Thursday, December 04, 2014

Art Basel Miami Beach commentary … where the happy mashup of commerce and art is complete … by gimleteye

In the Miami Herald's "Happy Art, Happy People at Art Basel Miami Beach", an unintentional finger points to the phenomenally passive marriage of corporations and Art at the Miami Beach edition of Art Basel. Surely, this is the most anodyne version of the main event.

What stands out is the triumph of corporatism at the Miami Beach Convention Center. It is as if to say; corporate logos, lend us your tired and poor. Nothing captured dissonance so clearly as a street protest by pilots of Netjets, a star corporate performer in the Berkshire Hathaway universe. Netjets caters to the .001 percent's through its program of fractional ownership of small private jets.

Netjets has zero influence on 99.99 percent of the living, but the protest raises the question: what at Art Basel Miami does?

Signs of political, war-torn strife of the planet are not entirely banished, but "happy" is having its moment at this year's fair.

Art Basel Miami Beach has always bifurcated; 20th century masters to the left of the main entrance in the hushed luxor calling Sutton Place to mind and, then, the rest. And the rest -- that is to say -- contemporary artists seeking to poke through the limits of time seem subdued.

True, the main tent is only a fraction of the massive event and, truer yet, the political is not everyone's cup'a tea at an art fair. Nevertheless, galleries and artists from South Africa, Japan and China -- not the U.S. -- offered open exposures to the fracture lines all around us. A (German?) gallerist features a perfectly crafted, shiny, plexiglas-to-scale model of one of the first atomic bombs built by the Manhattan Project, "Fat Man". Yes.

Art should help us see the world. The most illuminating of the "masters" end of the fair were photographs by mid-century East European photographers. The stark contrast of power lines across a grey, leaden sky called back to the constructivists and the weight of history.

On the contemporary end, this year's Art Basel felt numb, "happy" in the Herald's headline. Along this line, a display of giant pharmaceuticals not only sent up the multi-millionaire artist Damien Hirst, whose miniature pill displays in glass boxes fetch millions, but also the tenor of this year's Art Basel Miami Beach.

EOM recommendation: the best time to go to the fair will be Sunday afternoon, when the traffic abates. Maybe!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for an alternative to the breathless Herald coverage. Still trying to wash the treacle on my fingers.

Anonymous said...

Nobody in the art world will dare risk retaliation if call the show what it is.

Anonymous said...

True that.

Anonymous said...

Herald article:

Happy: 12 times
Joy: 6 times
Best: 5 times
Fun: 2 times

Sheesh ....

Anonymous said...

Millions for a display of drugs? I have a pile of pharmaceuticals in my bathroom that I am willing to sell for a great deal.

I will never understand this type of art and don't care.