Art Basel Miami Beach: December 2017

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Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Photo courtesy Iwan Baan.

As we arrived at the VIP opening on Wednesday morning, at the newly renovated convention center, it was a pleasure to meet up with Norman Braman, who with his wife Irma, funded the entire design and construction of the new Institute of Contemporary Art Museum (ICA Miami) building, along with the acquisition of land for the sculpture garden. The 37,500 square -foot space was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos. I have known the Bramans since they first began collecting in the 1970’s during my Sotheby’s years. The generosity of the Braman’s gift is both admirable and outstanding! It is a welcome addition to the thriving art community and the ICA is committed to offering free admission all year round. It’s exciting program under the director Ellen Saltpeter and deputy director Alex Gartenfeld will reach out to local, emerging as well international artists.


Norman Braman and the author at Art Basel Miami Beach

The first floor is dedicated to solo presentations by various artists including  “veiled” paintings by Senga Nengudi and Robert Gober’s “Untitled (1993-94) drain piece. On the second floor, the inaugural exhibition, entitled “The Everywhere Studio” includes more than fifty artists studios from the postwar era to the present, including Picasso, Guston, Matthew Barney and Jason Rhodes. An awesome beginning!

There was lots of action on the opening day. Paula Cooper sold Sol Lewitt’s “100 Cubes”, 1991 gouache on paper for $1-1.5 million in the first hour of the preview to a public collection in Europe. A stunning new Michal Rovner LCD screen and video work “Urgency” sold for $140,000 as well as many other works at the Pace Gallery. By the time we reached Hauser & Wirth’s gallery, Bruce Nauman’s iconic sculpture, Untitled (Two Wolves, Two deer), 1989 had been sold for $9.5 million to a collection in Asia. Meanwhile at David Zwirner gallery, a Franz West sculpture and Brice Marden painting sold respectively for $800,000 and $700,000. Allison Jacques Gallery (London) sold a recent Sheila Hicks linen work  “Langue d’oiseau I, for $150,000.

For it’s inaugural exhibition in the newly designed Bass Museum, the entire second floor was devoted to Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s exhibition entitled “Good Evening Beautiful Blue” a retrospective spanning three decades from the late 1990’s to the present.  It is also his first solo show in the U.S. and as you can imagine it prompted many Instagram opportunities during the opening night.



Installation view of Ugo Rondinone’s exhibition “good evening beautiful blue”. Photography by Zachary Balber. Courtesy of the artist and The Bass, Miami Beach.

On the ground floor, in the older wings of the building, Israeli-Argentinian video artist Mika Rottenberg in her self-titled solo exhibition features work that was created within the last two years. Included is a new variant of “Cosmic Generator (loaded #2) which was a recent commission for Skulptur Projekte Munster (2017). “Set on the U.S.-Mexico border and in a huge Chinese market,  the work explores the collapse – or reinforcement – of distance”.  In contrast, Rottenberg amuses the viewers with a kinetic sculpture installation (2016) on the wall of two sole ponytails – one blond and one brunette that flip by themselves.

On Thursday we visited the Rubell Family Collection. It’s always interesting to see what they discovered in their recent global travels in pursuit of emerging talent and new trends.  The current exhibition “Still Human” totally resonated with us. It “confronts the complex consequences of the digital revolution and recent technological developments as they redefine the human condition”. Twenty-five artists in various media “address concerns related to artificial intelligence, biotechnology, bioethics, planned obsolescence, desire as mediated by technology, surveillance, social justice and virtual existence.”

Jon Rafman’s video “Poor Magic” is a single-channel HD video installation. As the opening scene unfolds “bluish skeletons moving on a black void, a voice intones atop dark electronic drones, if you can’t sleep at night it means you’re awake in someone else’s dream”.  It was at the same time disturbing and fascinating to watch the video

The 2017 artist-in-residence at the Rubell Collection is the 27 year old Allison Zuckerman with her first solo show, entitled “Stranger in Paradise”, consisting of large format paintings and sculptures. Her point of departure is historical paintings and internet culture. She uses “paint and digitally manipulated printed images to create hybridized portraits suffused with cultural and societal critiques.” Her work is both exciting and entertaining.  


Allison Zuckerman, Woman at her Toilette, 2017, 125 l/2 x 162 inches, Photo courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection.

Always expanding it’s horizons, the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation will move in 2018 to a new 100,000-square-foot Museum designed by Selldorf Architects on 2.5-acre campus in Miami’s Allapattah District. Miami’s art scene keeps expanding!

“Abstract/Not Abstract”, an exhibition presented once again by Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch in the Design District was a resounding success. It’s been two years since the Miami developer and collector Craig Robbins gave Gagosian the opportunity to put on a show in the Moore Building when he turned to Deitch to collaborate. “The concept of abstraction continues to be expanded and reinvented by each generation of artists” since the early 20th century. Sterling Ruby, Seth Price, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Dan Colen, Jeff Elrod, Urs Fischer Tauba Auerbach, Albert Oehlen, Kelly Walker and Christopher are among the artists featured in the exhibition.

Thursday afternoon, we attended the opening of “FAIR”, the first all Female Art Fair, entitled “WE ARE HERE”. It took place on the fourth floor of the Brickell City Centre in downtown Miami and covered over 5,000 square-feet.  Zoe Lukov, director of  FAIR, and Anthony Spinello, the founder of the Spinello Projects, a gallery and production house, co-curated the exhibit. It was divided into three sections, Fair Market, Fair Trade (no works available for sale) and Fair Play, which is the video sector. Antonia Wright’s “Suddenly We Jumped” video from 2014, shot in slow motion is very upsetting as the artist smashes through a sheet of glass with her nude body.   


Antonia Wright, Suddenly We Jumped, 2014. Photo courtesy of the artist and Spinello Projects.

It’s mission is “An alternative non-commercial art fair; a platform for a diverse and multigenerational group of women artists, FAIR seeks to address gender inequality in the art world and beyond by providing space for radical women artists to create site-specific interventions in a non-traditional venue” presented a powerful message to the viewers. It resonates with the times and provides a unique platform for women artists to find their voices and be counted in today’s world.

Friday morning we walked over to the Soho Beach House to attend British artist Tracey Emin’s  signing of her new book, “Tracey Emin: Works 2007-2017” . She was interviewed by Alastair Gordon in front of a large audience and was super relaxed, witty and always forthright in her responses. What a delight to listen to a woman who knows her value, is confident and bold in sharing her opinions on politics, sex, art fairs and other women artists! You go Tracey!


Tracey Emin in Conversation with Alastair Gordon. Image courtesy Andrew Toth/Getty Images.

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