It may have been my fourth visit to Miami but it was my first to Art Basel Miami. Such a treat to have so much art in the Sunshine State – with just the odd rain shower! Art Basel Miami is the leading international art fair of the Americas: 267 international galleries from 31 countries showed modern and contemporary art, as well as emerging artists in 2014. A new Survey sector was introduced, bringing 13 art-historical projects to the fair (see press release). 73,000 people attended Art Basel Miami over five days, including me!
Thursday: Art Basel Miami, Kehinde Wiley and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Instagram cocktails
Yes, I started my Miami Art Week late but I was in New York and Boca Raton for work earlier. I made my way from Boca Raton to Miami Beach on Thursday morning. Once settled in my hotel, I went to collect my pass and straight to Art Basel Miami. Why wait longer?! The VIP preview was a day earlier but it was still the vernissage and so relatively less crowded – which it did become, as I found out later.
My first booth, closest to the entrance, was Helly Nahmad, full of Picassos. I was completely ignored by the gallery saleswoman who preferred to chit chat with a plastic surgery-enhanced woman in her 50s. She was right, I can’t afford a Picasso! The next booth was Karsten Greve’s where I saw a Louise Bourgeois Spider, unusual in the reservoir of ink in its body. Other beautiful works by Louise Bourgeois were on sale, as well as striking taxidermy works from Claire Morgan. I remember well the Galerie Gmurzynska booth, which opted for modern art and a school class presentation, ironically entitled “A Kid Could Do It”. I noticed my favourite artwork from the Malevich show at Tate Modern was on display and an Yves Klein fire painting, similar to the one shown at Guggenheim’s Zero exhibition.
I saw many more artworks and galleries over the next hours, including works by established artists Duane Hanson, Christopher Wool (Van de Weghe), Botero, Fontana, Kader Attia (Galleria Continua), Brancusi (Paul Kasmin), Anish Kapoor (Paragon), Chris Ofili (David Zwirner), the picture-frenzy booth at Sadie Coles, Camille Henrot (Kamel Mennour), and Yayoi Kusama (Victoria Miro).
I adopted my usual speed for perusing the art fair, which is faster than for my museum trips but probably still slower than the average art fair goer. I went back three times during my stay. I spent time in about 54 galleries out of the 267 galleries.
Tate Young Patrons invited me to two cocktails parties that evening: Kehinde Wiley cocktail reception & art auction and Instagram cocktails celebrating Hans Ulrich Obrist project on Instagram. Artist Kehinde Wiley had created a custom portrait series for auction honouring Spike Lee, Swizz Beatz and Carmelo Anthony as ‘Modern Kings of Culture.’ Proceeds from the auction were donated to charities selected by the honourees. Tate YP Chair and Head of Patrons attended and other fellow Young Patrons. I went underdressed, in flats and no make-up (!), as I hadn’t had time to change and freshen up from Art Basel because of the bad traffic.
I mingled with people working at Sotheby’s, art advisers and bankers at the first cocktail and left before the auction, curious about the Instagram cocktail party, in celebration of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s handwriting project on Instagram. Art celebrities Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects) and Klaus Biesenbach (Director, MoMA PS1, and Chief Curator at Large, The Museum of Modern Art) were there. Let’s talk about his face, shall we: has he had plastic surgery? I mingled a bit and went to the buffet for several desserts, which were to be my dinner.
Friday: Art Basel Public, Bass Museum, Nada, MTV RE:DEFINE Cocktail Party, dinner with friends of friends
I opened my curtains and let the sunshine flood in and smiled at the sight of turquoise sea (for some reason Miami’s sea is more turquoise than Boca Raton’s). After a run on the beach, I went back to Art Basel, only to realise it didn’t open until noon.
So I walked to Collins Park to see the Public section, the equivalent of our London’s Frieze Sculpture Park. I started mumbling a short comment in the Truth installation, a photo booth-like installation where the public is invited to tell the truth starting with «The Truth is…». I delighted in the sculpture works by Lynda Benglis, Tatiana Trouvé, Jeppe Hein and Sarah Braman, the two latter of which were selfie-friendly.
In front of Bass Museum, I went and saw the Gold exhibition and Peter Maroni. The Gold exhibition features artworks by contemporary artists who physically or conceptually use gold in their practice. ‘One Way: Peter Marino’ looks at the interplay between Marino’s architectural designs, his personal contemporary art collection and his cast-bronze boxes (until 3 May 2015). Peter Maroni himself was present – I also saw him at Art Basel the day before – and it was amusing to see the real man close to his mannequin. The exhibition scenography was sublime and Peter Marino’s collection included over 40 Mapplethorpe photographs, some of which were erotic, beautifully presented in a dark room with his furniture. Three Kiefer were also shown.
Quick lunch and I was off to Nada where Tate curator gave a tour of six selected galleries, including London-based galleries SEVENTEEN, The Sunday Painter and Jonathan Viner. I liked works by Jack McConville, Gabriele de Santis and Gabriele Silli at Federica Schiavo Gallery in Rome, using acid on magazine paper, the most interesting gallery of Nada, in my view. Works from Royal Academy graduate Nick Goss were shown, unfortunately hidden from the rest as raised on a platform accessible by stairs. I visited his studio back in London and had a preview of his “Miami” works.
It was time to go back to Art Basel. It’s a fact: I liked every Robert Longo work. Robert Longo ‘Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014’ was timely. I was also glad to see prints of ’Inferno’ by Israel-born Yael Bartana at Petzel Gallery, from a video I saw last May at the Perez Museum on new religious movements, considering the rise of Evangelism and Neo-Pentecostalism in Brazil. A trend I noticed at Art Basel & elsewhere in Miami and was attracted to is “textured” paintings.
I popped along to the MTV cocktail evening presented by Dallas Contemporary but pool & rooftop parties ain’t fun when it rains. I had the pleasure, however, of exchanging a few words with artist Matthew LaPenta, who could be categorised as part of the so-called ‘Post-Internet’. I later joined my friend J. who had kindly invited me to dinner.
Saturday: NEXT tour of Art Basel, Miami Project, private collections, Design Miami
After a dip in the pool, I made my way to Art Basel again, this time for Next Tour, a new Art Basel platform for emerging collectors, organised for major museum young patrons. We started with breakfast in the collectors’ lounge – I had champagne before noon (why not) and discussed art collecting with patrons of Guggenheim and the Whitney. It was mostly New York-centric as you would expect and I saw only one fellow young Tate patron. The tour made light on six selected galleries, which conveniently I hadn’t stopped at before. The selection was strong and of particular interest were Ingleby Gallery based in Edinburgh and the consistently good South Africa-based Stevenson with works by Barthélemy Toguo on his experience with border control.
I joined my friends J. & co again at Miami Project in Wynwood, the second satellite fair I visited, first encountering an American artist telling me he liked art fairs to compare his work to other artists. He was keen to show me the “babies” – two scarily realistic sculptures à la Ron Mueck of two new-born babies by Marc Straus. Miami Project was dominated by photographs and I fell in love again with Lalla Essaydi (Jenkins Johnson Gallery), whom I discovered at the excellent exhibition ‘She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World’, at the MFA in Boston.
We walked to the Margulies and Rubbell collections, which I didn’t have time to see during my visit last May – my father and I were Wynwood gallery-hopping instead. The Rubbell Family Collection was founded in 1964 in NYC, shortly after Donald and Mera Rubbell married, and is hosted in a former Drug Enforcement Administration warehouse. Commissioned solo exhibitions occupy the first floor and the second floor holds a group exhibition ‘To Have and to Hold: 50 Years of Marriage and Collecting’ (through May 29, 2015), including works by Robert Longo, Marlene Dumas, Maurizio Cattelan, and Burundi-born Serge Alain Nitegeka. I thought what a rich collection! I then walked to the even more impressive Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, presenting seasonal exhibitions from the collection of Martin Z. Margulies of contemporary and vintage photography, video, sculpture and installation, including works by Do-Ho Suh, Dan Flavin, Olafur Eliasson, Leandro Erlich. WOW. A bonus was in the form of an exhibition of 25 rare vintage prints made by one of my favourite sculptor, Brancusi.
Back to Miami Beach for Design Miami where more of Peter Marino’s gorgeous furniture was shown, which I first came across at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris on the Dominique Lévy gallery booth. I recharged with champagne in the lounge, thanks Perrier-Jouët! It was then time for a girly dinner at Soho House.
Sunday: Zero Tolerance, Pulse Art Fair
I initially planned Sunday, before my flight back to London, to be a relaxing morning at the beach with all this art, I had barely sunbathed! But as usual, I couldn’t resist fitting in more art before the airport… Direction Young Arts, an organisation supporting 15-18 year olds in the visual, literary and performing arts. It was hosting ‘Zero Tolerance’, organised by Klaus Biesenbach. What a disappointment: an ambitious theme but little content – I regretted not staying at the beach. A slow motion walk by Marina Abramović Institute was performed in an adjacent building, reminiscent of her last exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery. Nah…
Lastly, I went to the satellite Pulse Art Fair, hopefully browsing for a coup de coeur. I enquired about photographs à la Guy Bourdin, before thinking not a photograph again! My next art purchase will be a painting or a sculpture! I reflected on my three full days of art at the Pulse lounge looking at the turquoise sea – surely the nicest lounge of Miami art fairs. Time to go, I will be back!