Patrick Jacobs’ Necrotic Ring Spot from 2010, Courtesy of The Pool NYC.


MIAMI - Part of the art fair game is power-skimming through thousands of different objects. There’s no possible way that your eye can land thoughtfully and productively on everything you pass. And Miami fair week, which I began to tackle yesterday, is overloaded with gold, dross and everything in between. The main fair hasn’t even opened as I write this, and yet a slightly dazed look was already settling in on some of the art pilgrims, including myself.

On Tuesday night, I was able to attend previews of both Design Miami/, located in a puffy white tent behind the main fair, and Untitled., a buzzy new entry in the satellite fair roster right on the beach, south of most of the other fairs.

Certainly Design Miami/ did not disappoint – the lineup of regular dealers like New York’s Christina Grajales and R20th Century; Carpenters Workshop Gallery of NYC and London; Gallery Seomi of Seoul; and Paris’s Galerie Patrick Seguin are the cream of the global crop.

It’s clear that midcentury French furniture still has a firm hold on dealers and collectors; there’s never a shortage of Jean Royère and Jean Prouvé at this fair, and one dealer confided in me under his breath that he’d rather, ahem, see a little less of them, for diversity’s sake. One great treat was meeting and chatting with the 80-year-old craft furniture legend Wendell Castle, who was showing his wares at R20th Century – he also has a new book out and a show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

Early "Kangaroo" chair in hand-carved walnut and slung leather. Designed and made by Wendell Castle, Rochester, New York, 1962. Signed and dated,WC 62. Photo by Sherry Griffin/Courtesy of R 20th Century.

The entrance to the fair is a knockout: the endlessly creative New York firm Snarkitecture, run by Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen, worked for six months to create a massive installation of inflatable white tubes called Drift that hangs over the entrance area to the tent like an array of intergalactic stalactites.

Inside, my skimming eye was brought to rest by a fantastic exhibition called “La Bourne: 1940-1980,” in the booth of Magen H XX Century Design. Here were pieces that didn’t look like anything else at the fair. They were warm colored, rough-surfaced ceramics that could almost be ancient pottery unearthed by an archeological dig. I knew nothing about this craft movement that flourished in the Berry region of Central France, but I want to know more.

Pierre Digan’s 1966 Sculpture, Courtesy of Magen H Gallery.

Over at the brand new Untitled. fair, the second preview night seemed to draw a small but engaged crowd. Certainly the warm breezes blowing on visitors as they walked on a sandy entrance path to the tent added to the charm, as did the sound of waves crashing nearby.

I wasn’t exactly wowed by the assemblage of works on display from the fifty odd galleries on hand, but my eye did come happily to rest on an installation by Patrick Jacobs, at the gallery The Pool NYC. This artist creates tiny but elaborate dioramas of natural scenes and interiors, and then tucks them away behind a small peephole window. You have to get up close and peer through, and yet a whole world is revealed once you do. The play of scale makes a strong impression, and let’s hope it augurs well for the rest of the week in Miami.