Amidst the swirl of the art fairs, museum shows, private exhibition spaces, parties and flagrant consumption, the rage of discontent finally hit print. Adam Lindemann shouted a boycott of the fairs in his New York Observer article on November 29. Charles Saatchi decried the hideousness of the art world on Friday, Dec 2. In the Art Newspaper, Swiss-based collector, Bijan Kherzi, claimed the art world “has been hijacked by the very same forces that poisoned the world of finance”. While newbies are awed by the splash of the fairs, the seasoned and sophisticated are swearing it’s the last time for them. And yet, the beat goes on.
The art world as manifest in Miami is a microcosm of the global art world. The game is being played at many different levels of access, knowledge and complexity. At Art Basel, the most prestigious contemporary galleries in the world vie for the wealthiest and most savvy collectors around the globe. The works on offer are spectacular at breathtaking prices. At the satellite fairs, galleries seek recognition for themselves and their artists, with the hope of enough sales to at least cover their expenses. Amidst the gaiety and sunshine is an underlying tension for everyone to go, look, see and spend. It’s a big shopping trip.
Everyone agrees that Art Basel is a visual feast at the highest level. After that, everyone disagrees as to which other fairs have merit. To some extent it depends on when one arrives, one’s energy level, the layout of the fair, the level of crowding, and how accessible is the food, water and restroom.
After Art Basel, Art Miami has the widest range of established galleries. Although there is a great deal of decorative and unchallenging work, serious work can be found. JGM Galerie from Paris presented works by Tracey Emin, Erwin Wurm and Tony Oursler. Barry Friedman from New York showed extraordinary furniture by artists such as Ingrid Donat, worthy of the Design Miami Fair. Charlotte Jackson of Santa Fe had several polychromed sculptures by Jeremy Thomas.
Nada is my favorite fair for younger work from edgier galleries. Eleven Rivington from the lower east side in New York is a perennial favorite. Foxy Productions, also from NYC, was a discovery two years ago in Basel Switzerland. Once again I found their artist, Gabriel Hartley, to be a standout. This is a fair where you want to arrive first thing for the preview before the crowds become overwhelming or go much later when the crowd has thinned. Of course, by then, you will miss the hot bargains like the terrific gold flags by Andrew Schoultz at Locust Projects.
Scope and Pulse are dominated by less sophisticated work. I find much of it gimmicky or trendy. But exceptions can always be found. At Pulse, Todd Hosfelt of San Francisco and New York, offered a seminal work on paper by Shahzia Sikander. Daniel Weinberg of Los Angeles, hosted a booth of small gems by Lee Bontecou, Darby Bannard, and James Siena.
Among the private collection spaces open to the public, the most rewarding was the De La Cruz collection located in the Design District. Despite being three floors of institutional-type space, the collection maintains the sense of welcome and personal distinction that was the hallmark of the collection when it was viewable in the De La Cruz residence. From Rudolf Stingel to Gabriel Orozco to Sterling Ruby, there was pleasure in examining many of the individual works.
The Design District in Miami has some of the best furniture and design showrooms in the country. The Holly Hunt showroom is always a knockout. Special projects spaces also abound. This year Brazilian favorite, Beatriz Milhazes, was commissioned by the Fondation Cartier to do a special project titled “Aquarium”. It is a dazzling mobile composed of pearls and precious discs reminiscent of her paintings and collages and perfectly attuned to the tenor of Miami and the Fair.
In addition to the surfeit of art, culinary sustenance is abundant around town. My favorite dinner this year was at Ola at the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach. It features spectacular Latin American cuisine. For lunch or anytime, in the center of Miami’s emerging gallery district, is the festive Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. Replete with murals from Shepard Fairey and cohorts such as Kenny Scharf and Ryan McGinness, this is a great spot for small plates, an exotic beer or a sinful Dulce de Leche.
There is so much going on in Miami during the Fair period, it is literally impossible to see everything. Most of us burn the candle at both ends and then crawl onto the return flight home. Until next year…
DOROTHY GOLDEEN ART ADVISORY
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