Won Ju Lim
at Patrick Painter
at Paul Kasmin
at Robert Miller
at Richard Gray
Jennifer Bartlett and George Segal
at Tomio Koyama
Mr. at work
at Art Basel Miami Beach
Delia Brown, Steven Prina and Allen Ruppersberg
at Margo Leavin Gallery
at Paul Andriesse
at "Art Positions"
Inside the f a projects container, with works by David Burrows, Izima Kaoru, others.
Photos by Joe Ovelman
Photographer Wilhelm Moser
at the Bass Museum
The Margulies Warehouse
at the Margulies Warehouse
The Rubell Family Collection
at Silvana Facchini
at Locust Projects
at Berenice Steinbaum
at Daniel Azoulay
at the Jalan Jalan showroom
Rotrant at Trans
Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno
A Smile without a Cat
Dec. 4, 2002
on Miami Beach
Joshua Levine in Stare Suit, Dec. 5, 2002
by Walter Robinson
With the temperatures in sunny Florida soaring into the humid 80s (while New York City is hit with an impressive winter snowstorm), the first Art Basel Miami Beach, Dec. 5-8, 2002, is really too hot.
Some 135 top galleries, largely from Europe and the U.S., have installed themselves in two contiguous halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center, while another 20 younger dealers have set up in a temporary village of shipping containers at the edge of the beach. All together, the fair is said to include 5,000 works by 1,000 artists. Florida or no, there's hardly a lemon among them.
The Miami Herald has already anointed Pablo Picasso's 1917 neoclassical portrait of Olga, on view at the booth of New York dealer Jean Krugier, as the fair's most expensive work -- it's $45 million, for which you get an accompanying pair of two related drawings.
Art dealers come to the fair expecting to do serious business. And in a smart move that helps explain Art Basel's reputation as the preeminent contemporary art fair, the fair invites some 2,000 avid collectors, who are welcomed to an exclusive series of VIP events, including exclusive tours of local collections. That's why finding dealers willing to pay for booth space at the fair is like selling Krispy Kremes -- the line stretches around the block.
Booths begin at $25,000, and the cost of installing lights and such can easily add several thousand dollars more. Younger dealers in the "Statements" section are subsidized; their booths cost $7,000, while the galleries in the shipping containers are charged only $5,000. "Its one of the most expensive art fairs, without a doubt," said New York dealer Florence Lynch, who is exhibiting new paintings by Odili Donald Odita in the "Statements" section. "But it's worth every dime!"
On opening day, the mood among art dealers was buoyant. "The organization of the fair is magical," said veteran British dealer Leslie Waddington, whose booth featured a huge Barry Flanagan bronze of a leaping hare that seemed to encapsulate the prevailing sentiment. "It's not like an American fair at all," Waddington joked.
"I'm getting a surfboard," proclaimed the Santa Monica dealer Patrick Painter, who is sharing his space with the eagle-eyed Berlin dealer Max Hetzler. In the spirit of summer, Painter has installed a 1997 suite of nine color photos of aqua swimming pools by Ed Ruscha on a prominent wall. The price for the set, which was originally made in 1968 and was recently reissued in an edition of 30, is $75,000. "One-tenth the price of a Gursky!" Painter said.
In the center of the Painter-Hetzler space is a sculpture of deep red Plexi boxes, mysteriously lit from within with white fluorescent light, by the 34-year-old Korean American artist Won Ju Lim, an Art Center grad who worked for a while as Mike Kelley's assistant. "She's already had seven museum shows," Painter noted. The work is $8,500.
As is usual with art fairs, the reigning esthetic is that of the bazaar, with a huge variety of material displayed side-by-side with no contextual rationale other than catching the eye. New York dealer Paul Kasmin, who is anticipating a forthcoming show of new works by Robert Indiana, had three eye-catching works by the 72-year-old Pop artist in his booth, including a small Love sculpture and the new number painting, Terror in November. The new work looks good; its price is $140,000.
When dealing with contemporary artists, it's not hard to come up with fairly extravagant showpieces. At Robert Miller Gallery, Yayoi Kusama has provided a quartet of huge biomorphic balloons, in white with large red dots, that float above the booth. A new retrospective of "cosmic nets" by the esteemed Japanese artist inaugurated the new wing of the Bass Museum, located only a few blocks away from the convention center.
Chicago's Richard Gray Gallery, which was given pride of place directly in front of one of the hall's entrances, has taken good advantage of its prominent position by displaying a mural-sized David Hockney painting of A Closer Grand Canyon (1998) done on 60 separate canvases (price: $3.5 million). "It's all about theater," said the irrepressible Tony Fitzpatrick, who was visiting the fair. The Chicago artist, who has a show of new working coming up in the spring at Bill Maynes Gallery in New York, was off to his hotel to watch television -- Fitzpatrick works as an actor, and was appearing in an episode of ER. "I play a racist storekeeper," he said.
Also with a fine-honed sense of the theatrical is the booth of Philadelphia dealer Sueyun Locks, who has installed George Segal's 1989 sculpture of Woman in a White Wicker Rocker in a space whose three walls are covered with Jennifer Bartlett's 1984 painting on enamel of the Atlantic Ocean. The works are priced at $300,000 and $350,000, respectively.
Cologne dealer Christian Nagel brought four works on paper by the hot young Cologne artist Kai Altoff, who is included in the current "Drawing Now" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. All four were marked "sold" at the vernissage. Small gouaches by Altoff now go for about $8,000. "I could sell 50 of them," Nagel said, "but the artist produces works very slowly -- which is good."
Also on hand at Nagel are several works by Cosima von Bonin, including a forest of five-foot-tall cloth toadstools, a pair of "smiley faces" (with different "hairlines") made of sewn-together cotton and wool in brown and gray and a sculpture of a model sailboat fitted with torpedo tubes. "Put it in the water and it sinks," said Nagel. The pair of paintings is $17,000, an indication of the demand for works by the artist.
Sales were also good at the booth of Tokyo dealer Tomio Koyama, who brought a solo show of watercolors and oils by the young Japanese artist who goes by the name of Mr. His anime-style, innocently pedophiliac images of pantsless youngsters were sold out at prices ranging from $2,500 for smaller canvases to $13,500 for a very large work on paper. By the second day of the fair, the artist was sequestered in the booth's back room, crouched on the floor working away with a watercolor set on some new wares.
California conceptualism rules at Margo Leavin Gallery from Los Angeles, with works by John Baldessari, Steven Prina and Allen Ruppersberg on hand. Leavin represents the young artist Delia Brown, who contributes Some of My Clothes (2002), a grid of 98 small color photos of the artist in different outfits. The work is an art-world inside joke, since one of Brown's teachers, Charles Ray, is well known for a similar piece -- though Ray's work included only 11 different outfits. "And Delia's only includes some of her clothes," noted Leavin. The piece is a bargain at $4,500.
At the booth of Bernard Jacobson, a colorful but Minimalist geometric wall construction by the 70-year-old London artist Marc Vaux shares a wall with a James Rosenquist painting from 1997 that includes an image of a striking match and real bedsprings attached to the canvas. The Rosenquist is $275,000. Also on hand is a new multiple by Sol LeWitt, a set of four crystal glasses etched with four different kinds of lines. "It's kind of a LeWitt retrospective on glass," said Jacobson. The works are being produced in the Czech Republic in an edition of 250 sets. The price: $500.
At the booth of Amsterdam dealer Paul Andriesse is a late work by the painter René Daniels, who had two shows at Metro Pictures in New York before suffering a disabling aneurism in 1987. The painting features several of the artist's trademark shapes that could be either bow ties or a schematic drawing of the walls of a room, along with an element that looks partly like a building and partly like a top hat. In retrospect, the work has a melancholy wit. Andriesse declined to name a price for publication. "I've had several offers offers," he said, "but because of its importance I'd prefer that it go to a museum."
On the Beach
Visitors seeking cutting-edge fair are advised to visit the "Art Positions" section, a group of 20 galleries who have set up in air-conditioned cargo containers just off the beach. Spotted lounging in a beach chair at the entrance of his space was Jochen Meyer of the Meyer Riegger Galerie in Karlsruhe. He was wearing sunglasses and bathing trunks. "Ordinarily I wear a suit at the art fair," he said. Nearby, New York dealer Michele Maccarone had shown up for work in a bikini. Now, that's real art on the beach.
Maccarone didn't really bring works; rather, she produced an educational film on the artists in her gallery, which was unspooling inside her space. On the walkway leading up to the container of f a projects, a gallery founded two years ago in London by Nicholas Baker and Zoe Foster, is a trail of red blobs made of flooring rubber by David Burrows. Along with this "biomorphic disaster," as Burrows calls it, are works by other young artists, including restrained architectural models by James Ireland, baroque silicone florets by Neal Rock and photographs of models playing dead by Izima Kaoru.
Despite the emphasis on new art that definitely offers value for money, the "Positions" section does include some rare treasures. At Chicago's Vedanta Gallery, for instance, is an elegiac string of 10-watt white lights by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. One of an edition of 24 (with six artist's proofs) from 1993, the piece is priced at $110,000.
The Scope Art Fair
Just half a block away from the containers on the beach is an especially lively presentation of young art which calls itself scopeMiami, Dec. 5-8, with 30 exhibitors in rooms on two floors of the TownHouse hotel (the basic cost to dealers was $5,000). Most galleries have mounted presentations of single artists. At Brooklyn's Plus Ultra Gallery, for instance, are Joe Fig's paintings, sculptures and photographs that meticulously record artists at work in their studios. A dollhouse-sized model of Will Cotton surrounded by replicas of his paintings is $10,000, while a small but photographically detailed painting of Gary Stephan's painting table is $1,500. This work takes reverent attention of art and artists to a new level.
L.A.'s Mark Moore Gallery has filled its room with the funny concrete-poetry pieces of L.A. art director Wayne White, who paints 3-D words into the landscapes of found lithos (small ones are $1,500). Moore gallery director Cliff Benjamin also has some works by Tom of Finland, whose estate the gallery represents; rough sketches can be had for $2,500-$4,000. Cynthia Broan of New York has filled her room with the strange tile-covered sculptures of Tim Thyzel, which seems an especially good choice, somehow, considering the venue.
Some of the spaces are given over to curated projects. Collector and curator Bill Previdi put together a showing of 23 photographs by Joe Ovelman, who took his father's Marine Corps uniform to the beach and managed to convince 23 men to pose in it. The result is a rather eerie twist on the classic photographic portrait that begins with August Sander.
More art at the Bass Museum
Speaking of the Bass Museum, several other shows were on view there in addition to the Kusama retrospective. New York artist Janet Eckelman has draped a 50-foot net target like a giant spider web over the Bass courtyard. "It's a 3-D drawing," the artist said. Austrian artist Wilhelm Moser had installed "Stone," a show of his black and white photographs of natural and manmade rock formations on Easter Island, Scotland and Costa Rica.
Outside in the adjacent park, New York artist Tony Feher has suspended in the air a network of two-liter plastic bottles of orange soda (with the labels removed), titled Miami Device in a pun on the 1980s television show. "Artificial color, artificial flavor," he said. "It's like Florida." Feher claims to have discovered a new Freudian complex that he calls the "Pinata Effect." It seems that the night-crawler element cannot resist batting at the bottles, necessitating their daily replacement.
The Warehouse District
Over the causeway in Miami proper is a sprawling, run-down warehouse district that in the last five years has become home to a number of galleries and furniture showrooms. Certainly the two top attractions in this regard are the huge, concrete-floored warehouse display spaces for the collections of Don and Mera Rubell and Marty Margulies. Both are adding so many new works to their holdings that they don't tally the exact total number of works they own.
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, as it is called, has some 12,000 works by about 150 artists, according to curator Katherine Hind. Margulies began by concentrating on contemporary photos, and has recently been adding large sculptural set pieces and videotape and film installations. The collection seems to be encyclopedic, though Hind notes that it is not. "We try to acquire seminal works that tie into the collection." Among the impressive recent additions are Gilles Barbier's L'Hospice (2002), a comic installation of six aged superheroes watching television, and Thomas Hirshhorn's La Maison Commune (2001), a kind of doll house made of cardboard with its rooms hung with revolutionary posters. Both works were on view at this summer's Basel art fair.
Sculptures on view include works by John Bock, Antony Gormley, Ernesto Neto, Marjetica Potrc and Jason Rhoades, while the collection features video and film installations by Vanessa Beecroft, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Peter Fischli and David Weiss and Spencer Tunick. And of course there are photographs by every important contemporary photo artist you can think of. The 37,000-square-foot facility, which opened in January 1999, added a 10,000-square-foot annex a year ago, and is about to begin work on still another addition.
The Rubell Family Collection, which opened in 1997, is housed in a two-story, 32,000-square-foot warehouse that formerly was a furniture showroom. Recent acquisitions, according to curator Mark Coetzee, include works by Hernan Bas, a young Miami painter who shows with the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, and a large five-part film projection by Catherine Sullivan, who has an exhibition coming up at Metro Pictures in New York this winter.
A quick tour of the neighborhood, which includes a more concentrated section of tony furniture stores called the Design District, would include about a dozen art galleries. About three years ago, the Brazilian collector Silvana Facchini decided to open her own gallery, which currently features a show of new Latin American art curated by Costa Rican dealer Jacob Karpio. Among the works is a grid of paintings by the San Jose artist Habacuc that mock celebrated New York artists, portraying "Damian Hurt," for instance, or a Dracula who looks suspiciously like Maurizio Cattelan. The pictures are only $2,500 each. "He's sold only two paintings in his life," said Facchini. "One to the King of Spain and the other to the owner of Marlborough Galleries!"
The nonprofit Locust Projects is featuring a group of film and photographic portraits by Phil Collins, a British artist who lives in Belfast. For one series, he advertised in the paper for sitters who weren't happy with their appearance, promising to make them look beautiful. Another series features straightforward portraits of people who say they think their votes were miscounted in the 2002 presidential election.
After more than a decade on West Broadway in New York, dealer Berenice Steinbaum moved her gallery to a two-story brick building in Miami in 2000 -- and seems to be very happy with her decision. Currently on view is a show of especially painterly works by Hung Liu, an Oakland-based artist who combines images from family pix with a range of Chinese motifs. Her large paintings are priced in the $27,000-$45,000 range.
Kevin Bruk Gallery has mounted a group exhibition of contemporary art called "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere." The particularly good-looking show of mostly abstract painting includes a bright Peter Halley "cell" painting called Green Prison (2001) for $22,000 and an attractive, decorative canvas by Jay Davis called Painful (2002) for $7,500.
Next door, the Daniel Azoulay Gallery has a show of Polaroids of dolls by David Levinthal. Barbies are in the front, while the sexy pictures are in the back. The especially good XXX -- Grid -- XXX, a set of 12 8 x 10 cibachromes in an edition of seven from 2000, is $5,000.
For the fair, Casa Riegner Gallery unveiled "Deluxe," a group show including three pieces by the New York sculptor Arnaldo Morales, celebrated for his interactive sculptures in the form of heavy, polished-metal tools that tend to be noisy and a little ominous when you push the "start" button.
Among the standouts in Kenny Schachter's installation in the Jalan Jalan furniture showroom in the Design District is Rory MacArthur's painted decorative curlicues on a mirror surface ($5,000). At Damien B. a huge garage-like space that is run by the artist Damien Boisseaux, are sculptures by Tomek, a Polish artist who seems to have a special affection for blue jeans.
Among the other attractions to be found here and there in the warehouse district is an aluminum sculpture of romping figures by Rotraut, the artist otherwise known as the wife of Yves Klein and the sister of Gunther Uecker, on view in a show organized by the magazine Trans, and several large, calligraphic paintings by the art dealer Robert Miller, on view as part of a show organized in a temporarily vacant space in conjunction with Miami's Dorsch Gallery.
Finally, the fair spawned a number of concurrent performance events. Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno celebrated the "vanishing" of Huyghe's anime "leading lady," Annlee, with a fireworks display on the beach in which her visage was formed by starbursts.
And in a special event put on by the Firehouse Arts Complex in an open space underneath the elevated I-395 highway, artist Joshua Levine donned a special orange jumpsuit fitted with portable video cameras and a bunch of helium-filled orange balloons to become a living sculpture, with images from the spy cameras projected on a nearby screen. The performance, called Stare Suit, was a fitting accent to a festive party that included multiple projections, live music, several art installations and free beer.
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.