MIAMI - The minute the doors were open, and even a little bit before, the VIP and press crowd flooded into Art Basel in Miami Beach this morning for the preview day of the fair, which officially opens tomorrow and lasts until Sunday.
I was among them, and although it’s too soon for trend-spotting and sales reports (tune in tomorrow for those), here are my favorite pieces from the first few hours of Miami madness inside the Convention Center:
Henrique Oliveira’s Xilempaso 6, 2013. Courtesy Galeria Millan.
1. The Latin American vibe is all over this fair, but not every work is as good as Xilempaso 6, 2013, by Sao Paulo–based Henrique Oliveira. This sculpture made out of reclaimed wood rivets one’s attention in person. The texture absolutely sings and the forms are strangely suggestive of a million different things. This artist, who has made huge installations at the Palais de Tokyo and other venues, is one to watch. It’s in the booth of Brazil’s Galeria Millan.
Laurent Grasso’s Studies into the past (eclipse). © Laurent Grasso, Courtesy Sean Kelly.
2. In the Sean Kelly gallery booth I was shocked and delighted to find Studies into the past (eclipse), 2013, by Laurent Grasso. It’s a calm and classical diptych that appears to be an old master painting – but then you see the strange and magical red eclipse on the left side and you realize it’s contemporary. Evidently Grasso works with conservators at the Louvre to develop the tempera paint and to get the details just right.
Roxy Paine’s Incident/Resurrection, 2013. Courtesy Marianne Boesky.
3. The artist Roxy Paine became quite famous in the last decade for his Dendroid sculptures, which are essentially large metal trees. They’ve been at the Met and in many outdoor venues. Lest we forget, the talented Paine has also worked in other media, including neon. I really liked Incident/Resurrection, 2013, in the Marianne Boesky booth. There’s a touch of Bruce Nauman’s influence in this piece perhaps, while remaining uniquely Paine’s work, and it was a pleasure to stop and stare at.
Thomas Kiesewetter’s Denker, korallenrot, 2013. Photo: Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf. Courtesy Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf.
4. Speaking of influence that is made new and fresh, I love the evocation of David Smith’s spirit, as well as the coral pink color, in Thomas Kiesewetter’s sculpture Denker, korallenrot, 2013. The metal and lacquer piece changes every time you shift your vantage point, and it has a sturdy elegance about it. I spotted it in the booth of Düsseldorf’s Sies + Höke gallery—both the artist and the gallery are new to me, so I call that a doubly good discovery.