Art Basel Miami - the quick rundown

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There's no question about it, Art Basel Miami is bigger, better, zanier, and more unique than any other art fair I've participated in. It's energizing but also a real energy suck no matter how successful you are. However, I'm pleased to report we had a very successful fair, exceeding expectations. So sorry about the delay in the report, but there has been a lot of follow-up to do. This is good news.

Regarding the picture above, I kid you not. This is a finished booth at Art Basel Miami, as are the next four below. Click into them for a more detailed look and tell me what you think. This is contemporary art.

Given the above, it wasn't a huge surprise that our booth had a steady stream of traffic that made it, according to most reports, the most crowded booth at the fair. When asked to define the gallery's aesthetic, I sometimes answer that it's about the nexus of quality, originality, and accessibility - which is not the hippest place to be - but in contrast to much of the minimalism, conceptualism, and what sometimes I can only see as cases of a real Emperor's new clothes syndrome of art, it pays off.

Anyway, this is the Danziger Projects booth below.

Before the fair.

During the fair.

Nevertheless, I did steal away to look for good things for the blog. But with the vast array of works and galleries, it was paradoxically difficult to choose a top ten, but here goes. I've mixed media as the fair had less photography this year than in years before. I wonder whether this is an early sign of a trend of contemporary art galleries (as opposed to photography galleries) backing away from photographs.

Jorma Puranen from Galerie Anhave in Helsinki painted a board black and then went outdoors to photograph an icy landscape reflected in the shiny paint.

I've always liked the work of Beatriz Milhazes and was taken with this cheery collage at John Berggruen.

One of the better examples of Thomas Ruff's enlarged j-pegs. It's one of those "why didn't I think of that" ideas - but he did it first.

A portrait from Rineke Dijkstra's surprising new series of Liverpudlian ladies.

And one of the latest from Thomas Struth's "Museum" series.

I'm a sucker for Cy Twombly. This collage is from 1971.

A long shot and detail of the Taschen special edition of Norman Mailer's "Moonfire". Designed by Marc Newsom, there are only 12 copies - each with a different sample of lunar rock. This one - the largest - sells for over $1 million. It's the closest I've been to the moon, but I was sorry not to get to hold the rock and be able to say I had touched the moon.

The appeal of this is that it's sometimes how you feel at the end of the day.

And this painting my Mel Bochner is how you sometimes feel in the middle of the day. I also like the Yves Klein blue.

And last but not least, this large scale and show-stopping charcoal by Robert Longo. I was not the only person to appreciate this.


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