee Schneeman in performance in 1975, above; the scroll, with detail at right

Vanessa Beecroft's recumbent figure in wax at Jeffrey Deitch, New York (the mane was unsettling, the same feeling I get when I see the leg hair on wax appendages by Robert Gober)

Above and below: Painting and works on paper from the Lee Krasner solo installation at Robert Miller Gallery, New York

Below: A cinematic and dimensional installation at Galerie Krobath Wimmer, Vienna. I needed two pictures to take it all in

. Creepy: Bugs. No matter how well designed, you don't serve New Yorkers dinner on a plate with images of cockroaches

Bugs on a plate by Regina Silveira at Brito Cimino, Sao Paolo

Giant black widow spider by Liza Craft at Patrick Painter, Santa Monica

. What’s with the tie-dye? (No, it's not actually from Rit but there's no denying that summer-of-peace-and-love look.)

Philip Taaffe at Jablonka Galerie, Berlin (above) and Jack Goldstein at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York


. Am I missing something? This installation in a spacious outside corner booth included a wheelchair and a garden hose with a sprinkler attachment at the end


Not sure who did it. Installation from the Neu Gallery, Berlin

. Best serendipitous shot: Layers in art and life

Charles Le Dray sculpture at Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York, and similarly dressed fairgoer

Last year, a friend hit all the same venues I did and after reading my blog said, "I can't believe we were at the same fairs." There is so much to see, and everyone's individual tastes are so varied that it's possible to write 100 reports and have each of them be different. So go off and read about the fairs from other sources. I'll be back in a couple of days with The Containers.

(Meanwhile, I have an opening to attend tonight: my own. I'll be at Arden Gallery in Boston from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, and again tomorow from 2:00 to 4:00. See you there.)

Next post: The Containers


Stephanie Clayton said...

Good shots...Photos of some pieces I remember, some I'd forgotten, & plenty I didn't see. (My one day at Basel was most decidedly not enough!)
Your pic of the Charles Le Dray sculpture & fairgoer is, quite possibly, my favorite.
I look forward to your Containers post.

Jeffrey Collins said...

Man those pics of the John McLaughlin paintings look amazing. I've always wanted to see his work in person. Thanks for the images.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read the geometry reports. I love that there was Bridget Riley, still going string, and then so many newer voices to see.