5 Key Trends We’re Seeing at Art Basel in Miami Beach This Year

Check out the trends you may have missed.

Brian Calvin, Buttoned Up (2015). Photo: Anton Kern Gallery.
Andrew Brischler Dreams (2015). Photo: Gavlak Gallery.

Andrew Brischler, Dreams (2015).
Photo: Gavlak Gallery.

Presented by Cartier

Finding trends at an art fair is a bit like searching for four leaf clovers in a grassy field: you know they’re probably there, but good luck spotting them, especially in the expanse that is Art Basel in Miami Beach.

The fair is gigantic (we heard one art handler actually clocked 22 miles on his Fitbit during install day), and it’s easy to get lost among the sea of flashy objects and familiar faces. That said, there were a few concepts that kept popping up from booth to booth, aside from the usual suspects like neon and Pop art.

Louise Nevelson at Pace Gallery. Photo: Pace Gallery.

Louise Nevelson at Pace Gallery.
Photo: Pace Gallery.

1. Pioneering Female Artists:
We’re happy to report that several galleries went out of their way this year to feature works by some of our favorite female artists. In fact, at Pace Gallery, every female artist on the roster has a work on display. The highlight of the booth, however, are 18 monochromatic black sculptures by Louise Nevelson, a pioneering figure in the art world.

“Contemporary women artists know the kind of debt the owe to Louise Nevelson,” Marc Glimcher told artnet News. “She was such a powerful force and a huge personality. When I was a little kid, we used to walk down the street and everyone would be getting her autograph.”

Meanwhile, Mary Boone has works by Sarah Charlesworth and Barbara Kruger, Gladstone Gallery features Shirin Neshat and Rosemarie Trockel, and Spruth Magers boasts impressive new work by Cindy Sherman.

Brian Calvin, Buttoned Up (2015). Photo: Anton Kern Gallery.

Brian Calvin, Buttoned Up (2015).
Photo: Anton Kern Gallery.

2. Big Eyes:
Were all the major gallerists inadvertently influenced by last year’s Margaret Keane biopic? We think perhaps, because we noticed several large-eyed portraits, including a melancholy green-eyed girl by Brian Calvin at Anton Kern gallery.

When we overheard two fairgoers talking about an eyeball that is “always looking at you,” we kind of assumed they were talking about that massive sculpture that’s been known to haunt visitors to the Dallas Art Fair, but then we got to the booth of Warsaw-based Foksal gallery, where a veiny eyeball by Piotr Uklanski is, indeed, always watching.

But perhaps even creepier is Tony Oursler‘s iMP at Bernier/Eliades, a video portrait with moving eyes and lips. Yikes.

Hassan Sharif, Ladies and Gentlemen (2014) at Alexander Gray. Photo: Cait Munro.

Hassan Sharif, Ladies and Gentlemen (2014) at Alexander Gray.
Photo: Cait Munro.

3. Shoes:
Art fairs are often a good place to spot fashion trends, but they’re usually on the bodies of collectors, not in artworks themselves. But this year shoes seem to be popping up all over the place, from a small, gold-hued ceramic sculpture by the inimitable Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro to Ladies and Gentlemen, an incredible mixed-media work containing hundreds of shoes by Hassan Sharif at Alexander Gray.

Sharif, who is based in Dubai, is known for creating works that address daily life through the use of pedestrian materials, and this composition, with its dangling shoelaces and red-soled heels (the jury’s still out on whether or not they’re real Louboutins), is no exception.

John Baldessari, Karl Lagerfeld (2015). Photo: Gemini G.E.L

John Baldessari, Karl Lagerfeld (2015).
Photo: Gemini G.E.L

4. Karl Lagerfeld:
Speaking of shoes, fashion was clearly a major influence on gallerists at the fair—specifically, famed fashion designer and personality Karl Lagerfeld. At the booth of Los Angeles-based gallery Gemini G.E.L, new screenprints by John Baldessari pay homage to the German icon as well as the fashion world at large in cheeky, bright colors.

At Galerie Gmurzynska‘s Germano Celant-curated booth, photographs by the white-haired Chanel mastermind are on display as part of the gallery’s 50th anniversary celebration. Anyone with a soft spot for celebrities (the show features faces like Nicole Kidman and Arnold Schwarzenegger) will appreciate this one. There’s even a portrait of art fair staple Jeff Koons.

John Giorno, LIFE IS A KILLER (2015). Photo: Elizabeth Dee.

John Giorno, LIFE IS A KILLER (2015).
Photo: Elizabeth Dee.

5. Witty Words:
There’s something about word art that fits perfectly with the existential angst that quickly arises when you’ve been wandering through endless, art-filled corridors all afternoon. Especially John Giorno‘s rainbow-hued words at Elizabeth Dee. “I resigned myself to being here”—a phrase one of the prints contains—kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, Gagosian is touting a couple of Richard Prince joke paintings, and both Two Palms and Peter Freeman have works by Mel Bochner (though we prefer the ones at Two Palms for their painterly lettering).

Gavlak Gallery, whose booth is just a few steps away from Dee’s, has word art by Andrew Brischler that sings a decidedly more optimistic tune: namely, the word “Dreams” lettered above pleasing swirls of green, purple, and red. It’s a nice reminder that sleep will eventually greet us all. Just not for a few more days.

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