This year’s Art Basel Miami Beach was even more over the top than previous years. Despite the numerous events taking place simultaneously all over town, the art menu was extraordinary!
Our schedule began late Tuesday afternoon as we attended the openings at the temporary spaces in the Melin Building in the Design District. White Cube previewed Larry Bell’s installation entitled ” 6 x 6 An Improvisation”. Next door, JR’s powerful and timely film entitled “Ellis” featuring Robert de Niro’s moving dialogue was showing at Perrotin.
Over at the Moore building, Larry Gagosian collaborated with Jeffrey Deitch to curate “ Unrealism”, an exhibition consisting of over 50 international artists harking back to the 80’s through the present. An impressive survey indeed, albeit reflective of mainly the artists in their stables. Also in the Moore building, at the ICA, people were climbing in a van where Alex Bag’s video “The Van” was playing. Her work dating from 2001 dealt with the art dealer Leroy Le Loup and his discovery of three new artists. It was very amusing.
Marlene Dumas at “Unrealism” and Isa Geskin at the Rubell Collection. Photos courtesy of the author.
Off to the White Cube party on the beach to join the ever charming host Jay Joplin greeting titans of industry!
The 11 am VIP opening on Wednesday was the most jammed ever and the lines to enter were seemingly endless. My first impression was that the galleries were offering very safe and predictable works at generous prices. However, many galleries had exceptional presentations including Salon 94 – Sylvie Fleury, Nicolai Wallner- Jose Davila, Jeppe Hein and Eva Presenhuber – Justin Matherly.
On Thursday morning we headed to the Wynwood area with the first stop at the Rubell Collection. The exhibition entitled “No Man’s Land” featured over 100 women artists of several generations from all over the globe. The quality of the works known and unknown was outstanding. Jennifer Rubell’s performance piece titled “Devotion” generated a vast bread line to get a buttered slice of bread. Jennifer was also included in the exhibition with a sculpture entitled, “Lysa III”
Nearby at the Margulies Collection, Anselm Kiefer’s installation was monumental and the works were acquired directly from the artist. I met Marty during my years at Sotheby’s when he was building his first tower at Grove Isle in Coconut Grove and had acquired a sculpture by Noguchi for the property. He has continued his love and quest for art and has amassed an enormous collection of over 4,000 works. He is constructing a building for the Lotus House, a shelter for homeless women and children. His former wife Constance Collins introduced him to her heartfelt project several years ago. It was extraordinary to see the first year when Marty employed women from the shelter to give them an opportunity to transition from victims to the work force. He is a man of unique qualities and to be admired for his efforts to assist a disempowered community. Other stops included the Rosa de la Cruz Collection and the opening of the Nada Fair in the Fountainbleau Hotel.
Friday morning we headed to the Cisneros Fontanels Art Foundation’s brunch and met with artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and the new director Eugenio Valdes Figuero. To seek the source of why art is created, which is easily forgotten in these colossal fairs, we visited the studio of Antonia Wright and her partner Ruben Millares in the Miami River district. There was a video being screened, which blew my mind. It was Antonia dressed in a leotard doing Tai Chi covered with 15,000 honey bees attached to her entire body. As she performed the poses, the bees ascended toward her head. It was overwhelming and disturbing to watch. When I questioned the artist’s reason for undertaking this project, she said it was a challenge to confront fear in the face of the bees. She had to remain calm and not react to the potential threat of thousands of bee stings. She prepared for over a year by meditating for hours to quiet her mind and refrain from reacting to the potential danger. Her focus on the beneficial side of bees, which pollinate and provide honey, coupled with her martial arts practice, question the choice of peace or war in our world today. The work is entitled “BE”.
The next stop was “The Little Sister” exhibition at the Spinello gallery in Little Haiti further north. It was an enticing new space once again showing all female international artists. It was inspiring to see how ABMB 2015 honored a huge selection of highly talented female artists!