Gagosian and Deitch Team Up to Explore Pop and Minimalism—and Surprise, Surprise, It’s Still a Bunch of White Guys
"Pop Minimalism Minimalist Pop" at the Moore Building is a disappointment.
It has become an annual tradition for super-dealers Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch to join forces during Art Basel Miami Beach, hosting an exhibition in the Design District’s Moore Building. This year, the duo’s effort is “Pop Minimalism Minimalist Pop,” a reexamination of those two powerful American art currents that could have been timely, given that re-explorations of forgotten sides of the 1960s and ’70s have become a museum and market phenomenon of late.
Yet it became almost immediately apparent upon walking into the Moore Building that this year’s show was not some kind of radical rethinking of history. It is just the contrary, as evidenced by the fact that this show is dominated by the expected club of canonical men, almost all of them white: Damien Hirst, Donald Judd, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Richard Prince, to name just a few.
Taking over four floors of the Moore Building, the exhibition includes an impressive 85 works, based on the works list furnished by Gagosian. But only five of them—not counting the space’s permanent installation of Zaha Hadid’s Elastika sculpture—are by women. Five pieces are by artists of color, including a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, which counts toward both tallies. The others—making up under 12 percent of the entire show—are Sarah Morris, Tauba Auerbach, Lee Lozano, Judy Chicago, William T. Williams, Hank Willis Thomas, and Ai Weiwei.
“We wanted to look at the two essential strains of American art from the 1960s: Pop art and minimalism,” Deitch told artnet News at the exhibition opening. “In the ’60s, these artists were in separate camps. Some of the Minimalist artists despised Andy Warhol.” Looking back, he argues, they had more in common than they thought.
With that in mind, the exhibition looks at the convergence of the two schools, with historic examples of both as well as contemporary works showcasing the fusion of the Pop and Minimalist strains. Largely missing, both from an art historical perspective and on the more contemporary end, are the contributions of women and artists of color.
“You’re right. I wish we had more diversity,” Deitch admitted. “If this were a museum show, and we had more time, it would reflect a more diverse view. We are constrained, because this is a commercial, for-sale show. We have to work quickly, because people can’t hold things for months.”
Deitch cited Jo Baer, Eva Hesse, Jack Whitten, and Anne Truitt as some of the artists they had hoped to include in the exhibition, but for whom they were unable to secure loans. He noted that previous Moore Building outings, especially “On Realism,” had featured more women and artists of color, noting that “this is a more historical show. When you get more toward the present it’s a more open and diverse art world.”
But if it wasn’t possible to get more historical works, perhaps the imbalance could have been corrected with more pieces by younger women and artists of color whose work today engages with Pop and Minimalism.
And the presence of Chicago, who has long sought to reestablish her place in the Minimalist canon, only serves to underscore the way in which women and artists of color are all too often written out of the history books. (Next year, Deitch will host a show of Chicago’s work from the 1960s, when she lived in LA.)
Deitch claims that the two dealers decided to team up during Miami in order “to explore essential themes in contemporary art.” Hopefully next year, they will consider an “essential” theme that lends itself to increased representation of women artists and artists of color. The price points might not be as high, but the market for artists who aren’t white men isn’t going grow if they don’t get opportunities to show at high-profile events like Miami Art Week.
See more views of the exhibition below.
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