Thursday, December 3, 2009

Art review: Art Basel '09 showcases innovation

A Bigger Maurice Payne (2008), by David Hockney.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

By Katie Deits

From established artists to newbies, Art Basel is a place where one can see the innovators of contemporary art, and the annual Miami Beach version of this European art stalwart gets under way formally tonight.

But the action associated with the festival started up at the beginning of the week, and on Wednesday afternoon, VIPs were lined up at the Miami Beach Convention Center for their first look at the show itself. At 6 p.m., other vernissage visitors were welcomed into the massive center, where more than 250 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin American, Asia and Africa are exhibiting works by more than 2,000 artists.

Log Cabin (2009), by Leandro Erlich, outside view.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

One of the distinctive features of Art Basel is that it has many offsite exhibits, such as Art Positions, which features cutting-edge projects by 23 young galleries at a display in Collins Park; Art Projects, in outdoor public spaces near the convention center; and The Oceanfront, which offers conversations with prominent art-world figures during the day, and at night, concerts, performances, videos and film.

In the main hall, you can see work by established artists moving into new technology, as evidenced in the large, inkjet-printed computer drawings by British artist David Hockney.

Also, there was a clever standing sculpture called Log Cabin, created this year by Leandro Erlich, in which two plasma screens are encased on either side of walls simulating a log cabin. The video screen on one side of the cabin played a snowy forest scene; the other showed a cozy living room with a fireplace.

Plataforma I (2009), by Juan Genoves.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

In the Marlborough Gallery, Juan Genoves’ brightly colored acrylic paintings caused a stir as his globs of paint looked like tiny figures moving across space from an aerial perspective. Meanwhile, the Galeria Horrach Moya featured sculptures by Jorge Mayet, such as Me desprendo de ti (I let go of you) (2009), a tree, expertly constructed of papier-maché, electric cable, textile and acrylics from the branches to its roots, suspended almost invisibly from the ceiling.

Me desprendo de ti (2009), by Jorge Mayet.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

At the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery (New York), a terrifying 7-foot-tall bald-head ceramic sculpture called Crazy Nuke (1986), crafted by Robert Arneson, seemly screamed for attention.

Crazy Nuke (1986), by Robert Arneson.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

All of Miami’s museums, such as the Miami Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art, are featuring special exhibitions and events. The major private collections are open for viewing, too, including the Margulies Collection, the Rubell Family Collection and several others.

The entire Miami area has an air of excitement, as satellite art fairs, gallery openings and events abound in both Miami Beach and Miami. Last night, after Art Basel closed, people walked over to the nearby Lincoln Road pedestrian mall for dinner, drinks, shopping, and more art openings.

Stella Octangula, by Santiago Rubino.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

At 800 Lincoln Road, street artists and their art groupies overflowed onto the sidewalk outside of The Art Center South Florida, which was exhibiting their group show Blueprint for Space, containing work by internationally known contemporary street artists (also known as graffiti artists), such as Dolla and Santiago Rubino.

The street artists are also staging Primary Flight, a series of original site-specific street-level mural installations spread at locations throughout the Wynwood Arts District.

David Z in his studio at the Art Center South Florida.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

Upstairs at The Art Center South Florida, David Zalben, an artist known as David Z, has a corner studio displaying his quirky, humorous and sometimes erotic work. David Z’s wire sculptures bob and jiggle, simulating human situations and relationships. His classically representational paintings are created on a grid in which he uses old Altoid cans as his canvas.

Art Basel runs through Sunday. One-day tickets are $35 and students and seniors are $20. Multi-day tickets are also available. Hours are noon through 8 p.m. today through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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