ArtsATL > Art+Design > Art Basel Miami Beach, Day 2: Fair opens with uneven quality — some treasures, some trash

Art Basel Miami Beach, Day 2: Fair opens with uneven quality — some treasures, some trash

Miami — Art Basel Miami Beach, the queen of the myriad art fairs, is taking place this week. It held its official previews for the press and invited guests today. More than 250 galleries from around the world were represented in the Miami Beach Convention Center, showing a staggering array of works, ranging from blue-chip modern masters to young turks.

The sheer quantity is overwhelming, although the quality doesn’t always keep up. But we found lots to like and a number of very interesting artists we had never seen. We also found the dealers to be friendly, which is not always the case elsewhere.

Some highlights and names to remember:

Barti Kher at Hauser and Wirth. This British-born, India-based artist showed two strong and very different works. One was a densely patterned, brilliantly hued painting based on the bindi dot (detail above). The other was a magical, eight-foot-tall tree decorated with mythical animal heads cast in luminous resin.

Max Frisinger at Contemporary Fine Arts from Berlin. Frisinger arranges found materials and puts them into glass cabinets to create striking three-dimensional images that seem to hover in space.

Wim Delvoye at Sperone Westwater. His bronze sculpture is a marvelous technological feat and a striking image, composed of a series of small crucifixes twisted and torqued into a double helix.

Teresita Fernandez at Lehmann Maupin and Anthony Meier. The exquisite surfaces of Fernandez’s monochromatic abstract paintings are solid graphite and pencil on wood panel.

Brigitte Waldach at Galleri Bo Bjerggaard from Copenhagen. Waldach creates a spare but rich compositions in which layered lines of text and negative space frame beautifully drawn figures.

Wangechi Mutu at Barbara Gladstone. This artist takes her unsettling collage technique three-dimensional in a storefront-size installation featuring a grid of  insect-like figures with leather wings.

Simon Evans at James Cohan Gallery. A skateboarder-turned-artist, this young Brit combines his love of language and a naive technique to create compelling visual stories. (Detail at left.)

Marcel Odenbach at Anton Kern Gallery. This well-known video artist makes only a few monumental and intricate collages a year. The one on display, titled “Charleston,” uses miniature newspaper clippings from the Civil War to the civil rights era to re-create a Matthew Brady photograph of a ruined city.

Raquib Shaw at White Cube. His bejeweled and enameled fantasies borrow from Indian miniatures.

Special mention goes to Sicardi Gallery’s elegant display of Latin American modernists and to the winner of our “most ghastly” award, Tony Shafrazi Gallery.

Art Miami, one of the smaller satellite fairs, may have less prestigious galleries, but we found a few gems there as well. Again, in no particular order:

Angela Ellsworth at Lisa Sette Gallery. At left: beaded bonnets lined with pins that evoke her Mormon upbringing.

Klari Reis at Cynthia Cobett Gallery.

Vee Speers at Jackson Fine Art.

Suzy O’Mullane and Marty Kelly at Blue Leaf Gallery.

Yael Bartana in the Video Room.

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