Miami Art Basel 2015 – Must See Exhibitions, Best Parties and Events – Updated Dec. 2, 2015

Changes abound for the upcoming Miami Art Basel week 2015. The NADA Art Fair has a new home – the spectacular billion dollar upgraded historic Fontainbleau Hotel. In all previous locations the fair was free to enter – no more; it now $20 a head. The Rubell Family Collection stays in the forefront of the pulse of the artworld with an all woman artists exhibition that will rotate works over the duration of the show. The Marguiles Warehouse will feature a massive four custom built room exhibition of the work of Anselm Kiefer, whose retrospective I saw at the Royal Academy in London in the fall of 2014. The ICA Miami will be getting its new building in 2017 – meanwhile it will have a show of the NYC video artist Alex Bag. The de la Cruz Collection is doing a survey show loaded with art stars working in abstraction. With NADA, Scope, Pulse all having returned to Miami Beach, the major art fair action on the Miami side is now Art Miami and its Context Art Fair. Miami Projects has also moved to Miami Beach into the Deauville Hotel, which NADA just left after last year. Also up will be three stellar shows at Mana Contemporary – including the Frederick Weisman art foundation in Los Angeles, a selection of the Jorge Perez collection, and a selection of Latin America art. There will also be work from artists working in Bushwick. The other major offering will be the exhibition of representational and realist art curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian that will be in the Moore Building in Miami’s white-hot Design District, and the Nari Ward retrospective at the Perez Art Museum, now under the direction of Franklin Sirmans. Isaac Julien’s 15 screen video project commission for Rolls Royce makes its North American debut at Young Arts in Wynnwood.
Miami has a couple of new gallery districts – Little River and Little Haiti, that offer warehouse sized exhibition spaces.
Up the road we can look forward to the opening of the Faena Arts Center in Miami Beach, the new ICA Miami building, and the Museum of Latin American art by Miami gallerist Gary Nader.
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. he recently interviewed William Pope L. at MoCA in Los Angeles for the November 2015, 15th Anniversary issue of FROG magazine.
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Art Basel 2015 Sketch Book: 8 Artists to Watch

Mega Guide To Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Tuesday

Gary Pini

Yves Behar is the recipient of the 2015 Design Miami “Design Visionary Award” and he’ll be honored with a special exhibit in the D/M venue behind the convention center through December 6. The VIP preview is today, December 1st. A student team from Harvard was chosen to design the fair’s entrance for their submission, “UNBUILT,” a collection of foam models of unrealized design projects. Expect thirty five exhibitors inside including Firma Casa from Brazil, showing new works by the Campana Brothers, and Italian gallery Secondome, with hand-crafted limited editions.

The Miami Project is also launching a new spin-off this year called SATELLITE that will show various “experimental” projects in unoccupied properties up near their 73rd Street base. One of those, “Artist-Run,” will fill the rooms in the Ocean Terrace Hotel (7410 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach) with different installations from 40 artist-run spaces, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid. It’s open from December 2nd to 6th, with a VIP/media event today, December 1st, from noon to 10 p.m. ALSO: Trans-Pecos, the music venue out in Queens, New York, and Sam Hillmer from the band Zs, are putting together a 5-day music program in the North Beach Amphitheater, emphasizing “musical practitioners with some form of art practice.”

X Contemporary launches their inaugural fair in Wynwood running from December 2nd through Sunday, and a VIP opening on December 1st from 5 to 10 p.m. Twenty eight exhibitiors will be on hand, plus special projects including “Grace Hartigan: 1960 – 1965” presented by Michael Klein Arts; a look at the “genesis of street art” curated by Pamela Willoughby; and “Colombia N.O.W.” presented by TIMEBAG.

Target Too InstallationPULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. today, December 1st, featuring a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic; an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. Fair visitors can check out “TARGET TOO,” an installation referencing items sold at the stores, originally on view in NYC last March. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has a lot planned this year including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Goldman Properties’ CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick talks about how art transformed the Wynwood neighborhood in THIS Miami New Times piece. We also hear that New York developer (and owner of Moishe’s Moving, Mana Contemporary etc.) Moishe Mana is planning a new mixed-use development on his 30 acres of land in the middle of Wynwood.

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian are co-presenting an exhibition of figurative painting and sculpture called “UnRealism” at 191 NE 40th Street, Miami. The opening is on Tuesday, December 1st, but it will be on view all week. According to the NYT, artists featured in the group show will include Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and David Salle. In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist Rashaad Newsome will lead an “art parade” starting at 6:30 p.m. today at 23 NE 41st Street, Miami and ending at 4001 NE 41st Street.

CONTEXT Art Miami will feature 95 international galleries this year, along with several artist projects and installations including 12 listening stations dedicated to sound art; areas dedicated to art from Berlin and Korea; solo exhibitions by Jung San, Satoru Tamura, Mr. Herget and four others; and a “fast-track” portrait project of workers at Miami International Airport. Context and Art Miami — celebrating its 26th year — open with a VIP preview benefiting the Perez Art Museum Miami on Tuesday, December 1, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 2901 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown, Miami. The fair is open to the public from December 2nd through the 6th.

ICA Miami (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) opens a major survey of works by the video and performance artist Alex Bag — including her interactive installation “The Van” — on December 1st. The museum recently announced the appointment of Ellen Salpeter, Deputy Director of NYC’s Jewish Museum, as its new director and they’ve just broken ground on a new, permanent home in the Design District. The 37,500 -square-foot building was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos and is scheduled to open in 2017. Shannon Ebner also has a show, “A Public Character,” on view in the museum during AB/MB and up until January 16, 2016. This is the inaugural program in the museum’s new performance series.

The fourth edition of UNTITLED Miami is on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street from December 2 to 6, with a big VIP preview on December 1st from 4 to 8 p.m. They’ve got 119 international galleries along with non-profit orgs from 20 countries. New this year will be an UNTITLED radio station broadcasting via local Wynwood Radio with interviews, performances and playlists by artists, curators etc.

PAPER Magazine is hosting (and participating in) several events during AB/MB. On Tuesday, December 1st, 6 p.m., David Hershkovits will be “in conversation” with Fab 5 Freddy and David Koh on the topic, “Art On Film,” followed by a special screening of Koh’s film “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.” The Tribeca Film Festival Shortlist is presenting the event at The Miami Edition (2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) and SOTO sake sponsors. On Tuesday night (late) and also at the EDITION, PAPER, Silencio, A Hotel Life and One Management host the one year anniversary of the hotel’s BASEMENT nightclub with DJs Seth Troxler, Nicolas Matar and Orazio Rispo.

The Wolfsonsonian FIU Museum (1001 Washington Avenue, South Beach) is open all week with several exhibitions including “An Artist on the Eastern Front: Feliks Topolski 1941,” “Margin of Error,” “Orange Oratory,” “Philodendrum” and “Miami Beach.”

Moishe Mana’s Mana Contemporary (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood plans several exhibitions during AB/MB including “Made in California,” featuring selections from L.A. collector Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation; “A Sense of Place,” with over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Perez; and “Everything You Are Not,” key works of Latin American art from the Tiroche DeLeon collection. All are up from December 3rd thru the 6th, with a VIP preview on December 1st. Mana Urban Arts is also doing a collab with The Bushwick Collective at the former RC Cola Plant (550 NW 24th Street, Miami) that includes over 50 artists — so far the list includes Ghost, GIZ, Pixel Pancho, Case Maclaim and Shok-1 — plus skateboarding, DJs, live music etc.

Bortolami Gallery is opening a year-long exhibition called “Miami” by the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren on December 1st in the M Building (194 NW 30th Street, Miami). The show marks the 50th anniversary of his works with fabric and the 8.7 cm stripe. By periodically installing new works, Buren will also alter the exhibition during the year.

Previewing their upcoming South Beach studio, SoulCycle will pop-up poolside at the 1 Hotel (2341 Collins Avenue, South Beach) starting on Tuesday, December 1st. They plan to open permanently in the hotel in January 2016. The 1 Hotel also offers a fitness and wellness line-up for guests and visitors all week.

Miami gallery Locust Projects (3852 N. Miami Avenue, Miami) returns with their “Art on the Move” series of artists’ projects in public spaces around Miami during December. This year’s work, “NITE LIFE,” by LA-based artist Martine Syms, includes a series of prints displayed on the backs of buses and at bus stops, based on “Chitlin’ Circuit” concert posters by Clyde Killens. There’s a reception for the project, curated by PAMM’s director Franklin Sirmans, on December 1st, 7 to 10 p.m. Also check out the gallery’s site-specific installation “PORE” by Martha Friedman and “Beatriz Monteavaro: Nochebuena” in the project room.

Brickell City Centre (750 South Miami Avenue, Miami) is giving a sneak peek at their work-in-progress development in downtown Miami with an invite-only event, “Illuminate the Night,” on December 1st featuring the unveiling of “Dancers,” a sculpture by UK artist Allen Jones; () music from Wooden Wisdom DJs (Elijah Wood and Zach Cowie) and a 150,000 square-foot glass, steel and fabric structure called “Climate Ribbon” by Hugh Dutton.

The Bass Museum (2100 Collins Avenue, South Beach) is closed for renovations until next year, but they’re still hosting “outdoor activations” in the surrounding park including the AB/MB PUBLIC sector and the display of a neon sign, “Eternity Now,” by Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury. They are co-hosting a private dinner with Salon 94 Gallery on Tuesday in the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel.

Zurich’s Galerie Gmurzynska hosts an invite-only cocktail party at The Villa Casa Casuarina (1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach) on December 1, with Sylvester Stallone and Germano Celant. The gallery will be showing a retrospective of works by Karl Lagerfield in their stand at AB/MB, curated by Celant.

The DREAM South Beach (1111 Collins Avenue, South Beach) hooked-up with Brooklyn-based artist — and new GQ “style guy” — Mark Anthony Green for an exhibition of, according to Green, “what 2015 meant to me in both a macro and micro sense…wins, losses, heartbreak and promotion.” The hotel will have a pop-up shop curated by the artist, and guests will get a complimentary print. There’s a welcome reception on Tuesday, a private dinner and afterparty with the Green and A$AP Rocky on Friday and a pool party hosted by YESJULZ on Sunday afternoon.

FLAUNT Magazine and Guess host a private dinner at the Nautilus Hotel in December 1 in honor of their latest cover stars Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Julie Mehretu. After dinner, there’s a poolside party with a screening of “ME” and music by the Martinez Brothers and Pusha T. Expected guests include “ME” writers Susan Taylor & Jefrey Levy and Gina Gershon.

The 2015 edition of Elle Decor’s Modern Life Concept House premieres with a VIP breakfast on December 1st at 250 Wynwood (250 NW 24th Street, Miami). Visits from December 2 to 4 are open to the public with a $35 donation to pediatric cancer research and a reservation via jacquelyn@zm-pr.com. The 6,000 square-foot home will showcase 4 leading designers selected by ED editor-in-chief Michael Boodro.

An exhibition called “LAX – MIA: Light + Space” opens on Tuesday, December 1st, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Surf Club (9011 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). The show was curated by Terry Riley, Joachim Pissaro and John Keenan of PARALLEL and is hosted by The Surf Club and Fort Partners. It’s on view until December 12th, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closed on Sunday.

Art Basel Basecamp (46 NW 36th Street, Miami), hosted by HGABmag, returns with a space to “re-group, re-fresh and re-energize” featuring charging stations, information booths, giveaways and art installations. Stop in from December 1 to 6, 4 p.m. to midnight daily; and don’t miss their “Alice in Wynwood” closing party on Saturday night.

The first edition of the Curatorial Program for Research Film Festival takes place on December 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cannonball (1035 North Miami Avenue, Suite 300, Miami). The program, “Earthbound,” was curated by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk in collaboration with Dwelling Projects. There will also be a silent auction.

New York-based developer Robbie Antonio debuts his REVOLUTION collection of pre-crafted structures during Design Miami/2015. The limited edition homes and pavilions have been designed by 30 noted architects and designers including Zaha Hadid, Richard Gluckman and the Campana Brothers. The VIP launch is in the Design Miami tent on Tuesday evening.

NYC club No.8 pops-up in the Rec Room at the Gale Hotel (1690 Collins Avenue, South Beach) with DJs including JusSke, Fly Guy and Ross One; the hotel’s Regent Cocktail Club features live jazz, Cuban cocktails, Samba and soul tunes. They’ve also got a digital art installation by Aerosyn Lex.

White Cube’s kick-off party is tonight at Soho Beach House with Giogio Moroder spinning and lots of Moet.

NYC/LA art collective Collapsing Scenery presents “Metaphysical Cops,” a one-night-only video installation on December 1st, 5 to 10 p.m., in the Surf Med Pharmacy (7430 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). It’s a part of the new Satellite Art Fair.

Chloe Sevigny by Pamela Hanson“ICONS,” an exhibition of photos by Pamela Hanson opens at the Shore Club.

BOHO Hunter (184 NW 27th Street, Miami) hosts Monica Sordo’s SS 2016 collection with music from Bea Pernia on December 1st, 7 to 10 p.m.

Miami’s Diana Lowenstein Gallery (2043 N Miami Avenue, Miami) is showing new works by Udo Noger in a show called “Geistlos.” On view all week.

Alejandra Von Hartz Gallery (2630 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has their second solo show by Marta Chilindron, “Temporal Systems,” on view during AB/MB. The multi-dimensional sculptures “explore basic geometric forms, color, transparency, light, space, time and perspective.”

When you pass through Art Miami, look for copies of Jerry Powers’ new Art Miami Magazine, that fair’s first dedicated publication,

STK Miami (2311 Collins Avenue, South Beach) hosts The Drip Factory pop-up gallery featuring artist Louis Carreon doing live painting and music by DJ What on December 1st, 8 to 11 p.m. Invite only.

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Blog

Must-See New Media at Miami Art Week

Yesterday Kate Durbin’s ‘Hello!Selfie’ performance at PULSE Miami Beach, Photo: Rollin Leonard, 2015

This time of the year, the whole art scene gathers in Miami to—let’s be honest—enjoy the beach, often more than the overwhelming art-filled fairs. Many of our longtime favorite creators converge at this year’s festivities, so to support their efforts, we’ve compiled a coup d’oeil of some quality digital art happenings.

Swapping its successful one-shot hypersalon satellite project for a PULSE Miami Beach booth, TRANSFER gallery offers a more streamlined way to reach a wider audience. “The collaborative experiment that was hypersalon set in motion so many amazing exhibitions and exchanges that unfolded in the past year. But in the end, we managed to create a mostly non-commercial format amidst the biggest feeding frenzy of the commercial art world—not a sustainable project in the ABMB environment,” Kelani Nichole, founder and director of TRANSFER tells The Creators Project.

Transfer gallery’s booth under the massive PULSE Miami Beach tent, 2015

“This year, I went for the exact opposite, securing a white cube in a tent on the beach. TRANSFER is quite fortunate to have the support of PULSE to open their fair to a challenging format of social-media based performance, and their Conversations curated section gave us the perfect opportunity to present two artists working with issues of technology and the body,” Nichole adds. TRANSFER showcases recent works by Faith Holland and Kate Durbin with support from Giovanna Olmos. Both artists will be taking part in panels and screenings.

Faith Holland ‘Sub/emissions’ 2015 40″ x 40″ Digital Painting on Canvas, Edition of 3 + 1AP, Transfer gallery, 2015

Kate Durbin’s Hello!Selfie performance yesterday at PULSE Miami Beach, Photo: Rollin Leonard, 2015

Holland brings her orgasm-inspired and cumshot-generated bodies of works—including her figurative and dynamic Visual Orgasms GIF series and juicy abstract Ookie Canvas paintings, comprising a never-seen-before composition called Peter North. Kate Durbin will present video pieces created from footage of previous iterations of Hello!Selfie, a social media-rooted performance that explores and questions selfie culture in public spaces.

DiMoDa VR installation at Satellite Projects fair, 2015

Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William James Richard Robertson offer Satellite Projects, giving fairgoers the chance to experience DiMoDA, an Oculus Rift-powered VR installation. Filled with delightful digital works by artists Claudia Hart, Tim BerresheimJacolby Satterwhite, as well as Aquanet 2001 by Salvador Loza and Gibran Morgado, the nonlinear virtual exhibition opens new perspectives in terms of curation and museum experiences.

On the other side of the bay, Wynwood-located X-contemporary provides viewers with a bunch of activities ranging from panel discussions, art, and DJ performances, to one-of-a-kind projects in addition to the many artworks showcased by the 30 or so worldwide exhibitors.

Dye sublimation on aluminum, Sara Ludy, Fin (Heat sander), 2015, bitforms gallery

Taking over the beach with its huge tent designed by architects John Keenen and Terence Riley of K/R, the new edition of UNTITLED features many international exhibitors—including the NYC-based bitforms gallery—who explore contemporary curatorial cohesion through today’s wide-ranging art practices.

“bitforms gallery has been a part of the contemporary art world for 14 years,” Steven Sacks, director and owner of bitforms gallery tells us.“We have a very specific focus on new media artists covering a wide range of generations and media types.” His booth brings an impressive roster of artworks by artists such as Manfred Mohr, Daniel Canogar, Jonathan Monaghan, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sara Ludy, and Quayola, artists who all strongly contribute to the solidification of new media art within the ruthless contemporary art landscape.

Inkjet print mounted on Dibond, Jonathan Monaghan, Dorilton, 2015, bitforms gallery

“The art fairs are an amazing place to reach thousands of art-centric people and introduce and educate them about our unique program, which typically does stand out amongst more traditional galleries. UNTITLED art fair is a smaller, curated fair with more experimental artists, compared to the larger Art Basel fair, which has a lot more traditional art,” Sacks concludes.

Computer, Kinect, display, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 1984×1984, bitforms gallery, 2014

bitforms gallery’s booth at UNTITLED, 2015

Most of the fairs will run through the December 6, 2015.

Click here for more details about PULSE, and here for more on UNTITLED. Click here to check out TRANSFER booth, and here to check out the bitforms booth.

Related:

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The Definitive Guide to Art Basel Miami 2015, Part One

By  | December 1, 2015

So you’ve made it to MIA for Art Basel 2015, but have you secured a coveted spot on the event’s hautest guest lists? Fear not—we’ve got intel on all the can’t-miss pop-ups, star-studded bashes, and gallery celebrations of the week. Check back for part deux, tomorrow. We hope you remembered to pack your VIP card with your sunnies…

Tuesday, December 1

PAPER Magazine & The Miami Beach Edition Bash
Intel: Celebrate PAPER magazine’s December cover girl Paris Hilton at an intimate, seated dinner.
Location: 2901 Collins Ave., 9:30 p.m. RSVP to johnv@papermag.com

Bello Magazine Kicks Off Art Basel
Intel: The fashion and entertainment mag, with BRAVOTV philanthropist and art gallerist Adriana De Mourainvites Art Basel, invites visitors to join stars from Pretty Little Liars and America’s Next Top Model) for a celebration.
Location: Suitsupply Penthouse, 1000 17th Street., Miami Beach, FL 33139, 6:30 p.m.

W Magazine and Roberto Cavalli Party
Intel: W mag and Roberto Cavalli celebrate the opening of No Man’s Land: Women Artists From the Rubell Family collection.
Location: Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th Street, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Locust Projects Celebrates “Martha Friedman: Pore”
Intel: The nonprofit space Locust Projects is hosting a cocktail reception celebrating Martha Friedman’s new site-specific installation Pore, which includes four sculptures made from 1,000 pounds of rubber (they’re attached to costumes that will be activated during an experimental performance by dancer Silas Reiner).
Logistics: 3852 North Miami Avenue, 7-10 p.m.

MANA Contemporary VIP Dinner
Intel: MANA Contemporary is hosting an exclusive dinner (Zaha Hadid, Dasha Zhukova, Salman Rushdie, etc.) to preview its new exhibitions. Also on tap is a performance by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.
Location: Mana Wynwood Convention Center, 6-8 p.m. Invitate only.

Galerie Gmurzynska Dinner
Intel: Galerie Gmurzynska hosts a cocktail dinner with Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone.
Location: 1116 Ocean Drive, 8:30 p.m. Invite only.

Faena Hotel Unveiling Party
Intel: This exclusive unveiling of the hotel owned by art collector, developer, and hotelier Alan Faena promises a start-studded crowd.
Location: Faena Hotel, 10:30 p.m. Invite only.

SLS South Beach Gallery and Pop-Ups
Intel: The building transforms into a mixed-media gallery for hotel guests, collectors, and tastemakers showcasing artists and collaborations. The series of installations will vary from public art displays to pop-up retail shops. Par example: Laura Kimpton Property-Wide Installations, Africa Aycart Portraits at The Bazaar by José Andrés, Never-Before-Seen Andy Warhol Pieces at Sam’s Lounge, J. Open HeART Installation at Katsuya & Hotel Pool Duck, Poolside Retail Pop-Up Shops.
Location: 1701 Collins Ave.

Brickell City Centre Bash
Intel: Brickell City Centre is transforming one block of its three-block construction site into an event space. Wooden Wisdom (Elijah Wood + Zach Cowie) will set the vibe. VIPs and local influencers will join Brickell for a lighting ceremony of its newly completed Climate Ribbon (150,000-square-foot glass, steel and fabric by designer Hugh Dutton).
Location: Brickell City Centre, 67 SW 8th St., 7 p.m. RSVP to Brickellcitycentre@taraink.com

Boho Hunter Basel Kick Off
Intel: Monica Sordo invites those in MIA to visit Boho Hunter for cocktails, music by Bea Pernia, and a selection of her collection with sales to benefit The Duerme Tranquilo Foundation.
Location: Boho Hunter, 184 NW 27th St., 7-10 p.m.

Tribeca Shortlist “Art on Film”
Intel: The movie streaming service from Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises hosts “Art on Film” with hip hop pioneer, visual artist and filmmaker Fab 5 Freddy (Fred Brathwaite), independent producer David Koh (Submarine Entertainment) and moderated by PAPER Magazine founder/editor David Hershkovits. Following will be a special screening of the film Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.
Location: The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Ave., 6 p.m. RSVP to rsvp@tribecashortlist.com

SoulCycle Pop-Up
Intel: Get your fitness fix at the SoulCycle pop-up studio, which features live art by Brooklyn-born, L.A.-based Gregory Siff.
Location: 1 Hotel South Beach (2341 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), December 1-4

Architectural Digest “Refuge” Preview Party
Intel: Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Architectural Digest, is throwing a preview party with 1 Hotel’s founder Barry Sternlicht and CEO of the LeFrak Group Richard LeFrak.
Location: 1 Hotel South Beach, 6-9 p.m. Invite only.

The Surf Lodge x Art Basel Miami Beach
Intel: Hamptonites, find solace in Miami this week—The Surf Lodge pop-up offers artist-hosted dinners, poolside cocktail parties, pop-up shop, and wellness classes from Equinox Wednesday through Friday at 10 a.m. Expected guests include Jeremy Scott, Rocky Barnes, Rosario Dawson, Daniel Arsham, André Saraiva, Shepard Fairey, and Jayma Cardoso. Pop into the Surf Lodge Pop-Up Shop to peruse brands including Studio 189 from Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Reds, and Del Toro shoes, each day from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: The Hall South Beach (A Joie de Vivre Hotel), December 1-6, 8-10 p.m. Invitation only.

 

Wednesday, December 2

Jeremy Scott Party
Intel: Jeremy Scott hosts his annual exclusive bash.
Location:
Invite only.

W Magazine and Faena Art’s Roller Disco Beach Party
Intel: Stefano Tonchi and Ximena Caminos celebrate the opening ofAngeles Veloces Arcanos Fugaces, an immersive roller-disco installation by Assume Vivid Astro Focus at Faena Beach.
Location: Faena Beach, 36th Street and the Ocean, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

VH1’s The Breaks Lounge
Intel: Join for a private press preview and a VIP performance by Mack Wilds.
Location: The Breaks Lounge, 801 Ocean Drive at 8th Street. Press preview 4-8 p.m., performance 8-9 p.m.

Burberry + Art Hearts Fashion Miami Art Basel Week at Spectrum Opening Night Gala Presented by Planet Fashion TV
Intel: Join for a VIP cocktail reception before a Burberry fashion show, an artistic runway presentation by Art Hearts Fashion featuring designers Amato Haute Couture, House of LiJon Sculpted Couture and Mister Triple X by Erik Rosete. Stick around for a performance by Island Def Jam recording artist Cris Cab.
Location: Spectrum Miami, 1700 NE 2nd Avenue (NE 2nd Ave. at NE 17th St.), 6-9 p.m.

Kim Hastreiter and PAPER Magazine Party
Intel: Grab a drink and crash some cymbals with Kim Hastreiter, Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes, and PAPER’s Mr. Mickey at a singalon featuring accompanying percussion and singing by art and design luminaries.
Location: Meridian Ave. and 19th St., 5-7 p.m. RSVP to mijin.son@civic-us.com

 

Thursday, December 3

PAMM Presents: Dimensions, by Devonté Hynes and Ryan McNamara
Intel: Flock to Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for a one night only performance by Ryan McNamara and Devonté (“Dev”) Hynes, including an original multi-part composition by Hynes, an internationally-acclaimed musician and producer, and sculptural elements and choreography by McNamara, a celebrated performance artist
Location: 1103 Biscayne Boulevard, 9 p.m. to midnight

Brown Jordan and Sunbrella
Intel: The two join photographer Gray Malin for a celebration of art, design and travel, for a first look at the new Miami Design District flagship, an 8,600 square-foot, three-level store of re-imagined native Florida materials, which officially opens January 2016. The event will serve as a “first look” and the store will officially open in January 2016.
Location: 3650 North Miami Avenue

El Tucán
Intel: EL Tucán hosts an exclusive performance by actress and singer Cucu Diamantes, amid trompe l’oeuil murals designed by artist Happy Menocal.
Location: December 3-5, 8 p.m.

The Four Seasons Hosts Antonio Dominguez de Haro
Intel: A retrospective of 17 paintings by Spanish painter Antonio Dominguez de Haro.
Logistics: Four Seasons Hotel, December 3, 6-9 p.m. rsvp@dkcnews.com

EDITION Gallery Pop Up
Intel: EDITION Hotel hosts a pop-up with Bill Powers’ Half Gallery & Harper’s Books and Louis B James Gallery, including book signings by Justin Adian and Sue Williams. On the second floor, virtual artist Jeremy Couillard offers an otherworldly experience with an interactive exhibition.
Location: Bungalow 252, Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Ave. December 3-6. By appointment only.

 

Friday, December 4

Wall at the W Hotel: Paris Hilton
Intel:Paris Hilton spins alongside Mr. Mauricio for an evening presented by Belvedere Vodka.
Location: 2201 Collins Ave, 11 p.m. RSVP to Heidi@Taraink.com.

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Partner \
A Guide to Art Basel: The Must-see Shows and Showcases
Now in its 14th year, Art Basel is bigger and swankier than ever before
Presented By //
T.M. Brown // December 1, 2015

Every year around this time, thousands of dealers, buyers, artists, and scenesters descend on South Florida for Art Basel Miami. Now in its 14th year, the stateside spinoff of the Swiss art fair—and let’s be honest, calling Art Basel an art fair is like calling the Pope a priest—is bigger and swankier than ever before, attracting galleries from all over the globe and providing one of the world’s biggest stages for upcoming artists.

Before we get to all the shows you should be heading to while you’re in Miami, we here at SPIN want to hook you up with an exclusive invitation to K-PAX, a launch event to showcase the collaboration between PAX + K-HOLE, on the rooftop of the Gale South Beach this Friday, December 4th at 5:00 PM, brought to you by the folks at PAX vaporizers.

III Points Art Basel Concert Series (Thursday, December 3 — Saturday, December 5 at Mana Wynwood)
ADVERTISING

If SXSW moved to Berlin for a year, started wearing a lot of Acne and Gosha Rubchinskiy, and got really into DJ Rashad and Rødhåd, you’d have III Points. The three-year old art, tech, and music festival is quickly becoming a compulsory event for people who have traditionally flocked to Austin in March, so when they decide to throw a three-night concert series in the middle of Art Basel, you know it’s going to be good.

Life and Death Showcase with Richie Hawtin (Thursday, December 3 at 9:00 PM)

III Points Art Basel’s opening night brings iconic label Life and Death to Miami for the fourth time in as many years and the Italian powerhouse did not disappoint with its lineup. The showcase at Mana Wynwood brings Tale of Us, Mind Against, and Thugfucker to the DJ booth, providing a collection of artists that weave the worlds of pop, house, funk, and disco into a singular soundtrack. Oh, and techno legend Richie Hawtin just announced he’ll be joining the Life and Death crew as a special guest so those tickets are going to be hard to come by.

Jamie XX and Four Tet (Friday, December 4 at 9:00 PM)

Jamie xx and Four Tet combine forces once again to provide the centerpiece of III Points concert series. If you haven’t heard what these boys can do when they’re in the booth together, listen to their exceptional BBC One Essential Mix from March and prepare to be blown away by the effortless combination of everything from jungle to electro pop to soul into one smooth set. Both are finishing years filled with international acclaim so this set will be something of a victory lap and we’re all the richer for it.

A$AP Rocky and Kaytranada (Saturday, December 5 at 9:00 PM)

A$AP Rocky and Kaytranada close out the III Points concert series but this Saturday night set is anything but a come down. Rocky is fresh off a huge year including his sophomore release At. Long. Long. Last. ASAP and rumors that he’s working on a project with Kanye West, while Kaytranada has been pounding the DJ circuit, plying his funky house trade at every club worth its salt the world over. Both should be in rare form at Mana Wynwood.

Fuck Art Let’s Dance (Thursday, December 3 at The Electric Pickle at 10:00 PM)

By far the best name of any party happening in Miami during Art Basel week—or any party in any city during any other week—the yearly shindig is bringing Kim Ann Foxman, Justin Strauss, and Miami Players Club to the Electric Pickle in Wynwood for a suite of DJ sets mixing deep house tracks with just the right amount of tropical groove. To cap the night off, Miami staples Psychic Mirrors will be playing one of their legendary live sets, mixing together soul, funk, and psychedelic sounds into something singularly South Beach.

Superfine! Jet Set Jubilee (Thursday, December 3 at 8300 Northeast 2nd Avenue at 7:00 PM)

Ever wanted to see Shamir perform while surrounded by an “immersive” 3000 square foot chandelier designed by the Miami-born, Brooklyn-based artist Diego Montoya? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The minds at Superfine! have put together another expertly curated series of concerts in tandem with their impeccable for contemporary art and design. This time around they’ve brought in Shamir—fresh off his acclaimed debut album Ratchet—for a performance that is larger than life. Literally. That chandelier is going to be huge.

Green Velvet and Tiga (Friday, December 4th at Trade at 11:00 PM)

Any show featuring Green Velvet promises to be as strange as it is fantastic. Techno’s resident oddball is ready to take on Miami alongside Tiga, a 1-2 punch that will satisfy hardcore techno purists and newcomers alike. This show is flying slightly under the radar but don’t sleep on it, these two are the real deal.

DJ Mustard and Fabolous (Saturday, December 5th at Toejam Backlot at 9:00 PM)

DJ Mustard’s fingerprints have been all over the pop and hip-hop landscape for the last year and change so it makes sense that he’s the headliner at this Saturday night show. He’ll be joined by rap stalwart Fabolous for a night of throwback hits mixed with Mustard’s signature sound. RSVP at CLSoundtrack[at]fresh.guestcode.com.

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Fashion, Featured

The Fabulous 5.5: Art Basel Planning Guide #3

December 1, 2015

Under the Radar 2015

With dozens of places to go, thousands of things to see, and a million elbows, here are a few special spots. For those of you who make a career at this, or a career out of bragging about this, or travel to go where fewer have gone, here are 5.5 selections.

#5: Ai Weiwei pops up at Basel more than a pop-up. Why 2015? Colored vases from the Mary Boone Gallery at Art Basel. Protesters: please leave Mr. Wei’s vases alone.

Colored Vases

#4: Say my name; say my name: Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. New York’s Salon 94 brings this Aboriginal Australian’s oil paintings to life mirroring textiles and mimicking sand sculpture. If you know about dreamtime, here it is in reality. Also at Art Basel.

 

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri

 

#3: Joris Van de Moortel: This Belgian artist from Antwerp will present his solo work for the first time in the USA presented by the Denis Gardarin Gallery at UNTITLED. The art teacher’s question, “What is going on in this picture?” earns a lengthy response with works from Rotten Sun, Van de Moortel’s sculpted, painted, musical installation.

 

Jan Van de Moortel image by WeDocumentArt

#2: Larissa Bates at NADA in the Fountainebleau. Out of Vermont, Costa Rica, St. Augustine’s Monya Rowe Gallery and ARTADIA, there is something of Italy 1450, Ubud 1980, and Tokyo 2005 in one painting, then outback, desert, and prep school in the next.

 

Larissa Bates

#1: Jennifer Rubell is always on point. Over the years, she has fed Miami’s Art Basel crowd breakfast a dozen times – things like oatmeal, Sun Maid raisins, yogurt, dripping honey, and massive portions of delicious creativity. This year’s food-based installation: Devotion – bread, butter, and a couple to be married later. 9-11am on December 3 at The Rubell Family Collection 95 NW 29th Street.

Jennifer Rubell

 

.5: The weather forecast is bad, on the radar, not under it.

 


b

The North American Premiere Of Isaac Julien’s Commission For The Rolls-Royce Art Programme To Be Shown During Art Basel In Miami Beach

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

GOODWOOD, England, Nov. 17, 2015 — Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, in partnership with the National YoungArts Foundation, will present the North American debut of Isaac Julien’s work Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) during Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. The work by the Turner Prize nominated artist, commissioned as part of the Rolls‑Royce Art Programme, will be shown from 1-5 December 2015 at the National YoungArts Foundation ­– located at the nexus of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, Arts and Entertainment District and Edgewater. The video installation will fill the interior of the magnificent YoungArts Jewel Box across 15 screens, the largest and most impressive presentation of the work to date.

UBS Art Collection Highlights

This year’s annual presentation of work from the UBS Art Collection explores the theme of Inside:Out, complementing and drawing inspiration from the bright, airy and sophisticated redesign of the UBS Lounge and its new hanging garden. The installation features approximately 30 works of art by 15 artists that reflect the notion of bringing the outside in, breaking down barriers between fiction and reality and between public and private space to create images inspired by fantasy, pleasure, sensation, nature and alternative landscapes. A highlight is the newly acquired Native Land (2014), a lightbox by Doug Aitken. Filled with a mosaic of colorful roadside signs, this work highlights the intrusion of advertisements in the American landscape. Additional featured artists include Vija Celmins, Francesco Clemente, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gilbert & George, Andreas Gursky, Catherine Opie, Marc Quinn, Caio Reisewitz, Gerhard Richter, Pipilotti Rist, David Schnell, Simmons & Burke, Xaviera Simmons, Thomas Struth and Corinne Wasmuht. The works, selected by UBS Art Collection Curator for the Americas Jacqueline Lewis, represent a globally diverse range of artists, themes and media, including installations, kinetic sculpture, painting, drawing and photography.

Miami Herald | MiamiHerald.com

UNREALISM

Unrealism: Exhibition of figurative art organized by mega-dealers Jeffrey Dietch and Larry Gagosian. The Moore Building-Elastica, 191 NE 40th St., Design District. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Free. bridgehouseevents.com.

LITTLEST SISTER FAIR

Gallerist Anthony Spinello launches his Little River space with the fourth Littlest Sister, a “faux” invitation art fair featuring 10 unrepresented women-identified Miami artists in a presentation curated by Sofia Bastidas. Each artist has a solo booth; the fair also includes a sector on sound and performance presentations and a series of critical panels exploring arts and real estate, writing, design and collecting. 7221 NW Second Ave.; littlestsister.com. 8-11 p.m. Monday; noon-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Free.

 Sean Kelly X Chrome Hearts: Work by Marina Abramović, Los Carpinteros, Jose Dávila, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mariko Mori, Alec Soth and Kehinde Wiley. Chrome Hearts, 4025 NE Second Ave., Second Floor. Free.

100+ Degrees in the Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art: Work by South Florida artists. 3900 N. Miami Ave., Design District. 11-9 p.m. daily. Free.

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ARTSY

Your All-Encompassing Guide to Miami’s Sprawling Art Scene

By Alexxa Gotthardt

To the contemporary art set, Miami is a place of annual pilgrimage, where productivity and decadence play nice. Each December, gallerists, collectors, artists, and curators make their way to the palm-studded metropolis to sell their wares, mount exhibitions, and party in duds that would make Miami Vice’s Crockett and Tubbs proud. Art Basel in Miami Beach might be considered the nucleus of this activity, but with satellite fairs and ephemeral exhibitions opening in Art Deco monuments and beach bungalows alike, it’s high time to take a comprehensive look at what’s happening across the city’s sprawl, from South Beach to Little Haiti.

Diana Nawi, photo by Mylinh Trieu Nguyen; Emmett Moore, photo by Gesi Schilling; Nina Johnson-Milewski, photo by Gesi Schilling; Jorge Perez.

With guidance from four Miamians—gallerist Nina Johnson-Milewski, artist Emmett Moore, curator Diana Nawi, and collector and philanthropist Jorge Perez—we highlight the art spaces and watering holes of a city where beaches and swamps, American and Latin American traditions, and collections of rare palm trees and blue chip art collide. Our take away: even after the art-crowd’s dust settles, Miami is a mysteriously enchanting place where cultural output of all persuasions churns.

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Miami Beach

Photos by Gesi Schilling.

Edged by sherbet-hued high-rises and beaches dotted with hotel lounge chairs, this skinny strip of land—some call it a sandbar on steroids—is where Miami’s more flamboyant character traits originate. Separated from the mainland by Biscayne Bay, this is the sandy ground on which the holiest Art Deco edifices, flashiest clubs, and the smallest bathing suits consort. It’s also home to sprawling art fairs, beachside pop-up projects, old-school restaurants, and dive bars heralded by glowing neons that look like they were forged in the ’50s.

A. Art Basel in Miami Beach

Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive

After Art Basel expanded to Miami in 2002, settling into the Miami Beach Convention Center (between the beach and the Botanical Garden), the city quickly became an annual stop for collectors and artists. As the parent of an ever-growing brood of art fairs that crop up during the first week of December, this mainstay is the first stop for many people, thanks to its mix of booths from the biggest, bluest-chip galleries and ambitious younger spaces, curated projects, and a constant flow of programming.

B. Design Miami/

Meridian Avenue & 19th Street, adjacent to the Miami Beach Convention Center

Across the street from Art Basel, this sophisticated fair hosts a robust cohort of galleries focused on contemporary and historic design, from immersive architectural environments to jewel-like light fixtures that fit in the palm of your hand, created by the world’s most inspired designers—Giò Ponti, Maria Pergay, and Julie Richoz among them.

Rendering of UNBUILT: Design Miami/ Harvard GSD Pavilion. Courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Insider tip: Don’t miss Kengo Kuma’s nomadic tearoom, rendered completely in plastic, at Galerie Philippe Gravier, or Jean Prouvé’s 1939 military hut—the only one of its kind still in existence—at Galerie Patrick Seguin.

C. Bass Museum of Art

2100 COLLINS AVENUE

Though this museum, founded in 1963 and housed in an impeccably preserved Art Deco structure, is currently under renovation, conceptual artist Sylvie Fleury is hanging her site-specific Eternity Now on the building’s facade from December 1st through May 31st, 2016.

The glowing neon sign is a part of Art Basel and the Bass’s five-year-running public art collaboration in Collins Park, which is adjacent to the museum. This installment, curated by Public Art Fund’s Nicholas Baume, brings works by Sam FallsKatharina GrosseJacob Kassay, and Hank Willis Thomas to the lush lawn.

D. Nautilus, a SIXTY Hotel

1825 COLLINS AVENUE

Two blocks away and right off the beach, a shiny renovation of this hotel is accompanied by activations from “Greater New York” breakout artist Mira Dancy (with a sprawling mural), Katherine Bernhardt (with a plucky fresco on the floor of one of the pools), Eddie Peake (with a mirrored rooftop installation), and other works tucked playfully into idiosyncratic spaces throughout the compound. Curated by Artsy’s Elena Soboleva, Artsy Projects: Nautilus is a collaboration between Artsy and the hotel.

E. The Standard Spa Miami Beach

40 ISLAND AVENUE

Swing by the swank Standard hotel, just off Miami Beach on Belle Isle, for a snack on its expansive deck, or pick up one of Miami-based artist Jim Drain’s limited-edition posters, released for fair week.

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South Beach

A. UNTITLED

Ocean Drive and 12th Street

This curatorially driven satellite fair on the beach boasts booths by The Hole, Taymour Grahne, Steve Turner, and even Aperture Foundation. Throughout the week, performances move through the tent and its surrounding landscape. Don’t miss artist and choreographer Madeleine Hollander’s MILE, beginning each day on the east side of the structure at 4 p.m. Also on our radar is UNTITLED Radio, a series of daily radio shows that replace traditional art fair panel discussions.

B. Scope

801 Ocean Drive

This year marks Scope’s 15th anniversary in Miami. They bring 120 exhibitors along with curated sections Juxtapoz Presents, the Breeder Program, and FEATURE, the last featuring 10 booths that highlight new approaches to photography.

C. La Sandwicherie

229 14th Street

For a much needed dose of sustenance after a long day of fair hopping, grab a stool at La Sandwicherie’s counter, where you’ll likely devour one of their signature sandwiches—all available on a croissant in lieu of bread or bun. Wash it down with a smoothie or early evening beer. Or come back late night for a snack and hazy conversation with the post-party art crowd. It’s one of the few places in South Beach that’s open very late—until 5 a.m.

D. Mac’s Club Deuce

222 14th Street

Miami’s oldest bar, Mac’s Club Deuce is also the city’s greatest dive, offering a swirl of whiskey and jukebox tunes to colorful regulars, pool sharks, and wobbling newbies alike. Last year, its Hawaiian shirt-sporting owner, Mac Klein, turned 100.

Exterior of The Wolfsonian-FIU. Courtesy of The Wolfsonian–FIU.

E. Wolfsonian-FIU

1001 Washington Avenue

This museum is one of the crown jewels of Miami curiosities. Founded by Miami philanthropist and passionate collector-wanderer Mitchell Wolfson in 1986 to house his ever-growing collection of decorative art and propaganda—his collecting habits famously began with a stockpile of treasured vintage hotel keys—this wunderkammer is housed in a boxy, stunningly beautiful Mediterranean Revival building. Up now, don’t miss “Margin of Error,” which takes a look at “cultural responses to mechanical mastery and engineered catastrophes of the modern age—the shipwrecks, crashes, explosions, collapses, and novel types of workplace injury that interrupt the path of progress.”

F. Puerto Sagua

700 Collins Avenue

Insider tip: For a quick, low-key, and delicious bite (don’t miss the flan), take a seat at this Cuban diner—and take home one of their fantastic paper placemats, complete with a vintage Miami map. Take note: after a kitchen fire, Puerto Sagua has temporarily closed its doors but is set to reopen on November 30th, just in time for fair week.

G / H / I. Joe’s, Milo’s, and Prime 112

11 Washington Avenue; 730 First Street; 112 Ocean Drive

Insider tip: For a longer, more luxurious meal, try one of Jorge Perez’s favorites: Joe’s for stone crabs, a local delicacy (everyone wears bibs); Milo’s for fresh fish; and Prime 112 for a nice big steak.

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North Beach

A. Faena Hotel

3201 Collins Avenue

Collector and hotelier Alan Faena’s newest complex fuses a freshly minted hotel with an ambitious art space called Faena Forum, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. While the Forum won’t open until spring 2016, its programming kicks off—and into the streets, during the first week of December, when assume vivid astro focus installs a kaleidoscopic roller-disco on the beach. It’s open to the public, who can take a spin to DJ sets.

Rendering of assume vivid astro focus’s roller rink. Courtesy of FAENA ART.

B. EDITION Hotel

2901 Collins Avenue

While it might be best known for the long lines that amass outside its club (cool-kid magnet BASEMENT), EDITION hosts a set of diamond-in-the-rough projects in its poolside bungalows. If you can find them through the long marble lobby and stand of towering potted banana plants, Louis B. James (Bungalow 262) shows virtual reality-laced works by Jeremy Couillard, and Harper’s Books (Bungalow 252) hosts a signing with artist Sue Williams of her new, gorgeous monograph on December 2nd.

C. NADA

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Avenue

Making a move from the charmingly retro Deauville Beach Resort way uptown to the high-gloss Fontainebleau marks a big shift for the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair, which is focused on younger galleries. From L.A.’s Anat Ebgi to Berlin’s SANDY BROWN to New York’s Karma, its exhibitors are known for bringing an inspired mix of new work into the fold.

D. PULSE

Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Avenue

A couple of blocks north is another fair that’s carved a place for itself on the main drag. From mainstay galleries like Yancey Richardson to groundbreaking nonprofits like Visual AIDS and RxArt, most booths here mount focused presentations of works of two to three artists. Don’t miss the fair’s curated section, PLAY, surfacing innovative video and new media selections from idiosyncratic New York-based curator Stacy Engman.

E. Miami Project and Art on Paper

Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Avenue

Take a cab a few minutes north, and you’ll find satellite fairs Miami Project and Art on Paper, taking NADA’s place at the Deauville Beach Resort. Also filling this hub is a dynamic selection of performance, installation, and new media interventions from SATELLITE, a multipart curatorial effort. We’re especially excited that Brooklyn bar and concert venue Trans Pecos is setting up shop there with sets by Fade to Mind and Michael Beharie, among others.

F. Sandbar Lounge

6752 Collins Avenue

Insider tip: Across the street, visit Sandbar Lounge, a sand-covered dive bar for a drink and game of pool after a long day trekking up the beach.

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Design District

As you pass across the causeway that traverses Biscayne Bay, Downtown Miami’s skyline comes into focus. Behind it lie some of the city’s most dynamic cultural spaces. You might first land in the city’s Design District, just north of highway 195, where boxy warehouses and parking garages have, in recent years, been converted into sharp design shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

A. ICA Miami

4040 NE 2nd Avenue

While its new Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos-designed building begins construction, the one-year-old ICA brings a strong assortment of contemporary exhibitions to its temporary home. This season surfaces a solo exhibition by radical video artist Alex Bag, which Diana Nawi is keenly anticipating. For his part, Emmett Moore is looking forward to future programming: “I’m excited to see the new ICA building. They’ve managed to put on some great shows in their temporary space so I can only imagine what’s in store.”

B. de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space

23 NE 41st Street

Around the corner, visit one of Miami’s acclaimed private art collections, brought into the public sphere by Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. This year, the group show “You’ve Got to Know the Rules…To Break Them” promises irreverent highlights from the couple’s encyclopedic holdings of today’s most influential work.
Insider tip: “The private collections in Miami are amazing troves of contemporary art,” says Diana Nawi.

Installation view of “Beatriz Monteavaro: Nochebuena.” Courtesy of Locust Projects.

C. Locust Projects

3852 North Miami Avenue

Since its founding in 1998, this artist-run nonprofit space has produced a steady stream of experimental projects. This month, it’s a platform for ambitious work by a bevy of young artists—sculptor Martha Friedman, choreographer Silas Riener, installation artist Beatriz Monteavaro, and conceptual artist Martine Syms.

Insider tip: And as you traverse the city, look out for Syms’s NITE LIFE—graphic prints, emblazoned with phrases like “Darling It Won’t Be The Same Always” plastered on city buses and bus stops. They resemble mid-1900s “Chitlin’ Circuit” posters, which advertised shows at venues where black musicians could perform freely and securely during segregation.

D. Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian’s “UNREALISM” at the Moore Building

191 NE 40th Street

Sometime rivals Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian embark on their first collaboration over four floors (about 28,000 square feet) of this Design District architectural gem. Their joint curatorial project, “UNREALISM,” brings together artists—from John Currin to Elizabeth Peyton to Jamian Juliano-Villani—representing a renaissance in figuration.

Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation. Copyright of Larry Bell. Photo by Alex Marks, 2014. Courtesy of Chinati Foundation.

E. Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation at the Melin Building

Suite #200, Melin Building, 3930 NE Second Avenue

White Cube brings Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation—an ethereal installation built from towering, reflective glass panels—to Miami. The Light and Space pioneer’s masterwork promises a quiet, contemplative reprieve from the teeming fairs and sprawling collection shows.

F. Mandolin

4312 NE 2nd Avenue

Insider tip: For lunch or dinner, try one of Nina Johnson-Milewski’s favorites, Mandolin: “It’s such a lovely atmosphere, owned and operated by the nicest people.” It also serves some of the city’s best seafood, on a hidden patio dotted with sky blue chairs and fresh flowers.

G. Michael’s Genuine

130 NE 40th Street

Insider tip: Or for heartier fare in an equally unhurried environment, grab a seat at Michael’s Genuine, opened by James Beard-honored Michael Schwartz. It’s one of Jorge Perez’s favorites. You’ll have no regrets after devouring the Harris Ranch black angus burger (don’t dare skimp on the brioche bun).

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Little Haiti / North Miami

In the 1800s, this area, north of downtown Miami, was covered with lemon groves, from which it drew its first nickname, “Lemon City.” Today, it’s defined by its Haitian immigrant population and burgeoning art scene.

A. Gallery Diet

6315 NW 2nd Avenue

Founded by impresario Nina Johnson-Milewski in 2007, this Miami mainstay recently moved north from Wynwood to a four-building, 15,000 square-foot compound in the heart of Little Haiti. “I’m loving our new home,” says Johnson-Milewski. “For the first time in nearly ten years I have windows and outdoor space. Who knew Vitamin D was so essential?” “Trees in Oolite,” the gallery’s first design exhibition, uses this fresh air to its full advantage. In the complex’s courtyard, brutalist furniture by Emmett Moore, Katie Stout, and Snarkitecture sits among lush mango, avocado, and oak trees. Inside, don’t miss Ann Craven’s solo show of lush skyscapes she painted en plein air in Maine, with the moon and the occasional candle as her only light sources.

B. Spinello Projects

7221 NW 2nd Avenue

This experimental space is up to its old boundary-pushing tricks during fair week with “Littlest Sister,” a conceptual exhibition that calls itself a “faux” art fair, with the tagline “Smallest Art Fair, Biggest Balls.” The project gathers “booths” by 10 women-identified artists, all unrepresented and working in painting, installation, new media, and performance.

C. Michael Jon Gallery

255 NE 69th Street

This gallery’s roster is chock full of up-and-coming artists from across the country—Paul Cowan, Math Bass, and JPW3, to name a few. This month, Sofia Leiby brings bright, active paintings that resemble letters and words breaking out of alphabetic confines and wiggling their way to abstraction.

D. Fiorito

5555 NE 2nd Avenue

Insider tip: Travel south past Little Haiti Park and you’ll find Fiorito, a small Argentinian restaurant that’s “a good local spot for a low key dinner,” says Emmett Moore. “I have dreams about their grilled octopus.”

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Wynwood

Haas & Hahn mural in progress at Wynwood Walls. Courtesy of Wynwood Walls. Photo by Martha Cooper.

Wynwood has become the poster child for the rampant expansion of Miami’s art scene to the mainland, and likewise into the city’s streets. Over the last six years, murals have spread across the concrete walls of the district’s abandoned factories and warehouses. Galleries and private collections have followed suit, marking a cultural renaissance for this formerly industrial neighborhood, nicknamed “Little San Juan” for its still-vibrant Puerto Rican community.

A. Wynwood Walls

2520 NW 2nd Avenue

Pioneered by vociferous street art advocate Jeffrey Deitch, along with late real estate developer Tony Goldman, the murals that make up Wynwood Walls were some of the first carrots to draw the international art set to Wynwood in 2009. Every year, new murals are added to the colorful cohort that includes street art’s most influential names—and some of its undisputed masterworks—from Aiko to Shepard Fairey to Futura to Os Gemeos. This year, 14 new murals and installations (by Fafi, Crash, Logan Hicks, and more) are unveiled.

B. Rubell Family Collection

95 NW 29th Street

Amassed by charismatic patrons Donald and Mera Rubell, this expansive collection is housed in a monumental 45,000-square-foot space that was once owned by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This year, they present “NO MAN’S LAND,” focused on the influential output of female artists ranging from Michele Abeles and Jenny Holzer to Shinique Smith.

Insider tip: Don’t miss Jennifer Rubell’s Devotion, one of the artist’s signature interactive food-based installations that, this year, explores buttering bread as an act of intimacy and interpersonal connection, on December 3rd from 9–11 a.m.

C. The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE

591 NW 27th Street

Housed in a repurposed Wynwood warehouse, this must-see private collection belongs to Miamian Martin Z. Margulies. This year, don’t miss new exhibitions of work by Anselm Kiefer and Susan Philipsz, as well as recent acquisitions of pieces by Mark Handforth, Lawrence Carroll, and more.

D. Spencer Finch’s Ice Cream Truck

3401 NE 1st Avenue

Insider tip: While strolling through the neighborhood, drop by artist Spencer Finch’s ice cream truck. “His solar-powered truck will provide anyone in the area with edible frozen works of art free of charge,” explains Jorge Perez.

Mana Wynwood’s facade. Image courtesy of Mana Contemporary.

E. Mana Wynwood

318 NW 23rd Street

This year, Mana Contemporary unveils a 30-acre campus—every corner devoted to contemporary art and culture—that rivals its much talked-about New Jersey compound. Large-scale exhibitions highlighting three influential private collections (the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, and the Tiroche DeLeon Collection) herald this new mainstay on the Wynwood circuit.

F / G. Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami

3101 NE 1st Avenue

These sister art fairs, the 26-year-old Art Miami and the four-year-old Context, are must-see stops in Wynwood.

H / I. Panther Coffee, Gramps

1875 Purdy Avenue; 176 NW 24th Street

Insider tip: For a caffeine boost, pass through a the doors of a Barry McGee mural-swathed building to Panther Coffee. Or for a stiff drink among creative Miamians, try Gramps, “pretty much the only bar I got to,” says Emmett Moore. “It has a lot of the qualities of old Miami dive bars with some silly artsy stuff mixed in.”

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Park West/Downtown

Taking the southern route from Miami Beach to the mainland, across the MacArthur Causeway, you’ll land in Park West, with Downtown Miami just south of you. Here, skyscrapers house big business and club culture alike. In recent years, the adjacent waterfront, formerly monopolized by the run-down Millennium Park, has transformed into Museum Park, an impeccably manicured landscape of gardens and cultural centers.

A. The Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

1103 Biscayne Boulevard

This stunning museum, which opened its Herzog & de Meuron-designed doors in 2013, recently brought star curator Franklin Sirmans on as director to helm its ambitious program. This fall, don’t miss Nari Ward’s mid-career retrospective, “Sun Splashed,” curated by Diana Nawi, and Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo’s “The Leisure Pit,” which showcases large-scale concrete sculptures, festooned with the occasional flip-flop, that he forged in a swimming pool.

B. Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation

1018 North Miami Avenue

This stunning building, its facade covered in over one million tiles that together resemble a verdant junglescape, houses patron Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’s comprehensive collection of primarily Latin American art. Up now, don’t miss Cuban artist Gustavo Pérez Monzón’s “Tramas.”

C / D / E. The Corner, NIU Kitchen, and Zuma

1035 N. Miami Avenue; 134 NE 2nd Avenue; 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way

Insider tip: For a cocktail (we recommend their Hurricane, complete with passion fruit shrub and pineapple) pop into The Corner, Diana Nawi’s “go-to bar.” For dinner, head south to NIU Kitchen’s beautiful nook for delicious Catalan fare. Or for a more dramatic dining experience, make a reservation at Zuma for elegant Japanese plates enjoyed from a perch overlooking the water.

Photo by Gesi Schilling.

—Alexxa Gotthardt

A Short List of Miami Art Week Events

Gagosian, Stallone and even Edvard Munch are bringing it this year

Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

ven Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Miami Art Week gets a bad rap for being a nonstop rager, what with the Cristal, the caviar and the unicorn rides (trust me, Peter Brant can make that happen). But, in salute to the fact that what’s on view (I’m talking about art, not bikini models) can be just as intoxicating, we picked out just a handful of events that put the emphasis on art.
For a huge and updating list of events, see observer.com/art

MONDAY NOVEMBER 30

Isaac Julien | Commission for Rolls-Royce Art Programme in Miami for Art Basel in Miami Beach
Opening
Jewel Box, National YoungArts Foundation
2100 Biscayne Boulevard
And we’re off! Rolls-Royce, the choice car of haughty old Englishmen and ’90s rappers, has commissioned a new work by influential British artist Isaac Julien titled Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) to be shown at the YoungArts Jewel Box as part of Art Basel Miami Beach 2015. Covering 15 screens, Mr. Julien’s tour-de-force was shot inside isolated glacial ice caves in the Vatnajökull region of Iceland. The artist interpreted this remote landscape as a metaphor for the subconscious, a place of rich beauty that can only be accessed through psychoanalysis and artistic reflection. Damn that’s deep! So if you’re rollin’ through Miami’s Wynwood District this year in your souped up KIA, maybe stop into this exhibit for a much-needed ego (and id) check.

A moon painting by Anne Craven. (Photo: Courtesy of Maccarone, New York)

A moon painting by Anne Craven. (Photo: Courtesy of Maccarone, New York)

Gallery Diet
Ann Craven’s I Like Blue 
Opening reception
6315 NW 2nd Avenue
5-8 p.m.
A teacher’s influence lasts a lifetime. Prime example: One of painter Ann Craven’s former students from a class in 2004 eventually decided to open a gallery in the Basel host-city of Miami. That student was Nina Johnson-Milewski, owner/director of Contemporary art collector favorite, Gallery Diet. Cut to 2015, and that student is about to open a show of her former teacher’s work at her new location in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Little Haiti. Ms. Craven’s painterly goodness is reason enough to see this show—she has serious chops—but this will also be the best place to find crusty die-hard Miami locals, the art lovers who run this city for more than just one week out of the year.

TUESDAY DECEMBER 1

Jarry Deigosian.

Jarry Deigosian.

“Unrealism”
Organized by Gagosian Gallery and Jeffrey Deitch
Moore Building
3841 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami
Opening reception 5-8 p.m.
This is kind of like when the Penguin and the Riddler teamed up for the very first time: it was fearsome yet wildly entertaining. But what has finally brought former art world foes Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch together under one Design District roof? Figurative painting, of course. You just know it will be a humdinger, too, with works from both the older guard like John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton and David Salle and the very new guard, which includes young hotshots like Jamian Juliano-Vilani and Ella Kruglyanskaya. It’s all part of the evil duo’s diabolical plot to reallocate collector funds to their secret offshore lair, part of a grander scheme to take over the world… Can nothing stop them?

Yo! Adrian, Picasso, et al.

Yo! Adrian, Picasso, et al.

Galerie Gmurzynska ‘dinatoire’ for Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone
Villa Casa Casuarina
1116 Ocean Drive
8:30 p.m. Private
Guest curator Germano Celant organized the Art Basel Miami booth for this Zurich gallery with some top-notch artists (Picasso, Dubuffet, you know, the usual masterworks) and there’s a party in honor of this fact. It will be held at the sumptuous Villa Casa Casuarina, better known as the former castle-like home of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace, a.k.a. the Versace Mansion. Oh and the star of such mega-hits as Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! and Rhinestone should be making the scene…Mr. Stallone is an accomplished painter himself, f.y.i. Sadly, the event is invite only, but if you Netflix Rocky in your hotel while drinking little bottles of booze from your mini-fridge, you can convince yourself it’s more or less the same thing.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 3

NADA Miami Beach 2012 Photo by Andrew Russeth)

NADA Miami Beach 2012 (Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Russeth)

NADA Miami Beach art fair
Private preview
Fontainebleau Miami Beach 
4441 Collins Avenue
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The market for emerging art is as dead as Dean Martin, right daddio? Wrong. That’s exactly what these fat cats want you to think so they can get all the primo goodies for themselves. Well, we can’t let that happen, can we? This is what you do: set four alarm clocks the night before. Print out your list of potential emerging art targets. I suggest you wear something that you can move well in (a track suit maybe) and show up to the Fontainbleau a few hours early. You might even want to wear some elbow and kneepads. The Horts are not afraid to throw an elbow or two when jockeying for position in front of the Canada gallery booth, and you shouldn’t be either. Okay, deep breath… Let’s do this.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 4

8d609ec7922ef783ea8a71772a967092 A Short List of Miami Art Week Events

Miami meet Munch.

Edvard Munch Art Award
Shelbourne Hotel South Beach
1801 Collins Avenue
By invitation, or Art Basel First Choice
VIP card
Now this is a big deal. The Edvard Munch Art Award is back after an almost 10-year hiatus, and the winner will be announced in Miami during Basel Week (yes, that thud is the sound of  Munch rolling over in his grave.) The 500,000 NOK award (roughly $58,000) is given to “an emerging visual artist, no older than 40 years of age, who has demonstrated exceptional talent within the last five years.” The award also includes a solo exhibition at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. Not a bad haul. That, plus the fact that the reception should be filthy with good-looking Scandinavian models, has us considering this party a rather hot ticket.

–HAMPTONS MAGAZINE
What to Expect at Art Basel in Miami Beach This YearBy Matt Stewart | November 20, 2015 | Culture
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Art & Culture

The Fabulous 5.5: Art Basel Planning Guide #2

November 17, 2015

Top Art Basel Bar Escapes 2015

Walking around during Art Basel exhausts everyone. Feet hurtin’, eyes burnin’, throat in need. Like a European museum tour, it doesn’t take long for one to burn out. If you are of age, liquid respite beckons.

Who has what it takes near the venues?

Consider these 5 places to escape, and a few semi-non-suggestions.

 

Do Not Sit5. Do Not Sit On the Furniture is not a command, but a location at 423 16th Street and the premier beach club for the subterranean set. It’s dark, tight, and a global DJ hideout/paradise. It’s designed like Europe — unpretentious and built for dance.

Regent4. The Regent Cocktail Club: On the corner of 17th and James right in the thick of all things on the Beach rests the regent in the rear of the Gale. No place on the Beach feels this much like the famous old-time, pricey, classy New York City barrooms like the King Cole in the St. Regis or Bemelman’s at the Carlyle. If Cleaveland Jones and his Trio are playing like they often do on Thursday nights, settle in for a few delightful, stirring Brazilian-tinged sets. They got skills.

Radio Bar3. Radio Bar South Beach: All those burnt sienna, earthy tones minus any vestiges of natural light make for a good post-modern, post-apocalyptic vibe. It’s both contemporary and sci-fi Twilight Zone – if something happens outside, you might drink your way through it. Easter Island mugs, a pool table, and stylish cocktails contribute. 814 1st Street and looking very different outside from inside.

Broken Shaker2. Broken Shaker: The old Indian Creek Hotel became the Freehand Hostel and these Bar Lab dudes, Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi got semi-famous and started making freaky cocktails and suddenly, yeah like, you know, the place got very hip. Amid the gorgeous patio garden are serious cocktails making waves like this one a while back: Kale and Pineapple Caipirinha. 2727 Indian Creek Drive. You can also chill upstairs at 27.

Repour1. Repour: Established in 2015, Repour has developed serious rapport going as far as the bar in Miami Beach least likely to reveal photos showcasing it. Laid back on the beach, lots of handwritten stuff, rarely overcrowded, and beautiful drinks make this locally popular spot in the lobby of the Albion a champion.

.5 Less than worthy: Take your pick. Cool bad-secret is out backroom Bodega, gorgeous view/too tight dresses at Juvia, UFC/NRA/armed to the teeth/hidden entrance Foxhole, no one can stand it but Anthony Boudain Club Deuce, but none of which could ever be worse than rock-bottom Clevelander (except maybe Mangos).

 

MIAMI NEW TIMES

Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 Party Guide

Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 Party Guide

Photo by Nate “Igor” Smith/drivenbyboredom.com

Spring break forever.

Yes, art world, Art Basel in Miami Beach is almost here. And you can pretend all you want that you’re coming to Miami exclusively for the high-brow art and lectures, but nobody’s going to judge you if you manage to get some serious partying done while you’re in town. This is Miami, and if there’s one thing we’re really good at, it’s partying.

And rest assured, there will be tons of parties during Miami Art Week. From the completely free to invite-only, here is the most complete collection of musically driven, nightlife events — with a dash of art thrown in, because, you know, we aren’t savages. And thanks to a generous 5 a.m. closing time — 24 hours in Miami’s Park West district — there’s plenty of time for you to make an Art Basel mistake. (Good news is that mistake probably has a flight back to New York to catch on Sunday.)

Check back often for updates, because we will continue to update this list as more events get announced. Don’t see your event listed here? Send us an email.

Tuesday, December 1

Slap & Tickle Art Basel with Dave1. 10 p.m. Tuesday, December 1, at Bardot, 3456 N Miami Ave, Miami; 305-576-5570; bardotmiami.com. Tickets cost $15 to $20 plus fees via showclix.com.

Favela Beach with Mr. Brainwash, Jus-Ske, Ruen, and Reid Waters. 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 1 at Wall Lounge, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3130; wallmiami.com. Tickets cost $50 to $70 via wantickets.com.

Wednesday, December 2

Behrouz & Friends Art Basel Edition with Damian Lazarus, Behrouz, and Bedouin, Wall Lounge, 2210 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $50 via wantickets.com.

A Very Superfine! Kickoff Party with Baio (of Vampire Weekend) and Lauv, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via superfine.design/tickets.

Thursday, December 3

PAMM presents “Dimensions” by Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ryan McNamara, Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Open only PAMM Sustaining and above level members as well as Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami, and Art Miami VIP cardholders.

Life and Death Art Basel with Tale Of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker, and special guest Richie Hawtin, Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors 9 p.m.; tickets $15 to $66 via residentadvisor.net.

Connan Mockasin, Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $15 to $20 via showclix.com.

A Jetset Jubilee with Aeroplane with a super special guest (TBA), presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via superfine.design/tickets.

Immortal Technique with Hasan Salaam, DJ Static, and El B. 7 p.m. at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets cost $25 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Ages 18 and up.

Friday, December 4

When Pigs Fly presented by Link Miami Rebels with artists TBA, Trade, 1439 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $15 to $35 via residentadvisor.net.

tINI and Bill Patrick, Heart Nightclub, 50 NE 11th St., Miami. Tickets $20 to $30 via residentadvisor.net.

Safe Off/Basel 2015 with Martyn, the Black Madonna, and Diego Martinelli, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $18.35 to $21.15 via residentadvisor.net.

Miami Nice Art Basel, All-White Yacht Party, South Beach Lady, Hyatt Dock, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $60 via wantickets.com.

Jamie xx and Four Tet, presented by III Points and Young Turks, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors 9 p.m. Tickets $25 to $400 via showclix.com.

Miami Hearts Design, hosted by Karelle Levy with a KRELwear living installation, with Afrobeta and Millionyoung, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $15 via superfine.design/tickets.

Avey Tare (Animal Collective) DJ set with Byrdipop and Uchi (live), Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $15 to 20 via showclix.com.

Nakid Magazine Issue Release Party celebrating Jen Stark. 10 p.m. Friday, December 4, at Libertine, 40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-363-2120; libertinemiami.com. Admission is $10.

Saturday, December 5

Danny Howells, Do Not Sit On the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $20 via residentadvisor.net.

Crew Love Art Basel with Soul Clap, PillowTalk (live), Nick Monaco, Navid Izadi, Jeremy Ismael, and Miami Players Club, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $15 to $35 via residentadvisor.net.

Big Times in Little Haiti with Jeffrey Paradise (of Poolside), Gilligan Moss, and Krisp, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel at 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via superfine.design/tickets.

David Squillace. 11:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at Wall Lounge, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3130; wallmiami.com. Tickets cost $40 to $70 via wantickets.com.

Sunday, December 6

The Visionquest Experience with Visionquest (Lee Curtiss, Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves), DJ Three, Behrouz, and more, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $20 to $30 via residentadvisor.net.

Dark Basel with Necro and Madchild. 7 p.m. at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets cost $20 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Ages 18 and up

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Market News

NADA Miami Beach Will Move to the Fontainebleau Hotel

The Fontainebleau lobby.COURTESY FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH

The Fontainebleau lobby.

COURTESY FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH

NADA Miami, the New Art Dealers Alliance’s fair during Art Basel Miami Beach in December, will be moving to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Collins Avenue for its 2015 edition. NADA opened in Miami in 2003, and in 2009 moved to the Deauville Beach Resort, in North Miami Beach, where the fair remained through last year.The de la Cruz Collection is doing a survey show loaded with art stars working in abstraction.

==
The ICA Miami

ALEX BAG

On view December 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016

ICA Miami will present a solo exhibition dedicated to video and performance artist Alex Bag during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2015. On view in ICA Miami’s Atrium Gallery, The Van (Redux)* centers around one of Bag’s key videos, The Van, 2001, and features a dramatic new site-specific installation. This exhibition marks the first major U.S. presentation of the artist’s work since 2009.

 

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The Rubell Family Collection

Genzken I Schauspieler
Isa Genzken, Schauspieler, 2013

NO MAN’S LAND

Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection

December 2, 2015, through May 28, 2016

 

The Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view in Miami from December 2nd, 2015 through May 28th, 2016. This exhibition will focus on and celebrate work made by more than a hundred female artists of different generations, cultures and disciplines. These artists will be represented by paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations that will entirely occupy the Foundation’s 28-gallery, 45,000-square-foot museum. Some galleries will contain individual presentations while others will present thematic groupings of artists. Several installations have been commissioned specifically for this exhibition.

In order to present the exhibition’s scope and diversity the Foundation will rotate artworks on view throughout the course of the exhibition, presenting different artists at different times. All of the artworks in the exhibition are from the Rubells’ permanent collection.

Other exhibitions organized by the Foundation include 30 Americans, which is currently on view at the Detroit Institute of Art through January 18, 2016 and 28 Chinese which is currently on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art through January 3, 2016. 30 Americans has now been presented at 9 institutions and seen by over one million people.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays will accompany the exhibition. A complimentary audio tour will also be available.

To celebrate the opening of NO MAN’S LAND, Jennifer Rubell will be presenting Devotion, her 12th annual large-scale, food-based installation on December 3, 2015 from 9 to 11 a.m. Devotion will explore the everyday gesture as a medium for the expression of love. Using bread, butter, and a couple engaged to be married as her media, Rubell will transform the simple act of cutting and buttering bread into a poetic exploration of repetition as devotion

 

List of artists:

Michele Abeles
Nina Chanel Abney
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Kathryn Andrews
Janine Antoni
Tauba Auerbach
Alisa Baremboym
Katherine Bernhardt
Amy Bessone
Kerstin Bratsch
Cecily Brown
Iona Rozeal Brown
Miriam Cahn
Patty Chang
Natalie Czech
Mira Dancy
DAS INSTITUT
Karin Davie
Cara Despain
Charlotte Develter
Rineke Dijkstra
Theo Djordjadze
Nathalie Djurberg
Lucy Dodd
Moira Dryer
Marlene Dumas
Ida Ekblad
Loretta Fahrenholz
Naomi Fisher
Dara Friedman
Pia Fries
Katharina Fritsch
Isa Genzken
Sonia Gomes
Hannah Greely
Renée Green
Aneta Grzeszykowska
Jennifer Guidi
Rachel Harrison
Candida Höfer
Jenny Holzer
Cristina Iglesias
Hayv Kahraman
Deborah Kass
Natasja Kensmil
Anya Kielar
Karen Kilimnik
Jutta Koether
Klara Kristalova
Barbara Kruger
Yayoi Kusama
Sigalit Landau
Louise Lawler
Margaret Lee
Annette Lemieux
Sherrie Levine
Li Shurui
Sarah Lucas
Helen Marten
Marlene McCarty
Suzanne McClelland
Josephine Meckseper
Marilyn Minter
Dianna Molzan
Kristen Morgin
Wangechi Mutu
Maria Nepomuceno
Ruby Neri
Cady Noland
Katja Novitskova
Catherine Opie
Silke Otto-Knapp
Laura Owens
Celia Paul
Mai-Thu Perret
Solange Pessoa
Elizabeth Peyton
R.H. Quaytman
Aurie Ramirez
Magali Reus
Marina Rheingantz
Bridget Riley
Cristina Lei Rodriguez
Pamela Rosenkranz
Amanda Ross-Ho
Jennifer Rubell
Analia Saban
Lara Schnitger
Collier Schorr
Dana Schutz
Beverly Semmes
Mindy Shapero
Nancy Shaver
Cindy Sherman
Xaviera Simmons
Lorna Simpson
Shinique Smith
Lucie Stahl
Jessica Stockholder
Sarah Sze
Aya Takano
Fiona Tan
Mickalene Thomas
Rosemarie Trockel
Kaari Upson
Hannah Van Bart
Paloma Varga Weisz
Marianne Vitale
Kara Walker
Mary Weatherford
Meg Webster
Carrie Mae Weems
Jennifer West
Sue Williams
Haegue Yang
Anicka Yi
Lisa Yuskavage

 

EXHIBITION SPONSORS:

2015 16 sponsors 2

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THE MARGULIES
COLLECTION
AT THE WAREHOUSE
OPENS TO THE PUBLIC
WITH NEW EXHIBITIONS
OCTOBER 28, 2015 THROUGH APRIL 30,, 2016

2015-2016

What are the new acquisitions on exhibition this year?
Anselm Kiefer, Susan Philipsz, Meuser, Lawrence Carroll, Mark Handforth, Liat Yossifor

Who are the artists new to the Warehouse collection?
Susan Philipsz, Mark Handforth, Liat Yossifor

What artists have permanent installations at the Warehouse?
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Anthony Caro, Willem de Kooning, Donald Judd, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Flavin, Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Amar Kanwar, Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Franz West

Checklist of Artists in this year’s Exhibitions
Magdelena Abakanowicz, Ronald Bladen, Martin Boyce, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Anthony Caro, John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, Willie Doherty, Ursula Schultz Dornburg, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Dan Flavin, Kendall Geers, Antony Gormley, Mark Handforth, Michael Heizer, Pieter Hugo, Hans Josephsohn, Amar Kanwar, Anselm Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Meuser, Domingo Milella, Jackie Nickerson, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Simcha Shirman, Alec Soth, Michael Spano, Franz West, Pavel Wolberg, Manabu Yamanaka

 ==

NYTimes
Miami’s art museums are grabbing headlines with splashy staff hires and well-heeled additions to their boards. Yet when it comes to actual artwork, the city’s marquee collectors — and their personally run exhibition spaces — continue to steal the show. The latest example of “The Miami Model”? A sprawling retrospective from the German blue-chip artist Anselm Kiefer that fills nearly a quarter of the 45,000-square-foot Margulies Collection at the Warehouse — a garment factory transformed into a showcase for art holdings of the real estate developer Martin Margulies.The exhibit opens Wednesday, but “it will be up forever,” Mr. Margulies said. “If you think I ever want to go through this again … .” he trailed off, motioning to the flurry of activity throughout the Warehouse this week. Mr. Kiefer directed a small army of art handlers whirring about on hydraulic lifts, racing to install an array of 25,000-pound detritus-filled sculptures, 10-feet-high neo-runic paintings, and charcoal wall inscriptions, just hours before a dinner benefiting the Lotus House homeless shelter. The works include the new sculpture, “Ages of the World,” a 17-foot stack of 400 unfinished canvases, lead books, rubble and dried sunflowers.Mr. Margulies played down the show being any kind of aesthetic shot across the bow of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, despite his public feud with that institution over its continuing to receive millions in tax dollars from a struggling community rather than relying solely on private contributors. Instead, Mr. Margulies hoped visiting schoolchildren would learn from Mr. Kiefer’s handiwork: Don’t let meager materials limit your vision. “They should realize this is the creative process of an artist.”Mr. Kiefer, 70, remains a controversial figure within the art world, alternately lionized and denounced for artwork invoking both World War II Germany and the kabbalah. Some see transcendent statements, others a reduction of the Jewish experience to kitsch. Both factions will find plenty of grist at the Warehouse, where Mr. Kiefer’s works refer to everything from the poet and Nazi labor camp survivor Paul Celan to the Old Testament’s Lilith.“Important work always creates polarization,” Mr. Kiefer explained. “The victims understand. Those people who see in me a glorifier of fascism — when you look into them, you find they have something to hide themselves.” As for the distinction between having his work shown in a “private” versus public museum, Mr. Kiefer hoped the former would proliferate. Collectors should be free to bypass museum curators, he said, and lavishly pursue their own tastes. He compared the phenomenon with the early 20th-century construction of public libraries by moguls like Andrew Carnegie: “I think it was J. P. Morgan who said, ‘If you die rich, it’s a mistake.’ ” BRETT SOKOL
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The de la Cruz Collection

The de la Cruz Collection presents their 2016 exhibition “You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them.” Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz have selected a group of artists from their personal collection who have been associated with defining 21st century practice. Self-aware of the influence that technology and the rise of consumerism has had on their work, artists exhibited follow the cool forms of Minimalism, Conceptualism and Abstract Expressionism, while injecting their works with subtle negations of their own process. Looking at traditional techniques behind painting and sculpture, these works co-exist timelessly as strategies of stylistic appropriation raise questions of subjectivity and originality.

“You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them” contextualizes New American Abstraction with German Neo-Expressionism, revealing earnest explorations of the artists technical acumen.Through experimentation, they antagonize accepted practices by drawing upon a variety of themes including cultural, historical and sociopolitical modes.

Per contra, the third floor contains a study in portraiture and memory with the works of Félix González-Torres, Ana Mendieta and Rob Pruitt. By transforming everyday objects and using energetic gestures and repetition, González-Torres, Mendieta and Pruitt accept diverse ideologies and reject the notion that art has a single vantage point.

By merging a variety of styles and mediums, the works selected for this year’s exhibition mirror contemporary culture while allowing an open-ended conversation of various interpretations and possibilities. Artist in the exhibition: Allora & Calzadilla, Tauba Auerbach, Walead Beshty, Mark Bradford, Joe Bradley, Dan Colen, Martin Creed, Aaron Curry, Peter Doig, Jim Drain, Isa Genzken, Félix González-Torres, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Rachel Harrison, Arturo Herrera, Evan Holloway, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, JPW3, Alex Katz, Jacob Kassay, Martin Kippenberger, Glenn Ligon, Michael Linares, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Ana Mendieta, Albert Oehlen, Gabriel Orozco, Jorge Pardo, Manfred Pernice, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price, Rob Pruitt, Sterling Ruby, Analia Saban, Josh Smith, Reena Spaulings, Rudolf Stingel, Cosima von Bonin, Guyton/Walker, Kelley Walker, Christopher Wool.

===

Mana Contemporary Announces Its 2015 Miami Art Week Program

Presenting exhibitions from three of the most prestigious private art collections in the United States.

Nov 03, 2015, 16:01 ET from Mana Contemporary

MIAMI, Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Mana Contemporary is pleased to announce its second edition of programming during Miami Art Week, taking place from December 3 to 6, 2015. Held at Mana’s 30-acre campus in the Wynwood arts district, this event will inaugurate the central 140,000-square-foot building’s new role as the Mana Wynwood Convention Center.

Mana Contemporary will present a diverse roster of exhibitions and programs, including:

Made in California: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation
Made in California—a phrase popularized in Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking text/image works—will be a must-see exhibition during Miami Art Week. Frederick R. Weisman was a pioneering Los Angeles collector of California art as it emerged as a center for contemporary art in the 1960s. He built a collection that includes many of the artists that rose to prominence under the legendary Ferus Gallery, and who went on to define art movements such as Light and Space, Finish Fetish, Postmodernism, and beyond. Under the direction of Mrs. Billie Milam Weisman, the foundation continues to amass a substantial collection of Los Angeles and California art. On view will be works by John Baldessari, Mary Corse, Ron Davis, Sam Francis, Joe Goode, Tim Hawkinson, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha, among many others.

A Sense of Place: Selections from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection
Co-curated by Patricia Hanna and Anelys Alvarez
Including a selection of over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Pérez, A Sense of Place is an exhibition that explores cultural identity by way of the collection’s recent acquisitions of works by artists from Latin America. Despite the fact that these artists are working in a globalized world, where technology and communication transcend physical boundaries, many of these artists continue to construct personal and cultural identities by exploring ideas that are specific to their contexts of origin. The show will examine the idea of building cultural identity, and how artists use abstraction, architecture, politics, and memory to carve out a sense of place, and how those concerns are reflected in Pérez as a collector and Miami as a developing city. Pérez, named one of the most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by TIME magazine, is considered a visionary for incorporating the arts into his South Florida real estate developments.

Everything you are I am not: Latin American Art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection
Curated by Catherine Petitgas
Everything you are I am not presents a selection of key works of Latin American contemporary art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. Borrowed from a piece in the collection by Argentine artist Adrian Villar Rojas, the title of the exhibition alludes to the common practice among contemporary artists from the region to subvert the canons of mainstream art to produce thought-provoking, often humorous works. With 55 pieces by 30 artists, the exhibition will explore several different facets of this approach. The Tiroche DeLeon Collection was established in January 2011 by Serge Tiroche and Russ DeLeon with a focus on the up and coming art scenes of Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. London-based Petitgas is one of the world’s most respected collectors of Latin American art, as well as a writer, lecturer, and art historian.

Mana Urban Arts x Bushwick Collective
Mana Urban Arts Project is collaborating with Bushwick Collective to bring live graffiti painting by 50 influential artists to Mana Wynwood’s RC Cola factory. Renowned artists include: Ghost (New York), GIZ (New York), Pixel Pancho (Italy), Case Maclaim (Germany), and Shok-1 (England). The industrial space adjacent to Interstate 95 will transform into a vibrant scene featuring a skateboarding exhibition, breakdancing, DJ performances, and live music.

ALSO ON VIEW AT MANA WYNWOOD

PINTA Miami
PINTA Miami is the only curated boutique art fair with a specific geographic focus that looks to be an international platform for Ibero-American art identities and issues. The fair will showcase the best of abstract, concrete, neo-concrete, kinetic, and conceptual art movements. PINTA has updated its format to present a fully curated fair, featuring an international team of recognized curators chosen to direct each of the five newly designated sections of the fair.

SPECIAL EVENTS

VIP Preview Reception
An exclusive preview dinner will feature a performance by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

III Points Music Festival
In partnership with III Points, Mana Contemporary will present a series of after-hours music events in Mana Wynwood’s 36,000-square-foot sound stadium.

SHOW INFORMATION

Mana Contemporary
December 3-6, 2015
Mana Wynwood Convention Center
318 NW 23rd Street
Miami, FL 33127
www.manacontemporary.com

Preview Reception
Tuesday, December 1: 6pm9pm: By invitation only

Public Hours
Thursday, December 3: 11am – 8pm
Friday, December 4: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, December 5: 11am – 8pm
Sunday, December 6: 11am6pm

Admission
Admission to Mana Contemporary’s events at Mana Wynwood is complimentary, unless otherwise noted. For tickets and information regarding PINTA Miami, please visit pintamiami.com.

 

Art Basel is just a month away. Last year the fair attracted 73,000 visitors to the Miami Beach Convention Center and this year’s 14th edition looks to be even bigger and better, with 267 galleries from 32 countries exhibiting from December 3rd to the 6th — plus the former head of NYC’s Armory Show, Noah Horowitz, is now running the fair.

Rendering of the new Miami Beach Convention Center
Work on the $615 million renovation of the convention center is scheduled to begin as soon as AB/MB ends, so look for big changes next year. The $20 million re-do of Lincoln Road is also moving along with NYC’s James Corner Field Operations, the firm that did The High Line, winning the contract to update the original Morris Lapidus design from the 1950s.

All the AB/MB side-sectors return, including SURVEY with 14 booths showing “historically informed” works; NOVA, where you’ll find 34 younger galleries showing new works; and sixteen POSITIONS galleries focusing on emerging artists, including Villa Design Group‘s installation of 10 doorways derived from the scene of the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace on Ocean Drive and, “Polyrhythm Technoir,” a filmed “allegory to contemporary electronic music” by Henning Fehr, Danji Buck-Moore and Phillip Ruhr, presented by Galerie Max Mayer.

UNBUILTYves Behar is the recipient of the 2015 Design Miami “Design Visionary Award” and he’ll be honored with a special exhibit in the D/M venue behind the convention center from December 2 through 6. A student team from Harvard was chosen to design the fair’s entrance pavilion for their submission, “UNBUILT,” a collection of foam models of unrealized design projects. Expect thirty five exhibitors including Firma Casa from Brazil, showing new works by the Campana Brothers, and Italian gallery Secondome,with hand-crafted limited editions.

Several changes and new editions are coming to the numerous — 18 and counting — satellite fairs: Miami Project and Art on Paper move into the Deauville Beach Resort (6701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach), the former site of the NADA fair; while the 13th edition of NADA heads down the street to the Fontainebleau (4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach).

The Miami Project is also launching a new spin-off this year called SATELLITE that will show various “experimental” projects in unoccupied properties up near their 73rd Street base. One of those, “Artist-Run,” will fill the rooms in the Ocean Terrace Hotel (7410 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach) with different installations from 40 artist-run spaces, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid. It’s open from December 2nd to 6th, with a VIP/media event on December 1st from noon to 10 p.m. ALSO: Trans-Pecos, the music venue out in Queens, New York, and Sam Hillmer from the band Zs, are putting together a 5-day music program in the North Beach Amphitheater, emphasizing “musical practitioners with some form of art practice.”

Grace HartiganX Contemporary also joins the crowd with their inaugural edition in Wynwood running from December 2nd through Sunday, and a VIP opening on December 1st from 5 to 10 p.m. Twenty eight exhibitiors will be on hand, plus special projects including “Grace Hartigan: 1960 – 1965” presented by Michael Klein Arts; a look at the “genesis of street art” curated by Pamela Willoughby; and “Colombia N.O.W.” presented by TIMEBAG.

Kate Durbin’s “Hello Selfie” / Courtesy of the Artist/Photographer Jessie AskinazPULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. on December 1st featuring a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic, an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. Fair visitors can check out “TARGET TOO,” an installation referencing items sold at the stores, originally on view in NYC last March. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood WallsWynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has a lot planned this year including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Goldman Properties’ CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick talks about how art transformed the Wynwood neighborhood in THIS Miami New Times piece. We also hear that New York developer (and owner of Moishe’s Moving, Mana Contemporary etc.) Moishe Mana is planning a new mixed-use development on his 30 acres of land in the middle of Wynwood.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU (10975 SW 17th Street. Miami) will have 5 exhibitions featuring 4 Miami-based artists: Carola Braco, Rufina Santana, Carlos Estevez and Ramon Espantaleon. Plus there will be a show called “Walls of Color” with murals by the post-war NY artist Hans Hofmam and, this year, the annual “Breakfast in the Park” on Sunday, December 6th, 9:30 a.m. to noon, honors American sculptor Alice Aycock.

Pauchi Sasaki’s speaker dressThe Mandarin Oriental Miami (500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami) and Peru’s gallery MORBO host an exhibition called “Pure Abstraction” by Peruvian artist Alex Brewer, aka HENSE, in the hotel’s Peruvian restaurant, La Mar by Gaston Acurio. There’s a VIP preview in the restaurant on December 3rd featuring a violin performance by Pauchi Sasaki who’ll be wearing her dress made from speakers.

A previous food installation by Jennifer RubellThe Rubell Family Collection (95 NW 29th Street, Miami) will present a big exhibition called “No Man’s Land” featuring women artists from their extensive collection. It’s up from December 2nd until the end of May and will include paintings, sculptures, photos and videos by over 100 female artists. Because of the large number of works, artworks will be rotated throughout the course of the show. Jennifer Rubell will present her twelfth large-scale, food-based installation,”Devotion,” on December 3rd, 9 to 11 a.m. She’ll be using “bread, butter, and a couple engaged to be married” as her media.

Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” from the air.

“Our Hidden Futures” is the overall theme for this year’s AB/MB film program. Over 50 films and videos will be screened on the giant projection wall outside of the New World Center (500 17th Street, South Beach), plus over 80 more can be accessed in the convention center film library. The Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach) will be showing director James Crump’s Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art on Friday, December 4, 8:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Crump and Basel film curator Marian Masone. The evening screenings in SoundScape Park include short films with program themes ranging from “Speak Easy” to “Vanishing Point.”

Rachel in the Garden (2003), by John Currin; © John Currin. Photography by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian are co-presenting an exhibition of figurative painting and sculpture in the Moore Building (3841 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami). The opening is on Tuesday, December 1st, but it will be on view all week. According to the NYT, artists featured in the group show will include Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and David Salle.

Since 2005, the KABINETT sector of AB/MB has invited galleries to display curated installations. This year, there are 27 exhibitions including a new work by L.A. artist Glenn Kaino called “The Internationale” that re-interprets the iconic Pierrot character — and his “only friend,” the moon — interacting with visitors via “seminal texts on post-colonial theory.” Galerie Krinzinger will be showing Chris Burden’s “Deluxe Photo Book 1971 -1973,” documenting the first three years of his performances. And Galerie Lelong will present a selection of shaped, “erotic” canvases by the Puerto Rico-based artist Zilia Sanchez.

CONTEXT Art Miami, the sister fair to Art Miami, will feature 95 international galleries this year, along with several artist projects and installations including 12 listening stations dedicated to sound art; areas dedicated to art from Berlin and Korea; solo exhibitions by Jung San, Satoru Tamura, Mr. Herget and four others; and a “fast-track” portrait project of workers at Miami International Airport. Context and Art Miami — which is celebrating its 26th year — open with a VIP preview benefiting the Perez Art Museum Miami on Tuesday, December 1, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 2901 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown, Miami. The fair is open to the public from December 2nd through the 6th.

“Coven Services” (2004) by Alex Bag

ICA Miami (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) presents a new theatrical performance called “Artist Theater Program” by Erika Vogt, Shannon Ebner and Dylan Mira on Thursday, December 3rd at 4 p.m. Ebner also has a concurrent show, “A Public Character,” on view in the museum during AB/MB and up until January 16, 2016. This is the inaugural program in the museum’s new performance series. Also opening on December 1st is a major survey of works by the video and performance artist Alex Bag, including her interactive installation “The Van.” The museum recently announced the appointment of Ellen Salpeter, Deputy Director of NYC’s Jewish Museum, as its new director and they’ve just broken ground on a new, permanent home in the Design District. The 37,500 -square-foot building was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos and is scheduled to open in 2017.

Installation by Alan SonfistMiami’s “art hotel” The Sagamore (1671 Collins Avenue, South Beach) has a new installation by environmental/landscape sculptor Alan Sonfist on view all week, along with their incredible Cricket Taplin Collection of contemporary art. The hotel’s annual VIP brunch — featuring a new Electronic Arts Intermix installation — is on Saturday, December 5th, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Subway Station” by Louis Lozowick

The INK Miami Art Fair celebrates their 10th anniversary and maintains their exclusive focus on printmaking and works on paper. They’re back in the Suites of Dorchester (1850 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from Wednesday, December 2nd, through Sunday. Highlights include a lithograph by Louis Lozowick called Subway Station, NYC (1936) at Susan Teller Gallery’s booth and A World in a Box (2015) by Mark Dion published by Graphicstudio/U.S.F.

New York-based branding and event collective FAME is popping-up in Miami from December 2 to 6 with their ” Superfine! House of Art & Design” (8300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) in Little Haiti. They’re promising “the arty party of the year” with a big opening night December 2nd, 6 to 10 p.m, featuring a gigantic chandelier installation by Diego Montoya and music all week from Gilligan Moss, Lauv and more TBA. Plus, Afrobeta plays on Friday at a party hosted by PAPER fave, textile artist Karelle Levy.

The fourth edition of UNTITLED Miami is on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street from December 2 to 6, with a big VIP preview on December 1st from 4 to 8 p.m. They’ve got 119 international galleries along with non-profit orgs from 20 countries. New this year will be an UNTITLED radio station broadcasting via local Wynwood Radio with interviews, performances and playlists by artists, curators etc.

Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Part 3

 

Things are really starting to come together at Argentine developer Alan Faena’s new residential and arts district between 32nd and 36th Streets on Collins Avenue. By the time AB/MB rolls around, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach should be up and running, and construction is now complete on the Foster + Partners residential tower. The Faena Forum (above), designed by OMA Rem Koolhaas, should be open in April 2016. For Basel Miami 2015, they’ve planned a series of cool events including: A roller-disco installation by assume vivid astro focus that will be open to the public daily on the beach and feature local and international DJs; a “theater curtain” installation called “A Site To Behold” by Spanish artist Almudena Lober that lets visitors play alternate roles of “actor” and “performer”; and a site-specific “sand and light” installation by Jim Denevan.

The Perez Art Museum Miami (aka PAMM) — designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron — had it’s big debut in 2013 in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. On December 3rd, 2015, 9 p.m. to midnight, they’ll be premiering a collab performance by Devonte Hynes of Blood Orange and Ryan McNamara called “Dimensions” that includes elements of dance, music and sculpture. Also, during this open house for members and VIPs, you can check out their current exhibitions including Nari Ward’s “Sun Splashed,” Firelei Baez’ “Bloodlines,” and a show of Aboriginal Australian abstract painting.

Moishe Mana’s Mana Contemporary (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood plans several exhibitions during AB/MB including “Made in California,” featuring selections from L.A. collector Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation; “A Sense of Place,” with over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Perez; and “Everything You Are Not,” key works of Latin American art from the Tiroche DeLeon collection. All are up from December 3rd thru the 6th, with a VIP preview on December 1st. Mana Urban Arts is also doing a collab with The Bushwick Collective at the former RC Cola Plant (550 NW 24th Street, Miami) that includes over 50 artists — so far the list includes Ghost, GIZ, Pixel Pancho, Case Maclaim and Shok-1 — plus skateboarding, DJs, live music etc.

Lots of music events and parties are starting to come in, including a show with Jamie xx and Four Tet on Friday, December 4th, in the Black Room at Mana Wynwood (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami), presented by III Points and Young Turks. Tickets are available HERE. At the same venue, Life & Death records presents Tale of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker and “special guest” Richie Hawtin on December 3rd. Tickets are HERE. We also hear that Danny Howells will be spinning at Do Not Sit On The Furniture (423 16th Street, Miami Beach) on Saturday, December 5th; and Marco Carola and Stacey Pullen are at Story (136 Collins Avenue, South Beach) on Saturday, December 5th.

Photo via

Two young London-based artists, Walter & Zoniel, will set up a large, hand-built camera in the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from December 2nd to the 5th for a performance piece called “Alpha-Ation.” They’ll be creating exclusive, hand-colored portraits of “high-profile” figures all week and have already shot Lindsay Lohan and Tinie Tempah. The work is presented by the UK gallery Gazelli Art House. There’s also an invite-only reception with the artists at the Delano on Saturday night.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

AB/MB’s Conversations and Salon series brings together artists, curators, gallerists, historians, critics and collectors for 23 talks and panels all week. Jenny Holzer and Trevor Paglen kick things off on December 3rd, 10 to 11 a.m., in the Hall C auditorium. Other “conversations” include London’s Serpentine co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist on Friday morning and Genius Grant winner Nicole Eisenman on Sunday. In the Salon series, Obrist will also moderate a conversation between artist Alex Israel and author Bret Easton Ellis on “the evolution of the L.A. art scene.”

L.A. painter and installation artist Lisa Solberg will preview her latest project, “Mister Lee’s Shangri-La,” at Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) on Saturday, December 5th. The work — “an immersive exotic dance club sheltered inside a greenhouse” — will then be on view at MAMA Gallery (1242 Palmetto Street, Los Angeles) in L.A. as of December 19th.

Photo by Julian Mackler/BFA.com

Adrien Brody isn’t just a great actor. He’ll be showing several of his paintings during AB/MB in a show called “Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Handguns” at Lulu Laboratorium (173 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood. The show was curated by Spanish-American artist Domingo Zapata and the big opening party starts at 10p.m. on December 2nd.

Calypso St. Barth Beach Boutique pops-up in the Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) all week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. They’ll also be hosting VIP events for artists including Jen Stark and Mira Dancy.

The National YoungArts Foundation‘s (2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) current show, “The Future Was Written,” features an interactive work by Daniel Arsham that asks visitors to use any of 2,000 chalk objects to draw on the gallery walls. On view until December 11th.

Chrome Hearts celebrates their new collaborators, Laduree and Sean Kelly Gallery, on December 2nd, 8 to 11 p.m., in the Chrome Hearts (4025 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) shop in the Design District with a private, VIP party featuring works by Sean Kelly artists including Marina Abramovic, Los Carpinteros, Jose Davila, Robert Mapplethorpe and many more. Also there’s a special performance by Abstrakto and DJ set from Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor.

The MoMA Design Store and online skate deck site, The Skateroom, will open a pop-up in the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from November 30th to December 6th. The “immersive installation” will sell limited-edition skateboard decks featuring Andy Warhol artworks including his Campbell’s Soup cans, Guns, Car Crash etc. A portion of the proceeds will go to Skateistan, a non-profit org that uses skateboarding to empower youth. The private VIP opening is December 2, 8 to 11 p.m.

Louis Vuitton (140 NE 39th Street, Miami) will be presenting “Objets Nomandes” — a new collection of foldable furniture and travel accessories — in their new store in the Design District during AB/MB, as of December 3rd. The pieces are collabs with international designers including the Campana Brothers, Maarten Baas and Nendo. You can also check out the world-exclusive unveiling of a lounge chair designed by Marcel Wanders.

ArtCenter/South Florida has an “off-site” installation called “D.O.A.” by the Israel-based artist Dina Shenhav over in Miami’s Little River District at 7252 NW Miami Court. Shenav will create a hunter’s cabin filled with “hunter” paraphernalia sculpted from yellow foam. Up from November 29th until the end of January.

Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Part 4

Gary Pini

One of our fave AB/MB sectors, PUBLIC, just announced this year’s list of 26 artists who’ll be doing site-specific installations and performances all week in Collins Park. Several caught our eye: a jemstone-encrusted “Healing Pavilion” enhanced with “metaphysical properties” by Sam Falls; a group of tall chairs from the original production Robert Wilson’s “Einstein on the Beach;” a giant set of red lips by Sterling Ruby; and a monumental deer lawn ornament by Tony Tasset. Opening night is Wednesday, December 2nd, 7 to 9 p.m., and it features a female tai chi master, male bodybuilders, men on skateboards, a dandy hobo and an evening performance by Yan Xing.

Tony Tasset, Deer, 2015Photo cred. Kavi GuptaSCOPE returns to South Beach from December 2 to 6 (VIPs get in on the 1st) with 120 exhibitors from 22 countries, plus several special sections including Juxtapoz Presents, the Breeder Program for new galleries and FEATURE, showcasing photography. For a fourth year, the fair collabs with VH1 on a music series featuring up-and-coming artists. There’s also an invite-only party with recording artists Mack Wilds and Lil’ Dicky on Friday night at Nikki Beach, sponsored by SCOPE, VH1 and BMI.

As usual, there are lots of cool things happening at The Standard Miami (40 Island Avenue, South Beach) during the week including: The Standard X The Posters launch of their collab poster by Miami-based artist Jim Drain to celebrate the hotel’s 10th anniversary (available in the hotel’s gift shop), a VIP-only cocktail party hosted by Andre Saraiva, a book signing with Cheryl Dunn for her “Festivals Are Good,” a “chopped art” party with the Bruce High Quality Foundation and, of course, there’s the annual Lazy Sunday BBQ hosted this year by Creative Time on December 6th.

The design team of George Yabu & Glenn Pushelberg return to the BASEMENT nightclub in the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel (2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) for an invite-only party with London’s Horse Meat Disco crew and special guest Giorgio Moroder on Thursday, December 3rd. They’re also hosting a private luncheon in the hotel’s Matador Room on Friday and launching a biannual “bookazine” called YP: Transformation, with the first issue available exclusively in the EDITION Hotel during AB/MB.

The EDITION also hosts pop-up exhibitions by NYC galleries in two of their fab bungalows: Half Gallery and HarperCollins Publishers will feature paintings by Daniel Heidkamp, an installation by Tom Sachs and book signings by Justin Adian, Sylvie Fleury and Sue Williamson; Salon 94 will have an installation by Jeremy Couillard.

JJeremy Couillard, Bowery Video Wall, 2014PULSE Miami Beach (4601 Collins Avenue, Indian Beach Park) just announced their 2015 series of special projects including: a neon installation by Texas artists Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming, a sculpture called “Trees” by Gordon Holden, a faux apartment building by Chris Jones, “Over and Under” by Francis Trombly and a small architectural piece inspired by Corbusier by New York artist Jim Osman. The fair’s PLAY section for video and new media will be curated by Stacy Engman.

Francis Trombly, Over and Under, 2015Bortolami Gallery is opening a year-long exhibition called “Miami” by the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren on December 1st in the M Building (194 NW 30th Street, Miami). The show marks the 50th anniversary of his works with fabric and the 8.7 cm stripe. By periodically installing new works, Buren will also alter the exhibition during the year.

Daniel BurenSpanish luxury fashion house LOEWE (110 NE 39th Street, Miami) opens a group show called “Close Encounters” on Wednesday, December 2nd, 6:30 to 9 p.m. The artists are Anthea Hamilton, Paul Nash, Lucie Rie and Rose Wylie; and the hosts for the evening are Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, with Don and Mira Rubell. Invite only.


Anthea Hamilton, Dance, 2012

Previewing their upcoming South Beach studio, SoulCycle will pop-up poolside at the 1 Hotel (2341 Collins Avenue, South Beach) starting on Tuesday, December 1st. They plan to open permanently in the hotel in January 2016.

Absolut Elyx, Sean Kelly Gallery, Paddle8 and Water For People celebrate WATER, “the most important drink in the world,” with a private charity auction and party at the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) on Thursday, December 3rd, 7 to 10 p.m. Look for a live performance by the Swedish singer Elliphant and a DJ set by Jasmine Solano.

ElliphantPhoto Cred. Corey OlsenRicardo Barroso and Eva Longoria celebrate the launch of “Ricardo Barroso Interiors” at Casa Tua (1700 James Avenue, South Beach) on December 3rd. The book includes 240 color photographs of his past and present work, with an accompanying text by Barroso and Fionn Petch and a foreword by Longoria. Invite only.

Ricardo BarrosoMolteni (4100 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) celebrates their 80th anniversary on December 3rd, 7 to 10 p.m., with a VIP soiree featuring “Amare Gio Ponti,” the first film about the legendary Italian architect and designer.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/142146817
Libertine, one of the new clubs in downtown Miami’s 24-hour party district, hosts a release party for Nakid Magazine‘s latest issue and their cover artist Jen Stark on Friday night, December 4th. Stark recently collab’ed with Miley Cyrus on MTV’s VMA Awards and has a new installation at Miami International Airport.

Jen StarkCorona brings their “Electric Beach” to the Clevelander Hotel (1020 Ocean Drive, South Beach) on December 5th, 3 to 8 p.m., with a live performance by Chilean artist DASIC, and tons of music from Craze, Astronomar, Ape Drums and TJ Mizell.

DasicBrown Jordan and Sunbrella are getting together to showcase photographs by Gray Malin at a sneak-peek preview of Brown Jordan’s new store in the Design District. The invite-only opening is on Thursday, and the store should be open at the beginning of the new year. Some of the photos from the show will be on view there permanently and others are from Malin’s personal collection.

Gray Milan, A La Plage, 2012The Surf Lodge pops-up all week at The Hall South Beach Hotel (1500 Collins Avenue, South Beach) with a series of invite-only artist dinners, events and performances.

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Fantasy Formalist Painter Nicole Eisenman: Interviews, Images & Texts

 

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W magazine

Culture » Art & Design » Nicole Eisenman: Brushes with Greatness

Eisenman with works in progress.

Nicole Eisenman: Brushes with Greatness

One of eight women artists who are storming the boys’ club.

“I take downtime seriously,” Nicole Eisenman says over the phone from her summer house on New York’s Fire Island a week after the seasonal hordes have cleared out. “It’s lovely when no one’s here.” For the Brooklyn-based painter, the moments between exhibitions are often when her brain opens up to new strategies—like when, in 2009, she traded elaborate storytelling in the form of classically painted scenes of, say, a convivial beer garden for simpler, masklike works similar to those included in the MoMA show. “For me, it was really a different approach,” Eisenman, 49, says of the paintings, which hover somewhere between figuration and abstraction. “These portraits are about color, shape, balance, symmetry. It’s as close to pure formalism as I’m probably ever going to get.” Not that she’s entirely forsaken narrative: Recently, Eisenman moved out of the Williamsburg house she shared with her then-partner and their two children—whose bedroom there is covered with murals she did years ago—and into an apartment nearby. “The kids have a whole new mural now.”

The Jewish Museum


Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman’s Seder at the Jewish Museum

View of Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman’s Seder, The Jewish Museum, New York. Photo: David Heald.

Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman’s Seder at the Jewish Museum

Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman’s Seder
On view through August 9, 2015

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128w.thejewishmuseum.org

In the latest installment of the Masterpieces & Curiosities exhibition series, Nicole Eisenman’s Seder (2010), a painting commissioned by the Jewish Museum as part of Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism (2010–11), is presented with portraits and objects from the institution’s vast holdings. Eisenman infuses her work with dark humor, contemporary fears and desires, and knowing critiques of pop culture and art history. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view Eisenman’s Seder in context with seldom-seen yet important collection works that help illuminate her painterly approach and her chosen subject. Paintings by Leon Kossoff, Hyman Bloom, Raphael Soyer, and Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, among others, complement an array of Seder plates from the 18th century to the present, two of which were created by Eisenman for this exhibition. Also on view are two paintings by the artist’s great-grandmother, Esther Hammerman, on loan from the Eisenman Family. Through this varied display of artworks and historical objects in dialogue, Eisenman’s Seder can be seen as both responding to and advancing a storied visual and material tradition of Jewish culture.

Nicole Eisenman was born in Verdun, France, and received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2005, she and the artist A. L. Steiner cofounded Ridykeulous, an artist-run collective that focuses primarily on queer and feminist art and produces exhibitions, performances, and publications. Eisenman was awarded the Carnegie Prize in 2013. Eisenman lives and works in New York.

Public programs

A Closer Look gallery talks
March 30; April 6 and 20; May 4 and 18; June 8 and 22; July 6 and 20; August 3

This in-depth exploration of select works of art in the exhibition galleries occurs Mondays at 1pm.
Free with museum admission. Find out more here.

Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman’s Seder is organized by Joanna Montoya Robotham, Neubauer Family Foundation Assistant Curator. The series is organized by Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, and Daniel S. Palmer, Leon Levy Assistant Curator.

Public programs at the Jewish Museum are made possible by endowment support from the William Petschek Family, the Trustees of the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Foundation, Barbara and Benjamin Zucker, William W. Hallo, the late Susanne Hallo Kalem, the late Ruth Hallo Landman, the Marshall M. Weinberg Fund, with additional support from Marshall M. Weinberg, the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Foundation, the Saul and Harriet M. Rothkopf Family Foundation and Ellen Liman.

Additional support is provided by Lorraine and Martin Beitler and through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

ART IN AMERICA
Jun. 15, 2012

Nicole Eisenman’s Prints and People

Nicole Eisenman working at Harlan & Weaver, New York.

Eight months ago, Nicole Eisenman locked her paints away and turned exclusively to prints. Operating feverishly in four different workshops, both alone and in collaboration, the Brooklyn-based artist has produced a trove of works in various mediums—etching, lithography, monotype and woodcut. Her large, inventive monotypes—colorful works focusing a big head, or on a single figure or two in playful combinations—were her contribution to the most recent Whitney Biennial, often singled out for praise in reviews of the show. Eisenman is currently exhibiting her prints in all mediums at Leo Koenig Gallery in New York, through June 30.

Eisenman first achieved notoriety in the early 1990s for her graphic brilliance, as demonstrated in drawings that she produced in profusion, at small and grand scale. The irreverence of her content—what was newly being called “queer” art—was at that time something unprecedented. Drawings ranged from one-off sight gags on tiny scraps of paper to giant murals depicting all-female scenes—shipwrecks, desert islands, an under-water film shoot—replete with sex and violence. In a wall drawing at the 1996 Whitney Biennial, she depicted the destruction of the Whitney Museum itself. While over the years she has tempered the excesses of her subject matter, Eisenman has returned to graphic exuberance in her recent prints. Her tone has darkened in these works, but she is no less experimental in her exploration of form and content.

With one of her collaborators, Andrew Mockler of Jungle Press, Eisenman took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum and looked at dozens of historical prints. One senses the ghostly presence of printmaking artists from the past—Beckmann and Picasso, Goya and Munch—in the works on view. But, as Mockler observes, “she’s just able to digest all that stuff and make it an Eisenman.”

A.i.A. caught up with Eisenman on the heels of her Koenig opening.

FAYE HIRSCH: I remember a conversation you and I had a few years ago about prints. You were getting ready for a collaboration at Yale—Rochelle Feinstein’s program of getting an artist and a master printer to collaborate.

NICOLE EISENMAN: Yeah, I was asked to pull some prints out of the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection and talk about them to the students. Then there was a separate visit—they invite artists to make a print in the print shop, and then the printer gets one, the artist gets one and Yale gets one, which is a brilliant idea. I don’t know why every school doesn’t do that. And they got [master printer] Craig Zammiello to come do the etching.

I’d toyed around with etching here and there. I learned how to do it in college when I was in Rome—really basic cross-hatching techniques and stuff like that. But it takes a concentrated effort to get to know a material as complicated as any of these processes are.

Especially lithography: still after nine months of doing it, I am as at much of a loss as I was when I first started. Etching I get. You throw acid on the metal and it burns the metal. But try to explain to me how water and oil etch a rock. I don’t get it. I can’t even frame my questions about it.

HIRSCH: I am very struck by how, with each of those processes, you do something completely different. And also by how historically savvy they are. Do you think about Beckmann or Munch?

EISENMAN: I do. As I started this project I read a lot of books and made trips to museums. Andrew took me to the print collection at the Met. I was getting a crash course in the history of printmaking. Munch is someone I looked at a lot, and Picasso was absolutely the number one man for etching. I can’t get enough of Picasso’s etchings. You don’t really understand how fucking brilliant they are until you try to do it yourself. It’s a little bit of the frustrating thing about printmaking—it kind of looks easy, and it’s really not. The level of density he gets—it came as a beautiful surprise.

HIRSCH: You really made a decision to concentrate on printmaking for a period of time.

EISENMAN:  I’ve been working in my studio for seven years painting, but in August I packed up my oil paints in a big strong box with a lock. I whitewashed the walls and the floor. And I scrubbed and disinfected every inch of it. So I had this beautiful white cube, and I started a yearlong works on paper and prints project.

HIRSCH: Why did you decide to do that?

EISENMAN: I don’t know. I think I went to the [IFPDA] print fair [in New York], I don’t know. I’m trying to remember where it came from.

HIRSCH: It seems like such a natural fit.

EISENMAN: That’s what it is. I like works on paper. My origins, back in the ’90s, were in works on paper. I was going back to that place, but not directly. I would have these processes sort of mediate the drawing.

HIRSCH: You’ve also been working at workshops—in lithography with Andrew Mockler at Jungle Press in Brooklyn, and in etching with Felix Harlan and Carol Weaver at Harlan & Weaver on Canal Street. Those are really high-end collaborators. What about the monotypes?

EISENMAN: I did those myself at the amazing Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, in upstate New York. I rented time on their press. It’s a women’s collective, just beautiful. Anyone can go there, and they give grants to some people so they don’t have to pay anything. It’s a good old-fashioned women’s collective, really well run, with really good equipment. I made the monotypes I’m showing at the gallery there. The ones at the Whitney I did in Brooklyn on a press I rented from [artist and master printer] Lothar Osterburg.

And there’s another press I’ve been working with in Brooklyn on the woodcuts, called Ten Grand Press, which is Marina Ancona’s—she’s kind of a new kid on the block. She has a great little shop.

HIRSCH: Those woodcuts are incredible. I’ve never seen anything quite like them.

EISENMAN: Really? That’s so nice.

HIRSCH: How did you and Marina get those strange colors? The values are close, but the hues so unexpected.

EISENMAN: All this stuff is so much a result of collaboration.

HIRSCH: Did that draw you to prints specifically?

EISENMAN: Part of the appeal of prints for me was getting out of the solitude of my studio. I was going through a difficult breakup. Being able to go to a shop—having standing appointments with three different shops and three different sets of people three times a week—really kept me going through the fall and winter.  Having that company, that distraction and camaraderie, was kind of a life-saver.

HIRSCH: Technically those prints are amazing, and you have always just known how to draw. But I did find the subject matter to be rather dark—even though there’s still all this clowning around and playfulness, especially in the monotypes. It seems a lot about loneliness, about going out to bars and crying.

EISENMAN: Part of this came from looking at Picasso’s prints. He was able to siphon raw feeling—his reactions to a drama he created, really, between his mistress and his wife. He poured it all into his Suite 156 etchings. They’re so gorgeous and heartfelt and heart-wrenching. And looking at those I felt free, like permission had been granted  to let it be as personal as I needed it to be.

HIRSCH: Well it definitely works. Have you found you work very differently in the different studios?

EISENMAN: The personalities definitely affect what’s going on. When I work alone, or with Marina, it’s easier for me to open up the queer and sexual subject matter. But what all three have in common, which is so much fun, is the willingness to experiment, to push the limits. Harlan and Weaver were just incredibly patient; there’s such a learning curve in etching. The stuff I did at the beginning was pretty straightforward, but the last—that beer garden—there are a lot of complex, different processes going on in that print.

All the shops present different atmospheres. Each is really a reflection of its [proprietors’] hearts and brains, and you’re walking right in and making yourself at home. Harlan and Weaver have a really beautiful, almost gentle, old-world style—so gorgeous and civilized. We have lunch everyday at noon, and all the interns, everyone working there—we all eat together. They touch a different era. Andrew is just a nut, he’s really fucking hilarious, he sings a lot, and the atmosphere at Jungle Press is fun and goofy.

The tough part is that you’re working in front of people; there’s an awkwardness of having to think on the spot. That’s why there are a lot of scenes of people drinking.

HIRSCH: What do you mean?

EISENMAN: When you don’t know what to do, draw people drinking. [Laughs] It’s become a never-ending subject matter for me, with all sorts of variations—something I’ve been doing for a long time. There used to be a little more violence than there is now. People are not cutting and stringing each other up as much as they used to, but they’re drinking together, which is nicer. Though it’s the same idea.

HIRSCH: When I see your bar and dinner scenes, I think about the “Café Deutschland” paintings by Jörg Immedorff. I think of your beer gardens, which have portraits of your friends in them, as a latter-day society of creative people that you’re a part of, an homage to that queer, bohemian culture.

EISENMAN: The pictures of people drinking together show an aspect of a community I feel part of, but it’s also a fantasy showing the best of times. There is something that already seems past tense about those scenes—they are a nostalgic fantasy, which is a feeling I get sometimes even in those moments [when we’re together].

I was looking at Bonnard a few years ago. All those beautiful paintings where the centerpiece of the painting is this big white dinner table. That was a big inspiration.

HIRSCH: You’ve also mentioned—much to my surprise—Renoir.

EISENMAN: He was my favorite Impressionist by far, if I had to pick a favorite. His paintings are really gorgeous. There’s just something joyful about showing people celebrating together.

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(The following is a conversation between Butt Johnson and Nicole Eisenman.  Butt underwent the grilling process by David Kennedy-Cutler, who had been previously grilled by Ruby Sky Stiler, who had been interrogated by Talia Chetrit, who was thrust into the spotlight by yours truly, Johnny Misheff.  You see what’s going on here by now, right?  Yes, you’re right!  Eisenman will now get to pick someone to interact with about whatever she chooses.  See?  It’s FUN!)

AUGUST 2010

I first met Nicole Eisenman when I was an undergrad at RISD….she gave a talk about her work and I was immediately drawn to her sense of humor and the way she was able to use a myriad of techniques to create different images and ideas. As an impressionable young artist I found her approach liberating but also saw a sincere commitment to a thorough exploration of painting — I’ve been an avid follower of her work ever since. Her recent show at Leo Koenig seemed to me to exemplify this, and I really felt the impact of that as a bold statement about making paintings in the contemporary art world. So when she agreed to be interviewed about her work, I decided to jump right in: 

BJ: Do you see the act of painting as an intellectual pursuit, and does the object of virtuosity interest you? Do believe in the idea of the masterpiece? 

NE: I’m not that interested in virtuosity. That makes me think of Michelangelo’s David… couldn’t care less, Sir! I do believe in The Masterpieces though, like this or these: 

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NE: (continued) Virtuosity (we’re talking about the ability to handle paint here) can help to make a masterpiece but it’s not a necessary element. There are lots of different elements that make a masterpiece in various combinations like humor, touch/texture, pattern, conception, color, passion – for starters. Yes, painting is an intellectual pursuit; it’s also an emotional and spiritual pursuit, a kind of reckoning with the infinite possibilities of the universe. The pursuit is for an understanding of the deep patterns that make up our lives and that go beyond intellect and into the realm of the body – via paint. It’s the internal reacting to the external; the paint expresses the former and representing the latter. The payoff is the moment when you bring something to life that has never existed before anywhere else.

BJ: I’m with you that masterpieces can take many (or any) form (and love Picabia)…it’s such a weighty concept, was curious to hear (or see) your thoughts. Looking at your work over the years, you have hit so many different directions in how you paint, I think in asking about virtuosity I was trying to get at ways you are able to switch it up – seems to me that your skills as a painter have helped you really nail some ideas and generate such powerful images because you can work in all these different languages.  Is that something you think about?  Or maybe you just feel comfortable taking risks in your studio and kind of winging it that way? 

Some examples:

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NE: That’s a pretty great compliment.  Thanks, man!  I’ve put the focus in the last few years on buffeting homogeneity in my work and only in the last 2 or 3 years has it come together. I had a mini retrospective a few years ago at the Kunsthalle Zurich; it looked like a totally disjointed group show!  I realized that the slipperiness of my so-called style was at the heart of the show and it was interesting bouncing around all these differing realities.  I began thinking about how within a painting, different things want to be painted different ways.  I can’t imagine its very FUN to continue to work at a process you’ve gotten comfortable with or mastered, so you push into unknown territory to work out new ideas.  Paintings inevitably get good when you give up hope, then it’s easy to take a risk because there’s nothing to lose. It’s all about ruining shit and thus saving it from predictability.  Not to say I don’t have a studio overflowing with broken paintings that are beyond redemption.

BJ: How do you think about the idea of the one liner in your work… (i.e. Jesus Fucking Christ, Alice in Wonderland) lots of jokes in paintings of yours from the 90s and maybe less so in newer paintings. Is that something you have thoughts about? 

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NE: Yeah, at some point around ’01-’02 I got tired of jokes, of trying to be funny.  I wanted to focus on painting.  Painting isn’t a great medium for jokes.  It can be, to an extent.  Kippenburger made funny paintings.  Maybe some of my paintings are slightly funny but it’s a different kind of humor, not one-liners.

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BJ: and a follow up — how does that mean you are now able to explore more complex themes?  Or be more open about your interior life in your work?

NE: Maybe I am more open, who knows?  In the 90’s I was often the subject of my work, I really put myself out there.  Now the paintings feel more connected to my subconscious and dream life, and the themes are more personal and complex — actually they’re so complex I don’t know what they are half the time. The emotional range of my early stuff is fairly one dimensional; it was all about anger.  Now my anger is punctuated by rage… and joy and sadness and whatever else there is. 

BJ: You grew up in Westchester right?  As a former suburbanite, have ideas about the “city” entered your artistic consciousness in a way you ever think/thought about?  How has your perception of NYC and yourself as a New Yorker affected your work over your career?

NE: Yup, I grew up in the suburbs.  I was born into that universe and as a kid, as far as I knew, it was good.  When I was old enough to come into the city to hang out, I immediately hated the bullshit agenda of the suburbs.  I guess I was 15 when I started checking out the art world, the clubs, music… it was a fun and raw scene in the east village in the 80s; I became enlightened to the possibilities.  I guess the city wrenched me out of my cocoon of childhood.  Well, it depressed me too, because the difference between normative suburban culture and freaky punk fucked-up city culture where there seemed to be this amazing smorgasbord of ideas was stark!  Such was life before the internet.  Now everybody has access to everything.  There were obvious advantages to being in NY after college, I met a lot of artists and curators who where hugely influential.  It’s hard to sort out what the city’s influence has been on my work, it’s like asking what the temperature’s influence is on my work.

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BJ: Yeah, true, I guess it could be chalked up to an “everything in life” type thing – but was wondering how/ if you see yourself as a NY artist — especially because you’ve been painting scenes from the city recently — seems like its become a subject in your work? 

NE: I don’t really see myself as a New York City artist.  That makes me think of the Ashcan school or Abstract Expressionists.  I draw so much from European painting, I see myself more aligned with German art culture.  However, yes, the city (mostly bars in the city) turn up in my work.  I have been painting stuff from my life, people I know, places I frequent. 

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BJ: You had a pretty well-read blog (ha, or I read it in any case) in the early wild west days of blogging, but ended it in like 2006(?) or so…how did blogging affect your work and do you miss that presence? 

NE: Oi, the blog.  I loved that activity… at first.  Creating a little zine for a handful of friends who were mostly blogging as well was amazing; we’d have these hilarious conversations with each other.  In its own little way it caught on and I realized the extent to which I was exposing myself so I pulled back.  I enjoyed scouring obscure corners of the Internet, but that hobby wore itself out.  It gets tiresome reading and forming opinions on every damn thing: what’s cool, what’s interesting, what’s pathetic… this movie, that piece of trash on the ground, who cares.  Right? 

BJ: Ha!  Well if your opinions are good and you post interesting/funny things, people will read it…especially if they are bored and at work…  And facebook?  Does that scratch some of those itches but limit it to your friends? 

NE: That’s funny.  While all my blogger friends were doing it at their soul sucking jobs (which is totally reasonable), I was doing it instead of painting!  The problem with FB is it’s SO socially complicated!  I’m always struggling with who to accept/ignore while trying to hold on to a small shred of privacy.  I’m self-conscious on FB so I end up limiting how much I use it.  The anonymous audience on the blog was freeing.  That’s funny that you read my blog.

BJ: So how do you see the act of making oil paintings in a digital era — with an infinite amount of images circulating on the internet?  Do you think about the digital life/afterlife of your paintings?

NE: The over abundance of disposable and meaningless images gives oil painting more value.  It’s shocking to go to a museum now and be reminded of the power a painting can have after surfing the internet all day.  A good painting completely resists assimilation.  90 years after Monet painted the waterlillys at Giverny, they still confound me – I was looking at those recently.  Painting carries within it the spirit of the painter; it is an artwork’s physicality through which a deep connection with the viewer occurs.  It’s the realization that you’re not just looking at a painting, say, Van Gogh made, one can actually commune with his spirit, just by looking, and time collapses.  Sometimes when I look at paintings I love I almost feel like I’m breathing through my eyeballs.  Does that ever happen to you?  Also, the paradox of not having that connection is interesting as David Humphrey said in his brilliant book Blind Handshake…”The lack of connection between the artist and the viewer must be part of the artworks enduring and distinct appeal. The Paradox of detached connection might have fetish-like powers that could help explain the persistence of such an inefficient form of pleasure.” 

BJ: Yeah I’ve had sublime experiences when looking at paintings for sure, I’ve fallen prey to big grey Agnes Martin grids in such a way, the Rothko chapel in Houston shut my brain off completely the first time I went, and there’s some Edward Hopper maneuvers in painting sunlight on the sides of lighthouses that I carry around in my head with me every day… 

Speaking of detached connections… do you think your paintings as they exist in jpeg form are “diluted” then?  Or do you see them as inhabiting a different kind of environment? 

NE: Yes, it’s a different environment and I have no control over it.  It’s definitely diluted.  Computers can’t represent texture, subtleties of color, the affect of scale etc… You can never see how thick a painting is painted and if you can, then you can’t see something else, like the whole image at once.  That said, once the image enters into the sea of images on the internet, it has a life of its own, but it’s not art anymore.  I pull images off Google all the time and mess with them and those images end up back in circulation, an endless loop of corrosion/creation.  And of course there are plenty of paintings I’ve only seen in reproduction some I chase down to see in real life.

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Notes on Queer Formalism


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In a recent conversation with Amy Sillman at the opening of Leidy Churchman’s provocative solo show, Lazy River, at the Boston University Art Gallery, I asked Sillman about the state of painting. In 2011, Artforum considered the “The Ab-Ex Effect,” thereby attempting to take the pulse of a simultaneously revered and reviled hallmark of modernism in the visual arts. Where had painting come since then? It was a question that had plagued me ever since my first encounter with Nicole Eisenman’s paintings, prints, and sculptures.1 Eisenman’s investment in art history, when combined with her penchant for absurdity and subversion, seemed to upend everything I knew about contemporary art. The same shock occurred when I thought about Sillman and her inscrutable mixture of pigment and perversion—and iPhones. With Amy Sillman: one lump or two opening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston, and Nicole Eisenman appearing in both the 2013 Carnegie International and Nicole Eisenman: In Love with My Nemesis at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in 2014, it seems that we are on the verge of a new definition of artistic practice.

I had attempted for a while to characterize this charged moment, but it was not until Sillman answered, “It’s almost a queer formalism” that I found the necessary words.2 The phrase captures something revolutionary, a sense of palpable anticipation for much-needed transition that is just around the corner. The move toward queer formalism prefigured by Sillman and Eisenman, as well as artists Elise Adibi and Leidy Churchman, cannot be fully explained in a single article or with one analytical lens. It is my hope here to offer a set of disjointed thoughts that will coalesce into a question or a basis for further investigation, but never an answer.

1. Queer formalism is a paradox. Formalism requires the centrality of an object, whereas queer rejects authorship and universal concepts. Queer subverts singularity while the medium requires it. To find meaning in the internal factors of the medium is to invest in its selfhood, its ability to signify. But isn’t this what queer accomplishes? Is this not what we have fought for—the ability to express one’s self, to speak, to be legible to others as a unified agent? Queer rejects unification, however. It advocates for a “queer subject” while attacking the notion of “subjecthood.” Where is the balance?

2. It is exactly in the immiscibility of the terms queer and formalism that queer formalism finds its power. Queerness “represents” an unsure mixture of singular embodiment and a passionate ownership of one’s identity with the refusal of singularity.3 So too does the medium.

3. If the medium is the “essence” of the art object, its internal logic, it becomes a sort of aesthetic identity politics. Formalism’s investment in the medium has, throughout art history, suffered from a limited historical awareness and a tendency to privilege normative patriarchal values. Clement Greenberg’s assessment of Jackson Pollock, a legacy Sillman and her contemporaries have inherited, is exemplary of the mid-century valorization of medium specificity and artistic heroism. Paint became analogous with the (straight, masculine) psyche of the artist, his authority to express himself. Hence the urgent need to move toward conceptualism and institutional critique, right?

4. Still, being an artist requires a direct engagement with a medium. I firmly believe that art is not purely a product of external constructs, no matter how forcefully (and rightfully) it has been used to expose capitalism, commodification, and institutionalized oppression. In some indefinable sense, art is resistant to the outside. We cannot escape materials, and while it should not be venerated, technical skill (or an intimate connection with one’s brush or sponge or pencil) should not be discounted as not “postmodern” enough. Likewise, we cannot escape the medium of our bodies, even as that medium has become increasingly described in terms of social construction, artifice, and performativity.

5. Queerness and the medium are thus parallel. They never meet, but the path they carve out engenders an incredibly productive landscape for discussing identity and the visual arts.

6. In working toward an understanding of queer formalism, it is essential to engage with the modes of being, description, and expression unearthed by “queer.” Most obviously, it is a slur that has been “reclaimed.” Some find it shamefully unspecific; others consider it beautifully and necessarily open. Queer is in-between; that goes without saying. Formalism is, in some circles, a dirty word that is reminiscent of many years of a masculinist, heteronormative tendency in modernism. Being a formalist, however, does not place anyone in danger.

7. One cannot “queer” things. No matter how fervent your search for a gay character in Othello, you are not “queering” Shakespeare. Queer is not the grafting of a theory upon an unreceptive source, and queer formalism is not the queering of formalism or the formalism of queers. Queer does not require someone to “interpret” or “find” it. But if no one does, who will?

8. Queer is not a catch-all term to rack up points for political correctness, though it does touch many more people than one might expect. It affects and engages with issues of race, class, imperialism, and politics. Its function, however, is not endless; it must be tethered somewhere. But where?

9. Queer is not something beyond gay or lesbian or transgender, nor is it more “enlightened” than the identity politics of gay liberation or second wave feminism. Queer is informed by history; it is at once conceptual and contemporary and the product of countless years of physical work. We vainly consider it a product of our present moment, but it belongs to no moment.

10. The phrase “queer community” is both necessary and deeply fraught with exclusionary tendencies. Community implies accord, and has often effaced essential differences that unwittingly perpetuate institutional biases. However, the only people who can understand a specific form of oppression are those who have lived it, and finding a community is essential for many people’s coming out process.

11. Eisenman’s Beer Gardens series is exemplary of queer formalism’s brand of solidarity, which she described in an interview with Brian Sholis as a diverse, anti-utopian group of misfits: “Last year, when I painted my first beer-garden scene, I immediately wanted to keep painting them, to paint them for the rest of my life…It’s where we go to socialize, to commiserate about how the world is a fucked up place. It is healthy to look at sadness in the world, and in yourself, and to dwell on it for a little while.”4 Queer formalism does not exist for itself. It lives for others while retaining a precarious independence.


Nicole Eisenman, Beer Garden, 2007
Oil on canvas, 65 x 82 in (165.1 x 208.3 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton, New York.


Amy Sillman, Williamsburg Portraits, 1991-92
Ink, gouache, and pencil on paper
Set of 32: 8 x 11 inches each
Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Photo: John Berens

12. Queer is within and outside the masculinist, homophobic confines of our world, phenomena to which the art object is not immune. Queer requires a not-queer, or “straight,” in order to exist. Homosexuality has been understood as not only a perversion, but also an inversion—what appears when you lift the mossy rock of proper social relations and look at the terrifying flora and fauna underneath. Queer defines itself in opposition to not-queer, but it need not always be in a state of antagonism.

13. Queer is not a mode of being or a means of deconstruction, and one who is queer need not constantly be in a state of rehearsing or living their sexuality. Queer is not always against; sometimes it just wants to sleep in and cuddle on a Sunday morning. Sometimes the pressure is too much to handle. It is, at times, deeply frustrating to “be” queer, a nuisance even. Must I always explain myself?


Amy Sillman, Untitled Cartoon from Amy Sillman: Visiting Artist, 2002
Ink and gouache on paper
9 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Photo: John Berens

14. Queer necessitates bodies, but it also rejects the solidified nature of bodies. It insists on specificities, even as it acts as an ever-expansive force. Queer is bounded by skin, but not contained by it, like the ink, pencil, and gouache in N & O v3 (2006). Sillman’s marks bleed and seep within and among bodies, yet the image retains a particular morphology, epitomized by the architectural forms that emerge from the sitters themselves. Or maybe, conversely, the bodies originate in Sillman’s scaffolding. Sillman’s bodies somehow subsume and resist the gesture, prompting an unanswerable question – Where does the medium begin and corporeality end?


Amy Sillman, N & O v3, 2006
Ink, colored pencil and gouache on paper
17 x 14 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Photo: John Berens

15. Queer is a connective force and a merciless severing, a relational action and a rejection of the world outside the self. The medium can be made to serve both purposes as well; it is both intimate and filled with lonliness. As Helen Molesworth said of the works in Amy Sillman: one lump or two, there is an element in Sillman’s work of “trying to connect with a thing that we cannot connect with.”5 Sillman echoes this sentiment, “I’m so interested in things that split in two.”6 Like the explosion of energy that results when atoms join or break apart, Sillman’s interest in pairs transforms the body, the gesture, and the structure of the medium into a conjoined power source. She depicts art and identity at a moment of simultaneous recombination and destruction.

16. In Shade, for example, paint becomes the body and delineates the body. True to its function, paint flows and mixes, but Sillman arrests its motion. She leaves paint destitute; its final iteration is two figures devoid of individuality. Though the figures perhaps desire to lose themselves in each other, they cannot reach across the expanse of the canvas. Sillman’s paint becomes Lot’s wife, doomed to live forever as a pillar of salt for doubting God.


Amy Sillman, Shade, 1997-98
Oil and gouache on wood
50 x 60 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Photo: John Berens


Nicole Eisenman, Sloppy Bar Room Kiss, 2011
Oil on canvas, 39 x 48 in (99.1 x 121.9 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton, New York

17. Queer can be a deeply held conviction, a passionate self-appraisal that informs one’s daily, bodily, erotic life. Still, queer expands into culture, and in Sillman’s work, it becomes implicated in the artistic process itself. Sillman drew various couples she knew and reimagined the drawings as abstract paintings on canvas, such as C (2007). C approaches the realm of concept and limitless expressivity while maintaining the outlines (not confines) of “real” bodies. As Ewa Lajer-Burcharth points out in her text to accompany Amy Sillman: one lump or two, “Through repeated re-presentation, figuration was transformed into abstraction, bodies—reduced, voided—turned into shapes, lines, colors, and forces,” an operation that one can see throughout Sillman’s and Eisenman’s careers.7 Sillman presents a kind of painterly sadomasochism. Though the body is reduced to pulp, its integrity remains. The (queer) body is reincarnated as paint.


Amy Sillman, C, 2007
Oil on canvas
45 x 39 inches
Collection of Gary and Deborah Lucidon
Photo: John Berens

18. It follows that queer is both immaterial and corporeal. It is conceptual and reliant on the medium. It is deconstructive and authorial. It is the Self and the Other, together in perpetuity but not mapped onto each other. It is a multiplicity of media that lack a hierarchy, but it is not post-medium. The oeuvre of the queer formalist, like queerness itself, is invested in the interspace between and among paradoxes. Sillman has said, “I’m interested in simultaneity—the copresence of abstraction and figuration, deep space and shallow space, high and low, recognizable, literate, narrative, mythic things and dumb, vernacular, kind-of-stupid, jokey things—all these dialectics.”8

19. After all these attempts at a definition of queer, can we predict what results when “queer” and “formalism” collide?

20. To begin, in the same way that queer does not require “coming out” or “identification,” queer formalism need not exteriorize itself, or expose its contents to the world. It is somewhere between discovering and proclaiming itself and investing in what Lajer-Burcharth calls “intangible, unlocalizable interiority.”9 What might it mean to “come out” in the medium?

21. Androgyny or fluidity cannot capture the emotional, historical, sociopolitical, and artistic plenitude of queer formalism. The term androgyny advances a monolithic vision of queerness that relies upon normative visual decidability. Queer is not a project of counting the number of figures in a work of art whose gender is indeterminate. Fluidity is as bad as androgyny when used as a weasel word to give the illusion of progressive scholarship. Queer formalism is not about scrambled gender roles. For some queer people, gender roles are central to their sexual experience. Furthermore, gender/sexual identity can be as important as life itself—trans* pioneers have taught us that. Fluidity, when used irresponsibly, can negate lived experience.

22. Assessing the sexuality of the artist is not enough to establish queer formalism, though it may be a relevant factor. Queer formalism does not only apply to “queer” artists, and it is certainly not equating art made by queer artists with “queer art.” Moreover, sexuality is not something that must be constantly embodied by an artist. While it is a moral imperative to acknowledge gender and sexuality (the personal is political, and it always will be), the character of an artist must not be imprisoned by biography. One might create a work of art “as” a gay artist one day but not “as” a gay artist the next.

23. Elise Adibi, who does not identify as queer, has worked to understand, appraise, and take apart the monolithic history of the grid by assaulting it (or paying cautious homage to it?) with dripped paint, plant oils, and rabbit skin glue. She combines long-entrenched modernist discourses, such as the expressive gesture and the determinist grid, that are as consecrated as the gender binary itself. In so doing, Adibi points to the possibility of the Self and Other coming together without the specificities of either being extinguished. Adibi approximates a space described by Gayle Salamon in Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality, that is, “the place where I confront the otherness of the other without annihilating or canceling that difference or replicating the other in my own image.”10 Is this not a project of queer formalism?


Elise Adibi, Aromatherapy Painting, 2013
Rabbit skin glue, graphite, oil paint and blue tansy essential plant oil on canvas
20 x 20 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Churner and Churner
Photo: Heather Latham

24. Brief intermission. Is queer formalism only conceivable to queer critics? Is it morally tenable to discuss queer formalism if and only if the historian or critic is queer? I hope not. Am I only writing this because I myself am gay? I have no privileged access to issues of gender and sexuality. No one does, irrespective of one’s gender or sexual expression.

25. Queer formalism is tragic and destructive and vile; it wrecks our understanding of respectability and order. It is dangerous and sexy and angry and spiteful and ridiculous. In the July 3, 1906 edition of the Lewiston Daily Sun, the author reports on a lethal train crash:

Salisbury, Eng., July 2 — The embalmers are busy tonight and by tomorrow the majority of the bodies of the score of Americans who lost their lives in the wreck of the Plymouth express Sunday will be prepared for their return for burial in the land they so recently, in the fullness of life and hope, left . . . The inquest today was a prolonged and tedious formality . . . a strange proceeding to the many Americans present but which is thought to be due to the queer formalism that seems characteristic of such cases in this country.11

Queer formalism is exactly the opposite of formality, but it is not frivolous or secondary to “serious” criticism. All honest scholarship is based in passion, desire, rage, and obsession; it is always ready to brush with death, perhaps its own destruction. According to Bob Nickas, “Doubt, then, is one of [Sillman’s] most reliable and trusted subjects.”12 This is not, however, tentativeness or timidity. Indeed, queer formalism’s insecurity is a radically courageous act, a fearless celebration of the precariousness of life. Love, bodies, paint, paper, and canvas all disintegrate only to be reborn.

26. Sillman assaults her chosen medium and its support, be it paper, ink, oil paint, canvas, or an iPhone touch screen, in order to access its internal logic or confusion. Returning to Lajer-Burcharth, who describes a series in the late 1990s and early 2000s that combines humanoid figures with abstraction, it is evident that Sillman locates this (queer) physicality within the medium itself:

Violence is implicit in both the final form of these paintings—bold, sweeping, rectilinear trajectories of chroma cutting through the representational field—and the preparatory drawings showing bodies deformed by the slashes of black ink, to say nothing of the very logic of subtraction, or evisceration, that defines the process Sillman adopted in this series.13

27. Likewise, in his video project Painting Treatments (2010), Leidy Churchman equates canvas and body bag, sculpture and corpse. For Churchman, everything is a kind of medium—skin, office folders, tree branches. Bodies and paint bleed together, at times creating a beautiful sculpture, but more often a cluttered, fecal mess. There is no room for idealism in Painting Treatments—aesthetic, sexual, or otherwise. Pollock’s immortalized ejaculatory dance becomes an unassuming display of flippant eroticism that is simultaneously arousing and sickening. Sillman recalls,

They [Churchman and his associate Anna Rosen] did excessive, polychromatic things to our bodies, like dipping a banana into a can of orchid-lavender paint and pressing it against our asses, or dragging a rake with green and brown paint in its combs across our legs, or letting chrome-yellow enamel dribble off random pieces of plywood onto the smalls of our backs, or tossing some green-gray grit on us.14

Queer formalism is messy while maintaining a perverse beauty. It acknowledges the uncertainty of artistic discourses and of life itself. It is not afraid to cry or get beat up. Like my mom always said, if you’re not bleeding, you’re fine. There’s something wonderful about queer formalism’s ability to be not fine, to hurt, to expose the abjection inherent in both the paintbrush and the body.

28. Queer formalism understands history and pays homage to it. It has its own history; it fought for its own history, but in doing so, destroys history. Sillman evokes the legacy of camp in relation to Abstract Expressionism:

I would argue that this is because AbEx already had something to do with the politics of the body, and that it was all the more tempting once it seemed to have been shut down by its own rhetoric, rendered mythically straight and male in quotation marks. AbEx’s own deterioration into cliché was a ripe ground, a double-edged challenge that, to quote [Susan] Sontag again, “arouses a necessary sympathy.” AbEx was like a big old straight guy who had gone gay.15

29. Eisenman, also deeply aware of the history of art and culture, pointed out the absurdity of classical heroism in her contribution to the 2013 Carnegie International. Sometimes you have to take a break from posing and have a smoke. Standing on a pedestal all day must be tiring. Additionally, in the Beer Gardens, Eisenman draws on the style of French impressionists, her brush creating a swirling optical event.16 Despite her homage, she is no flâneur, and this is not Bal du moulin de la Galette. Free of the pretentious spirit exhibited by much of contemporary art, Eisenman plays with art historical truisms with a strange combination of reverence and frustration.


Nicole Eisenman, Prince of Swords, 2013
Plaster, wood, burlap, ceramic and crystal, 77 x 46 x 27 in (195.6 x 116.8 x 68.6 cm)
Photo: Greenhouse Media
Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton, New York

30. It is not clear, however, if queer formalism is “campy,” though it does engage with the legacy of camp as Sillman astutely theorizes. We live in an age entirely run by irony, wonderfully gaudy performativity, and cultural naïveté—a veritable campy culture industry. Pop culture icons from Lana Del Rey to Lady Gaga have come to embody the neuroses of the Millennial generation, whose difficulty creating a culture of its own has left it permanently adrift in the Digital Age. Camp has become as entrenched within American culture as the capitalist regime itself, and may have thereby lost its subversive quality. In the spirit of 30 Rock, it is hip to be an outrageously uncool, yet somehow enviable, outsider. But Sillman is nevertheless spot-on. Camp retained its revolutionary sincerity in queer formalism when, all the while, camp became mainstream. Queer formalism is neo-camp and post-camp.

31. Queer formalism is not entirely theoretical, but it knows theory like the back of its hand. “Theory” is largely anti-feminist and anti-queer, but queer formalism must engage with theory in order to take it apart. Even Freud would love the grotesque, bitterly hilarious psychosexual vision in Eisenman’s Sunday Night Dinner.


Nicole Eisenman, Sunday Night Dinner, 2009
Oil on canvas, 42 x 51 in (106.7 x 129.5 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton, New York

32. Queer formalism can be represented both at the level of subject matter and at the moment of signification. It falls somewhere between representation and theory, sociopolitical effects and aesthetic origin. For example, Sillman’s Me and Ugly Mountain (2003) is perhaps a representation of the baggage of many years of “feminine hysteria” or “homosexual inversion,” as well as the reflection of those biases in the visual arts. Still, queer formalism represents the opportunity to ease that history when it becomes a burdensome assumption about the “meaning” of an artwork. One must look beyond an initial interpretive assumption about content without rejecting what is “represented.” Queer formalism is childishly truthful, but is nevertheless filled with lies, dreams, and possibilities.

33. Alongside its personal, embodied, human aspects, Me and Ugly Mountain also recalls the tumultuous erotics of paint itself. At once an abstraction and a landscape, the mountain is filled with orgiastic ideas, lines, and colors. It literally erupts on the face of the most essential mark—the horizon line—like a newly formed pimple. As a result, the mountain is not just a personal, psychoanalytic representation, but also a disruptive force buried within and essential to the material constructs of the scene.


Amy Sillman, Me and Ugly Mountain, 2003
Oil on canvas
60 x 72 inches
Collection of Jerome and Ellen Stern
Photo: John Berens


Nicole Eisenman, Conscious Mind of the Artist
(Subconscious Decision and Actions in Progress)
, 2007
Oil on canvas, 39 x 48 in (99.1 x 121.9 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton, New York

34. Above all, queer formalism is not limited to one artist, group, or medium. It represents the possibility of a new way to discuss art in a nuanced, inclusive fashion. Art history and criticism require reinvigoration, and Sillman, Eisenman, Adibi, and Churchman, among others, are at the vanguard of a necessary transformation that is decades in the making. All queer formalism requires is a willingness to listen and see and feel. Venturing into the unknown is a terrifying process; queer formalism asks us to embrace unfamiliar ways of relating to our bodies and those around us. It begs us to think critically about how we define ourselves. A willingness to begin that journey, however, can have exciting and unexpected results.


Amy Sillman: one lump or two is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston until January 5, 2014. Nicole Eisenman: In Love with My Nemesis will run from January 24, 2014 to April 13, 2014 at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis. Elise Adibi: Metabolic Paintings is on view at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, MA until December 20, 2013. The author would like to thank Amy Sillman, Nicole Eisenman, Leidy Churchman, and Helen Molesworth for their overwhelming kindness. This article has especially benefitted from conversations with Elise Adibi, whose passionate dedication to the arts has been a source of inspiration.

[1] For a further discussion of Eisenman’s evolving relationship to lesbian identity politics, please see my essay “’Queered in Every Sense of the Word’: Sexual Multiplicity in Nicole Eisenman’s Beer Gardens“, published in Tuesday Magazine, Spring 2012.
[2] Literary scholar Eric Savoy has used the term queer formalism to describe the work of Henry James and the nuanced relationship between sexuality and criticism. See, for example, Savoy, Eric. “The Jamesian Turn: A Primer on Queer Formalism.” In Reed, Kimberly and Peter Beidler, eds. Approaches to Teaching Henry James’s Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2005. “Queer formalism” has also been employed by Robert Sulcer to describe the ambivalent, shifting nature of the gay male critic in nineteenth century literature. See Sulcer, Robert. “Ten Percent: Poetry and Pathology.” In Dellamora, Richard ed. Victorian Sexual Dissidence. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1999. The usage of the term in the context of literary studies is certainly worthy of further consideration as it relates to the visual arts.
[3] The role of ownership with regard to gender and sexuality was brought to my attention by Ashley Temple and Stephanie Garland.
[4] Eisenman, Nicole and Brian Sholis. “Nicole Eisenman.” Artforum (6 September 2008).
[5] Molesworth, Helen. Press preview for Amy Sillman: one lump or two. ICA/Boston, 1 October 2013.
[6] Conversation between Amy Sillman and Helen Molesworth, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston. 21 November 2013.
[7] Lajer-Burcharth, Ewa. “The Inner Life of Painting.” In Molesworth, Helen ed. Amy Sillman: one lump or two, exh. cat. New York: Prestel Publishing; Boston: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2013. 85. See also Molesworth, Helen. “Amy Sillman: Look, Touch, Embrace.” In Molesworth, Helen ed. Amy Sillman: one lump or two, exh. cat. New York: Prestel Publishing; Boston: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2013. 51, 53.
[8] Richards, Judith Olch ed. Inside the Studio: Two Decades of Talks with Artists in New York. New York: Independent Curators International and Distributed Art Publishers, 2004. 247.
[9] Ibid, 91.
[10] Salamon, Gayle. Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010. 140.
[11] Accessible via Google news archive.
[12] Nickas, Bob. Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting. London and New York: Phaidon, 2009. 224.
[13] Lajer-Burcharth, 85.
[14] Sillman, Amy. “AbEx and Disco Balls: In Defense of Abstract Expressionism.” Artforum, Summer 2011.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Eisenman and Sholis.


– See more at: http://www.bigredandshiny.com/cgi-bin/BRS.cgi?section=article&issue=150&article=2013-11-13-081432510247154195#sthash.bOj3Ysja.dpuf

Kara Walker’s Haunting American Sphinx “A Sublety” at the Domino Sugar Factory, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

 

May 9, 2014
_Gala Dinner

The Riddle of the Sugar Sphinx; Kara Walker at Creative Time

 

2014 CREATIVE TIME Spring Gala Honoring Kara Walker

The marvelous sugar baby. An homage to unpaid and overworked artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the kitchen of the new world on the occasion of the demolition of the domino sugar refining plant. AKA: A Subtlety.

The title is apt, not just because it is a paragraph describing the intent, but because, in confectioners parlance, ‘a subtlety’ is a shaped sugar treat. A sugar baby is normally a woman, one who is kept by a sugar daddy. The arrangement is one of money for companionship. Let’s be less subtle. A sugar baby is a product of a patriarchal society that sees a beautiful woman as an object to be paid for; sugar babies use this to their advantage.

The centerpiece is a giant sugar sphinx with Mammy’s head. Aunt Jemima when the syrup has all been wrung from inside her. The show aims to explore the world of sugar, the triangle trade from Africa to America. Creative time calls it ‘a conversation’. We are talking about slavery, racism, sexism and exploitation; those are the topics of conversation, but feel free to discuss any socio-economic ramifications of sugar production.

Who are these overworked and unpaid artisans? The slaves of the Caribbean. Who are these overworked and unpaid artisans? They are the cooks. Who are the overworked and unpaid artisans? They are the workers? Who are the overworked and unpaid artisans? They are the previous residents of Williamsburg.

_Gala Dinner
Photography by Ryan Kobane, Courtesy of BMF Media

Raw sugar is brown, bleached sugar is white. Sugar has been industrialized in the last 132 years, factories popped up to process the once rare and expensive treat into a commodity. Walker speaks about ‘the desire for refined sugar and what it means to turn sugar from brown to white and how that dovetails into becoming American’. Built on the backs of the working poor Dominos made white, American sugar in the building on the East River. Dominos didn’t pay their workers enough, ever, but it took until 2000 to have a strike, and a 20 month one at that. Dominos shut the factory down. Now it will become overpriced housing, setting aside 660 units for ‘affordable housing’. How far we have come.

Mammy’s bleached white head looks down at the factory floor with a blank stare. Mammy has been bleached and sanitized, just as the factory will be sanitized and turned into housing that no one in the current neighborhood can afford. In a word: ‘Gentrification’. Gentrification is racist. And to be clear, it is racism we are talking about.

Mammy has a vagina, no one wants to talk about it. The giant bleached sugar sphinx has a vagina and is probably paid about 30% less than other giant sphinx. The sphinx is unapologetically a woman. There should be more pictures of the vagina, photograph the sphinx from behind and see her 7 foot derriere and sugary vulva.

Some claim that the real war is the class war and the workers must unite against their common oppressor regardless of race, religion, or gender. This is a false metric and simply isn’t applicable in the United States. The struggle has to be viewed intersectionally. Mammy is a black working woman who will soon be removed from her home so that new apartments can be built – that’s intersectional.

2014 CREATIVE TIME Spring Gala Honoring Kara Walker
Photography by David Prutting, Courtesy of BFA

A Subtlety is beautiful. The Sphinx was resplendent in the under lighting,  terrifying, commanding, glowing, dominating her room. Walker created a piece that was much more than just aesthetically pleasing, but that should not discount from the beauty – it was really very good art on all levels.

The opening was attended by everyone in the art world. They dined as a conveyer belt served mixed drinks. Then none other than inventor of breakbeat, pioneer of hip-hop, the original, the legendary head of the Zulu Nation himself Dj Afrika Bambaataa took control of the dance party. Its difficult to express how cool that was.

_ DJ Afrika Bambaataa
Bambaataa creates a frantic situation.
Photography by Ryan Kobane, Courtesy of BMF Media
2014 CREATIVE TIME Spring Gala Honoring Kara Walker
Chuck Close.
Photography by David Prutting, Courtesy of BFA
2014 CREATIVE TIME Spring Gala Honoring Kara Walker
Anne Pasternak, Raquel Chevremont, Mickalene Thomas, Solange Knowles.
Photography by David Prutting, Courtesy of BFA
2014 CREATIVE TIME Spring Gala Honoring Kara Walker
Incredibly attractive Waris Ahluwalia and the lovely Jamie Tisch.
Photography by David Prutting, Courtesy of BFA
a Kim Gordon and Chloe Sevigny
Kim Gordon! (Body/Head was really great!) and Chole Sevigny
Photography by Christos Katsiaouni, Courtesy of Creative Time
2014 CREATIVE TIME Spring Gala Honoring Kara Walker
After dinner, the end of eating everything. : Wangechi Mutu

top photo credit The Artist; Kara Walker, and a subtlety of ‘A Subtlety’

Photography by David Prutting, Courtesy of BFA
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Hello World

http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/how-kara-walker-built-a-75-foot-long-candy-sphinx-in-the-abandoned-domino-sugar-factory

How Kara Walker Built A 75-Foot-Long Candy Sphinx In The Abandoned Domino Sugar Factory

Images: Kara Walker, A Subtlety, 2014. Photography by Jason Wyche and Tim Daly, Courtesy Creative Time.

On Saturday, May 10thWilliamsburg’s legendary Domino Sugar Factory will open its doors to the public for the first time since factory operations ceased in 2004. In a highly-anticipated public art collaboration between Creative Time and artist Kara Walker, the abandoned factory will house a massive, sugar-coated sculpture that resembles a combination between the mammy archetype and the sphinxResting at 75-feet-long and 35-feet-tall, the massive piece is fully titled, A Subtlety: The Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.

If Creative Time’s project with Nick Cave at Grand Central last year is any indication, it’s almost a guarantee that the installation will be enthralling (and busy). Additionally, visiting A Subtlety may be many New Yorkers’ last chances to tour the inside of the 132-year-old building (legally, anyway) before it finally makes way for a $1.5 billion reconstruction plan.

While the inspiration behind the sculpture is undeniably fascinating, The Creators Project was curious about how exactly Walker and her team built the boat-sized figure inside the mythological warehouse. Was it built in a studio and brought inside, Trojan Horse-style? Is it actually a colossal piece of candy, molded to look like an African-American archetype? And if so, how exactly does one go about sculpting a piece of sugar that big? For comparison, the Guinness World Record for the largest piece of marzipan was 53-feet-long and 40-feet-wide. 

To gain insight into the project, Creative Time connected us with several of the project’s collaborators, including artist Tim Daly of design company Dalymade Inc., casting expert Mike Perrotta of Sculpture House, lead modeler and milling guru Jon Lash of Digital Atelier, and artist Eric Hagan, the project’s “Director of Sugar” (“It’s probably the best job title I’ll ever have,” he told us).

The production team clarified several aspects of A Subtlety that could be easily misunderstood: first off, the sphinx is not a giant piece of candy; it’s a colossal foam sculpture that’s been encrusted in a layer of powdered sugar. Resting beside the sculpture, however, there are fifteen smaller statues that are, in essence, giant lollipops. All together, this might be the world’s largest creative experiment with sugar. 

Walker was approached about a year ago to collaborate on a project inside the factory. It was the space itself that caught her interest, and it inspired her to make a sketch of an iconic sphinx, modified to look like a stereotypical image of a female laborer:

“[My sketch] came to embody something I would never want to see, something that was about slavery and industry and sugar and fat and wastelessness. It was a kind of finger-wagging gloom-and-doom kind of sketch that embodied all of the themes about industrialization that the space contains: post-industrial America, the grandiose gesture of the industrialists, and sugar as the first kind of agro-business. 

For example, you can’t get sugar without heavy-duty processing; you don’t get refined sugar, you get other things. This desire for refined sugar and what it means to turn sugar from brown to white and how that dovetails into becoming an American were fascinating to me. Sugar is loaded with meaning, with stories about meaning,she said in an interview with Brooklyn Rail.

After Walker shared her sketch with the production crew, Art Domantay (the project consultant and director of fabrication), Tim Daly, and the rest of the team made a physical mock-up and gave the copy to Digital Atelier. The laser scanning/CNC milling/coating technology experts were then able to manipulate the body on a computer using various 3D-analyses, in order to perfectly prepare the shaped foam blocks needed for the very-curvy design.

Digital Atelier laser-scanning the mock-up of the sphinx.

“They wanted us to hot wire [the foam blocks]” said Jon Lash of Digital Atelier. “We kept saying it wouldn’t work well because we needed the radius of each form. If you start having compound curves in all directions and you have to stack these blocks, you can’t see the composition and have to guess about the building process. The last thing you want to do is interpret the artist’s idea yourself.” Lash and engineer John Rannou instead milled the structure’s entire bottom instead of hot wiring it, which takes three times as much time. This process laid the entire foundation, and the team could work their way up from there. Eventually they milled 440 bricks at 3′ x 4′ x 8′ each.

“The good thing is that [the main sculpture] was made just like the real sphinx,” said Lash. “Instead of stone blocks it was foam blocks, but it really was the same kind of construction.” After two and a half months, the crew had a sphinx of their own in Brooklyn. Walker eventually dusted the entire statue in over 30 tons of sugar by spraying it with a hopper gun and using some good old fashioned shovels—yielding a goddess-like sculpture that’s bright white.

Off to the side of the sphinx, however, there are fifteen statues of little boys. Each is 60-inches-tall and weigh 300-500 pounds a piece. Five of them, called the Banana Boys, are made of solid sugar. They are, in essence, giant lollipops shaped to look like fruit-picking child slaves. The other ten—five that are boys holding banana-holding baskets in front of them, five with baskets on their backs—are made of resin and coated in molasses.

Tim Daly, the crew leader of the figurines, explained that they were made after Walker bought ten-inch-tall tchotchkes she found on Amazon. These figurines were laser-scanned by Jon Lash’s team at Digital Atelier, and then they were blown up so silicone molds could be made by Mike Perrotta at Sculpture House.

The team used white granulated sugar, light corn syrup, and water heated to 300 degrees with turkey fryers before getting poured into the molds. While the Banana Boys could stand on their own, the boys holding baskets were weak at the wrists and ankles, and would either break or melt due to a lack of structural integrity. “The first one melted into the pallet,” Daly told us. “It disintegrated after a week, and we realized the only way the [basket-holding sculptures] would last was if they sat in a refrigerator.” Thus, the ten basket-holding boys ended up getting made with polyester resin and coated in molasses, white sugar, light brown sugar, and dark brown sugar, which explains the color inconsistency among the children.

This might be the largest creative endeavor with candy in the modern age. Walker told Brooklyn Rail that in the 11th century, people in the East began making marzipan structures. Royal chefs in Northern Europe began following suit, and would present the sculptures, called “subtleties,” as gifts. According to Eric Hagan, the project’s director of sugar, there’s been few (if any) sugar sculpture pieces this century that rival the size of the Banana Boys or the 30 tons of sugar used to coat the sphinxHe did mention German artist Joseph Marr, who also makes granulated sugar works, but at a smaller scale than Walker’s children sculptures, and not inside an actual sugar factory.

“Sugar is a temperamental thing,” says Hagan. “It’s not uniform, it’s going to decay, and as a fine art piece you can’t say how long it will last or if it will change over time.” Walker echoed his statement in her Brooklyn Rail interview, but added the positive note that “[Sugar is] such a fragile and volatile substance that doesn’t like to take on too many forms, which is fine. I keep trying to tell everyone that I’m not a stickler for conformity, so if each piece is wildly different, then that’s an attempt at freedom I guess.” 

“A Subtlety” is on view at Domino Sugar from May 10th-July 6th, Fridays 4-8pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12-6pm. For more information, visit Creative Time. A special thanks to Tim Daly, Mike Perrotta, Jon Lash, Eric Hagan, and everyone at Creative Time for helping with this article. 

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BROOKLYN RAIL

In Conversation

A Sonorous Subtlety: KARA WALKER with Kara Rooney

From her all-enveloping cycloramas and iconic wall-mounted silhouettes to her searing films, drawings, and prints, Kara Walker’s work has remained fearlessly stalwart in its condemnation of social and racial injustice. With her most recent project, executed in collaboration with Creative Time, Walker shifts her focus from the cotton plantation of America’s antebellum South to its sickly sweet cousin: the sugar trade. At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected: A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant opens to the public on May 10th, and, as its title suggests, avows to be anything but ordinary. Earlier this month, Walker took the time out of her schedule to speak with Rail Managing Art Editor Kara Rooney about her hopes for the installation as well as its complex socio-political implications.

Portrait of the artist. Pencil on paper by Phong Bui.

Kara Rooney (Rail): The executionary details of this project were largely developed in secret, so that very few of us in the press are aware of what the final iteration will look like. Can you describe what viewers will encounter when they finally walk into the space on May 10th?

Kara Walker: I hate talking about it. The great thing about having a secret is that it just stays a secret.

Rail: In that case, let’s start with narrative, since that’s historically played such a significant role in your work. How did the story of the sugar trade influence your decisions on both a formal and intellectual level for this project?

Walker: It started with thinking about the space. I was approached by Creative Time a while back, maybe a year ago, about working with the Domino Sugar plant. One of the selling points for me was the plant itself, along with this amazing history of sugar and its attendant legacies of slavery. There are decades of molasses that cover the entire space; it’s coated—it’s an amazing relic or repository vessel that contains all of these histories, and so the venue is actually doing a good portion of the work. I began to think about how to arrive at a piece, given the work that I’ve done in the past, which has been primarily two-dimensional, and even with film and video thrown in, is large, but not this large. So I started with a lot of sketches; each sketch went from very minimal gestures to this maximal output with all kinds of moving parts. It came to embody something I would never want to see, something that was about slavery and industry and sugar and fat and wastelessness. It was a kind of finger-wagging gloom-and-doom kind of sketch that embodied all of the themes about industrialization that the space contains: post-industrial America, the grandiose gesture of the industrialists, and sugar as the first kind of agro-business.

For example, you can’t get sugar without heavy-duty processing; you don’t get refined sugar, you get other things. This desire for refined sugar and what it means to turn sugar from brown to white and how that dovetails into becoming an American were fascinating to me. Sugar is loaded with meaning, with stories about meaning.

Rail: What were some of your resources in looking into the history of the sugar trade and Domino’s role in particular?

Walker: There is a passage in a book by Sidney Mintz called Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (1985), where the author talks about the Middle Ages in Europe and England and how sugar there was a highly prized, expensive commodity.

Rail: It was for the aristocracy.

Walker: Yes. Sugar was rare, even considered medicinal. It was like gold, extremely precious. At a certain point coming from the East in the 11th century, there began an enormous effort, at the bequest of the sultans, to make these strange, grandiose marzipan structures. Once they were fashioned, they would present and give them to the poor on feast days. This tradition made its way to Northern Europe where the royal chefs began making similar sugar sculptures. The thing that really struck me about these sugar sculptures was what they were called—subtleties—there it is. [Laughs]. They were intended to represent the power of the king, not just in their being made of this prized commodity, but also in their representation of the signing of a treaty, or the hunt. So you had these sugar sculptures of the deer and the king, and there would be some kind of oratory or maybe a little poem that would be said, and then everybody would eat them. They would be presented between meals as this beautiful, edible trophy. It was after reading this that I realized I had to make a sugar sculpture and a large one. So that answers the first part of your question: the sugar sculpture. She is basically a New World sphinx. A New World thinking of the sugar plantations, the Americas, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, that sort of Rolling Stones-y brown sugar dovetailing of sex and slavery as it reaches the American imagination.

Rail: Does this New World sphinx—what sounds like a veritable femme-fatale—relate in any way to the black feminist literature that emerged in the ’70s, initiated by Alice Walker, for example, or is it something more visceral and personal?

Walker: Something more personal, definitely. I think the scale of the piece will probably embrace and eclipse almost anything that you bring to it. [Laughs.] We have 80 tons of sugar in this structure, which measures approximately 80-feet long by 40-feet high, so it doesn’t occupy the entire space but it does occupy it in a very specific way. She also has some sugar candy attendants who are about a third of this in scale.

Rail: What is their origin?

Walker: They are actually taken from 10-inch tall tchotchkes that I bought on Amazon—little black slave boys carrying baskets and presenting different things. They’re very goofy.

Rail: How has working with sugar as a medium challenged the way you approach themes such as white fears of black potency, violence, shame, and resistance? Is the transmission of these ideas still as direct for you as it has been with the cut silhouettes, drawings, and films?

Walker: It’s so much better, honestly! No, I don’t know if it’s better. I like the cutting paper thing, but—maybe it’s simply because it’s something that I’m doing that it feels similar, because it’s my own body. There is a similarity in working with cheap materials. [Laughs.] The cheapest materials available. They’re both temporal, ethereal materials to work with, very finicky. It feels cathartic in the way that working with silhouettes was for me coming from painting. There is a similar kind of movement into another set of dimensionality and scale. I am moving my body around it in a way that’s very new and exciting. The sugar itself is really just a paste, just sugar and a liquid. Once these components are mixed you have something that you can model and play with. Then, depending on whether you’re using heat or not, you get different properties, wildly different properties.

Rail: So this sticky sweetness of the 18th-century silhouette, and the craft tradition that goes along with that, has translated for you in a very physical way.

Walker: I think so, and even in a literal way. We’re literally sugarcoating history. [Laughs.] There are two different things that I’m doing with the sugar and those are what I need to clarify. The main object, the sphinx, is sugarcoated; the smaller objects—these servant figures, or procession of servants—are basically just like big lollipops. Those have been very problematic to work with. We’ve got these molds and they’re solid but we’ll see if they hold up. The first one just collapsed. It was really terrible at the same time that it was kind of awesome to look at because it became this pile of beautiful, caramelized amber. It’s such a fragile and volatile substance that doesn’t like to take on too many forms, which is fine. I keep trying to tell everyone that I’m not a stickler for conformity, so if each one is wildly different, then that’s their attempt at freedom I guess.

Rail: What color are they exactly?

Walker: They’re different colors. At the moment the one that is standing is mostly brown. He burned. He went from caramelized to burnt so he’s a little marbleized, really dark. The first one came out a beautiful amber color. Like when you see caramelized sugar drizzled on your plate, he was that color, but like I said, too soft.

Rail: And the larger sculpture is amber as well?

Walker: The sphinx is white, bright white.

Rail: The element of color is something that I want to discuss. With the silhouettes, the color black is inherent to the 18th-century art form you employ, whereas with sugar there is a transfigurative chemical process that must take place in order for it to become the white powder with which we are all familiar. In a sense, the silhouettes require little conscious agency on your part in order to elicit the desired references. But with these pieces, an additional step is necessary in order to enact that same physical transformation. How did this reverse process of moving from dark to light, a natural to an artificial state, resonate with you? For example, why did you decide to make the sphinx this gleaming white as opposed to brown, or even black?

Kara Walker “Selfie,” 2014.

Walker: I had my options: brown and white. I was thinking about all the products of sugar—molasses, brown sugar, natural sugar, and refined white sugar. I was experimenting with these different kinds of sugar, cooking at home, making all types of different candies, testing different boiling points, then just dumping it out and seeing what would happen. The white against the molasses of the walls of the interior of the refinery will be visually striking. I was also thinking about the fact that I am in a black interior. The plant is not a white-box situation. The project presented an opportunity to invert this paradigm and maybe call into question the desire for the refined—to ask what is lost in the process of refining. This is a testament and monument to the quest for whiteness, the quest for whatever that means. Authority—even as it’s presenting itself on its last legs—this ideal of mastery over continents, people, bodies, ecology. Yes, the sphinx is inverted in multiple ways. But part of it was really part of a visual oooh-factor. The way the light comes in, what the sugar looks like when it has been crystalized in a certain way. It’s a little bit crazy actually. Crazier than you imagine it. [Laughs.]

Rail: With the silhouettes, you’ve said that the minimal formalism of the cartoon profiles resonated with your idea of racial stereotypes, functioning as reductionist versions of actual human beings. With three-dimensional sculptures, this flattening of identities is disrupted. How did you contend with this dimensional shift?

Walker: Physically, it is a shift, but there’s something that resonates between those works and this work. I would not have thought, “this is the same as the silhouette,” but it does feel like it kind of operates in a similar way—it sets up an expectation in the viewer and then starts to complicate that expectation over the course of the viewing. With the three-dimensional shape, and specifically this sphinx-like one, the work becomes iconic, hugely iconic; it does the same thing in the way that the silhouette stereotype figures do. It transcends humanity in the way these other forms reduce humanity. So it’s larger than life, a set of representations that can’t be fully embraced all at once.

One aspect of the process that is different, however, is that I can’t be as hands on. For example, I’m not there now. I was there yesterday working on it along with a team of people and fabricators. It’s a way of working that I’m not used to.

Rail: You typically fabricate all of your work by hand, correct?

Walker: Yes. After the fact there’s often fabrication that happens because of the archival needs of the paper works, but that’s usually after the work has already been created.

Rail: What has that letting go process been like for you?

Walker: It’s a little weird. I feel very contrite when I’m around the folks who are working. Contrite and thankful, they’re doing a wonderful job translating my sketches, notes, and drawings and such.

Rail: The significance of titles seems critical to your output, usually appearing as very long and narratively descriptive. The title for this particular installation is similarly lengthy. How does this mode of naming serve your work?

Walker: In this case it’s kind of funny because the whole thing is so theatrical. In the gallery setting I like to play with the idea that we’re not entering into a dialogue with modernism or even, necessarily, with art. Rather, we’re entering into my universe, whether you like it or not. It’s kind of a coercion into liking it. There have been a few moments where I try to be subtler with my titles for a show, but it has felt like a weird capitulation or some demand for an austere, protestant kind of approach to good art or taste. So, yes, my titles are theatrical or maybe a little overbearing or hyped up. The idea of the artist as a kind of truth-teller is sort of hilarious, so why not go with it?

Rail: So they’re meant to be simultaneously theatrical and a way for you to re-write history?

Walker: Or to claim it, along with my own agency within the gallery setting—to maybe, for a moment, wrest control away from the white box or something.

Rail: They do leave little room for interpretation on the part of the viewer. I’m wondering if this type of, for lack of a better word, heavy-handedness is something you feel is necessary if we are to redirect our gaze effectively?

Walker: You think they’re heavy-handed? I think they’re hilarious.

Rail: I think they can be both. That’s what is so brilliant about the way they inform the work. They don’t back down.

Walker: They are bombastic, yes. There is a little bit of voodoo attached to it, I guess. By assuming authority over my own work I might actually have some authority over my own work, and I might actually convince the viewer that that, in fact, is true! It seems to work [laughs], although even I don’t always buy it.

Rail: You’ve spoken about the influence Adrian Piper had on your work as a younger artist. In light of your emphasis on titling and the way you’ve used text overall, I’m particularly interested in how her relationship to language has affected yours.

Kara Walker, Studies, 2014.

Walker: I guess the influence would be in my thinking about addressing the “other,” the other being the viewer or the objectifier of my work or my body. Sometimes you forget that it’s not all in your head and that viewers of your body and viewers of your artwork are objectifying and limiting, creating alternate realities and alternate narratives for you to reject. Piper’s work has been important for me in trying to understand or recognize what the relationship is that I have with myself as a subject and object.

Rail: Censorship is still a very present issue for you. Even almost 15 years after having received the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and the controversy that surrounded that award, as recently as 2012, a drawing of yours was temporarily banned from display at the Newark Public Library. It was shocking for me to think that in a community whose demographic is largely African American this imagery might be deemed too “racy” for the population. Since the Domino plant is also a public space that places you again in the position of addressing a non-artworld audience, was this something you had to consider as you developed the project?

Walker: Yes, this is a point of conversation we are having now. It may be an issue, and maybe it’s the representation of women that becomes the issue, maybe it’s the features on her face—her representation of blackness—is she iconic? Is she stereotypical? Is the figure strong? Is she debilitating? But as far as potential controversy, I don’t know what will happen with this piece. I’m not strategically thinking about these sorts of things when I work, but the imagery does come from my own sensibilities, my own ways of moving through the world. It has my own mixed-up sense of humor in it that is really present, the same type of humor that was embodied in the drawing displayed in New Jersey. I felt good about that work,  and then it disappeared to who knows where before it turned up in the library in Newark. At the same time, in the way the conversation and controversy surrounding that event evolved, it presented an opportunity for me to be an educator.

I’m not there to convert people into loving my art, but to explain that there is a process. Because sometimes for viewers—especially those who don’t have a lot of exposure to the arts—art just comes at them; it’s just there and there is no explanation. There is no understanding that along with this presentation comes a definite process, that there is an individual behind it. There are aspects of the museum and gallery world that are problematic for viewers, in that there isn’t an opportunity to answer back. Or you have to utilize these staid forms such as a panel discussion or an artist talk. In light of this, what should a viewer do if they’re upset or moved? Are you supposed to just hold it in, or do you react? There is something about the call and response of other aspects in the black community—in the black church, in music, in dance—where there is a way of activating the art so that it is alive and living and not this dead thing on a wall that you walk away from, that you feel or don’t feel or are terrorized by.

Rail: It reminds me, to a certain extent, of the controversy surrounding Robert Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio in the early ’90s, and how the institutions that exhibited the work took the stance of aestheticized distance as a response—looking at the imagery and the idea of the other through a purely formal lens. Thankfully, you had art critics like Dave Hickey who rejected this viewpoint saying, “No, this is a cop-out. These images are supposed to be provocative, they’re meant to provoke. They’re meant to be dangerous and seductive and sexy.” So in that sense, I think that piece really did do something. There probably wouldn’t have been an occasion for discussion there otherwise. It means that your work has agency in the world.

Walker: I’d like to think so.

Rail: I want to return to the subject of the Domino Sugar Factory itself because it is such a loaded place; loaded with industrial history as well as a turbulent one of racial and class struggle. The original refinery was built in 1882. By the 1890s it was producing more than half of the sugar in the United States. So it is not only an iconic landmark in terms of its architectural façade, but served as a locus of activity and consumption in America for more than 100 years.

Even in the latter 19th century, after sugar was no longer grown and processed by a slave population, the plant continued to have an ongoing association with minimal wage earnings and extreme poverty. As recently as 2000, it functioned as the site of one of New York City’s longest labor strikes, with over 250 workers protesting wages and working conditions for 20 months.

Walker: Which didn’t turn out well.

Rail: Right. When you walk into a space like that, when you know this information, this factual history, how does that affect your vision for the space? How does the building itself influence the objects you create in response to it?

Kara Walker, “A Subtlety” (in process), 2014.

Walker: It messes with them. It messes with the space, or rather, it messes with the histories, which I always do too. [Pauses.] Imagine gathering all the sugar in the world in one location. This demands immense amounts of physical labor, from the Dominican Republic to Cuba and other sugar islands, that brought that product onto that site, and are still bringing that product onto the other site in Yonkers. Then there’s this insane amount of pressure, heat, centrifugal force, and manpower necessary to bleach the sugar. Not to bleach it, exactly, but to turn it from its natural brown to white state. There is all this knowledge that comes with that, the learned knowledge of the men and women who have worked on this site for years and years and years, not to mention of the families of these laborers. There is a living memory of the smell and the steam—this heavy molasses odor that’s still in the space.

Rail: It’s like the gooey, sticky manifestation of America’s original sin.

Walker: Yes. There’s this grassy, pungent, almost nauseating sugar smell that lives in the tissue of everyone who has worked in that plant. I wasn’t aiming to depict an accurate representation of labor, but to evoke the associated ideas of empire, of the past—their relics and ruins; you’re always cognizant of those mythical humans, for example, who built the Pyramids of Giza. There is this awe and wonder that goes hand-in-hand with these places but it’s without the thoughts of the sweat and labor behind it. I wanted to make something that would contain that sweat and labor in the histories of the totality of sugar production—the here and now and the past and present of it—but that would also elicit this terribly sad memory of all that’s lost. It’s colossal and at the same time temporary, made from something completely vulnerable to the elements and time. Hopefully that awesomeness will also be there.

Rail: My last question, which you just touched upon, circles back to this issue of class that’s raised in the setting of this work. Given the building’s future fate and the rampant gentrification currently taking place throughout New York, coupled with the fact that sections of the plant are already being dismantled for what is slated to be the largest residential construction on the Brooklyn waterfront, what are your thoughts on how this space’s identities as a historic site of racial and class warfare and its future trajectory as luxury condos coalesce or diverge from one another?  [It should be noted that 700 of these units have been slated for low-income housing, but that represents a mere 30 percent of the overall construction.]

Walker: I don’t know if I have a satisfying set of answers to that question. When I think about the space, and even before I was working in it, I recognized it as emblematic of the kind of shortsighted progress—the entrepreneurial, industrial, moneyed, ever forward, ever onward, no matter what, no matter who gets hurt—that has taken hold of the city.

I am an agent of tricksterism, and I knew I could use that. In order to bring myself to build something as heroic and herculean as this effort, I had to get into that mindset of industrial conquest. Now, whether or not the builders who are behind some of this project will get that, I can’t be sure. And I don’t know what that says to the people who are left high and dry by this constant moving, constant gentrification, constant building. I’m in a really tricky position because with this project, I wound up being both the beneficiary and the hand-biter. I have lived in the city for 12 years now and the work never seems to be done; the city is constantly pushing people out. I don’t know where everyone goes. Struggling, striving, there is a weird engine in the city that is constantly being fomented. The question that arises with the waterfront there is if we reach the pinnacle of condo building, when does it stop? When do we make space for everybody else?

Rail: And how do we make a stand against that? I imagine this project is one way of doing so.

Walker: I don’t know, do you think? I don’t know if this piece will do that. My feeling is—and this is a kind of pipe-dream poetic feeling—of the piece being present, and the piece disappearing. My greatest hope is that when all is said and done that the aftereffect is still there. That it’s not just another lost memory, like the lost memories and collective knowledge of the people who worked at the sugar factory. [Sighs.]

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NEW YORKER MAGAZINE

Culture Desk - Notes on arts and entertainment from the staff of The New Yorker.

May 8, 2014

The Sugar Sphinx

AP472881413685-580.jpgOver the past twenty-five years or so, ever since her spectacular New York début at the Drawing Center, in 1994, the now forty-four-year-old artist Kara Walker’s visual production—sculptures, cutouts, drawings, films—has beendiaristic in tone. But the diary Walker keeps is not explicitly personal; it’s a historical ledger filled with one-line descriptions about all those bodies and psyches that were bought and sold from the seventeenth century on, when slavery became the American way of life and its maiming shadows pressed down on black andwhitesouls alike.Walker knows that ghosts can hurt you because history does not go away. Americans live, still, in an atmosphere of phantasmagorical genocide—we kill each other with looks, judgments, the fantasies that white is better than black and that blackness is bestial while being somehow more “humane”—read mentally inferior—than whiteness. But what do those colors even mean? In Walker’s view, they are signifiers about power—the power separating those who have the language to make the world and map it, and those who work that claimed land for them with noremuneration, no hope, and then degradation and death.

In her silhouettes, Walker’s black characters are often fashioned out of black paper—the color of grief—while her white characters live in the white space of reflection. But, in recent years, this scheme has begun to change—radically, upping the ante on what Walker might “mean” in her gorgeously divisive work. Take, for instance, the success of Walker’s latest piece:

 

At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected:
A Subtlety
or the Marvelous Sugar Baby
an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined
our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World
on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant

The title says it all, and then not.

Located in Williamsburg, the Domino Sugar Factory was built in 1882; by the eighteen-nineties, it was producing half the sugar being consumed in the United States. As recently as 2000, it was the site of a long labor strike, in which two hundred and fifty workers protested wages and labor conditions for twenty months. (I saw the piece before the installation was complete and look forward to going back.) Now the factory is about to be torn down and its site developed, and its history will be eradicated by apartments and bodies that do not know the labor and history and death that came before its moneyed hope. The site is worth mentioning at length because Walker’s creation is not only redolent of its history, it’s of a piece with the sugar factory—and its imminent destruction.

Measuring approximately seventy-five and a half feet long and thirty-five and a half feet high, the sculpture is white—a mammy-as-sphinx made out of bleached sugar, which is a metaphor and reality. Remember, sugar is brown in its “raw” state. Walker, in a very informative interview with Kara Rooney, says that she read a book called “Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History.” There, she learned that sugar was such a commodity that, in the eleventh century, marzipan sculptures were created by the sultans in the East to give to the poor on feast days. This tradition made its way to Northern Europe, eventually, where royal chefs made sugar sculptures called subtleties. Walker was taken not only with those stories but with the history of the slave trade in America: Who cut the sugar cane? Who ground it down to syrup? Who bleached it? Who sacked it?

Operating from the assumption, always, that history can be found out and outed, Walker’s sphinx shows up our assumptions: She has “black” features but is white? Has she been bleached—and thus made more “beautiful”—or is she a spectre of history, the female embodiment of all the human labor that went into making her?

Walker’s radicalism has other routes, too: in European art history, which made Picasso and helped make Kara Walker. But instead of refashioning the European idea of coloredness—think about Brancusi and Giacometti’s love of the primitive and what they did with African and Oceanic art—Walker has snatched colored femaleness from the margins. She’s taken the black servant in Manet’s “Olympia”—exhibited the same year black American slaves were “emancipated”—and plunked her down from the art-historical skies into Brooklyn, where she finally gets to show her regal head and body as an alternative to Manet’s invention, which was based on a working girl living in the demimonde.

Walker’s sphinx is triumphant, rising from another kind of half world—the shadowy half world of slavery and degradation as she gives us a version of “the finger.” (The sphinx’s left hand is configured in such a way that it connotes good luck, or “fuck you,” or fertility. Take it any way you like.) Now she’s bigger than the rest of us. Still, she wears a kerchief to remind us where she comes from. She is Cleopatra as worker: unknown to you because you have rarely seen her as she raised your children, cleaned up your messes—emotional and otherwise. Walker has made this servant monumental not only because she wants us to see her but so the sphinx can show us—so she can get in our face with her brown sugar underneath all that whiteness. And, if that weren’t interesting enough, Walker has given her sphinx a rear—and a vulva. Standing by the sphinx, you may recall the playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s 1995 essay “The Rear End Exists”:

 

Legend has it that when Josephine Baker hit Paris in the ’20s, she “just wiggled her fanny and all the French fell in love with her.” … [But] there was a hell of a lot behind that wiggling bottom. Check it: Baker was from America and left it; African-Americans are on the bottom of the heap in America; we are at the bottom on the bottom, practically the bottom itself, and Baker rose to the top by shaking her bottom.

 

The sphinx crouches in a position that’s regal and yet totemic of subjugation—she is “beat down” but standing. That’s part of her history, too.

And then, again, there’s art history. Over the years, we’ve seen the sphinx at the Pyramids, but have we ever wondered what was beyond that mystery? Walker shows us the mystery and reality of female genitalia while calling our attention, perhaps, to all those African women whose genitalia have been mutilated because they are “slaves” in blackness, too. When has the sphinx ever had a home? What is her real secret? The monumentality of her survival, the blood of her past now “refined,” made white, built to crumble.

Photograph by J Grassi/Patrickmcmullan.com/AP.

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HUFFINGTON POST

 

Kara Walker And Her Sugar Sphinx At The Old Domino Factory

Posted: 05/07/2014 9:30 am EDT Updated: 05/07/2014 9:59 am EDT

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Refining, as Creative Time’s Chief Curator Nato Thompson reminds us inside this 30,000 square foot former Domino Sugar facility, is a process whereby coarse cane is decolorized, and brown is turned powdery and crystalline white.

Armed with such loaded symbolism, internationally renowned artist Kara E. Walker unveils her Subtlety installation this week, completely commanding this steel girded chamber of the industrial north and jolting you from your sugar haze. Towering over our heads is the resolute and silent face of a kneeling nude polystyrene white woman with African features, posed to resemble a 35 foot sphinx encrusted with sugar and to receive your questions. Subtlety indeed.

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Kara Walker. The artist portrait in profile with her sugary sphinx in the background. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

“I’m grateful to Creative Time for inviting me to create work in a place like this that is so loaded with histories and questions,” says Ms. Walker of the nonprofit organization that commissions and presents public arts projects like this one. She describes the turbulent process of creating her new mammoth piece, and all of them really. She says that her work often makes even her uncomfortable, which is somehow comforting.

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Kara Walker (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

The left hand gesture of the mysterious sugary Sphinx captures the eye of artist Mike Ming who asks Ms. Walker what it signifies. The artist fingers her necklace and displays the charm hanging from it – a forearm and a hand forming the same fist-like pose.

“It means many things, depending on the source,” she explains, and she lists fertility as one and a protective amulet as another. Our ears perk up when she says that in some cultures it is a signal akin to “fuck you” and she has also heard that it can mean a derogatory four-letter term for a part of the female anatomy. And what does this thumb protruding between the index and middle finger mean here? “You’ll have to ask her,” she says smiling and nodding her head upward to the bandana crowned silent one.

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

Speaking of female anatomy, Ms. Walker deliberately and remarkably screams silently in the face of sexual stereotypes that prevailed and dehumanized women of African descent for the majority of North American history with this exaggerated caricature and her arching back quarters hoisted to the heavens. We only use past tense in that sentence to reassure ourselves that those stereotypes are distant and not at all connected to us today, but this may require a healthy helping of sunny denial to maintain the perception as we travel throughout the land.

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

The spectacle here is pushed by the extended pelvis, the protruding nether regions, the amply plump breasts rather pressed together. The presentation may summon pleasant perturbations in some viewers, while setting off murderous riots of horror in others, but we’ll all keep our associations to ourselves, thank you.

This is the giant white sphinx in the living room, sparkling white and sweet. Congratulations to “Subtlety” for at least partially hushing a PC crowd of normally chatty New Yorkers who struggle to make cocktail talk in the shadows of our heritage, and for that matter, our present. We feel lucky that this sphinx does not speak, for she would likely slaughter much with her tongue.

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

Accompanying the sphinx are more human scale children of molasses coloring, “Sugar Babies” standing before craggled industrial walls that are coated with the thick, dark brown syrup obtained from raw sugar during the refining process. She says the five foot tall figures are based on the trinkets of porcelain once sold widely, featuring adorably cherubic slaves carrying baskets into which you may place colorful hard candies for special guests of some refinement.

On a technical note, she offers special thanks to the fabricating sculptors who struggled with the amber candy material as it reacted to changes in temperature and humidity. The floor itself had to be power-washed to loosen and dispel an inch of thick goo, and as we spoke she pointed to the dripping of a molasses type of liquid from the ceiling onto the sculpture. Asked by the CT team if the sphinx should be whitened each time there was a drip, the artist decided that she likes the dripping effect so they will leave it as is and watch how the piece ages with the history of the building.

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

For those who will be drawn like bees to honey to this unprecedented monument of site specificity in a place directly welded to Brooklyn’s maritime history, America’s industrialization and its slave economy, Ms. Walker now transforms into a stomping giant before our eyes. To those who prefer the truly subtle, this show will be overlooked as too obvious.

Kudos to Creative Time, its director Anne Pasternak, and Ms. Walker for putting our face in it, even as we bemoan the loss of this soon-to-be demolished building and its connection to our history.

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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Kara Walker. Detail. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected:
Kara Walker – A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.

The exhibition will be open on May 10 – July 6, 2014. Free and open to the public – check here for more details.

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NEW YORK MAGAZINE

 

Saltz: Kara Walker Bursts Into Three Dimensions, and Flattens Me

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, 2014.

Midway through my maiden visit to the derelict Domino Sugar refinery near the Williamsburg Bridge, while gaping in awe at Kara Walker’s great gaudy monstrosity, her towering naked sphinx with the head scarf and features of a black mammy, I had something like a vision. That’s the crazy comical power Walker’s best work can have. Particularly this work, elliptically and archaically titled A Subtlety: Or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the ­demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. This behemoth, part Cecil B. ­DeMille parade float, part alien, is accompanied by a retinue of life-size deformed black figures, boys carrying bananas or baskets with parts of other boys, all made from molasses and brown sugar.

I imagined this mad theatrical 35-ton thing—more than 35 feet high and 75 feet long, fashioned in refined white sugar over blocks of Styrofoam—pulled across the United States by the crew of misshapen brown attendants. I saw its ambiguous anarchic meanings, its otherness, stunning all who saw it. I fancied this an American ghost ship, never coming to rest until … what? I don’t know. I saw a new American Pequod, some Melvillian symbol for the original sin of slavery and its disquieting contemporary connections to the kind of hubris that brought us Iraq and then Abu Ghraib. Things that make America lose its humanity. Walker, who called A Subtlety “a New World sphinx,” has said that her work “is about trying to get a grasp on history … it’s kind of a trap … the meaty, unresolved, mucky blood lust of talking about race where I always feel like the conversation is inconclusive.”

That trap looms in this incredible sculpture, impeccably presented in the decrepit Domino refinery by Creative Time. This dank building, where layers of history are caked on the walls with molasses, this place where brown sugar was turned white, multiplies the lurking meanings in Walker’s work. Especially as no one captures and portrays the implicit connections between sex and power like this gifted artist. Sex is simultaneously visible and implied in her work, the abject violations of slavery and its long aftermath always close to the surface. (Her other art runs amok with mammies, pickaninnies, and Sambos being raped, beaten, or wooed by slave masters and southern belles.) Whiffs of Goya’s depictions of evil come to mind.

Walker has been an artistic force since 1992, when she first got the idea of using the so-called “minor art” of paper silhouettes to render—in vast, wall-filling panoramas—horrific, violent, and sexualized scenes of the antebellum South. I first saw her work while she was still a risd student and hadn’t yet hit on this device, one that reduces the world to monochrome and that, she once said, “kind of saved me.” Still, I gleaned, in a large drawing of black girls, done in chocolate, what I perceived as a new barbaric yawp come into America. Since then, and after receiving a MacArthur Award in 1997 at the age of 27, Walker has only gotten better, more wicked and out-there.

A Subtlety depicts a black-featured woman with enormous hindquarters arched and exposed, her protruding vulva presented as if for sexual delectation. She crouches, her breasts visible, her left thumb thrust through split fingers in an ancient visceral symbol for sex called the fig. Walker has never worked in three dimensions like this. Maybe no one has. This massive sculptural juggernaut—all this white in the midst of this dead factory coated in congealed brown sugar—suggests hidden causes and effects, cosmic condemnations, menace, cruel pleasures, and inscrutable things. I imagined birds of prey circling over it. Vitriol, fatalism, and grandiosity merge. James Baldwin once wrote of the white American remembering slavery as “a kind of Eden in which he loved black people and they loved him … everything … is permitted him except the love he remembers and has never ceased to need.” Baldwin suggests that this is partly the malignant cause of the “hysteria” of racism. As Walker puts it more concisely, “This sugar has blood on its hands.”

As I considered this while pondering A Subtlety, allusions to the Pequod gave way. Something darker, universal, and more unknowable formed. The white sculpture morphs in the mind into a stand-in for Melville’s white whale itself. The psychic bottom falls out. I remembered D. H. Lawrence’s incredible analysis of Moby-Dick: “Doom! Doom! Doom! Something seems to whisper it in the very dark trees of America. Doom! … Doom of our white day … And the doom is in America. The doom of our white day.” Then my vision came to an end.

A Subtlety: Or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. Kara Walker. Domino Sugar Refinery, Williamsburg.

*This article appears in the June 2, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.

 

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ECONOMIST LONDON

Kara Walker in New York

Sour sweet

An artist sculpts America’s dark history

 

SUGAR is a cheap, seductive pleasure. But its sweetness belies a bitter history. For centuries it was a commodity harvested by slaves and refined into something white. Lately sugar has also become the villain of choice in the campaign to fight obesity. Leave it to Kara Walker, a provocative American artist, to turn the crystals into a work of art.

Last year Ms Walker was asked by Creative Time, a New York-based non-profit organisation that specialises in presenting art in public spaces, to create something for a cavernous disused sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Ms Walker was a clever choice. For more than 20 years, she has been making work that is visually compelling even as it condemns some of the darkest moments of America’s slave-owning past. Her best-known pieces use Victorian-looking silhouettes to depict brutal, racist scenes from the antebellum south. Surprisingly, these works don’t nag. Rather, they are repulsively titillating, as if she is seizing skeletons from the country’s closet and making them dance.

Ms Walker, now 44, has had her share of big museum shows, but she has never before filled a space as large or as freighted with history as the Domino sugar factory. More challenging still, she decided to confect her work out of the sweet stuff itself, in all its sticky grit.

The full name of the installation (capital letters included) says it all, and perhaps too much: “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant”.

The work itself is more subtle, and more powerful. A procession of amber-coloured boy sculptures, five-feet high, sweet-faced and creepy, guide visitors to the main attraction. At the far end of dark factory, hunched and glowing, is a gigantic sugar-coated sphinx. With stereotypically black features, her hair wrapped in a bandanna, she crouches suggestively—perhaps submissively, despite being more than 35-feet high. Her powdery skin contrasts with the molasses-caked walls. A saccharine smell hangs in the air.

A monumental mammy sphinx hardly sounds nuanced. And yet the work is both surprising and complex, evoking not only the slaves of the sugar trade, but also the women who became sex toys, as disposable as lollipops. Like the sphinx in Egypt, this one presides over a site of ruins—after the show ends on July 6th, the factory is destined for the wrecking ball. A shiny new waterfront development will be raised in its place.

Working with sugar was a challenge. Sculptures either melted or broke into pieces. Some of the boy figures fell apart days before the show opened. “No one works with sugar,” says Nato Thompson, the curator. “Now we know why.” But for Ms Walker the real work involved transforming her ideas for the piece (which could sometimes be “finger-waggingly angry”) into a work of art. Her aim was to create something that would be “sweet on the eyes”, albeit a bit tough going down.

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FINANCIAL TIMES LONDON

May 25, 2014 9:01 pm

Kara Walker, Domino Sugar Factory, Brooklyn, New York – review

Kara Walker’s ‘A Subtlety’©Jason Wyche

Kara Walker’s ‘A Subtlety’

Just outside Natchez, Mississippi there’s a restaurant called Mammy’s Cupboard, set inside the ballooning skirt of a 28ft-tall black woman. Built in 1940, the eatery has cycled through spells of decay and restoration, but it – or rather she, with her recently bleached features and polka dot headscarf – still towers over the low landscape, a degraded stereotype radiating queasy charm. It’s impossible to tell whether Mammy’s keeps operating as a straightforward statement of tradition or as an ironic twist on a racist reverie. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

Kara Walker may never have patronised that particular establishment, but she has built a sculpture in Brooklyn that draws on the same mortifying imagery and outlandish size, turning the mammy into a mythic creature. The title is a lyric artwork in itself:

A Subtlety

or the Marvellous Sugar Baby

an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined

our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World

on the Occasion of the Demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant

Walker has attached the head of a black house servant to the body of a giant sphinx, made out of refined white sugar over a polystyrene core. This agreeably menacing beast slouches towards Manhattan, its hour come round at last. Her slow thighs rest in the empty Domino Sugar warehouse on the Williamsburg waterfront, where the smell of burnt caramel lingers in the air. Granulated tides once rose in this cavernous space, so deep and dense that for years nobody ever saw the floor.

Walker’s work transforms the industrial structure into a para-religious one. You enter the dim, rusting basilica at one end, and sense the sculpture’s presence in the distance before you quite get the measure of its size. To approach, you file down the nave to the bay where she crouches, three storeys tall, bathed in the pallor that flows from a skylight above her kerchief-crowned head. There is only one way to exit: past her mountainous, proffered behind.

The work’s title, “A Subtlety”, refers to a common furnishing of the medieval European banquet, a sugar sculpture moulded into curious and sometimes political form, such as an eagle, a battleship, a philosopher’s head, or a famous literary scene. But subtlety is an odd word for Walker, whose 1994 debut at the Drawing Center spotlit starchy silhouettes wallowing in crude sadism. Ever since, she has honed her rage on installations, films, drawings and paintings that adumbrate slavery’s shadow over American culture. Morbid, grotesque and funny, she shows how no one, black or white, remains unscarred by the destructive history of race.

Racist caricatures hold a strange appeal for her. In the same way that victimised groups adopt their persecutors’ slurs as a badge of pride, she heaps her work with pickaninnies, Sambos, mandingos and Uncle Toms, exorcising awfulness through brutal reiteration. “A Subtlety” unites two racist tropes in a single, succulent hybrid. The covered head and stoic face, with every feature a symmetrical ellipse, invokes the mythic maternal nursemaid who caters without complaint to the caprices of a white family. The bared breasts, cocked buttocks and swollen vulva suggest that whatever the female slave’s official job, she had other duties as well. Walker’s sphinx is all about nurturing and sex, loyalty and ruthless trade.

It is also weirdly adorable. Before reaching the big white mama, visitors pass a small army of molasses boys, balancing baskets filled with amber shards of crystallised sugar. Walker enlarged them from made-in-China tchotchkes discovered on Amazon. With their round limbs and big soft eyes, they are cute, in a Koonsian sort of way, producing Walker’s desired effect of “giddy discomfort”. They melt slowly in the spring heat, their dark bodies oozing on to the floor. Walker tempts us, then shames us for succumbing to her subversive wiles.

“A Subtlety” merges the literal and the metaphorical in a tour de force of subtext. To a great extent, New York was built on sugar, one of its earliest and most durable industrial products. The first refinery opened in 1730, and the business created many of the city’s most prominent families. The Havemeyers built the Domino refinery in 1856 and, by 1870, it was turning out 1,200 tons of lily-white powder a day – more than half of all the sugar in the US. When the plant shut down a decade ago, it ended the city’s 274-year tradition. The walls of the warehouse remain coated with a sticky residue, so that it looks as if they’re simply dissolving.

Soon, a new waterfront neighbourhood will rise on the site, a mixture of apartments, offices, stores, and open space – a microcosm of the post-industrial city that seems to have little room for working-class blacks. We keep hearing about the poisonous effects of sugar on our brains and waistlines; Walker delves deeper into the historical ravages: the field hands who grew and cut the cane and hauled it to ships sailing north; the workers in the refineries who “purified” the product until it was white enough to reimport for use on plantation tables. The ironies never cease: today, refined sugar has gone from being the gentry’s expensive consumer good to the scourge of poor black communities, where obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions. Meanwhile, pricey organic food stores now dispense sugar in its rougher, browner, more putatively authentic forms.

Walker has a whole other repertoire of references, too. Sugar Hill was Harlem’s most comfortable neighbourhood in the 1920s, when it was named after the sweet life its residents enjoyed. Langston Hughes conflated the phrase with chocolate skin tones in his lascivious ode to women of various shades:

Brown sugar lassie,

Caramel treat,

Honey-gold baby,

Sweet enough to eat.

Walker responds to this male praise of dark skin and luscious flesh by creating a statuesque black woman who is whiter than white. She invokes the great marble colossi of the ancient world, Egyptian divinities, and fertility goddesses of yore – but she also brings up the less elevated history of skin-lightening, hair-straightening torments that blacks have regularly subjected themselves to in an effort to improve their status. Is that why we like this representation of a coffee-coloured woman, made artificially light and sweet? With this tangle of slippery meanings, Walker dares viewers to admire her creation, challenging each of us to ask why.

Until July 6; creativetime.org

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WASHINGTON POST

Going to see Kara Walker’s ‘Subtlety?’ Read these first.

Artist Kara Walker's installation 'A Subtlety' is sugar-coated with an estimated 40 tons of sugar at the Domino Sugar factory in the Williamsburg section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York May 16, 2014. The sugar-coated sphinx-like figure measures 75.5 feet long, 35.5 feet high and 26 feet wide . REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Should you find yourself in New York this summer, one of the things that’s been heralded as a must-see (and must-smell) is the mammoth sphinx sculpture artist Kara Walker has created in the Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn. You’ll probably wait for about 20 minutes; Walker’s piece, free to view, is commanding lines that stretch around the block. But once inside, you’ll find not just Walker’s mammy sphinx but smaller, disintegrating sculptures crafted from resin and covered in molasses.

People cue up to see “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” by artist Kara Walker, on display inside the former Domino Sugar Refinery, located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, Saturday, May 17, 2014. Four tons of sugar were used to create the 35-foot-high sphinx-like sculpture.The head of the large sculpture wears a kerchief and slightly exaggerated African features. Her breasts are exposed and her fists are thrust out, described by Walker as both submissive and domineering.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Walker’s installation is called “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” It’s 35 feet high, and it took four tons of sugar to create. The installation closes July 6. Afterward, the refining plant will be torn down. (Medieval sugar sculptures were known as “subtleties.”)

NPR’s Audie Cornish spent time with Walker in the factory, which resulted in a piece for All Things Considered:

She’s doing what she does best: drawing you in with something sweet, something almost charming, before you realize you’ve admired something disturbing. In this case, that’s the horror-riddled Caribbean slave trade that helped fuel the industrial gains of the 18th and 19th centuries; a slave trade built to profit from an insatiable Western market for refined sugar treats and rum.

“Basically, it was blood sugar,” Walker says. “Like we talk about blood diamonds today, there were pamphlets saying this sugar has blood on its hands.”

She explains that to make the sugar, the cane had to be fed into large mills by hand. It was a dangerous process: Slaves lost hands, arms, limbs and lives.

“I’ve been kind of back and forth with my reverence for sugar,” Walker says. “Like, how we’re all kind of invested in its production without really realizing just what goes into it; how much chemistry goes into extracting whiteness from the sugar cane.”

 

Artist Kara Walker poses in front of her installation 'A Subtlety' sugar-coated with an estimated 40 tons of sugar at the Domino Sugar factory in the Williamsburg section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York May 16, 2014. The sugar-coated sphinx-like figure measures 75.5 feet long, 35.5 feet high and 26 feet wide . REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)

Like Walker’s “Subtlety,” these novels were inspired by Caribbean slave trade and the way it affected the women of the West Indies. Though by no means a comprehensive list, here’s a jumping-off point:

The Book of Night Women,” by Marlon James

Significant parts of “The Book of Night Women” are, understandably, very difficult to read. Rape, torture, murder and other dehumanizing acts propel the narrative, never failing to shock in both their depravity and their humanness. It is this complex intertwining that makes James’s book so disturbing and so eloquent. Writing in the spirit of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker but in a style all his own, James has conducted an experiment in how to write the unspeakable — even the unthinkable. And the results of that experiment are an undeniable success.

Kaima Glover, the New York Times

“See Now Then,” by Jamaica Kincaid

As must be obvious by now, it is in Kincaid’s extraordinarily elegiac style, peppered with flashes of rage, that we see the artist at work. “See Now Then” is a novel written in high dudgeon. You are warned of this from the very start: The portrait she gives us of our heroine is bleak, unremitting. “Her legs were too long, her torso too short; her nostrils flatted out like a deflated tent and came to rest on her wide fat cheeks; her ears appeared just where ears should be but then disappeared unexpectedly and if an account of them had to be made for evidence of any kind, memory of ears known in one way or another would have to be brought forth; her lips were like a child’s drawing of the earth before creation, a symbol of chaos, the thing not yet knowing its true form.” In other words, Mrs. Sweet was an aging black female. The last thing her white, effete husband expected her to become.

— Marie Arana, The Washington Post

One of several small sculptures of young boys, covered in molasses, with fruit baskets holding unrefined sugar accompany "“A Subtlety"” by Kara Walker. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

“Wide Sargasso Sea,” by Jean Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea speaks of the history of cruelty and suffering that lies behind some of the West’s accumulated wealth, a history which in Jane Eyre is secret and mysterious, and only appears in brief glimpses. This is a book that gives voice to neglected, silenced and unacknowledged stories, exploring different inflections of marginality – gender, class, race and madness. Where historical events, recorded in written discourse, have shaped the opinions of many of the people of the former British colonies and education is exclusively from a Eurocentric perspective, the recovery of “lost” histories has a crucial role to play in allowing access to events and experiences which have not previously been recorded. This idea of “writing back” by breaking down explanations for events and favouring more localised narratives and perspectives has informed my own work, especially in the voices of the former slaves in my latest novel. Wide Sargasso Sea is an inspiration. Certainly, before the phrase was coined, Jean Rhys was a post-colonial writer whose work reminds us that “there is always another side, always.”

— Lara Fish, the Independent

“I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem” by Maryse Condé

History remembers Tituba as the West Indian slave who supposedly cast a spell on the young girls of Salem, Mass., and set off a tidal wave of paranoid accusations that left 19 “witches“ dead in its wake. But in the hands of novelist Maryse Conde, Tituba`s life becomes a marvelous canvas for exploring a particular dimension of the slave experience — how a young woman`s sexuality and skills as a healer ultimately made her an object of wonder and terror. …

Like Jean Rhys, Conde, who was born in Guadeloupe, is able to blend the fictional with the factual and imbue island scenes with remarkable lushness and enchantment. Author of five novels, five plays and a collection of Caribbean folk tales, she wrote this novel in 1986. Her husband, Richard Philcox, supplied the graceful translation from Conde`s native French. Just as Tituba`s voice should never have been silenced, Conde is too important a discovery for American audiences to ignore.

— Stephanie B. Goldberg, the Chicago Tribune

“Conquistadora,” by Esmerelda Santiago

If the American South had Scarlett O’Hara as its Civil War antiheroine, the English-speaking Caribbean of the 1800s had Annie Palmer. The real-life mistress of a Jamaican sugar estate during the final days of slavery, Palmer was the subject of legend and many lurid novels, most enduringly 1929’s “White Witch of Rosehall.” Lore says (most likely inaccurately) that Palmer practiced obeah, or sorcery; bedded slaves, then killed them; and murdered three husbands. She set the standard for cruelty and debauchery in a woman presiding over a plantation. …

But Santiago’s plantation mistress isn’t a shrew who derives sadistic pleasure from flogging her slaves. Nor is she their ministering angel, although she tends to the sick and oversees baptisms and prayers. Ana is something much more elusive and contradictory. She delegates the flogging, but flinches when the slaves scream.

— Gaiutra Bahadur, the New York Times

New York City and the Artworld (1982-1984)

New York City in 1982 was a wild city. It was a vulgar, cruel and violent place seemingly without laws or rules or police. The city was living in the black and white television cool world of the 1950’s and the Burbank, California dramatic color television world at the same time. New York goons walked in pointed toe shoes, leather jackets and jewelry. Chelsea was where the Mafia threw away bodies, where transvestite hookers worked in daylight, and where you could see men pounding their love into each other on the docks. One of the clubs in the area was called Mineshaft. Time Square was a street gangsters paradise. Puerto Rican male hookers in wigs, high heels and lipstick worked 42nd street, while in the row of porno theaters showing whale sized cocks exploding everywhere. Rent boys polished off businessmen for cash before the briefcases went home to their suburban wives. There was a young white woman working as a prostitute dressed in the ragged Anne costume of a Broadway show phenom. She also had on the right wig and pancake makeup for the part.  The billboard poster was nearby. She took her customers into the toilet stalls of the Port Authority Terminal Times Square bus station for her show and review.

Brooklyn Bridge, 1980, Dumbo, by Michael D. Cassidy

We learned quickly that Brooklyn had only the most crude of supermarkets, so we drove to New Jersey for groceries. When we would drive across one of the bridges, as soon as we entered New Jersey, hookers would walk up to the cars and press their breasts against every car’s windows.

No Hooking sign, New Jersey

Down in Philadelphia, from where we had just moved, a visit across the bridge to Camden, New Jersey, would meet you with a total wasteland. Camden was called “Poonieland.” This was because it was assumed that the city had no industry, as Campbells Soup’s factory had closed. Every woman walking down a one-toothed street with a single occupied decrepit home, was considered to be a prostitute. In Brooklyn hookers worked by the Navy Yard in nothing but high heels. In Williamsburg, hookers sat in chairs at outdoor restaurants, taking their customers inside to back rooms to close the deal. On Lexington avenue in Manhattan, called “The Lex” back then, dozens of boxes were set up with persons playing 3-card Monte. As people walked by saying they wouldn’t dare play that crooked game, they did not realize that there was a larger game that were already playing: Pickpocket. The entire corridor was a runaway crime spree, in which countless people were pick-pocketed as their attention was diverted by the 3 card Monte dealers. Oh, by the way, this game was being played in a few dozen different languages.

I had two jobs while I was a student in the painting department at Pratt Institute. One was with the Veterans Administration as a file clerk. The other was in Pratt’s library during summer breaks. The V.A. building was like a vertical cave. Each person minded their own business and mechanically reviewed the Vietnam Era veterans files. Some files had death certificates in them. There were dozens of files on the desks of several of the clerks. The files had a calendar of actions and when they had to be taken by. They also had ticklers as reminders. I was well liked and was even offered a permanent position but declined. Looking back it reminded me of what Harvey Pekar, the famed comics author, said of his dead-to-the world file clerk job that he had in Cleveland.

I too was born in Cleveland.

There were almost no public restrooms in New York back then. The subways reeked of and endless spraying of piss of different men. I saw businessmen come out of office towers and literally piss like a small fire hose on the adjacent building. With their penis in hand, they would zip up and descend into the subway stations.

420 West Broadway, where Leo Castelli gallery was located

Soho was the cool world. It was where the art galleries were. West Broadway was the main artworld power corridor. Both Leo Castelli and Mary Boone galleries were on the corridor, opposite one another at 420 and 417 West Broadway. I remember seeing a guy wearing an amazing dark green bomber jacket. His jet black hair was lifted by the wind as he stopped to smoke a cigarette. We and other Pratt students would organize and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan for the Saturday evening art openings. We heard there was wine and cheese flown in from Paris for some of the art parties. There certainly was lots of free wine, cheese and beer, the latter of which we each would collect in our coat pockets and take home that night to enjoy.

P.S.1. MoMA, Queens, New York

The art world was still under the mesmerizing power of two alternative spaces: Artists Space and P.S.1. Being selected for a show at either space was to be given entry into the New York art market as an art star. Metro Pictures became one of the first new major contemporary galleries. It was run by the same people who had controlled Artists Space. I recall being quite surprised by the unfortunate state of P.S.1.’s building on my first visit. But I also recall being overwhelmed by the fact that an entire public school (Public School 1, in Queens, New York), had been commandeered for art exhibitions. Years later, in 1997, just after I received my graduate degree in Fine Art from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, I too would get to have my work shown at the most amazing artists space program in American cultural history. In 1997 P.S.1 reopened after a dramatic property upgrade. There were still 125,000 square feet of exhibition space, but the place looked absolutely fabulous, and there was this awesome enclosed courtyard. In that courtyard for that inaugural reopening show, we invited artists were treated fabulously with an array of upscale appetizers and drink. I will never forget this experience as it was my first time having my work as an artist celebrated by the New York artworld.

Food, the Soho artist’s eating spot by Gordon Matta-Clark and other Soho artists

P.S.1., the largest historic artist space in America is part of MoMA

During the 1982-1984 era in the artworld, the word on the street was about Ne-Geo art. Peter Halley was a superstar with his grid and conduit paintings. He supposedly had a conceptual art reading group. The artworld was analyzing the real world through Halley’s work. The artworld was analyzing the world of Critical Theory through the paintings of Mark Tansay. Tansey was literally painting images that illustrated several of the arguments found in the leading theory ideas of the hour. The Germans – Sigmar Polke and Anselm Kiefer, the Italians – including Sandro Chia and Francesco Clemente, and the Cal Arts Mafia – David Salle, Eric Fischl, and crew, and The Whitney Program, whose star was a young Julian Schnabel were the other major art stars of the time. Appropriation was all the rage as well.. Richard Prince and Sherri Levine were in the front with this work. Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo were making leading work about identity construction and urban life. I don’t remember there being much of a discussion about Basquiat. I never heard about one of his openings. he seemed to be operating in a parallel artworld universe that only Andy Warhol was part of at the time.

Basquiat – Quality Meats for the Public (1982)

Mark Tansey, Action Painting II

Mark Tansey, Triumph of the New York school

Within a year of us moving to Chicago in the fall of 1984, the Conceptual Art wing of the East Village scene erupted from the rubble of burned out Alphabet City streets. The most powerful new artist run space in New York, International With Monument, was opened by artist Meyer Vaisman. The gallery launched Jack Goldstein’s career among others. Within the next two years almost all of the East Village’s 70 painting galleries would be closed or absorbed into Soho.

The thing about International With Monument and (later Collins and Milazzo) was that they had EVERYBODY CONVINCED THAT THEY WERE THE SHIT.
C&M was giving crits at Yale and everybody swallowed what they said like they were the Oracle of Delphi. Now nobody even remembers anything they said.
Back then, Julian Schnabel told the collectors in NYC that they were lucky to be living while he was alive, a la the time of Picasso in Paris in the 1920′s. And they believed it!
And traditional artists realized that Cal Arts and the Whitney Program dominated the discourse, without even knowing what that discourse was. Artists would say apologetically that – well – I didn’t go to Cal Arts, that’s why I am not in (the Whitney Biennial/Artists Space/PS1, etc.) And reading theory was “difficult.”
Mary Boone’s gallery would sometimes have thick as phone book gorgeous catalogs for her shows. I remember eating better at art openings than I could afford if I went to a decent restaurant. They were flying in wine and cheese from Paris! The 1980′s NYC artworld was a monster!
And then the 1990′s came, and the fun was gone, and theory books were like the Bible, on both coasts.
And then the art fairs arrived in 2002 and the artworld started partying all over again.

Jack Goldstein’s survey show at the MMK in Frankfurt, Germany

I had the pleasure of studying for an entire year with Jack Goldstein on a daily basis for an entire year. This happened when I entered Art Center’s MFA program in Pasadena in January of 1995. I remember being somewhat surprised when Jack told me exactly how his work was made by assistants. He saw himself in the role of artist as producer. As we know – up the road their would be an unreal rise in the use of fabricators to make art. Then just this year Carlson and Co., one of the major art fabricators for the New York artworld for two generations, would fold. Jack Goldstein hung himself after teaching at Art Center. He had a retrospective scheduled to be at MoCA in Los Angeles, which was cancelled when MoCA collapsed. The Orange County Museum of Art has taken the show and will debut it in 2012.

Several years after seeing shows of artists during 1982-1984,  I would get to see the work again in California museum collections. The first of which was Eli Broad’s collection that was showcased at LACMA’s BCAM, which Broad paid for to be built. The second was at SFMoMA, where the recently acquired Fisher Collection was put on public display. We drove up to San Francisco from LA and truly enjoyed every aspect of the museum experience, from the collections to the best coffee in the country. Blue Bottle café in San Francisco is on the top floor of the museum as it deserves to be, as this San Francisco born jewel is the best in the country. The Blue Bottle café in the Mint is pure magic in a postmodern architectural setting.

“Bucolic Brooklyn,” as one of my painting department teachers called it in 1982, was an abandoned wreck. There were stores that sold rotten fish, and stores that sold only bone white soup bones. We bought our vegetables from a small market owned by a Russian woman at Emerson Place and Myrtle avenues. My wife and I lived in the married student housing apartment building on Emerson Place. The married students would often cook and eat together in the evenings after class. Often our entertainment was to walk to the Brooklyn Promenade and look at the starry Manhattan skyline at night.

For Greene, Brooklyn

When we moved to Brooklyn from Philadelphia to start at Pratt, we were told that the married student housing wasn’t going to be ready for a couple of weeks. We found a roach invested but otherwise charming Midtown Manhattan SRO, and parked our car on the street. My wife asked me to go downstairs and remove the expensive possessions we had in our car trunk. I said I would later and fell asleep. That would be a mistake from which we would not recover during our entire time in New York City. When I went downstairs to remove our possessions, I noticed that the trunk was open. Oh no please don’t be so. Everything inside it was gone. All of our best clothes, leather jackets, shoes, purses, studio equipment – were gone. There was some strange dark substance that was dripping from the rear license plate, which temporarily obscured the numbers, then they reappeared. I was livid. I walked down the street screaming and pleading to anyone who would listen. Did they see the people who stole what we had owned. The persons I met backed into the doorways as if they were ghosts. School then started and we moved into the student housing. We were stunned to hear that what had happened to us was an annual ritual event that the school knew would happen to the students, but did nothing to warn us about and actually laughed at us for being suckers. Students reported that family heirlooms were stolen from their off campus and on campus apartments on the day they moved in. Students reported that thieves had driven away with their full rental trucks with all of their possessions, in daylight and at night. None of us knew how dangerous, deadly and depraved a neighborhood that Pratt was in during that era.  Fortunately all of us were fast learners to the situation and vowed to not be victimized again. We vowed to get the education we came to New York City for, and to get the fuck out of New York the moment we graduated from the school.

“Welcome to New York, sucka”

Once our classes were fully underway, we were all pretty happy that we had survived the first days and hung in there. Now we were getting the positive quality skill sets and experiences that we came to New York City for in the first place. Pratt’s campus at the time had a lone café where students met and talked. To buy or get the New York Times, we had to go to Manhattan. I would often find a copy of the Sunday edition in perfect condition, resting atop a large city owned trash can.

Chinatown in New York City

To entertain ourselves, we would walk into Chinatown in packs in the evenings. The food was good and cheap and fun, especially along Mott street. I remember going with my wife and being seated at a table with two other people, another of whom knew each other, on several occasions. No one seemed to mind this, as it seemed just one of those local to New York type of experiences, based on lack of personal space. I remember driving up from Philadelphia once and giving our leftover lemon chicken and rice dish to a young man who was upside down in a dumpster, his mouth full of food as he righted himself before our eyes. We often drove up from Philadelphia in 1981 through the summer of 1982, before moving to New York, and stayed up all night in the city and drove back to Philly in the late morning through small town, chemical factory haven industrial New Jersey. Coors beer had a mythic status during this time. One of my pals from school and I would stand in front of the beer distributorship in Brooklyn, sucking down Coors beers, as if they were the artisan beers of 2010.

During the first winter we lived in Brooklyn, I discovered that on Atlantic Avenue, down Bedford Avenue, through Bedford-Stuyvesant, that there were West Africans selling super low-priced vegetables. I walked down to where these stored were located. Each of them was operating out of an abandoned and burned-out storefront. I bought vegetables and took them home to make soup, which we shared with our classmates.

Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, late 1970’s by Leonard Freed/Magnum photographer

During that same winter I went to the closest open market to our apartment late one night. After shopping I started back across Dekalb Avenue towards Emerson Place. I heard a wild dog pack and stopped. The pack was drooling and starving, angry at the world that had abandoned them. They were looking to eat whatever was alive. They saw me and started walking towards me as a group. I realized that I had to run, and dropped the grocery bag over the cyclone fence. It was about six feet high and mangled across the top. I then hoisted myself over it as I heard the snap of several wolf-like dogs tear at the air. I could see that they were not going to give up. I moved my grocery bag to the furthest corner from where they tried to bite me, and left the bag there as they had already trotted around to where I was now standing. I walked back to the place I originally was standing inside the fenced in snow-covered open lot. I kicked the fence several times, further enraging the dogs as the leapt in the air and tried to come over it, but could not. While they were jumping, I turned and bolted to the opposite end of the park, which was at a diagonal to where I started and where my grocery bag was, then grabbed the bag, dropped it over the fence and leaped over it myself. I grabbed the bag and ran into the apartment building, just as the dog pack had turned the corner and made it within a hundred feet of the building. I made soup for dinner.

Pearl Paint, New York City

Another off our most fun and inexpensive experiences was going shopping for art supplies in Manhattan. None was more fantastic than shopping at Pearl Paint on Canal. It was a 4 story candy apple red paint covered building. I remember looking at drawing papers that were so well made and beautiful, that they seemed to not need a drawing; the paper alone was a work of art. There were art supply stores that still had tubes of paint from the Abstract Expressionist era of the 1950’s. There were custom paint producers, who charged off the chart prices for superior grades of painting supplies.

During my summer job at Pratt’s library, the woman working with me, who was a volunteer, invited me to her apartment to move books. She was a dainty and well spoken person. She read my short stories and said she enjoyed both them as well as talking to me about them. I thought she was a Miss-Lonely Hearts, and was shy and was using this opportunity to make company. She gave me the address, on the Central Park West in the West 70’s street blocks. She asked me to come by first on a Saturday, and said she would pay me $50. I showed up on time. The entire block looked as if it had gotten a manicure. I was met with a hand in my chest by the Latina maid. The library volunteer woman called out my name and came to the door and greeted me. I was in disbelief as I walked into her home. It was all three floors and it was palatial. It traversed one city block, say 73rd street, to 74th street. She thanked me for coming by and showed me to a huge bedroom. This is where she wanted the books in the vast shelving above it to be moved to another part of the house. She was an art collector and had been going to art museum shows since the 1950’s. She had more than one copy of many of the exhibition catalogs she had. She gave me copies of each of these as she saw them.

Her husband, who was a law firm partner, came home with a bag of sandwiches from Zabars. She invited me to meet him and eat at their dinner table and talk. She described what I was working on as a writer and an artist, and said she was intrigued by what I was doing. Her husband said he liked what he was hearing. She then told me that she had five graduate degrees, including one in film studies from NYU. This explained the film study screening room in her home. I eagerly ate the sandwich and enjoyed their company. Their daughter came home then. She had just returned from the Vienna Riding Academy, and was about to go to school in Boston. The daughter was about eighteen. She wanted to show me more of the house and gave me a tour. She showed me her bedroom. It was covered with glowing stars. She had a view of the Manhattan skyline too. We returned downstairs and I gathered the many catalogs given to me, then returned to our apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on Pratt’s campus. I returned twice more to move books. When the summer ended I never saw any of this Central Park West family again.

Burned out buildings, New York City

There was a building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn that I walked by regularly on my way to the market. I called it the Hollywood Squares building because the facade and windows were missing, yet the building was fully occupied. Every argument, fight, bad situation, distress call for help, cursing out, or plea to not be thrown into the streets, could be heard as I walked by. The wind mildly blew the curtains in the windows that were covered.

I remember wishing that I had gotten to grow up in New York as verses in Cleveland. After living in Brooklyn in the 1980’s, those thoughts disappeared. New York was the twilight zone and planet of crime unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. I recall saying that the city was depraved and deprived. Now of course its the most fun and exciting place in the country for well-heeled adults to play.

New York City in 2010 is a place where all the historic down low street life has been swept away, which has allowed it to become an exclusive playland for the rich This is in many persons view the reason the rise of the LA Artworld was able to happen, even though New York had almost all the money and museums and cultural apparatus. While no one is of the belief that the wealthy who are actually talented cannot produce culture, as there is too much evidence of this, New York has shut itself off to all forms of cultural futures because of this unbelievable transformation that has blocked the entry of the young and broke into the city though impossible rent prices. New York was heavily working class, but it also was a city of elites, where the average person with exceptional talents could find stardom and critical success because New York was the platform for all of those overlapping universes of activity, from modern dance to experimental music and experimental films, to modern operas and experimental theater companies, to the artworld and all of its manifestations.

L&M Arts has decided to expand into representing living contemporary artists. It decided to open in Los Angeles because  LA has “a creative energy comparable to what happened in the ‘50s in New York,” Levy says.” New York shouldn’t sleep on this.  Look what happened to the Paris artworld when New York City came to power.

Read what Werner Herzog said about Los Angeles. ‘Los Angeles is raw, uncouth and bizarre, but it’s a place of substance. It has more new horizons than any other place. – Werner Herzog

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Dreams of Technology. (2010) by Vincent Johnson

http://vincentjohnsonart.com/home

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Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography July 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Vincent  Johnson Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of  which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

Banks Violette’s Death into Life Aesthetics

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Banks Violette's digitally animated loop of the Tri-Star Pictures horse, based upon Jack Goldstein's 1975 Metro-Goldwyn Mayer lion loop film.

BANKS VIOLETTE’S career arc seems to know no heights. I’ve followed his work for several years now – from his inclusion in Greater New York half a decade ago to his Whitney Biennial début and followup one person show there. All three shows were sensations. I am intrigued about his grappling with darkness as a means of artistic production, and even of his early on expression that his work in some way represents alienated white male youth. Some of his work’s titles refer to death and future suicide, yet I do not perceive this artist to be a poet like Kurt Colbain whom himself was in such a state of mental despair that he swallowed the barrel of a shotgun returned into eternity. What I am drawn toward by Violette’s narratives are his melding of the Conceptual Art language and philosophical discourses with Robert Smithson’s working methodologies and materials – salt being one example. Violette has traditional scultptor’s skills as well as Conceptual Artist’s internal logic. This for me is why he is what was derisively called during the 1990’s in Los Angeles {an object maker) while at once being a keen intellect. He is not shot down by yet another 1990’s idea that regarded painters as either retrograde or blissfully ignorant to the reality when that painting was dead, than work should be made by being farmed out, that works of art should be emptied of narrative. Of course now this all sounds as absurd as it should have sounded 15 and 20 years ago, but at that time Conceptual Art was winning because there had not yet developed a new international layer of the art market that was not only receptive to traditional narrative picture making – but it specifically sought out narrative painting, as well as updates on New York School art. I like knowing that Violette assists his assistants in producing his work, and that he drags in all the necessary tools and equipment to get his work made – so that what he called “an authenticity” can happen with his work. I studied directly with Jack Goldstein in 1995 while in grad school, so I am well aware of why an artist from a different generation would be so enamored of Jacks work. One of my mentors from that time occasionally will talk about what happened in Los Angeles during the 1990’s when certain graduate programs taught no traditional skills to its students, but buried them alive with Critical Theory. Many of the artists from that period are fully dependent upon having others realize their works at a time when the hand and traditional skills in painting and sculpture – combined with a Conceptual Art critical theory education – is causing a firestorm critically informed hand skill based works to come into the now gigantic international world of contemporary art. I personally have started painting again after working almost exclusively in photography and fabricated sculptures for well over a decade.

“… Shamim M. Momin, an associate curator at the Whitney and one of the Biennial’s organizers, said her interest in Mr. Violette’s work was spurred less by his dark subject matter than by his open embrace of the symbolic, following the lead of more established artists like Robert Gober and Matthew Barney. With some exceptions, the use of overt symbolism in the visual arts was out of fashion for most of the 20th century, thought to be the province of literature or religion. But a new generation of artists increasingly seems to see it, with varying degrees of directness and irony, as a valid way to communicate.” New York Times

“Vanity Fair photographed him (Banks Violette) lighting a Marlboro with a blowtorch.” NY Arts magazine

in 2007 Banks Violette opened his first New York solo show in five years at both Team and Gladstone galleries.  I was in New York and saw these two shows and was especially impressed when I saw saw several art students sitting on the floor while taking notes. The works in the show seemed to have come from a foreign world instead of a warehouse sized Williamsburg, Brooklyn studio.

“Salt was Smithson’s signature material, and the first time Smithson ever used salt was at Cornell.” Banks Violette.

Violette was a studio assistant of Robert Gober.

Banks Violette Interview

March 21st 10, 6:23 | Adam Bryce | Banks Violette, Gladstone Gallery, Team Galler

SLAMHYPE

“Banks Violette interviews are hard to come by, the Williamsburg based artist has made a name for himself through his mind blowing work rather than his words. This is an artist who erected a life-sized burned-out church cast in salt, who made a school chair sculpture out of bronze and fire, and has works on display at the MOMA, Saatchi Gallery, his work certainly speaks for itself. We visited Banks Violette’s newest show yesterday at Gladstone Gallery in New York’s Chelsea, the 4 new sculptures on display were each museum worthy, large scale conceptual pieces playing on the historic archives of the art world and their pending decay.”

…this particular church, since the space isn’t built around a cruciform footprint but is, instead, just a straight shot through and then up and away—it’s the holy equivalent of a railroad apartment.” from Banks Violette’s interview with Alex Gartenfield.

“At 31, with a master’s degree in fine arts from Columbia University and the theory-laced vocabulary of a literature professor, Mr. Violette does not seem particularly dark. But behind him in the studio loomed a huge spectral structure that testified at the very least to his abiding fascination with the chaos of the world. It was a 12-foot-tall replica of a church, or more accurately the charred beams and gables left standing after a church had been burned. Instead of wood, however,the entire structure was made from salt, creating an architectural skeleton that at once evokes high Minimalism, gothic creepiness and a kind of ethereal ice-palace beauty.”

Librado Romero / The New York Times

Banks Violette

“Banks Violette has created a visual language linked to his background and personal history that is derived from pop culture’s aestheticisation of death. This highly personal language is intended to provide an account of the disturbing psychology that underlies attitudes and acts that have defined the frustrations and anger of a marginalised group of white American youth. Beneath the surface of Violette’s pared down black sculptures, occasionally redeemed by the white of salt crystals, is a melancholy that sometimes sinks into sorrow. This sense of sadness with which all Violette’s work is imbued is linked to a tragic dimension of pop culture.”

“Goths and heavy metal have spawned a sub-culture of young people for whom extreme acts of violence are somehow more readily acceptable as part of the process of asserting identity than has been the case in a recent past that includes Violette’s own somewhat troubled youth. Citing examples where musical lyrics become instigating factors to real-life violence, he refers to an over-identification with fiction where fantasy and reality are blurred. Violette is interested in the moral ambiguities that result from this condition rather than seeking a catharsis.”

“He works backwards from a site of tragedy, exploring the emotional and psychic energy that lies beneath the suburban angst of a group disengaged from mainstream life. The burning of wooden churches in Norway by members of the Black metal music scene during the 1990’s is the subject for Untitled (Church) 2005. The charred frame of a ficitionlised church cast in resin and salt is as much a monument to a groups act of transgression as it is to the mythology and notoriety which subsequently followed.”  Frank Cohen Initial Access art collection.

This work reminds me of Duane Hanson's sculpture that graphically renders in hyper realism a downtown motorcycle - but this sculpture is missing the downed motorcyclist that Hansen portrayed. So then this sculpture for me has some relationship to the ghost bikes in New York: bike painted white and attached to street corner posts where the cyclist was killed. This of course is similar to the accident crosses that are in the Southwestern US on the highways, and even on the outer regions of Los Angeles. Like Warhol before him, Hanson decided to use graphic depictions of death after being criticized as to his art having no political or social meaning other than itself being a critique of obese, tasteless Americans.

“The ten graphite drawings and one salt sculpture that compose Banks Violette’s latest exhibition at Team Gallery, “Not Yet Titled,” are haunting creations; they’re attempts to breathe life into subjects whose lives have been lost. The death of the painter Steve Parrino acts as the backdrop to the exhibition: In the gallery, the first thing that greets the audience is a black vinyl square on the floor, which evokes the oil slick on which Parrino’s motorcycle slipped in a fatal crash. The black square is also a dimensional portal — and a nod to Kazimir Malevich’s masterpiece Black Square from 1915 — on which an outward projecting arm of road case benches is placed that links the installation of drawings like satellites orbiting a planet. ” Steve Pulimond, Art in America 2009

This sculpture of a downed motorcycle by Banks Violette is also made primarily of salt. It is a memento for the artist Steve Parrino, who died on New Years Eve in New York on his motorcycle on the first day of 2005.

ZODIAC (F.T.U.) / 74 ironhead SXL is the title of the work


Banks Violette, as yet untitled, 2008

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This Bans Violette sculpture of the frame of a church that burned in Norway is made of primarily of salt. It was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2005.

“(The Whitney installation is a reference to a picture of a burned church on an infamous black-metal album cover.)” NYTimes

This Banks Violette sculpture of a burning school student's chair reminds me of the riots in the United States in the mid and late 1960's. Even though this particular work purportedly comes into existence as a representation of angry and alienated white youth, it still represents for me all the historic and unknown incidents in America whereby extreme violence was perpetrated in reaction to feeling stripped of ones humanity.

Banks Violette sculpture

“Meeting me in his studio in mid-August, Banks Violette shook his head: “they talk about a post-studio practice” he mused, “sometimes I wonder if I’m in a ‘post-career’ moment.” In a culture primed to laud, collect, and consume “emerging artists,” Violette may stand as a litmus test of whether all of this attention is a good thing. For if ever a young artist was “having his moment,” Violette is. He has a full room in Greater New York at P.S. 1; a massive installation in Neville Wakefield’s exceptional group show Bridge Freezes Before Road at Gladstone Gallery; and a solo exhibition in the Whitney’s lobby gallery. Since May, the New York Times has graced him with not one, but three substantial write-ups (including a “Styles” section profile), and a fourth is on the way.” Ktie Stone Sonnenborn, New York Times, 2005


Installation by Banks Violette. Photo: Courtesy Gladstone Gallery.
“For this new installation, Violette continues to mine a rich art historical terrain in which the materials and forms associated with Minimal and Conceptual Art become reactivated as theatrical platforms of performative decay. He pairs a large chandelier composed of multiple fluorescent tubes with a black wall that seems to buckle and melt against the reflection of the light. Both aspects of the installation recall the monochromatic tone and the use of replaceable industrial materials common to Minimalist and Conceptual sculptors such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin; however, Violette’s works seem self-consciously constructed and theatrical. Wires fall in a cascade alongside the chandelier while the apparatus of steel tubes and sandbags supporting the wall remain in plain sight.” from the Barbara Gladstone press release.

Vincent Johnson during his recent art trip to London

Vincent Johnson Biography  as of November 2011
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Soho House, Los Angeles, Palihouse, West Los Angeles, Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Locust Projects, Miami, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming are projects in Europe and Los Angeles. His most recent work, a series of nine grayscale paintings, was shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles in the group show entitled The Optimist’s Parking Lot. He will have a new cutout collage work in the upcoming The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem, opening in New York on November 10, 2011. He also participated in the inaugural edition of Pulse Fair Los Angeles with Las Cienegas Projects. He is also participating in Locust Projects Miami’s annual benefit exhibition in the late fall of 2011.
Vincent Johnson’s California Toilet: Filthy Light Switch (Private collection, Miami, Florida) (2011)
Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – installation shot – 1
Vincent Johnson’s Nine Grayscale Paintings – installation shot – 2
Motel Tangiers, (San Fernando Valley) by Vincent Johnson (2003)
Parked wreck, Los Angeles (2005) by Vincent Johnson

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986.   He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications.

http://vincentjohnsonart.com/

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