What To Buy? See These Top 10 Booths at Art Basel in Miami Beach
Find out what people are talking about at the fair.
Day one of Art Basel in Miami Beach is the art world’s version of Black Friday, in which really, really rich people compete for things that they are not even sure they want and certainly don’t need. If you are not trampled at the door and can make it through the throng of people crowding the aisles, these are our recommendations for the top 10 booths at this year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach.
Paul Kasmin, with works by Nyoman Masriadi, Iván Navarro, and Brancusi
White carpet does wonders for this booth, which presents a selection of top-notch works from gallery shows through the past year or so—Brancusi, Jules Olitski, James Nares. But it is Masriadi’s Selfie Cop (2014) and the Navarro installation that are the standout pieces.
Sadie Coles, with works by Urs Fischer
What a great booth, with 1080 pale green raindrops suspended from the ceiling. What a beautiful installation—so light, so fun, so thrilling to be in and around. Fischer delivers a knockout show at a time when his reputation seemed to be fading. Great to see him back on top.
Jack Shainman, with works by Nick Cave, Titus Kaphar and Gehard Demetz
Elegant craftsmanship mixed with political bite is the hallmark of all the art at this elegant booth where you can see a wonderful spread of work by gallery artists. Consistency of style and tone in a booth is an under-appreciated quality and it makes the viewing experience so much more enjoyable.
Mnuchin Gallery, with works by Josh Smith and Frank Stella
Josh Smith is among the most exciting painters alive, and his untitled picture of palm trees, from 2014, is a perfect emblem for the fair and the city. If a local hotel or Miami resident doesn’t buy this work, they are nuts. It belongs here in Miami.
Galerie Gmurzynska‘s project “A Kid Could Do That”
This show of works from 50 years of the Zurich gallery’s history is a classy, elegant presentation. Works by Picasso, Klippel, Klein, Lam, Bacon, and more are the media sensation of the fair. Television cameras and journalists crowded around the artworks to get a glimpse of P. Diddy, and Baz Luhrmann (who designed the booth) and other celebrities. P. Diddy was interested in the Picasso, a fresco of a naked woman (of course) priced at $1.2 million.
Gavin Brown, with works by Bjarne Melgaard
I know to some these look like the dumbest paintings ever but they are actually kind of riveting, and, at the very least, unforgettable. At a fair in which most art is completely forgettable, that counts for something, at least in my book. Melgaard is worth checking out. He’s a bad painter, sure, but a great bad one.
Helly Nahmad, with an Alexander Calder
One work seems to fill this entire booth. What a work: an Alexander Calder hanging mobile called Rouge triomphant (1959–1963), priced at $35 million. This one is for a sheik or Russian oligarch’s boat. It’s probably not even for sale. Who knows, or cares? It’s just so great to see a work of this quality and scale at an art fair. WOW.
Van Doren Waxter, with works by Frank Stella and Helen Frankenhaler
Quiet booths can get lost amid the color and scale of a lot of the other art on display at Art Basel in Miami Beach. But the truth is that if you look carefully and look again, you’ll find beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated displays of important if quiet work by major 20th-century artists at booths such as Van Doren Waxter. The centerpiece is a 1971 Frank Stella and it sold pretty much the minute the fair opened. The Stella is surrounded by works by Joe Goode, Helen Frankenthaler, and others.
Kukje Gallery/Tina Kim Gallery, with a Jean-Michel Basquiat
This shared booth is filled with so many lovely works but is worth visiting if only for a single picture: an extraordinary 1985 Jean-Michel Basquiat self-portrait. This is a special painting and no surprise is priced accordingly at $7 million. It would make a strong addition to any public or private collection.
Cheim & Read, with works by Lynda Benglis and Jenny Holzer
It is great to see a top-notch New York gallery promoting the work of senior American women artists, especially artists of the caliber of Jenny Holzer and Lynda Benglis. The good news is that both of these artists are still at the top of their game and collectors know it. Most (if not all) of their work was sold within hours of the fair opening. But kudos to the gallery for making conceptual art look good in a context where one idea in an artwork is often one idea too many.
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