Inside Art Basel
By Adrian Loving
Miami, Fla. – recently, scores of Washington, D.C., curators, collectors, dealers, artists and art enthusiasts descended on the Sunshine State for the 10th Annual Art Basel Miami Beach Fair. This international event draws a broad audience of hundreds of thousands and presents a significant sample of creatively brilliant painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation art, with works presented by affluent-to-upstart galleries and museums. Independent artists and street muralists are invited to make the city their canvas in the Wynwood area.
Basel’s larger tented satellite fairs include: Pulse, Scope, Art Miami, Red Dot and Design Miami. Works may also be found in alternative spaces across the beaches, hotels, pop-up galleries, bars and building facades throughout the Miami-metro area. It is physically impossible to see everything in the four days, including live performances, gallery talks, art openings and the onslaught of after-parties that rage until five-o’clock in the morning.
A few of the works I found to be most notable are listed here.
Design Miami (DesignMiami.com), a satellite fair of the Art Basel umbrella featured a broad collection of design-focused functional works such as tables, cabinets, lighting, jewelry and chairs. A favorite of mine was the work of London-based artist Tom Price. His collection of meticulously fabricated chairs appears to smash the conventional boundaries of furniture design. Each were made of deconstructed materials, melted plastic, ropes, rubber, fabric and other found objects. Works by Price included Pink SE Meltdown Chair, Cable Tie Chair and Blue Rope Chair, which were among a collection of 10 on display at Washington, D.C.-based Industry Gallery’s booth at Design Miami. Visit the gallery locally at 1358 Florida Ave., N.E., Suite 200. IndustryGalleryDC.com.
A favorite among collectors looking to acquire edgy, conceptual art is Scope Art Fair (Scope-Art.com), which continues its popularity as a “must-do” during the already overwhelming week of sightseeing.
Major artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol often have a presence here. On display at the Kiwi Arts Group Booth was the exhibit entitled “Before They Were Famous: Behind the Lens of William John Kennedy,” a collection of lost rare silver gelatin prints made in 1964, but recently printed from discovered negatives in 2010.
Artist Robert Indiana is shown holding his original 1966 LOVE painting, and pop art icon Warhol is shown hard at work at his Silver Factory. Most alluring to me was the photograph “Warhol Holding Marilyn Acetate I” (The Factory, New York City, 40 x 30 inches), which gives the viewer a unique glimpse of the master hard at work. For more Warhol, visit the retrospective exhibition, “Warhol: Headlines,” on display until Jan. 2, 2012, in the National Gallery of Art’s east building. NGA.gov/Exhibitions/WarholInfo.shtm.
The Miami Beach Cinematheque (MbCinema.com) entered the art foray as an unlikely player by presenting an impromptu feature-length performance film entitled “Gray: Live At The New Museum.”
Approximately 80 minutes in length, this film documents and shows the historic performance of the legendary art-noise band Gray, started by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Michael Holman in 1979. This current partnership of Holman and band mate Nicholas Taylor finds the duo creating avante garde sounds, blips and jazz riffs amidst projected art and video of their New York 1980s art scene contemporaries, such as Glenn O’Brien, Suzanne Mallouk and Basquiat. In attendance of this private screening were Don and Mera Rubell of the Rubell Family Collection Museum and several downtown New York scenesters. More of the inspiring visual work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, courtesy of the Rubells, can be found in the exhibition “30 Americans” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art until Feb. 12, 2012. Corcoran.org/30americans.