What are Dealers Bringing to Art Basel in Miami Beach?

Dealers from Cape Town, São Paulo, and even Miami weigh in.

Philippe Parreno, Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), 2015. Courtesy tThe artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin.
Photo Roman März.

Some 267 galleries from around the globe are gearing up for the mammoth Art Basel in Miami Beach (ABMB) fair, taking place December 3–6. Hopeful gallerists plan to sell many millions of dollars’ worth of art and kick up their heels at the countless parties and about two dozen satellite fairs that surround the big event.

The roster for ABMB includes galleries coming from world capitals from New York to Beijing, and from Cape Town to São Paulo. Works by more than 4,000 artists will be on view in booths that some galleries pay more than $100,000 for the pleasure to rent. This year’s will be the first ABMB under the directorship of ex-Armory Show director Noah Horowitz, who in August started as director of the Americas.

“It’s the one fair we do where we cover the broadest spectrum of what we deal in,” Nick Acquavella, of major New York market player Acquavella Galleries, told artnet News by phone.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled IV, 1982 Oil on canvas 70 x 80 inches (177.8 x 203.2 cm) Courtesy Acquavella Galleries © 2015 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled IV, 1982
Image: Courtesy Acquavella Galleries.
© 2015 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The gallery’s top offering will be a 1982 Willem de Kooning, measuring nearly seven feet wide and tagged in the region of $10 million. More affordable works will be available too, like Damian Loeb prints for $15,000 each; the artist’s paintings go for upwards of $150,000.

Among the rarities on offer from Acquavella include a small 1966 Eva Hesse sculpture once owned by Mel Bochner.

Antonio Dias, Cranks, 1999.<br>Photo Everton Ballardin, courtesy Galerie Nara Roesler.

Antonio Dias, Cranks, 1999.
Photo Everton Ballardin, courtesy Galerie Nara Roesler.

Miami is often called the capital of Latin America, so Galeria Nara Roesler’s focus on Latin artists will be a welcome one at the fair. Artistic director Alexandra Garcia Waldman, talking to artnet News by phone from the gallery’s new showroom in New York, explained that when planning for fairs, the gallery aims to bring a balance of historical and emerging artists.

Among the works Roesler will bring are sculptures by Antonio Dias that are based on ballot boxes; first created in the late ‘60s, among upheaval over Vietnam and the civil rights struggle, they partly refer to the fraught elections at the time in Brazil, which was followed by Artur da Costa e Silva’s military dictatorship. For a US audience, the works might take on a new resonance in the context of a seemingly endless election cycle.

Roesler will also show a large sculpture by Julio Le Parc and photographs by Virginia de Medeiros, who studies subcultures and marginalized groups like sex workers, the homeless, and the BDSM scene.

Nairy Baghramian, <i>Fluffing the Pillows (Mooring, Silos, Gurney)</i>, 2012.<br>Photo courtesy Kurimanzutto, Mexico City.

Nairy Baghramian, Fluffing the Pillows (Mooring, Silos, Gurney), 2012.
Photo courtesy Kurimanzutto, Mexico City.

Also coming from Latin America is Mexico City’s Kurimanzutto, which will deliberately mix up its roster of older male artists with emerging female artists this year. Kurimanzutto, which has been showing with Art Basel since even before ABMB started in 2002, will bring fresh names such as Nairy Baghramian, Marieta Chirulescu, and Haegue Yang, which will complement the artists who originally formed the gallery’s stable, such as Abraham Cruzvillegas, Gabriel Kuri, and Gabriel Orozco.

“We represent the gallery fully at every fair,” said Bree Zucker, who works in sales at the gallery, talking to artnet News by phone, adding that the gallery does at least a half-dozen fairs a year. “We don’t say, ‘Oh, this is so Miami.’”


Dorothy Iannone, My Heroine and her Mate, 1962.Courtesy the artist, Peres Projects, and Air de Paris.

Dorothy Iannone, My Heroine and her Mate, 1962.
Courtesy the artist, Peres Projects, and Air de Paris.

Coming from Berlin and included in the fair’s “Survey” section, devoted to art-historical ventures, is Peres Projects, which will show Dorothy Iannone, now 81 years old and known for her sexually frank works depicting her and her boyfriend, artist Dieter Roth.

“The fair offers an opportunity to show her work to a North American audience, now that we’ve done several shows with her here in Germany,” Javier Peres said by phone.

“The focus will be a group of early, abstract works dating from between 1962 and 1964, which was an important early period in which she drew inspiration from the abstraction going on in New York at the time,” Peres said. “They gave birth to her later, better-known figurative work,” he says, some of which is also included.

Pieter Hugo, <i>Abdullahi Mohammed with Gumu, Ogere-Remo, Nigeria</i>, 2007.<br>Courtesy Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town.

Pieter Hugo, Abdullahi Mohammed with Gumu, Ogere-Remo, Nigeria, 2007.
Courtesy Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town.

Making a nearly 24-hour flight to Miami is Stevenson Gallery, of Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, which is pushing itself this year in terms of the ambition and scale of the works it is bringing.

The booth’s centerpiece will be a large sculpture by Wim Botha, who often carves old books into grotesque figurative sculptures. It was finished just in time for shipping, director Joost Bosland said, adding that some of the containers the gallery is using to bring its works were too big for commercial airliners this time around. Other imposing works will be on view by Nandipha Mntambo and Nicholas Hlobo.

Simpler to ship but harder to find on the market, says Bosland, will be photographs from Pieter Hugo’s “Hyena Men” series, showing these wild animals held on leashes by performers. Hugo says he’s been ripped off in music videos by artists as diverse as Australian singer Nick Cave to Beyoncé, and Bosland says these photographs haven’t been seen at fairs for years because they’ve been sold out.

Ran Huang, <i>A (Perilous) Self-Portrait</i>, 2015.<br> Courtesy of Long March Space.

Ran Huang, A (Perilous) Self-Portrait, 2015.
Courtesy of Long March Space.

Making an even longer journey is Long March Space, coming from Beijing. They’ll offer sculptures by Xu Zhen, the artist who also works as MadeIn Company, who got the nod to spearhead the Armory Show’s China Focus section in 2014. Also on offer will be a tapestry work by Tianzhuo Chen, paintings by Ran Huang and Wang Jianwei, and bronze sculpture and photography by Zhan Wang.

Only a few Miami galleries are on the exhibitor list, and one of those is Fredric Snitzer, who has shown at the fair since the inaugural 2002 outing. Though he’s not always in love with the “quick-look, quick-buy” model that art fairs promote, he says, “The fair has been a windfall for the visual art community in Miami.”

Snitzer will show works by New York environmental artist Alan Sonfist, who has created land works from Tuscany to Tampa to Manhattan. He’s also showcasing works by Carlos Alfonzo, a Cuban artist whose death from AIDS 25 years ago at age 40 cut short a rising career that had already included a solo show at the Hirshhorn Museum, in Washington, D.C. Back at the gallery, Snitzer will show L.A. artist Kenny Scharf.

Dealers are also looking forward to what’s going on outside the Miami Beach Convention Center, which houses ABMB. In addition to seeing the results of Horowitz’s ABMB directorship, Bosland, for example, is excited to visit Franklin Sirmans in his new post as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which he took up in October.

Zucker says she always finds fantastic things at the main satellite fair, NADA, which will be at a much more central location this year, at the Fontainebleau.

Nara Roesler’s Waldman says the gallery’s program will keep her too busy to see anything else. “I remember when all there was to do outside the fair was a karaoke bar,” she said, but this time around, she’ll attend Isaac Julien’s project with Rolls Royce, an Antonio Dias book launch, and an Alexandre Arrechea performance at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation.

“It’s Miami,” she said, “so there’s eighteen events a day!”

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