Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let's See

I keep reading this book "Let's See, Writings on Art from The New Yorker" written by the art critic Peter Schjeldahl I usually choose a chapter or two related to my latest interests, for a short reading.

Seventy five of his articles, published in the New Yorker have been selected to compose this book.

The subjects are very diverse , from reflections on Minimalism, American Abstract to Rembrandt, Hitler as an artist...

These articles were written to be published in a magazine, thus, their length. The author manages to bring in these two to three pages a concentrated knowledge of the subjects.

His style is elegant. He is an independent art critic and is not afraid to bring up some controversy and fresh ideas. He shows honesty in his critics. He knows how to criticize an artist, brings all the arguments and in the last paragraph, softens his tone and leaves us with the opportunity to see the work of the artist with a new knowledge and new ideas.

I always keep this book close by ... and added this link to my favorite websites

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Several events are taking place as a side show to the big fair in Miami. One of them involves graffiti art in the Miami's Wynwood art district.
What about graffiti? It is the bad brother of the art family. Wikipedia is a great resource to learn more about this kind of art.
Unfortunately, the line between graffiti and mural has become blurred.

Is the meaning of this spontaneous art, its violent gesture now tamed for the galleries? Do we have to transform a powerful form of expression into another money making expedition?

This art represents the escape for individuals raised in environments where there is no hope.
It needs to stay the bad brother of the family. Graffiti cannot be recuperated by any institution including galleries or collectors. I could understand the eventual preservation in museums, because it represents an underground society, its aspirations, its fights.

Now graffiti art is put in frames, literally, sold like posters.

This yearly event of commissioned art at the occasion of Art Basel Miami Beach is taking away the message of the graffiti, and makes it become a decoration. Should "graffiti artists" be called a different name, like "mural artists"?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Where art meets money

Setting: the Convention Center located in the (dilapidated) Art Deco District of Miami Beach.
The tickets were available at the lower level, then, the crowd had to stand in lines to get in the exhibition area. The bags were screened mainly for cameras by burly guards who were enforcing the rule and made me leave mine at the cloak room (which is ludicrous, the visitors were making pictures with their phones!)

Finding the galleries was very difficult even with the floor plan in my hands. I felt caught in a maze at times, and the art was poorly displayed. The space was so crowded that it was not possible to see one piece and take a step back. This made it tiring for the eyes and the mind. The lighting also was poorly set up, so bright in an area that it made a beautiful collection of Calders look like soundless chimes. A Calder needs to be seen with its shadows. I made the comment casually to the gallerist who just went back reading her newspaper. (see picture attached from ARTOBSERVED
Can you guess where are the sculptures of Calder?

One gallery was showing next to each other a blue painting from Yves Klein, Fernando Botero and paintings from the actor such a confined space that it was impossible to take a great look at any of the works. The paintings from Sylvester Stallone were out of place next to outstanding artists. He is a great actor. I was not there when he visited the fair. I got this picture from the site "ARTOBSERVED", already linked above.
His paintings are in the background.

The well known galleries brought small works from well known artists. and the young galleries brought mediocre to poor works from unknown artists.

I was glad, the Galerie Thomas from Munich (present at the FIAC) brought its treasures to Miami. As an added treat, a small booklet of the works on display for each fair is available for the visitors to take as a souvenir. My preferred work is a painting from Kandinsky. This "chef d'oeuvre" made the trip from Paris to Miami.

The crowd was not interesting/interested. From schoolchildren brought by buses to well groomed South Americans VIPs conducted by guides through the galleries , the crowd was confused and tired. The areas to rest were very limited and occupied at all times.

I found the whole fair dragging me down. I came back the following day to spend more time and was not able to stay more than two hours, again exhausted by the presentation of the works.

I read the local papers and blogs and figured out that Art Basel Miami Beach is really a succession of private parties where it is important to be seen. This year, Lance Armstrong and Naomi Campbell made the headlines...

Let's not forget, UBS is the principal sponsor of this event.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Art Basel Miami Beach

I am leaving tomorrow to attend Art Basel Miami Beach. This is the sister fair to Art Basel.
How to prepare for my first visit ?

I went to the website...and was overhelmed at first.

Then I printed the floor plan, and looked at the galleries and artists.

Well, it must be what it advertises... the biggest fair in the United States, 250 galleries and 2000 artists.

From A to Z the galleries, from A to Z the artists, the list was long and tedious.
What to do, I am not a professional, I am an amateur.

The site is almost dull in its presentation. Maybe the point is get to the point and not get distracted.

No informations are available about the price to attend the fair, a day? two days? I am unable to buy the tickets on line...Oh well, we'll see.

Going to Miami is the only way to have an idea about the fair.