7 Questions for Gallerist David Nolan on Curating a Dynamic, Seductive Booth at Art Basel Miami Beach

The New York-based gallery will be returning to the international fair with a diverse range of art and artists.

David Nolan. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Founded in 1987, New York-based David Nolan Gallery has garnered an international reputation for featuring a diverse roster of artists and maintaining a rigorous, thought-provoking exhibition program. Right now, the gallery is showing two dynamic solo exhibitions: “Vian Sora: End of Hostilities” and “Steve DiBenedetto: Uncertainty Takes A Holiday,” both on view through December 9. Later next month, the gallery will present “Richard Artschwager: Boxed In,” a historic occasion to mark the artist’s centennial—an apropos venue for the commemoration, as the gallery first showed Artschwager’s work in 1993.

A perennial favorite exhibitor at international art fairs, David Nolan Gallery will once again be participating in Art Basel Miami Beach this year, showing a diverse range of art and artists. Ahead of the fair, we reached out to the veteran art dealer to get insight on what will be on view, and how he approaches each individual presentation.

David Hartt, The Histories (after Church), version with xenoformed atmosphere / Rayleigh scattering spectrum shift (2022). © David Hartt. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

David Hartt, The Histories (after Church), version with xenoformed atmosphere / Rayleigh scattering spectrum shift (2022). © David Hartt. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Can you tell us about what the gallery is planning to show at Art Basel Miami this year?

This year, David Nolan Gallery celebrates a large group of artists with widely varying global perspectives.

A new woven tapestry by Canadian David Hartt is dedicated to Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church and his explorations of the flora and fauna of Jamaica in the mid-19th century, a period when America and other world powers encroached upon and radically altered that foreign territory. Hartt’s lush and beautiful imagery belies his sharp political, social, and economic critique of the lasting effects of imperialism and slavery.

Two explosive paintings by Vian Sora, a recent immigrant from war-torn Iraq, demonstrate the artist’s unique vocabulary of gestural abstraction through her deft handling of form and singular application of color.

New sculptures by American Chakaia Booker testify to the artist’s groundbreaking use of recycled rubber tires as a raw material for making abstract sculpture. A delicate grace balances the power of Booker’s sculptures, which also evoke political and social aspects, from the patterns of the tires alluding to African scarification, to the exploitation tied to the collection of rubber, and the history of African American workers’ low wages in the automobile industry.

Chakaia Booker, Weighted Balance (2023). © Chakaia Booker. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Chakaia Booker, Weighted Balance (2023). © Chakaia Booker. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

In anticipation of our gallery exhibition, “Fort Marion and Beyond: Plains Indian Ledger Drawings, 1870–1910” (January 27–March 2, 2024), we’ll show two drawings by Cheyenne and Kiowa warrior artists Nokkoistand (Bear’s Heart) and Ohettoint. Made during their 1875–1878 incarceration at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, at the very beginning of the cultural assimilation efforts that shaped U.S. policies for almost one and a half centuries, these masterworks have enormous historical significance.

The Kabinett sector will celebrate one of the most influential contemporary Brazilian artists, Paulo Pasta, recognized for his abstract paintings which dialogue with the tradition of constructive art in Brazil and shift between reason and sensory perception. The exhibition will include his pocket-size oil paintings, a new format for the artist. Since the 1980’s, Pasta has created layer by layer an oeuvre of Minimalist paintings where color reigns supreme, geometrical boundaries are subtle, and light is radiant and serene.

David Hartt, Sun Dance, Bear’s Heart and Ohettoint Drawing Book, Cheyenne, Central Plains (ca. 1876). Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

What goes into the decision-making process of what to show, either in this fair or for fairs in general?

Each fair elicits a different response, which is part of the challenge and fun. We show different artists and specific types of work to meet the demands of the installation. We make models of the space, in this case with the architects of studioMDA, who have designed many of our art fair booths for the last twenty years.

How does the gallery’s presentation at the fair continue or deviate from the gallery’s regular exhibition program?

We do add different artists to augment our roster and make more visual connections that will tell a larger story. Art Basel Miami Beach has a broad and diverse collector base, and we like to show as many new works by our artists as possible.

Vian Sora, Fruition (2023). © Vian Sora. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Vian Sora, Fruition (2023). © Vian Sora. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Do you have a particular favorite among the works that are being brought to Art Basel Miami?

I would say that it’s hard to have a favorite but certainly Vian Sora’s work would be a particular favorite. One of her paintings is titled Fruition (2023) and bursts with vitality and color. Vian’s work is full of joyous energy while being constricted in part by her painful memories of growing up in Iraq, devasted by war but still steeped in one of the richest cultures the world has ever known.

What do you hope visitors of the gallery’s booth at the fair take away with them?

When people come to our booth, we want them to be seduced by the artworks and hope that they will find new artists and a sense of history and connection (enlightenment!) with the world that will make them curious and fascinate them.

Chakaia Booker, Make a Wish (2012). © Chakaia Booker. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

Chakaia Booker, Make a Wish (2012). © Chakaia Booker. Courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York.

From all the fairs that the gallery has participated in, have you noticed any developments or trends in the fair circuit that you find particularly intriguing or exciting?

Showing artists in different geographical locations helps us and others show how diverse the world is, and we have artists from many countries that ask questions and offer new perspectives… that is a new trend, and a very healthy one.

On a personal level, what do you most look forward to during Miami Arts Week?

Miami is a town full of energy and always brings many new people to the art world.

David Nolan Gallery will exhibit in Booth A51 at Art Basel Miami Beach December 6–10, 2023.


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