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Miami Art Week

by Deborah Ripley
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Some of the strongest prints and multiples at Art Basel Miami Beach this year, Nov. 30-Dec. 4, 2011, were editions created 10 or 20 years ago -- but they only look better with time. This is a distinct advantage for publishers who can dig deep into their flat files and pull out treasures that have been hidden for decades.

At the INK Miami Art Fair in Miami Beach, Carl Solway Gallery was showing 1981 screenprints of Buckminster Fuller's drawings of patent inventions, priced at $6,000 each. An inventor, architect and philosopher whose Jules Verne-like inventions for low-cost housing and transportation captured the popular imagination in the 1950s and ‘60s, Fuller (1895-1983) has of late has been championed by British architect Norman Foster. He has now restored Fuller's 1933 three-wheeled automotive invention, the Dymaxion Car, which looks like a combination car, boat and airstream trailer.

This, along with Fuller's famous 1963 Geodesic Dome, called the Monohex (but nicknamed the "Fly's Eye") was unveiled last Wednesday in a park-like vacant lot in Miami's Design District, courtesy DD co-founder Craig Robbins, who bought the 24-foot fiberglass prototype from the Buckminster Fuller Institute. The unveiling kicked off a new exhibition entitled "Architecting the Future: Buckminster Fuller and Lord Norman Foster," displayed in freestanding containers right there in the lot.

Also at INK, the University of South Florida's GraphicStudio atelier also had some early gems by California sculptor Larry Bell, who is enjoying a career renaissance thanks to the Getty Museum's current Pacific Standard Time initiative in Los Angeles. Bell's 1974 suite of six untitled screenprints with thick pink flocking, each measuring 84 x 42 inches, presents distorted images of a female nude, as if viewed through the prism of one of Bell's glass sculptures. Using imagery he created with a special camera that takes 360-degree panascopic photographs (pre-Photoshop), the floating, elongated figures have a psychedelic '60s feel -- and a ‘60s price point. They go for a mere $2,500 each.

Monotypes by Wolf Kahn are often mistaken for drawings. Private dealer Chris Neptune, who was holding a Kahn mini-retrospective during ABMB, explains that powdered inks were applied to pre-moistened paper in the printing process, creating the velvety texture and rich tones associated with the artist's pastels. She had a wonderful group priced at $2,600 and up.

Speaking of ABMB, L&M Fine Arts had an enormous booth with a stand-out installation of Andy Warhol drawings dating from the ‘50s through the ‘80s. The exterior and interior walls of the booth were covered with Warhol's wallpaper, blue and gold screenprinted cows on the exterior and his series of 1970s self-portraits inside. A good selection of the offset-lithograph cats from the ‘50s, complete with hand coloring, were available at prices starting at $25,000.

At Art Miami, Leon Tovar was presenting a solo show of works by Jesús Raphael Soto (1923-2005), the celebrated kinetic sculptor from Venezuela whose prices at auction have recently skyrocketed due to the scarcity of available work. Happily, there are still marvelous early multiples available. Jai-ali (1969) is a tabletop sculpture multiple in wood, silkscreen and painted metal, published by Marlborough Gallery and priced at $24,000.

Meanwhile over at ABMB, Luhring Augustine was showing a 2002 Rachel Whiteread edition, "Nets," a suite of six etched sheet-metal gratings that read like delicate etchings. These hybrid print-sculptures were offered at $75,000.

New editions were also drawing attention, of course. At Art Miami, Pace Prints was debuting Yoshitomo Nara's Doggy Radio (2011), which is pretty much eponymous -- a plastic polymer tabletop sculpture of a dog that holds a working radio. The dog's red nose is the radio dial, while the volume is controlled by stroking under the dog’s chin. The piece debuted at $2,500 and Dick Solomon has reported that 45 have already sold. The edition size is 3,000 worldwide, and Pace -- the exclusive agent for Nara in North America -- has been allotted 500.

Meanwhile, at the ABMB, Matthew Marks Gallery had Robert Gober’s new Potato Print, a wonderful work that reproduces the lyrics for Climb Ev’ry Mountain. The print is made in an edition of 16, and the gallery declined to give a price for publication.

DEBORAH RIPLEY is senior print specialist at Artnet.