Vincent Johnson’s 2010 Miami Basel Art Report (Baselmania)
This year’s edition of Baselmania Miami Beach sought and found new heights of raw sexual energy in both Miami and Miami Beach, which already had some of the sexiest cool world scenes on the planet.
There were more pop up stores than ever. There were more free super fun parties than ever, in this ninth edition of Art Basel Miami Beach. The Miami art scene both shifted and expanded, despite most of the satellite fairs being smaller. There were open art world block parties in Wynwood in Miami that went on all night for several days. Miami Basel launches new stores in the Design District, new pop-up stores and fresh museum shows that are timed to open with Art Basel’s arrival. This also happens with new Miami restaurants. Launching the new in December is also what happens in Vegas, from restaurants to new nightclubs and mega-resorts.
O.H.W.O.W. has teamed up with the Standard Hotel Miami to launch the publishing concern STND/OHWOW and shop/bookstore in the hotel. O.H.W.O.W. Miami has also set its eyes upon the LA Artworld with its expansion plans. It will open a new gallery space in Los Angeles in February 2011. Supposedly the space is already programmed for the next two years. Scott Campbell will open the Los Angeles space. O.H.W.O.W. has had a pop up gallery space in LA for a few months.
The Latin artworld and interest in it has grown even while a few top-level European dealers have left Miami.
“Some years ago, Herbert Muschamp, the then architecture critic of The New York Times, wrote “Miami Beach is no longer a southern city of North America but a northern city of the Latin South.”
Something that piqued my curiosity about Miami was how developed its Latin artworld economy was in comparison to other parts of the United States. I’ve wondered whether Miami is a major destination for Latin American artists. Someone pointed out that right across from the Cisneros Fontenals is the offices of largest internet company in South America. The comments that follow seem to answer some of my questions.
“The Brazilians are coming. So are the Argentinians. Collectors from Mexico, Peru and Uruguay are also set to make an appearance next week…”
“Latin American collectors are becoming increasingly committed internationally. The reason we come to this fair is for them,” says the Paris-based dealer Chantal Crousel, who is showing a new work by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco (“81 Euroman”, a gold leaf print on canvas priced at $200,000) and a series of hand-made prints by the Puerto-Rico based duo Allora & Calzadilla…”
“We work with some informed collectors in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil who have made a significant commitment to the art of Joan Mitchell, and to that of other first-generation abstract expressionist painters. Their long-term interest in historical figures from the region – such as Hélio Oiticica – is consistent with their search for great non-representational work of the New York School,” says Adam Sheffer of New York’s Cheim & Read…”
The following New York Times article shows that New York is now positioning itself to absorb Latin American art into the pantheon of Art History.
At Art Basel Miami Beach, Less Heat
By KATE TAYLOR
“Born in Eeklo, Belgium in 1958, Dirk Braeckman began his career photographing portraits before moving on to abandoned spaces and desolate interiors. Fragments were enlarged to take up the dimension of an all-consuming still life. In 2002, the artist returned to portraiture when he was commissioned by King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium for theirs, which are permanently installed along with other of his works in the Sphinx Room at the Royal Palace in Brussels.”
The venerable New York Robert Miller gallery has opened A White Space in Miami. The début exhibition included a 14 foot wide photographic print on Japanese handmade silk paper by Belgian artist Dirk Braeckman. New York’s playful yet serious Perry Rubinstein gallery opened a pop-up gallery in Miami Beach on Collins avenue. We looked in as we were walking to the Oceanfront concert on Wednesday night at 10PM. To get there requires walking through an opening in a glade along the Miami Beach area where the concert happened.
This year indy band Metric performed to a huge crowd that was more than twice the size of last year’s similar event, and still free to one and all. I could not imagine a similar event being held in Los Angeles without a huge police presence.
Up until 2009 this concert was the main event for the Art Basel collectors. Now they party next door at the newly opened W Hotel Miami Beach, while the youth crowd enjoys the free and totally awesome nighttime concert that is literally a hundred feet or less from the Atlantic ocean. This event alone makes it worth coming to Miami during Baselmania. We left about half an hour into the concert, to take a stroll down the winding brick road that runs behind the hotels along the oceanfront in South Beach. There was an amazing private Detroit Techno party going on that we decided to enjoy, just by taking a seat on the bench directly across from the hotel property. Since sound travels – we were getting to enjoy the same music as the persons invited to the party behind the hotel’s low-rise barricade. We walked a few more blocks on the winding path, then cut back over to Collins and made our way to the Albion hotel’s bar, where we were also guests of the hotel for our Baselmania 2010 days. We had arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon after having gotten about half a night’s sleep, so we were in the bar only until about 2AM on Thursday morning.
Fortunately we had a meal of hamburgers and French fries and artisan beer at the new Shake Shack, from New York City, on Lincoln road on the ground floor of the Herzog & Meuron designed 1111 Lincoln road parking structure and shopping center.
The burgers were quite good, but do not come close to LA’s dry aged beef Umami burgers, which GQ magazine had just written an article about, saying that Umami Burger is the best in the country. There is a density of flavor in in an Umami.Burger, which used to cost about $12 for a burger, fries and a glass of house beer from Vietnam. Now it’s about $50 for two persons, as the cheaper house beer is gone, and there is valet service. The last time we were there I said to my partner that this is the beginning of three-tiers of burger experience in LA – with the industrial grade chain burger shops capturing most of the market, followed by the upscale LA burger bars that are actually real and excellent bars like Father’s Office, Golden State, 25 degrees, with Umami Burger sitting on top as King of the Hamburger throne. The Umami Burger that is opening near us in Studio City will be mobbed for its bar scene alone.
There was a party on the uppermost level of the 1111 building, featuring videos by Josephine Meckseeper.
Taschen store opens at Herzog & Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln road Miami Beach
De la Cruz Collection
Rubell Family Collection
SEVEN Art Fair Miami had the bunker-like concrete wall superior exhibition space of all the fairs in Miami. There was 24,000 square feet of exhibition space that were shared by seven galleries. The galleries chose this space to be able to truly experiment and to keep costs at a minimum, from shipping to storage to exhibition space itself. A similar space in one of the upper level fairs could have been prohibitive. I was asked by a prominent Los Angeles art collector as to my thoughts about the space SEVEN was shown in. I said to her that it was the best space I had ever seen in Miami, with its seemingly 20 foot high ceilings. Each exhibition area was well used in terms of spacing the works – many of which were large-scale. There was also huge booth-like spaces that had works inside, yet the corridors and walkways were never crowded, despite their being what looked like at least a thousand people at the opening.
Red Light River Miami is on the former Miami prostitution corridor on Biscayne boulevard. There are now several restaurants and live music venues within a few blocks of one another.
Art Basel Miami Beach
Wynwood Walls (sponsored by Goldman Properties and Deitch Projects)
The by far most graphically intense and dynamic event-scene of all of Miami Basel 2010 was Wynwood Walls. The entire Wynwood area was filled with international and nationally known street artists, intermixed with artworld artists such as assume astro vivid focus and Kenny Scharff, who work in the street art style yet are part of the Art World.
“This year, Wynwood Walls gets four new murals by key artists that are part of this exciting group: Ryan McGinness, Ben Jones, Dearraindrop and assume vivid astro focus. avaf will also present an installation of their fantastic wallpaper labyrinth in the Wynwood building that their mural adorns, co-produced by Suzanne Geiss and Tony Goldman. The Wynwood expansion will also feature special sculptures by FriendsWithYou and Kenny Scharf, murals by Ron English and Space Invader, Eric Firestone presenting famous 70s graffiti legends, a public sticker wall organized by DB Burkeman, an exhibition of ten street artists curated by Jonathan Levine Gallery in the space next to Joey’s Italian Café and a curated nighttime video presentation each evening at dusk.”
Wynwood Kitchen and Bar was the party of the hour in Miami on Friday. We were be seated within a few minutes of leaving next door Wynwood Walls, which had free hard liquor drinks and a popcorn machine, which we took advantage of for fun. The space is subdivided into an event space – where there was yet another party – and the main restaurant space, where we saw SOHO and Wynwood developer Tony Goldman helping keep everything flowing swimmingly.
MoCA North Miami Jonathan Meese
CIFO William Kentridge
CIFO presented a new exhibition for 2010 Miami Basel:
Inside Out, Photography After Form: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection
It included work by several photographers whose work I had never seen, and the work of one of my visiting artists advisors from graduate school: Uta Barth. The show was tightly focused and well conceived. It was similar to the great show of women photographers at MoMA that I had just seen a few weeks earlier, in that it showed works that should become far more well-known, as these photographic artists come to the world stage. Every year we come to Miami and get to see work we only imagine exists. I tell my friends that one reason we go to Miami every year is to get a full dose of truly international modern and contemporary art, and this year’s CIFO photography show was yet another memorable and sharply curated photographic program.
Local Miami Artworld
Emanuel Perrotin gallery from Paris closed up shop on its 13,000 square foot exhibition space after five years of operation in Miami. The gallery had thrown spectacular opening parties and had taken on a few Miami based artists. Since early 2009 the gallery became a shell operation with intentions of closing, which will happen at the end of the current and final exhibition on now. When the gallery expanded to Miami to in 2005, the Miami artworld was extremely excited about this development. The move signaled that Miami was a viable place to be as an artist when it added Miami artists to its program. Recently Perrotin gallery has added a third space in Paris. Long gone now are the plans to build a swimming pool on the Miami property for artworld Miami pool party openings. There was also a plan to build out a space to have artists in residence for on site projects that never materialized. Perrotin will be missed from Miami because of its strong exhibition program. Perhaps in the future Miami will be a place that more collectors feel comfortable buying contemporary art.
Cristina Rodriguez and a few of her artist friends started this project space in Miami.
Locust Projects Miami
An out-of-town artist said this about how it feels to compete with the fairs and the artworld:
“You can pretend to be an independent artist in your studio, but in Miami, you really see the rigidity of the art world hierarchy. It’s hard not to feel slighted, but once you become aware of the rankings, and you start to understand it, then you can enjoy it.”
return to LA
Los Angeles Artworld notes:
Since this blog is based in Los Angeles, let me start by saying that there are some quite powerful players in the New York art world who are neither happy or excited about the rise of the LA Artworld, which itself was in attendance all over Miami, from the art fairs to the private collection shows to the art parties. There are some quite powerful players in the New York art world who are not impressed that the Armory Show owners are doing a show in Los Angeles in 2011. I have been informed that the Los Angeles private collections will be made available to a select audience to this event.
Allow me to further say this:
NYC’s rise to coming an art capital can be easily traced back from the late 19th century, when it dreamed of being like Paris, until the time it overtook the Paris artworld in the 1950’s as the center of art production. Paris had over 300 galleries in 1960. They were open all year round, including in August. There was no shame in showing in August as there was in New York. Many Paris galleries had free catalogs or booklets, so much so that people carried bags just to collect them all when they went gallery hopping. Yet by 1960 NYC was in total control of the production side of the art world, despite Paris having been the center of the European artworld for well over a century. Paris had all the infrastructure that NYC did not have, but with the United States government aid, NYC took control of the art world conversation.
Los Angeles is in the same place as New York was in 1950, when Abstract Expressionism had overtaken the international artworld. Los Angeles has a stranglehold on Conceptual Art in the same way that New York had a stranglehold on Abstract Expressionism. Instead of having the U.S. government behind it, Los Angeles has the several of the most powerful New York City secondary market galleries behind it, each of whom wants to access and market Contemporary Art from a Los Angeles platform. These galleries include New York powerhouse dealers L&M Arts (already open in Venice, California), Matthew Marks (opening in West Hollywood in 2011), and Gagosian, which doubled their Beverly Hills space to 11,000 square feet recently. Rumor has it that the elegant Cheim & Read gallery is looking into Los Angeles for its contemporary art market. Los Angeles will have its own Biennial 2012, jointly curated by The Hammer Museum and LAXART. This is separate and new and different from the California Biennial, which is on now at the Orange County Museum of Art, which will have a Jack Goldstein retrospective in 2012. I had the privilege of studying with Jack Goldstein for the entire year of 1995, while I was in graduate school at Art Center College of Design’s MFA program. So I am really looking forward to seeing Jack’s show.
L&M Arts has expanded its program to Los Angeles because they found “a creative energy comparable to what happened in the ‘50s in New York,” Dominique Levy says. The combination of meeting European artists who had moved to L.A, getting to know the established art community and falling in love with the old power station led to a marriage between L&M and Los Angeles…” reported by Suzanne Muchnic, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2009
L&M Arts stands for owners Dominique Levy and Robert Mnuchin.
“The Los Angeles market can’t be denied, and we find ourselves spending more and more time there,” said gallery partner Adam Sheffer, adding, “but nothing’s been confirmed yet.” reported by Charlotte Burns, The Art Newspaper, Art Basel Miami Beach Daily Edition, December 4, 2010
“In 2011, Matthew Marks Gallery will open a gallery in Los Angeles.” from Matthew Marks gallery website
The equally important change in the LA Artworld is that young artists and dealers with deep pockets with ivy league MFA degrees and off the chart connections are setting up shop in LA in project spaces. This is another first for LA – that a project space – The Company- launches another project space in the Pacific Design Center in LA, and both spaces get into major art fairs as soon as they launch. Like so many of the new power players in LA, they too are from NYC. Ten years ago in Williamsburg the young galleries attempted to directly compete with the New York art market purses and wallets. Clearly this did not work, almost all the commercially successful Brooklyn galleries except for Pierogi, moved to Chelsea, which has two huge gallery spaces in Brooklyn. LA is the place for an artist to have a project space to get the artworld’s attention. I spoke with one of the dealers who moved their gallery from Northeast Los Angeles to the booming Pacific Design Center in West LA recently. She said that she’s had visitors from MoMA, the Whitney Museum, P.S.1 and the Walker Art Center since opening up in the superb new spaces that many former Chinatown LA galleries have moved to as well. The Pacific Design Center featured floor to ceiling glass walls for each gallery. All of the artworld galleries are located on one floor. They have huge numbers of visitors for the openings. LA is truly stepping up its game now for real.
Vincent Johnson is a writer and artist in Los Angeles.