Art dealer Jay Jopling at the White Cube booth
Art Observed was on-site December 1st for the VIP Preview of Art Basel Miami Beach 2010, which opened to the public this morning at 10 a.m. Like most international fairs of its scale and scope, the work presented broadly underscores the trends witnessed across commercial markets and throughout museum and gallery exhibitions over the past several months. It also affords individual institutions an important opportunity to distinguish themselves from their peers, and provide fresh and immediate insight into the nuances and complexities of contemporary taste.
More story and photo-set after the jump…
Gert and Uwe Tobias at the Contemporary Fine Arts booth
Just before the fair commenced we obtained a quote from dealer Thaddaeus Ropac who told AO: “”We think that due to the large number of requests we have received from our collectors as well as the incredible auction results in the last New York auctions, Art Basel Miami this year will be a very strong fair, like it was two years ago.” This was soon substantiated by the overall positive energy in the fair at the preview. The pace was not frenetic but there was a foundation of solid buying seen from booth to booth.
Notable highlights among the over 2,000 objects featured include new, albeit very different, works by John Baldessari presented by Marian Goodman and Gemini G.E.L. galleries. At the former, a selection of gray-scale shadow and text paintings from the same series (though not included with) those featured in the concurrent exhibition Sediment 2; at the latter, two multicolored, large-scale, mixed media collage editions in which the artist shifts his previous emphasis on ears and noses to feet and toes, which one of the gallerists suggested to AO may be a sign of the artist’s gradually working his way downward through the human body. This year’s major traveling retrospective of Baldesari’s work, Pure Beauty, currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, emphasizes the material breadth of his long career. However, the intimate display of new works at the fair by both New York and Los Angeles-based galleries suggests continued interest in his various facets of his work among regionally diverse clientele.
Damien Hirst, who also enjoyed a number of major solo exhibitions this fall in London and New York, is shown in diverse iterations by White Cube and Gagosian Galleries. Isolation (2010), a wall-sized jewel case of gold plated glass and cubic zirconia installed at the center of the White Cube space, provides a remarkable visual contrast to the 2009-2010 Poisons and Remedies canvases just around the convention-hall corner.
Ai Wei Wei’s Sunflower Seeds at Faurshou
Ai Wei Wei‘s hand-crafted porcelain sunflower seeds, currently installed en masse at Tate Modern‘s massive Turbine Hall, appear in a tidy half-ton pyramid at Faurshou Gallery, whose Copenhagen gallery will also display them through March 27, 2011. Down the corridor, Carolina Nitsch is exhibiting the 2009 mason jar installation-design for which the seeds were first imagined. In conversation with Art Observed, both galleries emphasized the seeds’ rich symbolic qualities relating to the Ai’s upbringing under the Maoist regime, and the serious political inequalities still faced by his home country. They also agreed upon and emphasized the works’ extraordinary aesthetic flexibility, and the potentially limitless possibilities for presentation design. A representative from Faurshou informed AO that the seeds are currently available to collectors in 100-kilo increments, and that their manner of presentation remains entirely at the discretion of the owner. By contrast, the Nitsch gallery emphasized the importance of the mason jar installation-type’s moment in the seed’s conceptual provenance, as it was created by the artist as part of a major capital campaign for New York’s New Museum.
Carolina Nitsch is also showing the series of prints in which Tracy Emin and Louise Bourgeois collaborated shortly before the latter’s death earlier this year, and featured in an exhibition at their New York gallery in November. AO learned from the gallery staff earlier that morning that many of the series’ of 16 prints, created as an edition of 18, had already been sold by mid-day at the fair, both individually as as complete sets.
UNTITLED Gallery, Phil Wagner Solo Exhibition, part of Art Basel’s Art Position’s section. The artist was one of four featured at the gallery’s inaugural exhibition earlier this year.
Robert Williams’ The Brain Trap at Tony Shafrazi Gallery; gallery proprietor and Lance Armstrong
Installation view at Sprüth Magers
Acquavella filled their prime location with perennial auction-block favorites such as a gray-scale Picasso figure, a later 10-part Marilyn series, and colorful six-part automobile set by Andy Warhol. The Warhol’s, according to the gallery, were still available for purchase at the beginning of the evening’s Vernissage event at 6 p.m.
The Warhol shown above, part of a rare series from the life of gallerist Sidney Janis (a single image of which is in the permanent collection of the MoMA), was on view at Galerie Thomas. It was still indicated as unsold late yesterday evening. The Munich-based gallery is also exhibiting some of the fair’s most important earlier works, including those by Picasso, Miró, Richter, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Kandinsky, Giacometti, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, and Georg Baselitz. Giacometti, represented also at the booths of other big-name galleries like Acquavella, L&M, and Richard Gray, is another recurring feature of the current exhibition circuit, with major solo shows currently on view at Gagosian Geneva and Eykyn Maclean.
Robert Miller Gallery informed AO that their painting by Patti Smith, whose work had comprised the majority of their installation at the fair last year, had drawn a great deal of interest. They noted however that the real stand-out so far that day had been Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets Twahzn (2006), shown below.
Henry Moore at Landau Fine Art
Read back for more coverage of the fair and related festivities at Art Basel Miami Beach 2010.
Images by C. Claisse for Art Observed.
Art Basel Miami 2010 [NYTimes]
At Art Basel Miami Beach, Less Heat [NYTimes]
Art Basel Miami Beach, The Art of Parties, Day Two [NYTimes]
V.F.’s Guide to Art Basel: David Maupin [Vanity Fair]
V.F.’s Guide to Art Basel: Ingrid Sischy [Vanity Fair]
How Super-Rich Patrons Approach Art Basel [Vanity Fair]
Picassos, Twomblys Mark Sellers’ Return as VIPs Hit Miami Basel [Bloomberg]
Big Art and Big Sales at Art Basel Miami Beach Preview [Art Info]
“Confident” Atmosphere Boosts Sales at Art Basel VIP Preview [Art Info]
A Gilded Age of Anxiety at Art Basel Miami Beach [Art Info]
The Saudi Art Scene’s Hidden Corners at Art Basel Miami Beach [Art Info]
Strong sales, happy collectors at Basel’s VIP opening [Miami Herald]
The Colors of Money [NYObserver]
Where the Buys Are: A party Planner Talks About the Business of Art Basel Miami [NYObserver]
Rubell de Jour [Art Forum]
Collectors from Around the World Gather at Art Basel Miami Beach as It Opens Its Doors [Art Daily]
Banking on the tried and tested [The Art Newspaper]
Material matters in Miami [The Art Newspaper]
Familiar faces [The Art Newspaper]