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Art Basel Miami Beach: 10th Edition

Art Basel Miami Beach, 2011. © Charles & Mary Love

In early December, we made our annual pilgrimage to Art Basel Miami Beach—the foremost contemporary art extravaganza in the country. (See the brief production about this event on our website, www.imagyn.com, under Multimedia.)

This year’s show was, by all accounts, a big success. More than 260 galleries from 30 countries across North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia exhibited work—paintings, works on paper, indoor and outdoor sculptures, video and performance art—by over 2,000 twentieth- and twenty-first century artists. Over four days, the show attracted a record  50,000 art enthusiasts, collectors and people-watchers from around the planet. Also in attendance were a record number of  museums and collectors. Blue-chip art was plentiful: multi-million dollar paintings by Picasso and Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol self-portraits, and flowers and photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and Andreas Gursky.

An up-and-coming young Asian artist told us why she was there:  “I go to see the weird, crazy stuff…that’s what I remember most!” Many share her sentiments. In any case, the event, is appreciated on many levels., whether you’re going to discover emerging talent, to buy museum-quality work by established artists—or attend the glamorous, late-night parties.

This year, we visited Art Miami, one of the fair’s satellite shows, where we focused on discovering photography by emerging artists. (Tip: You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to see everything at Art Basel…just focus on what’s manageable in the time you have.

As in previous years, the Contessa Gallery (www.contessagallery.com) [read more…] from Cleveland featured new, large-scale color images by David Drebin (www.daviddrebin.com). Drebin, inspired by Richard Avedon and others, is best known for his narrative-style fashion images of provocative women. But this year, his new panoramic cityscape of Jerusalem was the big attraction.  Collectors and museums were already snapping it up. The gallery predicts it will be his first work to go for six figures.

Manhattan’s Robert Mann Gallery (www.robertmann.com) exhibited the fascinating images of Missouri-based photographer, Julie Blackmon (www.julieblackmon.com). Inspired by Jan Steen, a seventeenth-century Dutch artist, Blackmon produces carefully composed, archival pigment prints that depict domestic chaos, childhood obsessions—and, often, the struggle between living in-the-moment and escaping to another reality.

Two images we especially appreciated were Green Velvet, 2007, a psychological portrait of a young girl, and Night Movie, 2011, a  complex, composite image suggesting (as does much of her work) that childhood and family life are more complicated than we might wish.

The latter sets forth an idyllic summertime tableaux: a scattering of barefoot children relax in a backyard while the movie classic, The Sound of Music plays on a large fabric screen before them. Not everyone is paying attention to the screen or to each other, however—a fact emphasized, on closer inspection, by the harmonious scene on screen. Make of this what you will! (Note how the shadow of the boy in the foreground is cast onto the screen— a nice detail.) This is groundbreaking work for Blackmon.

Also noteworthy is the work of Burk Uzzle (www.burkuzzle.com), exhibited by Manhattan’s Laurence Miller Gallery (www.laurencemillergallery.com). What a surprise! Uzzle is an older, North Carolina-based photographer—the youngest photographer ever hired by Life Magazine and a member of the Magnum Group. His work is in the collections of many prestigious museums

We likes the prints from his Burned Series, images of burned books and other objects that survived a fire in a Southern home. Their abstract, collage-like quality challenges viewers to guess what they’re viewing. (On Uzzle’s website visit the gallery titled Burned Series).

Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 will run from December 6-9. It’s best to book Miami accommodations early. For more information, call 305-674-1292 or go to www.artbaselmiamibeach.com.

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