Crowds Flock to Art Miami and CONTEXT, Where Blue-Chip Art Reigns

Get a closer look at Miami's hometown fair.

Shawn Huckins, Raftsman Playing Cards: Everything Is Hilarious and Nothing Is Real (2016). Courtesy the artist and Modernism, San Francisco.

During last night’s VIP preview in the Wynwood District, Art Miami founder Nick Korniloff described it as the “hometown” fair of the city, and it’s not hard to see why.

As evidenced by last night’s turnout, the longstanding Miami fair, and its younger, nearby satellite, CONTEXT Art Miami, draw considerable crowds made up of high-profile international collectors and devoted locals alike.

The exhibitors and quality of art on view seem to keep getting better with each edition, and the latest offers a heavy dose of modern blue-chip works—think Picasso, Sam Francis, Robert Rauschenberg, and Tom Wesselmann—alongside striking contemporary works by artists like Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst, as well as some unexpected surprises like Petra Cortright.

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin steel sculpture at the center of the Art Miami VIP lounge. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Yayoi Kusama’s steel pumpkin sculpture at the center of the Art Miami VIP lounge. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Indeed, as Korniloff notes, the range and caliber of work on view contradicts the oft-heard complaint among eager collectors about the lack of availability of great works.

Pablo PIcasso, <i>Head of Woman No. 7, Portrait of Dora Maar</i> (1939). Courtesy Modernism, San Francisco.

Pablo Picasso, Head of Woman No. 7, Portrait of Dora Maar (1939). Courtesy Modernism, San Francisco.

San Francisco gallery Modernism featured a vibrant mix of works that included Pablo Picasso etchings and engravings, Mel Ramos’s Pop art style pin-ups, work by Tom Wesselmann, and, on the more contemporary side, Damian Elwes’s irresistible renderings of artist studios, such as imagined versions of the places where Cy Twombly and Picasso created their work.

Also drawing enthusiastic viewers were Shawn Huckins’s humorous and satirical juxtapositions of historical scenes overlaid with modern, Ruscha-esque font, such as Raftsman Playing Cards: Everything Is Hilarious and Nothing Is Real (2016).

Director Martin Muller said the gallery, which has been showing at Art Miami for eight years now, likes the mix of modern and contemporary art, noting that the gallery itself embraces a range of represenational and non-representational art.

Muller was particularly enthusiastic about a décollage by Jacques Villeglé, the 90-year old French artist whose 2008 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris was a hit with an audience eager for change.

Maurizio Cattelan, <i>Rulo </i> (1989). Courtesy of Mark Borghi Fine Art.

Maurizio Cattelan, Rulo (1989). Courtesy of Mark Borghi Fine Art.

Mark Borghi Fine Art which operates out of Manhattan, Palm Beach, and Bridgehampton, showed a whimsical sculptural installation by Maurizio Cattelan along with bold black and white works on paper by Keith Haring, and works by Adam Pendleton.

Connecticut art dealer James Barron, who, an hour into the preview, had already sold a 1981 Larry Poons painting, Sleer, that had an asking price of $55,000, told artnet News his gallery favors this fair for its healthy rate of return visitors and collectors.

Installation view of Larry Poons Sleer (1981). Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Installation view of Larry Poons Sleer (1981). Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

The gallery, which aims to add an educational layer to the works its shows, also displayed ephemera from the estate of Riva Castleman, one of the first female curatorial department heads at the Museum of Modern Art, including correspondence with artists such as Jasper Johns as well as draft typescripts for books she authored.

Sam Francis, <i>Untitled (SFP86-72) (SFF.1336)</i> (1986). Courtesy of Jonathan Novak.

Sam Francis, Untitled (SFP86-72) (SFF.1336) (1986). Courtesy of Jonathan Novak.

Another eye-catching booth was that of Jonathan Novak, which was heavy with brilliant hued work by Sam Francis. “For this year’s Art Miami booth, we chose to exhibit important artists from the Post-War movements of Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Photorealism,” said creative director Jessica Csanky.

Along with Francis, these included: Helen Frankenthaler; Wayne Thiebaud; Roy Lichtenstein; Jim Dine; Richard Diebenkorn; John Baeder; Ralph Goings; and Robert Cottingham.

Gunther Uecker, <i>Riss (1)</i> (2000) and <i>Riss (2)</i> (2000). Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Gunther Uecker, Riss (1) (2000) and Riss (2) (2000) at Galerie Terminus, Munich. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

Galerie Terminus of Munich had a strong showing this year, and is featuring striking pieces by “Zero” artists Gunther Uecker and Otto Piene alongside works by Roy Lichtenstein, Georg Baselitz, and John Chamberlain.

Steve Sabella, <i>Metamorphosis (1)</i> (2012). Courtesy the artist and MetroQuadro, Torino, Italy.

Steve Sabella, Metamorphosis (1) (2012). Courtesy the artist and MetroQuadro, Torino, Italy.

A few blocks north of Art Miami, the large new locale for sister fair CONTEXT Art Miami, also in a bespoke white tent, was heating up as well. The fair, founded in 2012, focuses on emerging and mid-career artists.

Dealer Marco Sassone, owner of Metroquadro Gallery in Turin, was showing, among other works, conceptual photographs by Palestinian artist Steve Sabella, whose work focuses on creating a new reality in the face of conflict. Like other dealers, Sassone noted the overflow and repeat visitors from Art Miami who keep returning to the fair, which he has participated in for the last four years.

This year, CONTEXT included a special focus on galleries from Seoul. Curator Jihyun Cha of Artpark Gallery, which showed work by Joonsung Bae and Yongjin Kim, said a move to CONTEXT from SCOPE satellite fair last year had been motivated partly by the appeal of attracting the Art Miami crowd.

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