ART BASEL MIAMI 2019 Report — More Than a Banana Joke

Art Basel Miami 2019
PERROTIN, Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai; Artist: Maurizio Cattelan

Even before the long lines formed to see the controversial art work “COMEDIAN” by Maurizio Cattelan at Perrotin Gallery’s Art Basel Miami booth caught the headlines, it caught the eyes of this writer/photographer team…Nothing more than a banana duck taped to a display, it seemed to be trying to tell us something. Was it saying art is nothing more than a joke, like a slapstick slip on a banana? Was it trying to say that art can rot? Or, is it just a variation on the usual observation, that the value of art is just in the eye of the beholder???

Like Cattalan’s gold-plated toilet titled America, this art work was purchased for a pretty penny—allegedly US$120,000 (?!?).Yet, Comedian seemed almost sacrilegious, even to someone familiar with using Beethoven’s Ninth as background music for a Youtube video showcasing Art Basel of Switzerland earlier that year.

Art Basel Miami 2019
MODERN ART, London; Artist: Eva Rothschild
Art Basel Miami 2019
ANTON KERN, New York; Artist: David Byrd
Art Basel Miami 2019
MODERN ART, London; Artists: Ron Gorchov, Anna Perenna
Art Basel Miami 2019
GALERIA ELVIRA GONZALEZ, Madrid; Artist: Gunter Haese

Here’s why---The biggest takeaway of viewing Art Basel Miami 2019 is how much time, money and effort many of these big name galleries were making to showcase the works of one, or a very small handful of artists, in their stable.

Galleries at Art Basel Miami 2019 Create Temples for Their Artists

This year—compared to prior Art Basel Miami events, or an earlier Art Basel Hong Kong reviewed by Picture This Post—this was particularly striking. Many—most?—of the most memorable booths were creating almost temple-sized homages to a very small number of artists whom they represent. This was true not just in the NOVA section, which is dedicated to showcasing emerging artists’ works. You saw it throughout the now wider walkways of the revamped Miami Convention Center unveiled to the world last year.

Art Basel Miami 2019
BARRO, Buenos Aires; Artist: Gabriel Chaile
Art Basel Miami 2019
PACE PRINTS, New York; Artist: Nigel Cooke
Art Basel Miami 2019
WENTRUP, Berlin; Artist: David Renggli
Art Basel Miami 2019
MORAN MORAN, Los Angeles; Artist: Brian Belott
Art Basel Miami 2019
FOKSAL, Poland; Artist: Artur Zmijewski
Art Basel Miami 2019
ROBERTS PROJECTS, Los Angeles; Artist: Betye Saar

True, the real big –time buyers likely saw a wider array of back room treasures in private soirees apart from the press preview event. True, it’s not unusual to spot works by some of the artists whose work is exhibited at Art Basel Miami and other lesser cachet shows that comprise Miami Art Week.

Art Basel Miami 2019
ISLE FLOTANTE, Buenos Aires; Artists: Pablo Accinelli,
Art Basel Miami 2019
SABRINA AMRANI, Madrid; Artist: Manal AlDowayan
Art Basel Miami 2019
MITTERAND, Paris; Artist: Richard Pettibone
Art Basel Miami 2019
ISLE FLOTANTE, Buenos Aires; Artist: Mariela Scafati (previous picture)
Art Basel Miami 2019
MICHAEL WERNER, New York, Märkisch Wilmersdorf; Artist: Marcel Broodthaers
Art Basel Miami 2019
GAVEN BROWN, New York, Rome; Artist: Karl Holmqvist

Yet, the devotion the Art Basel Miami 2019 gallerists were showing for their artists in single flavor booths—or few flavor booths—was really quite extraordinary. In this writer’s view, the ability to soak up a particular artist’s lexicon, and where they resonate in the art world and wider world, was very much facilitated by these more laser-focused exhibits.

Art Basel Miami 2019
GALERIE GUIDO W. BAUDACH, Berline; Artist: Thomas Zipp (painting and sculpture)
Art Basel Miami 2019
JESSICA SILVERMAN, San Franscisco
Art Basel Miami 2019
PAULA COOPER GALLERY, New York; Artist: Veronica Ryan
Art Basel Miami 2019
ESPAIVISOR, Valencia; Artist: Esther Ferrer
Art Basel Miami 2019
KUKJE, Seoul, Busan; Artist: Elmgreen & Dragset
Art Basel Miami 2019
BARRO, Buenos Aires; Artist: Gabriel Chaile
Art Basel Miami 2019
ESPAIVISOR, Valencia; Artist: Esther Ferrer
Art Basel Miami 2019
KAVI GUPTA, Chicago; Artist: Mary Sabande
Art Basel Miami 2019
STEVENSON GALLERY, Capetown, Johannesburg; Artist: Jane Alexander

Art Miami 2019 and other Miami Art Week shows may be nipping at the heels of Art Basel Miami—in the caliber of the art as a whole that you get to see at the respective shows. Yet, no matter how much artists around the world might complain that Art Basel is too big to fail, it remains the kingmaker. Buyer or tourist, Art Basel Miami remains—in this writer’s view—the single best erector of altars to contemporary art and artists one can find in North America.

Art Basel Miami 2019
GALERIE TEMPLON, Brussels; Artist: Omar Ba
Art Basel Miami 2019
GALERIE EVA PRESENHUBER, Zurich Switzerland; Artist: Joe Bradley
Art Basel Miami 2019
ALISON JACQUES GALLERY, London; Artist: Sheila Hicks
Art Basel Miami 2019
A GENTIL CARIOCA, Rio de Janeiro; Artist: Laura Lima
Art Basel Miami 2019
HACKET MILL GALLERY, San Fransisco; Artist: Manuel Neri
Art Basel Miami 2019
KAVI GUPTA, Chicago; Artist: Jeffrey Gibson
Art Basel Miami 2019
TINA KIM GALLERY, New York; Artist: Gimhongsok
Art Basel Miami 2019
PETER KLICHMANN GALERIE, Zurich; Artist: Gimhongsok
Art Basel Miami 2019
HIGH ART, Paris; Artists: Cooper Jacoby (two round wall pieces), Julien Creuzet (hanging sculpture)
Art Basel Miami 2019
VIELMETTER, Los Angeles; Artist: Hugo McCloud
Art Basel Miami 2019
Performance Artist: Alexander Fly
Art Basel Miami 2019
ALISON JACQUES GALLERY, London; Artist: Sheila Hicks
Art Basel Miami 2019
HACKET MILL GALLERY, San Fransisco; Artist: Manuel Neri
Art Basel Miami 2019
THADDAEUS ROPAC, London, Paris, Salzburg; Artist: Alvaro Barrington
Art Basel Miami 2019
PERROTIN, Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai; Artist: Jesus Raphael SOTO
Art Basel Miami 2019
GALLERIACONTINUA, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins,
Art Basel Miami 2019
VIELMETTER, Los Angeles; Artist: Deborah Roberts

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For a listing of galleries exhibiting at Art Basel Miami, visit the Art Basel website.

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