Fair Well: Miami 101 (Part 1)

Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Miami, Aqua Art

Previous Miami posts

At Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York City: A pristine-condition Morris Louis, Gamma Omicron, 1960; and limited-edition Brancusi

In response to a few requests to talk about the various art fairs, I offer you Miami 101. This post gives me a chance to show you some installation shots as I talk about what makes each fair what it is.

Each fair has its own identity, partly because of the geographic location and physical space, and partly because many of the same dealers return year after year, so their aesthetic becomes an integral part of the particular fair. Let’s start with the two big ones: Art Basel Miami Beach and Art Miami, which is across Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami.

Art Basel Miami Beach
ABMB at the Convention Center in Miami Beach is the big one, the largest and bluest-chip venue. There are some 265 galleries exhibiting, so you need a full day for this fair if you're going to see it all. I’m talking a full eight hours. It features a combination of secondary market art (some of it fabulous) and many big-name contemporary artists, along with offering exposure to a number of emerging galleries and their emerging artists. Everything’s expensive. If you visit galleries in New York or London there are no real surprises but plenty of interesting work—a world’s worth of art in the space of 172,000 square feet, about two-and-a-half football fields.

 The Convention Center. Image from the Internet

A crowd arriving from one of three big entrances. There's a lot of space in these lobbies, and the booths here are primo spaces with big names and high price tags. In the distance: a Peter Halley painting at Waddington Custot Gallery, London

At Hauser & Wirth, New York City and London: Phillida Barlow sculptures; Mark Bradford paintings. Not all the booths are this big. Hauser & Wirth eliminated the third wall to open directly into the lobby of Entrance B--very dramatic

Looking across the lobby: Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner Gallery, New York City

The tone at ABMB is strictly business. Tourists may post in front of this sculpture or that, but the dealers are focused on those who come to buy. If shoes alone were an indicator of the fair, it's high heels for the women, dealers and assistants alike, and narrow Italian styles for the men. I'm not sure there's a meter for this, but it seems that the higher the price point, the more towering the heels.
Here’s a random sampling of the art: a large, pristine Morris Louis and a small limited-edition Brancusi from Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York City; sculptures of wax antlers by Berlinde de Bruyekere at Galeria Continua, San Gimignano, Italy; an all-white installation from Tornabuoni Gallery, Paris and Roma; and a pink, fence-like sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, which I think was the same one shown at the Guggenheim a few years ago in her retrospective; plus some splendid geometric abstraction from Latin America, some by artists you’ve heard of, like Lygia Clark, but mostly by artists whose names and work are unfamiliar to you (unless you’re a Latin American art historian) who have been doing rigorous and beautiful work for decades.  A few  artists, like Yayoi Kusama and Louise Bourgeois, were shown by multiple galleries from various countries.

At Robert Miller Gallery, New York City: More Kusama

The white-on-white booth at Galleria Tornabuoni, with Enrico Castellani foreground

At Galerie Nachst St. Stephen, Vienna: Polly Apfelbaum floor sculpture and work on paper

At Gallerie Continua, San Gimignano and Beijing: Berlinde Bruyckere antler sculptures (made of cast wax)
Detail below

At Dan Galeria, Sao Paulo: The curated exhibition,  Concrete Parallels, with work by the Lygia Clarke, Geraldo de Barros and others

At Mitchell-Innes and Nash, New York City: Sarah Braman, foreground, and Chris Martin, with floor by Virginia Overton. ("How long do you think it will be before someone trips over the edge of the wood and goes flying onto the sculpture?" asked a fairgoer who stubbed his toe on the raised edge of the floor sculpture)

At Cheim & Read, New York City: Louise Bourgeois sculpture, foreground, and Pat Steir painting

ABMB offers smaller galleries the opportunity to present solo shows or tightly curated installations in two separate sections: Positions (solos) and Nova (the curatorial efforts), which are placed in opposite corners of the fair. The galleries and their artists are often emerging, and prices are typically low in relation to what’s at the main fair. The booths are cubicles. The atmosphere is festive and looser here—like the kids’ table at holiday dinner. There’s a  big undulating rectangle of Astroturf in the center of Nova, which affords tired fairgoers a place to nap or just check their map to reorient themselves.

Re the map: On paper the layout of ABMB looks logical. In reality by mid afternoon I end up feeling like Dante lost in the woods. See for yourself:

Blue is Positions; green is Nova; Pink is the section for publications. The rest of the map is for regular fair exhibitors. Those yellow squres? They indicate galleries featuring a "Kabinett," a small dection devoted to the work of one artist

This Kabinett, devoted to the work of Leon Polk Smith, was shown at the booth of Valerie Carberry, Chicago. A sign on the outside of the booth tells you if there's a Kabinett and who's being featured

A peek into the small section known as Nova, where new work by emerging artists in emerging galleries is shown in small cubicles

 Below: Work by an unidentified artist at Non Gallery, Istanbul 
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Art Miami
Across the bay in Wynwood, the design section of downtown Miami, the Art Miami pavilion presides over a rafts of satellite fairs. Art Miami, the original Miami art fair, takes place under a large tent on a poured-concrete floor, so it feels both temporary and permanent. The white tent lets in a lot of light, much more than at the Convention Center, and the layout is easier to navigate (it’s also a bit smaller, which I personally appreciate). The glitz factor here can be a bit too bright. I understand one or two galleries—“Oh, look, shiny!”—but too many just hurts the eyes.

Fortunately, there’s some fabulous secondary-market painting, and strong contemporary work. I particularly like a grouping of galleries—including David Richard from Santa Fe and Renate Bender from Berlin—which have embraced abstraction and materiality in a big way. And every year I look forward to what the Bridgette Mayer Gallery from Philadelphia has to show. This year’s dramatic installation featured  a lacy “curtain” of powder-coated steel by Rebecca Rutstein, which created a stage-like drama for Mayer’s double-wide booth. 

The Art Miami tent. Image from the Art Miami website 

The secondary market is alive and well here, too. Foreground: Gene Davis at Yares Art Projects, Santa Fe

At Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia: Dramatic installation with Rebecca Rutstein "lace" of powder-coated steel

At Gallery Nine, New York City: Ignazio Muñoz Vicuña. I saw a lot of draping, which I'll show you in a dedicate post next week

At Nohra Haime Gallery, New York City: Olga De Amaral gilded tapestry. This was some of the most beautiful shine at Art Miami

At Galerie Renate Bender, Berlin: luscious materiality. Foreground Harald Pompl; background, Robert Sagerman
Below: Detail of Pompl stacked resin sculpture

At Galleria Fumagalli, Milano: Richard Nonas sculptures

At David Richard Contemporary, Santa Fe: Ted Larsen sculpture

Art Miami has smartly expanded with two additional freestanding fairs: Context, a smaller, edgier grouping of galleries next to the enormous Art Miami tent, and Aqua Art Miami on the beach side, a few blocks down from ABMB. I have no pictures,from Context so I'm sharing the one below from Accola Grieffen.

 At Accola Grieffen Gallery, New York City:  Judy Pfaff, left; Mary Grigoriadis, center

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Aqua Art
Founded eight years ago by Seattle-based artists Jaq Chartier and Dirk Park, Aqua has been purchased by Art Miami, giving that fair it a hipper, edgier presence and firm footing on the beach side. If killer heels were de rigueur at ABMB, here the footwear included flip flops, moccasins, sneakersanything comfortable. Dealers and fairgoers, but mostly the fairgoers, took advantage of a small courtyard pool in which they plunged their feet at the end of the day. There was a food cart and plenty of beer.The only complaint, which I heard more than once, is that by the end of the day people were coming to party--DJs and singers performed in the evening, as the fair was open until 9:00 most evenings--rather than to buy art. (But I saw a lot of red dots.)The small scale, open courtyard  and laid-back vibe make it one of my favorite fairs.

Day and night at Aqua

At K. Imperial, San Francisco: Joanne Freeman; in dressing room: reflection of two small Steven Baris paintings

At Pele Prints, St. Louis: Sarah Hinckley monoprints

At Robert Henry Contemporary, Brooklyn: A closet full of small works by gallery artists

At Prole Drift, Seattle:  Aqua founder Jaq Chartier minding the room
Below: Chartier's new paintings

At Project Gallery, Philadelphia and Miami: My own paintings from the new Chromatic Geometry series, visible from the entry

Also at Project Gallery: Frank Hyder and his illuminated prints, photographed to give you a look at how the light changes the work. There's a figure within each figure

Tim Youd in performance at Mat Gleason's Coagula Curatorial, Los Angeles. Working on an IBM Wheelwriter, he's copying Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty, page by novel page, onto one sheet of paper. Gallery material tells us that the opening paragraph of Leonard's novel was set on Collins Avenue in the vicinity of this very hotel. While the performance is conceptual, the result--which you see rolled into the platen of the typewriter above and in the framed work below, yields an inky and textured document--more like an object, really--that condenses plot and characters, thought and time,  author and artist. (I love it!)

Below: Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, 303 pages of novel typed on a Smith-Corona Coronamatic 2200 onto two pages, which are shown here framed

In the next post I’ll have overview pics from Miami Project, NADA, Untitled and Ink.

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Sue Marrazzo Fine Art said...

I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this post!
The post and art were so interesting...

annell4 said...

thanks for the post.

Tamar said...

Great post, Joanne. I loved Kabinett devoted to the work of the Leon Polk Smith.

Dawn Korman said...

Thanks Joanne, I enjoyed your post and look forward to hearing about "draping". Got the flu 2 days before Basel and had to cancel my trip which was capped off by the snow storms and freezing arctic temps. Boo hoo. Going to re read and drool some more.

Gwyneth Leech said...

Nice post. I was there and always got lost at Art Basel in the convention center! I had a pass and went for a few hours on each of four days. Aqua was a lovely respite - yes, the feet in the fountain!

Nancy Natale said...

Looks great but I'm glad to have your report instead of being there myself. I'd need to call out the St. Bernard(s). Thanks, Joanne!

Kesha Bruce said...

"... it seems that the higher the price point, the more towering the heels."

Nailed it!

Great Post Joanne!