THE 14TH EDITION OF THE WILDLY POPULAR ART BASEL INTERNATIONAL FAIR SHOWS CONTINUING GROWTH IN THE NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICAN MARKETS, EXTENDING ITS PRESENCE OF EYE-POPPING, MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY WORKS OF ART TO VIBRANT CITIES SUCH AS LOS ANGELES, DALLAS, BUENOS AIRES AND MEXICO CITY.
By Linda Marx
This year, Art Basel Miami Beach, a four-day event beginning December 3, offers collectors, connoisseurs, critics and the thousands of “just curious,” 267 leading international art galleries from 32 countries across North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. High quality painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, installation, video and editioned works will be displayed for viewing and purchase.
Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, with other exhibits and adjunct fairs in galleries and spaces around Miami, this year’s main show, complete with many first-time participants, will present established and emerging galleries from the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and many other countries.
Last July, Art Basel hired Noah Horowitz to be its new director of the Americas, which includes running Art Basel Miami Beach. Marc Spiegler, the overall director of the Art Basel group of international contemporary and modern art fairs, picked Horowitz, who was previously executive director of the Armory Show in New York, to diversify and deepen the offerings in the North and South American art markets.
According to published reports, last year’s event had extremely strong sales due to increased interest from Latin American buyers, well curated booths and the art market’s growing connection with the hipster worlds of fashion, music, design and, of course, celebrity. This year’s show should be even busier and better.
Artists who are re-envisioning the way to make art and how people interact with it will be part of the offering, including unusual exhibits which are peculiar to Miami. Of the 16 curated solo booths in the Positions section of Art Basel, which focuses on emerging artists, two stand out for Miami area denizens.
A major news event will be highlighted by the Villa Design Group’s work from Berlin’s Mathew Gallery. The artists will question languages of design, violence and subjectivity through an installation of 10 doorways that use architectural details from the 1997 Miami Beach murder scene of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace. The part-time Miami Beach resident was gunned down on the steps of his own renovated Versace Mansion, currently The Villa Casa Casuarina boutique hotel.
Galerie Max Mayer of Dusseldorf, Germany will present Polyrhythm Technoir, a three-part film by Henning Fehr and Philipp Ruhr that allegorizes the current state of electronic music. This is relevant for Miami because the Ultra Music Festival, the world’s top electronic music gathering, is held each March at Miami’s Bayfront Park, all over Miami and Miami Beach.
In other parts of Positions, the Thomas Duncan Gallery in Los Angeles, which for the first time participates at Art Basel, will show mixed-media work by Sean Paul, plus a performance by Cologne-based artist Thomas Wachholz, presented by the contemporary gallery RaebervonStenglin of Zurich, Switzerland.
The Nova section of Art Basel provides a platform for younger galleries to present new work. The inventiveness of Australian artist Nicholas Mangan is a good example offered by Labor, a contemporary art gallery in Mexico City. The “Ancient Lights” video still shows the genius of this multi-disciplinary artist known for interrogating narratives embedded in a wide range of objects. Mangan’s work addresses many thought-provoking themes, including a human’s relationship with the natural environment.
Galleries, the main sector of Art Basel, will offer abstract works from artist Ana Sacerdote, who is represented by Jorge Mara-La Ruche of Buenos Aires, a gallery focusing on the work of up-and-coming artists as well a highlighting specific areas of already established talents such as Sacerdote.
Other American and international artists to study and collect this year are wide-ranging in talent and scope. Alexander Gray Associates of New York is exhibiting work from Dubai’s Hassan Sharif, who is recognized as a pioneer of conceptual art and experimental practice in the Middle East. A keen awareness of his environment led the artist to embrace experimentation and all types of materials from cotton, textile and metal, to chord, plastic and ordinary objects that reflect contemporary concerns like consumerism, manufacturing and the commercialization of handicrafts.
Artist Eddie Martinez, who lives in Brooklyn, is represented by Manhattan’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash. The gallery is showing Martinez’ striking Island I series of brushstrokes on large-scale canvases. His dancing lines give form to blocks of color in different densities that move and merge from semi-figuration to abstraction and back again.
Another fascinating artist to consider collecting is London-based Charles Avery, represented by Ingleby Gallery of Edinburgh, Scotland. Mostly self-taught, Avery is intrigued by Onomatopoeia, his imaginary city which is part of an island in the “middle of an archipelago of innumerable constituents.” In Avery’s ongoing project entitled Charles Avery: The People and Things of Onomatopoeia, he draws a fictional parallel to life on earth. He takes viewers into a world without country or cultural identification, addressing themes of utopia, dystopia and globalization.
While preparing for a visit to the oft-frenzied world of Art Basel, be sure and allow enough time to park and learn where galleries are located. That way, art lovers can see all of the magical exhibits and related events which make this annual fair such a popular and important part of Miami’s culture.