MIAMI - We call the smaller fairs that set up shop at the same time as Art Basel in Miami Beach “satellites,” but that may serve to trivialize what are often excellent events in their own right. As my last act of blogging from the art world gathering by the beach last week, here’s my report on the smaller fairs I was able to make it to. (Every year I say I’ll get to the NADA fair and I never do; here’s hoping for 2014.)
It’s always a pleasure to walk around this fair, because it’s compact and more of a jewel box. Now owned by Art Basel, the fair was on its usual game this year, with many objects that are tantalizingly conceived as somewhere between art and design.
Mid-century French furniture always gets a lot of attention here – will this period ever go out of style? – but Parisian dealer Patrick Seguin upped the ante this round. His “booth” was actually one of Jean Prouvé’s Demountable Houses from 1945. Rustic but elegant, the house was a classic modern statement of form following function (and it was fun to peer through the windows).
Benjamin Rollins Caldwell’s Binary Chair at Design Miami/.
The coolest thing of all, though, was South Carolina designer Benjamin Rollins Caldwell’s Binary Chair. Made of computer parts – largely the innards, like microprocessors – it didn’t look comfortable, exactly, but it was absolutely an achievement of craft. (Lady Gaga thought so too, and included a picture of herself on it in her recent album.) The chair was shown in a special booth with some other furniture of Caldwell’s, including a similarly constructed couch, and most attendees wanted to linger a bit and gawk at it, even if sitting wasn’t looking too promising.
This year, Scope moved to a tent on the beach, probably because the Untitled fair had success there last year. They set up shop just below Untitled, in fact, creating a new neighborhood of art activity on the sands. The switch will probably make the lower area of South Beach more of a hub in coming years, and probably makes things tough for the satellites that are still located in downtown Miami.
Peter Gronquist's Self Portrait at Scope.
Overall I found it hit-or-miss, but there’s always something to like. At Scope it was the large format, super-high-resolution photographs of Christian Voigt, in the Wanrooij Gallery booth. Both his Wailing Wall and Morgan Library II owe something to Thomas Struth and the whole German photography movement in their lack of affect and panoramic intent, and they were beautifully done.
The sophomore year of this fair was very strong. It felt well-edited and serious, but not boring. The tent, courtesy of the architecture brains over at Keenen/Riley Architects, is a great, light-suffused environment for art – it invites contemplation.
At the Rawson Projects booth I enjoyed the large, colorful oils of Halsey Hathaway. If Sonia Delaunay lived in present-day Brooklyn, she might paint something like these works, with their large, curving areas of pure color
I was enjoying myself generally and thinking about heading for the exit when I turned to my left and saw something that intrigued me. It was a painting, actually a work comprised of thin segments of various other, much older paintings, lined up and framed.
The Untitled art fair.
This collage of sorts – Porosity Principle #9, by the Argentinian artist Jose Luis Landet – was in the booth of the Buenos Aires gallery Document Art. The works he cut up to make the piece were from the mid-20th century, but his choice of bucolic scenes (cows, snowy peaks, stately old trees) gave it the air of an old master gallery gone haywire, as if some great film editor had snuck into the Rijksmuseum and spliced some pictures together.
I couldn’t take my eyes off this postmodern landscape, so I gave Landet’s piece the ultimate compliment. Reader, I bought it.