Saturday, December 06, 2008

Miami From Afar: the Artnet and Artforum Roundups

Saturday morning, December 6, 2008. Were I in Miami now for Art Basel week, I would be enjoying the annual brunch at the Sagamore Hotel hosted by Cricket and Marty Taplin. I would be eating a crepe or two, sipping a mimosa, lounging poolside, greeting friends, perhaps getting a foot massage. I would go to the beach to view Olaf Breuning's oversize sand sculpture of a bikini babe with a Paul Klee face. I would certainly attend the book signing, in the lobby, of a new 350 page volume on the collection of Marty Margulies. I would bask outdoors in 75 degree sunshine, not look out my window at a semi-overcast 34 Fahrenheit.

But I am not in Miami. Not this year. I am in NYC and getting all my news second hand, through the internet. Still, I already managed to post on ABMB topics five times this week. Apparently, when not encumbered with actually having to attend the event, when sitting in front of my computer nursing a torn tendon in my ankle, when sorting through the coverage of others, I can write much more. Ironic? You can reference the results below on this site.

This will be my sixth (and hopefully last) text, and it will again respond or add to articles on other sites. Because yesterday evening, both Artnet and posted their first major pieces on ABMB by their respective editors, Walter Robinson and David Velasco (who has risen to the helm now that Brian Sholis has left for more esoteric pursuits). Two very different gentlemen. One gay, one not. One young, one not so young. One thin, one not so thin. One goes to parties and takes pictures of (seemingly hundreds of) people. The other confines himself to the Convention Center (at least in this piece) and typically snaps the artwork. One does basic "just the facts, ma'am" reportage, the other flirts with fabulosity. Yet they are remarkably consistent on one point: that things have not changed (worsened) all that much this year. The titles say it all: "Fair Enough" and "Crisis, What Crisis?"

Age before beauty, so let's start with Artnet. The general thesis:
For an enterprise that specializes in the avant-garde, the art world has been shockingly slow to suffer the effects of the economic crisis ... Throughout the sprawling fair, dealers speak of lowered expectations with resignation but without panic. They note moderate sales.

Dealers given sound bites: Kevin Bruk, Raphael Jablonka, Sarah Gavlak, Chiara Repetto.

Other dealers mentioned, sans quotes: Aurel Scheibler, David Nolan, Franco Noero, Deitch, Xavier Huffkens, the Breeder, Miguel Abreu, Casas Reigner.

Artists spotted in the aisles: Thomas Houseago, Kerry James Marshall, Shirin Neshat, James Rosenquist, Will Ryman, Mark di Suvero, Phillip Taaffe, Terry Winters.

Work noted by: Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Daniel Hesidence, Philip Taaffe, Jose Alvarez, Malcolm McLaren, Bridget Riley, Pae White, Marcel Duchamp, Sophie Matisse, Mike Bidlo, Richard Pettibone, Rob Pruitt, Tom Burr, Neil Campbell, Francesco Vezzoli, Yan Pei-Ming, Thomas Houseago, Kurt Kauper, Vanessa Beecroft.

Very heavy work: two Michael Heizer boulder sculptures at Peter Freeman, weighing it at five and six tons, inset in steel boxes fit into the wall.

Robinson's seemingly favorite installation: the Aaron Young gold plated cyclone fence that blocks off Bortolami's Art Nova booth, forcing collectors to squeeze in through the gaps.

There will undoubtedly be at least one more Miami posting on Artnet, concerning the satellite fairs and the collections, the galleries and museums, either by Robinson or Ben Davis (if they flew him down).

And so, on to The thesis:

Recession Miami Basel looks a lot like boom-time Miami Basel ... an annual ritual of rigorous sublimation and denial, where the cultural spheres of art, fashion, film, and design collide in moments both vulgar and brilliant ... the three-block stretch between the twenty-four-hour Walgreens and the Shore Club constitutes a veritable social obstacle course.
Reportage from: the NADA fair gala, the openings of MOCA North Miami and the Perrotin Gallery, the Convention Center, a Deitch party at the Raleigh Hotel.

On seeing a "blissed out" Takashi Murakami at Perrotin decked out in "a massive plush ball of a suit and dancing wildly in the gallery’s foyer", a friend of the editor exclaims: “He’s finally living his ultimate dream—he’s become a giant cartoon character.”

Later at The Station, a group show ("scrappy but effusive") curated by Shamim Momim and artist Nate Lowman, a "sharp dealer" noted: “This is Shamim unbridled—no board, no acquisitions committee. It’s better than the biennial.”

Others quoted: Agnes Gund, Marianne Boesky, Sarah Douglas ("sarcastically noted that there was no caviar at this year’s UBS dinner" - a pundit's sure sign of economic collapse?), dealers Nicholas Frank, Rodrigo Mallea Lira and Rob Hult, artist Martha Friedman, Kathy Grayson, Brent Sikkema, Faye Dunaway (wanted to know about a Warhol Jackie).

Pictured: just about everyone. Let's drop a couple of first names: Naomi, Faye, Shamim, Nate, Larry, Yvonne, Jeanne, Jeffrey, Emmanuel, Takashi, Annette and Marc (current directors), Sam (former director) and Thea, Michael and Brent, Javier and AA, Eva, Max, Stefania and Cay Sophie, Ruth and Roger, Marc-Olivier etc.

At the ABMB VIP opening at the Convention Center, a mediation on the art world pecking order:
At the fair, it all comes down to place ... not so much about diminishing its participants outright as it is about putting them in their place. It may not be the right place, it certainly might not be the place one wants, but everyone—collectors, dealers, artists, press—has a position, and those that find order comforting might take comfort in that. There are benefits to seeing the fair as an object lesson in recondite administration, in the art world’s strange and fluid grammars of categorization.
The sign off: "But no matter how much fun you’re having, there’s always that nagging feeling that somewhere, out there in the palmy, breezy night, someone is having more fun." The example given: at Deitch's kiddie party, the headline entertainer wants to know if someone can get her into the Grace Jones party.

Which prepares us for the post that will inevitably follow: Linda Yablonsky's modulated purr of AAA entitlement from beneath the Cartier dome, or from one or another seated dinner or exclusive reception. If you fly her down, she will spell your name correctly, followed by an appropriately dulcet aperçu.

P.S.: Wrong again!

Ms. Yablonsky was not the follow up on Artforum. She had already posted on the brand new Interview blog, and was kind enough to send me the link.

It was Kyle Bentley reporting from the Grace Jones gig service elevator of the Delano, the Visionaire party and Jerry Saltz's "This Is the End" panel at the Convention Center.

News Flash: expect to see the art work of Marilyn Manson (yes, you read it right) at your local PS 1 sometime soon. According to Bentley, Alanna "Heiss called Marilyn’s paintings the best work in Miami, and apparently spent the night before driving around in Manson’s limo" swilling absinthe. I do enjoy such sober assessments of art.


Blogger zipthwung said...

I guess it's all true (I have it on good authority anyone with a suitcase full of art can strike a deal) - people are flocking to art like seagulls to salmon soaked lovebirds. The guilded cage, the velvet coffin, the padded cell, the concrete filled hearse.

I'm glad people managed to scrimp and save for this feast, this demonstration of noblesse oblige - I do hope to attend next year, should Florida still be habitable.

Saturday, December 06, 2008 9:33:00 PM  

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