Barbara Kruger at Art Basel Miami Beach
Art Basel isn't all that challenging as far as viewing goes (nearly all of it is museum approved) but it does serve as a good barometer for what is overripe and what art world staples remain fresh. The Aqua and Pulse fairs were a lot fresher and with more interesting work... I'll post on those others plus NADA soon. Let's just say NADA is both trying too hard and not hard enough... Although there were a few good things there. For those who missed it here is a ABMB tour of the better stuff. In person it was a far more punishing viewing endurance experience.
Two artists that never seem to grow stale are Agnes Martin and Donald Judd at Pace Wildenstein (both untitled from 1988 and 1959 respectively). In an art market seemingly hell-bent on the quick path Judd and Martin did it the hard way.
Jessica Stockholder's combine collage installations make a lot of the younger wal-mart art trash artists look less sophisticated. Mitchell-Innes & Nash had this really nice one. Stockholder is better and more difficult than most of the younger generation (at NADA etc) because comparatively she doesn't try to take an overtly pleasing posture. She's beyond wanting anyone else's approval.
Christopher Marclay's "Feedback", which featured two round mirrors reflecting one another at Paula Cooper was nice to look at but the visual pun might grow old after a while. You get that with Marclay though....
Also at Paula Cooper, here's one of Sam Durant's latest. I used to find Durant's protester photos to be shrill and hollow but the new stuff seems to avoid all the old cliches.
ABMB was full of bad A.R. Penks but here is a good one from Art Kabinett.
Olafur Eliasson (left) and Ragna Robertsdottir's "Glacier" (right) looked great at i8. I like this phenomenological, experience oriented art.
These were the best installed Dan Flavins... at Waddington.
At John Berggruen gallery, Ed Ruscha's "Jinx" and Bruce Nauman's "Partial Truth" looked great together. There was a lot of Ed Ruscha on hand which seemed to burn a lot of people out... but this was my favorite.
Tom Friedman's (Untitled) Demon on the wall foregrounded his virtuosity and wit, which can seem grating; in this case it seemed edgy in a fair that seemed overly pleased with itself. Nice to see an angsty virtuoso at Freeman Gallery.
Another highlight was Sarah Sze at Marianne Boesky. The fish tanks seemed to be a great alternative to Donald Judd's more ordered but equally intentional universe.
Thomas Hirschhorn's "Merci" looks a lot better in this photo than it was. It just seems like it is shtick at this point. These trash artists need something new to remain fresh... this one is far from it.
At Modern Art Barry McGee seemed to be the only artist willing to let on that he enjoyed making art in any way.
At 1301 PE, Rikrit Tiravanija + Superflex made their social pudding which seemed to be reconciling Warhol's brillo boxes (jello boxes) with Robert Smithson's dislocating mirror work. It seemed to be working, there was usually a line... social and arty + full of crass signifiers that say... this is art because it's referring to art.
For fresher work I liked David Zink Li's video at Johann Konig gallery. It was a video showing fingers plucking and the audience around the performer. All was from an interesting angle from behind the strings. This drew the viewer into the performer's world somewhat. Plus I really like Hyuano music.
At Ana Helwing Gallery Mindy Shapero turned on the charm with "Happy sad green crying monster face." Pictured here is a different work with a much longer title.
At Blum and Poe Sam Durant's portrait of Robert Smithson in a Cobain-ish fashion was a lot better than all the self conscious drawings of Smithson I see constantly at other fairs. There is a perceptive element to this work as opposed to a "woe is me" aspect in some of the doodle artists.
The juxtaposition of Nick Cave's sequined "Sound Suit" with Tim Bavington's "Helter Skelter" was one of the nicest installations at the fair. It was at Jack Shainaman gallery.
My favorite title at the show was "Baby Contraband" by Lynda Benglis at Cheim & Read. The work is evocative of baby puke, afterbirth etc… all scary and wonderful.
Gagosian was predictably excellent with the best Basquiat at the fair, and a nice newer Mark Tansey that read surprisingly well with an electric green Andy Warhol self portrait. Everything made the Basquiat look like the most protean artist imaginable... because Tansey and Warhol seemed so calculated to create a certain effect. I don’t buy it but the hang was good... A rarity here.
White cube actually managed to have an even better looking booth and it didn't hurt that a truly excellent Damien Hirst medicine cabinet was on hand... Hirst may be the only artist capable of beating Warhol at his own game. I increasingly believe that Hirst's recent Gagosian show was a way to snub New York by showing his dominance even though the work wasn't even his strong suit. If you can win with the B team in the market... what does that convey? He's gonna manage his own market and immediate history, when New York's establishment might want to peg him as only relevant to London and Saatchi... We will see a Hirst retrospective at MoMA or the Guggenheim in the next 5 years. Count on it. I like the fact that there is an artist who is clearly in his own driver's seat and he's playing for keeps.
There was an ok Klee at Landau Fine Art too, "Kleine Kommodie auf der Weise." A good Klee can usually wipe away some of the pain of art fair art gluttony.
Last but not least was a video artist I just love from Portugal Joao Onofre. His recent video of a man in a mask tap-dancing partially exploits the wonder one can have regarding colorful street characters and the natural desire to tail these people. It consistently drew crowds.