Monday, December 6, 2010

Miami Social Diary

Besides looking at art, there is a lot going on at Art Basel, the annual international coterie grande on South Beach. What many consider the ultimate aesthetic convergence, Art Basel, sponsored by UBS, is the crossroads of art and money. Painting is by Kehinde Wiley.
Artopia: Art Basel opens on Miami Beach + De La Cruz Foundation, Miami
By Augustus Mayhew

Art Basel/Miami Beach
The International Art Show/La Exposicion International de Arte
2-5 December 2010


The Age of the Concorde is only a memory. Yet, if this past week's Art Basel Miami Beach was any indication, the art world's highest and fastest flyers are still safe and sound in the ionosphere. In a global businesss where the only recordable standards of value are derived from paddle-numbered auction house sales, during Art Basel week the cross-border art bazaar thrives in private retail deals where the actual buyer and the actual price may never be known. Many of yesterday's smart art history and curatorial graduates who might "... talk of Michelangelo" appear to have been replaced by the tone and savvy of Armani-suited Wall Street commodity brokers, high-frequency traders more up on the latest Cayman Island wire transfer banking procedures than the aesthetic minimalism of Damien Hirst. Now more than ever, the high-altitude art world appears to be less about the deMedicis of the world and more about formulating billion dollar art collections.
After the National AIA conference several months ago I swore I would never return; alas, here I was again. For the evening Vernissage, a row of sleek silver Bentleys and Maseratis were parked along the curb, giving guests some perspective as they approached the valet parking stand. Next door to Hall D where Art Basel takes place, is Hall C, known as the Muhammad Ali Hall of Champions.
Although everyone agrees Wednesday’s day-long opening stretch for the 9th annual Art Basel exhibition curated from the universe’s best galleries was nowhere the tulip frenzy of past years, it was noticeably better than last year’s more lethargic response. If only the number of this year’s parties and peripheral events was somehow a barometer for the volume of art acquisitions, then this Art Basel would surely be measured a great success. I arrived around 11:30, and while not squeezed, I sensed a crowd developing as the morning climbed. And within hours, the wires were reporting some considerable sales. The colossus of hedge funds, west Delray Beach-Greenwich resident Steven A. Cohen, who must have so much money it must be impossible to count, dropped more than a half million, according to WSJ. And, in the elusive world of art commerce, it is reassuring that WSJ is able to confirm that actual transactions took place. A Wilfredo Lam painting sold for several million, and so on. By Sunday, more than 40,000 are expected to attend plus 500 distinguished members of the press.

Here are some scenes and seens at the 11:00 a.m. First View VIP invitational reception; then, seven hours and several thousand VIPs later, yet another herd of VIPs who attended the Vernissage opening. I left as they were arriving, having noticed some show goers heading for the medical tent with signs of severe art fatigue.
There appeared to be quite a few of these sporty BMWs scurrying around with VIPs. The only way to motor around SoBe during AB week.
There was always a noticeable line for VIP Services. There were 17 VIP relations manager positions listed for this year’s event, according to the 677-page Art Basel catalogue.
The Collectors Lounge is an exclusive Area 51 for VIP-VIP collectors only.
Photographer Patrick McMullan, left, with William Acquavella, right, and guests. Acquavella Galleries, New York.
A Warholian vortex at Acquavella.
Seen among the arrivals at 11:00 a.m. (l. to r.): Kimberly Stallvik; Betsy Wittenborn-Miller. Robert Miller Gallery, New York; Courtney Treut. Anton Kern Gallery, New York.
The art world’s most polished salesman, Larry Gagosian, standing guard at his station.
Larry Gagosian, at work.
Gagosian Gallery.
The Modern, artist Jack Pierson. $175,000 USD.
A recent untitled work by George Condo at Spruth Magers, Berlin & London.
I thought the gentleman with the hat looked like Jonas Mekas.
Contemporary art can be complicated.
Collector Marvin Ross Friedman with Adrienne Bon Haes.
An artful design. Captivating accessories.
The Fredric Snitzer Gallery.
I was uncertain just how to appreciate this animated work. One of many “warehouse-size” artworks available at the show.
A provocative narrative.
I believe these were from London.
Architect Zaha Hadid designed the gallery space for galerie gmurzynska, a Swiss gallery. Perhaps a few more venues should consider artfully-designing their spaces.
Looking at colorful art.
Hackett Mill, art dealers and advisors. San Francisco.
Marx and Modernism: The New Europe. Adler and Conkright, New York.
Here are some guests seen at Art Basel’s various VIP openings.
de la Cruz Collection
Contemporary Art Space
23 NE 41st Street, Miami. www.delacruz.org
In December 2009 Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz opened a 30,000-sq.-ft. gallery space for their contemporary art collection in Miami’s Design District. Designed by architect John Marquette, the de la Cruz Collection has established a residency program in collaboration with the SculptureCenter, New York.
In the art space’s main hall, a portrait of Carlos de la Cruz’s mother, Dolores Suero Falla, was painted by Salvador Dali in 1955.
The main staircase at the de la Cruz Collection’s new art apace.
Friday, 3 December, 3 pm.
Art Basel Miami Beach

Friday afternoon I stepped back inside Art Basel’s labyrinth, the crowd felt larger than for opening day, to check-up on just how the gallery owners had fared during the first 48 hours. Everyone I spoke with could not have been more upbeat. Here are some views on Friday at the fair.
At Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, both of these Alex Katz paintings were still available Friday afternoon. The larger one on the right is priced at $450,000 USD; the smaller to the left, $425,000.
The sculpture by Jaume Plensa sold for $250,000. “Quickly ... we could have sold a dozen of these ...”
$35 million USD and this striking Robert Rauschenberg work, Birthday Man, 1997, could be in your living room, at Faurschou Gallery, Copenhagen & Beijing. It was still available Friday afternoon.
The prized Wilfred Lam painting, reportedly sold for $3 million, has a red dot to its right and all smiles for, l to r., Sergio Cernuda, Emily Codik, Ramon Cernuda, and Nercys Cernuda. Cernuda Arte, Coral Gables.
Joan T. Washburn. Washburn Gallery, New York.
Today’s art provides something beyond the spectrum of extremes. Left, a colorfully patterned work, Louis Vuitton, at Gagosian Gallery; right, something more sublime from the Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York & Istanbul.
For me, “When one’s heart has been broken …” evoked the sacred religious iconography of Italian duecento Medieval church paintings with its vermilion drapery and dramatic sky. $44,000 Euro at Team Gallery, New York.
A view of Galleria Christian Stein, Milan.
Could well have been 57th Street, Madison Avenue, Marlborough Street or Via Tornabuoni.
At the table, Gemini Gallery, Los Angeles.
Fairgoers take a serious look at the art.
The untitled work, Mask Series, 1998, by Zeng Fanzhi, sold for $2.5 million USD at Acquavella. This work by John Newsom caught my eye. $67,500 USD at Patrick Painter Gallery, Santa Monica.
On Friday afternoon I noticed some re-hang at Gagosian Gallery.
Paul Delvaux’s The Dream, 1952, was for sale.
At Baum & Poe, Los Angeles, art is a serious matter.
I especially liked this painting, As I was waiting, Henry Taylor. $50,000. Baum & Poe, Los Angeles.
Barbara Mathes. Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York.
Anthony Reynolds, London.
The estate of Kenneth Noland, represented by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
SoBe between Art Basel & The Wolfsonian

After an early dinner at Joe Allen’s, my third visit in as many days, I made a few stops on the way through the gridlock to The Wolfsonian.
At the oceanfront Collins Park next to the W Hotel, “an environment designed by Phu Hoang Office and Rachely Rotem Studio, the pavilion uses two types of rope – reflective and phosphorescent – to create a diverse and interactive environment of open-air structures that sway and glow in the night.”
Another view of the rope-designed environment.
Across from the W Hotel, the Bass Museum of Art.
The W Hotel, ground zero for Art Basel’s publicized A-list events.
Across from the Wolfsonian, this historic coral rock house has been converted into Catch 10, a casual seafood eatery, which I had never noticed. Unlike SoBe’s proliferation of Moderne, this is real Old Miami Beach.
I can remember the day the 11 Street Diner was moved on to South Beach. For some preservation purists, it was the beginning of the end.
Across the street from the Wolfsonian, The Astor has always been one of my favorite spots. Another spot, I can remember when it first opened after the major re-do. I recall wonderful Sunday brunches with the best gospel singer.
The Wolfsonian - FIU opening party
1001 Washington Avenue
I arrived shortly before 8 and a line had formed outside The Wolfsonian as JP Morgan was in the midst of a private party and everyone would have to wait for them clear out. Thus, when the doors opened, there was quite a crowd. I did not have the op to see the video installation, Seduce Me, or Isabella Rossellini. Nonetheless, here are some of my impressions from the evening’s event.
A bust of Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. is in the lobby.
Mark B. Rosenberg, center, president of Florida International University, Justo J. Sanchez, left, and Rosalie Rosenberg, left. In 1997 Micky Wolfson gave his museum to FIU.
The Wolfsonian’s entrance hall at around 8:05 pm. Yet another scene from a Nathaniel West novel as it appeared all one thousand guests might have arrived at the same time.
With the video theater only seating 40 at a time, it was much easier for many of the guests to find the bar than watch the videos. Here are some of The Wolfsonian’s guests for their opening party.
The gift shop offered these door mats for $250.
Then, after a bottle of water, it was back to catch a few more views from Friday night’s party.
Saturday, 4 December

With Art Basel set to wrap tomorrow, I met up with some NYC friends at Versailles for Cuban chow before they head back to Manhattan. For me, Versailles never disappoints. Yet, on this visit I sensed a few less authentic Habaneros, they are the ones in their 80s and 90s who are impeccably dressed. For the past 50 years, they are the ones who have given the Calle Ocho landmark the feeling and flavor of Old Havana. In between plantains, black beans and garlic shrimp, the talk was of AB’s great success this past week. For dessert, we walked over to the restaurant’s pastry shop for guava-and-white cheese pie, lemon pie and crème caramel.
Versailles, the landmark restaurant where Miami’s Cuban exiles feel at home in Old Havana.
After dinner, my friends invited me to join them, and their teenager, on a jaunt over to Fountain in the Wynwood Arts District for a ‘concert” by artist Shepard Fairey, which I think meant he was a “guest DJ.” I stayed long enough to enjoy a few rifts by NinjaSonik, “…these guys are really big in the Underground…,”someone next to me mentioned. But, I didn’t stay for the guest artist. By 10, Miami Avenue was as gridlocked as South Beach.
Founded in 2006, Fountain is “an exhibition of avant-garde artwork in New York during Armory week and Miami during Art Basel.” While many of the pieces indicated to me the artists were still refining their mediums, there was a wide range of expression from the anarchic to the subversive.
Here is a look inside Fountain Miami 2010 on Saturday night, more light years away from Art Basel than one could ever imagine.
This is something.
NinjaSonik on stage.
Having the time of their lives on a Saturday night in Midtown Miami.
Clearly, this is an installation of stuffed and unstuffed stuffed animals with a gold frame.
A live performance work in progress.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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