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Although the Miami Beach Convention Center is undergoing vast renovations, the venue still played host to the the greatly anticipated 15th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach, which opens to the public tomorrow. Exhibitors channeled a strong political impulse within their selection of works, making this edition of the fair one of character that invites deep questioning and reflection on art, as well as on the different socio-economical elements that inspire and inform its creation.
Jack Shainman gallery adopted this stance with a selection of works by black artists, notably that of Toyin Ojih Odutola, Kerry James Marshall, Barkeley L. Hendricks, and Carrie Mae Weems, or politically engaged artists such as Richard Mosse whose large-scale negative photo, Idomeni Camp representing a Greek immigrant encampment won’t leave you indifferent.
Marianne Boesky is showing an ephemeral installation by Sanford Biggers which plays brilliantly around perspective and could easily stand in a museum; Blum & Poe Gallery is showing Sam Durant’s large-scale bright orange End White Supremacy, while Jack Pierson’s Capitalist Decadence on view at Richard Gray Gallery is attractively disturbing in its new setting.
On a similar note, Barbara Kruger’s printed words on vinyl seem to be haunting the fair, we enjoyed seeing them at both Mary Boone and Sprüth Magers. Likewise, Doug Aitken’s END mirrors will spook you intermittently throughout, watch out for the pieces on view at Victoria Miro and 303 gallery.
Fondation Beyeler is making a particularly strong impression this year with a booth dubbed “Maze of Quotes” by Toilet Paper, the collaborative magazine project by artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. The foundation presents a lavish, fantastical environment of consumerism and sexuality, from chandeliers and toilets to gold drapes, tin pots, and fake spaghetti.
In terms of more classical presentations, the modern masters are far from forgotten with many works by Alexander Calder, Miro, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia, Fernad Léger, Man Ray, and Yves Klein on view. We particularly enjoyed the pieces by Miro at Di Donna, and those by Chagall at Hammer Galleries.
The contemporary masters were well represented, too, with Van De Weghe Fine Art arguably showing the most precious piece by Jean Michel Basquiat—a canvas transposed on a wooden cross entitled Crisis X dated from 1980. Two small oils on canvas by Sigmar Polke particularly caught our eye, one at Galerie Thomas, the other at Anthony Meier Fine Art. Beautiful pieces by Anish Kapoor are also on view at Galeria Continua and Regen Projects.
Tom Wesselman’s large works seemed to be spread out uniformly throughout the fair at Almine Rech, Galerie Hans Meyer, and Galerie Gmurzynska. Jannis Kounellis’s Arte Povera pieces were also quite present but his very large piece on view at Galleria Continua left us breathless.
For those enamored of photography we recommend stopping by Howard Greenberg’s booth, which is showing stunning editions by William Klein, Diane Arbus, and William Eggleston.
In terms of special sectors, we were especially in awe of Kabinett this year, notably that dedicated to Marcel Broodthaers and Man Ray at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art and to Argentinian photographer Horacio Coppola at Jorge Mara.
Art Basel in Miami Beach is open December 1-4.