Miami Price


Left: True North star Vanessa Myrie with artist Isaac Julien. Right: MoCA's Bonnie Clearwater with artist Albert Oehlen and Esther Freund. (Photo: MoCA)

Tuesday morning I encountered a Miami-bound artist on the New York subway, then joined a line of bicoastal collectors on the jetway leading to my plane. On the plane itself, I spotted more soon-to-be shoppers, PaceWildenstein's Marc and Andrea Glimcher, indie auteur (and new collector) Sofia Coppola, and David Johansen of the New York Dolls. Are tumbleweeds rolling through Chelsea?

Before you can see any art in Miami—this year Art Basel Miami Beach security seems to have enforced its no-collectors-posing-as-installers rule—you have to attend a few parties. Braving streets flooded by the day’s torrential rain (some dealers at the Pulse Art Fair were coping with inches of water in their rooms), I headed to the Delano Hotel for the main fair's official welcome party. It was a near-perfect copy of last year’s shindig: leggy ladies, wearing orange instead of 2004's white, offering greetings; dealers, from Tracy Williams to Johann Knig, happy to have a drink; a few collectors wondering aloud why they couldn't get into the convention center early this time; and ABMB director Sam Keller at the front door, pressing the flesh and offering bon mots. “I'm glad it rained today instead of tomorrow,” he opined. “The collectors can get wet. The art can’t.”

Left: Doris Amman of Thomas Amman Fine Arts with ABMB's Samuel Keller. (Photo: Patrick McMullan) Right: Gallerist Tracy Williams.

This year, fair organizers helped visitors reach the more remote destinations, and within half an hour I was on a shuttle bus headed north to MoCA for a party honoring Isaac Julien and Albert Oehlen. Jet-lagged Europeans napped; Americans swapped gossip. At the museum, the crowd was larger and more diverse, with a few fashion notables (Interview editor and event cohost Ingrid Sischy, Donna Karan, and photographer Bruce Weber) bobbing in the sea of young, tanned faces. True North, Isaac Julien's new three-channel film installation, is receiving its US premiere, and the icy expanses that it depicts gained traction from the contrast with the junglelike conditions in the museum's courtyard.

“Death can come from a hundred directions at once,” the film's narrator intones, and by the time I crept away, I was beginning to appreciate her wariness, so threateningly dense was the crowd. Squeezing onto another bus, I headed next to Miami Art Central, whose party was billed as “this year’s Rosa de la Cruz event,” referencing the supercollector's now-defunct annual gala. The route was backed up half a mile in either direction but most attendees proved to be locals out for a good time. With little food and an interminable wait to see the William Kentridge survey inside, many of us longed for the manse on Key Biscayne. I ducked into a taxi and headed back to Miami Beach: $47. I haven’t paid so much for transportation (without leaving the ground) since . . . well, last month in London.

Left: Designer Sonja Nuttall, Interview magazine publisher Sandra Brant and editor Ingrid Sischy, designer Donna Karan, and MoCA Director Bonnie Clearwater. (Photo: MoCA) Right: Gallerist Paul Kasmin.

The dj vu of Wednesday afternoon's ABMB preview was lost on very few, especially fellow New Yorkers who see each other more often away from the Big Apple than back there. There was time to catch up, however, as the afternoon was oddly calm. Eigen + Art was, however, one booth that hummed all day: I was asked variants of “Do you work here?” four times in less than a minute when I stopped by around 2PM. But apart from those on the prowl for owner Gerd Harry Lybke's Leipzig painters (business is so good he opened a branch there in April; thank you, Don and Mera Rubell, for your support) and the just-announced 2006 Whitney Biennial artists (the list fortuitously went public on preview day), there was little beat-the-clock frenzy. I had plenty of time in front of a 1920 Giorgio Morandi (ca. $2 million, it was one of several of the artist's quiet canvases available at Milan's Galleria Tega).

I also lingered around a personal favorite, Thomas Zipp's array of small canvases and drawings hung atop a reproduction of Pollock's The Wooden Horse: Number 10A, 1948 (at Guido Baudach). Impressive were iridescent mushrooms by Sylvie Fleury at Thaddeus Ropac; Alice, a 1961 canvas by John Wesley at Waddington; Kim Fisher's new large-scale paintings at China Art Objects; Martin Boyce's space-dividing sculpture at Anton Kern and The Modern Institute's shared booth; John Stazeker's new “Film Portrait” collages at The Approach; and Sigmar Polke's 1967 Match-stick Piece at Michael Werner. Most booths seemed to have little organizing principle, but Andrew Kreps's cleanly installed selection of neo-Conceptualist works made a coherent case for the strengths of his program. Kudos too to Hauser & Wirth and Sadie Coles, who were willing to let artists (Mary Heilmann and Sarah Lucas, respectively) put an individual stamp on their booths—an all-too-rare occurrence at this fair, even with twice as many “Art Nova” galleries presenting younger artists as last year.

Left: Lauren Taschen greets artist Anthony Goicolea. (Photo: Patrick McMullan) Center: Gallerist Gerd Harry Lybke. Right: The artist Orlan.

Peter Freeman's potential sale (to an unnamed museum) of a remarkable 1966 Marcel Broodthaers canvas was one of only a few institutional purchases I heard tell of, though curators turned out in full force: The Whitney's Adam Weinberg was in early, and was still on his feet at 6PM when Philippe Vergne, the Walker staffer cocurating next year’s Whitney Biennial, joined him; Jrme Sans and Udo Kittelmann made early-afternoon rounds and then disappeared; and the New Museum's Lisa Phillips and Richard Flood (“I'm going to C16—I don’t even know what's there. I just know I'm supposed to go there!”), the ICA Philadelphia’s Claudia Gould, and the MCA Chicago's Dominic Molon all took an evening tour. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis director Paul Ha was also on the circuit, the only one with a gaggle of patrons visibly in tow. It was heartening to encounter many of these folks near some of the better works on view: Thomas Hirschhorn's globe-laden shelves at Chantal Crousel (snapped up by the Philadelphia Museum of Art by midafternoon) and Sterling Ruby's magnificent inverted stalactite at Christian Nagel's and Brbel Grsslin's shared booth (neither claims the artist in the fair catalogue).

By this point everyone had somewhere to go. Many drifted over to the younger, mostly European galleries exhibiting in shipping containers on the beach; others crossed the causeway to attend NADA's preview; still others headed off to Casa Casuarina (aka Versace's house) for the second annual dinner hosted by Barbara Gladstone, Shaun Caley Regen, and David Zwirner. I chose sand, surf, and more art—my own dinner would have to wait.

Left: 2006 Whitney Biennial cocurator Philippe Vergne with Whitney director Adam Weinberg. Right: Gallerist Chantal Crousel poses in front of some of Thomas Hirschhorn's globes.

On the beach, the crowd skewed very young and local, though I did cross paths with a few collectors and Roxana Marcoci, a photography curator at MoMA. Several dealers said they were relieved to simply be open and working; fair staff forced them to close up shop for four hours during the afternoon, then the power went out in several containers for twenty minutes right as the vernissage began at 6PM. Peering over people's heads, I spotted a large drawing of a coy-looking waif glancing over her shoulder by Iris van Dongen (at Athens gallery The Breeder) that impressed, and three pleasing ink-and-watercolor drawings by John Kleckner at Peres Projects, the largest of which is a haunting free-floating severed head executed with old master-ish precision.

It's an energy-sapping week, and I'm working late. Perhaps Jason Rhoades, reportedly restaging Rob Pruitt's infamous white-line buffet through a trap door at the rear of his “Black Pussy” container on the beach, has the best strategy for surviving until Sunday.

Left: Benedikt Taschen with gallerist Roland Augustine. (Photo: Patrick McMullan) Right: Viewers look at a sculpture by Evan Penny.

Left: Photographer Bruce Weber salutes the camera. (Photo Patrick McMullan) Right: Gallerist Jack Hanley.

Left: Sonnabend director Antonio Homen and art advisor Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Right: Gallerist Thaddeus Ropac.

Left: Gallerist Andrew Kreps. Right: Artist John Kleckner.

Left: David Zwirner partners Angela Choon and Hanna Schouwink. Right: MoMA's Roxana Marcoci and gallerist Jessie Washburne-Harris.

Brian Sholis