Art Basel: An Artist's Perspective

Katsura Funakoshi's A Sphinx is Eating a Grasshopper Above the Forest, 2007-08. Painted camphor wood, marble, miscellaneous wood, leather and steel. Doren Gallery.
Evan Perry's Murray, Variation #3. Silicone, pigment, hair.
Thomas Struth's The Rothko Chapel, Houston (2007). C-Print. www.artnet.com
Helen Frankenthaler's A Green Thought in a Green Shade, 1981, acrylic on canvas, 119 x 156 1/2". Knoedler & Company Gallery.

I attended Art Basel Miami yesterday with my friend Helen. Upon seeing the long line at the Miami Convention Center entrance, Helen threatened to bail before we even parked the car. Once we found parking and discovered the line moved quickly, and all was well.

After we'd walked around a while, we got hungry. We bought sushi, spring rolls and beer. The food court cashier said we could take our lunch outside to the cigar lounge. This made us happy. We were halfway through our meal, when a man came around and told us to leave. I politely told him that we were sorry and would leave, but that we'd been told it was ok to be there. He said, "Who told you that? One of us?" I told him it was the food court cashier and he replied, hands in the air, "She's wrong. You have to leave." The lady next to us hid her food under the table, but we sheepishly ventured into the dreary food court to finish our meal.

Kicked out of the cigar lounge!

OK, so about the art: To use Helen's description, there was plenty of "rubbish", but also plenty of the good stuff. I was surprised and thrilled to see works by Robert Motherwell, Marcel Duchamp, and Helen Frankenthaler, to name a few. It was refreshing to see well-known names, and mid-career and emerging artists all under one roof.

From formal art to mainstream "pop culture" art, the experience was inspiring, overwhelming, energizing, exciting and encouraging all at once. The fact that there was so much painting was reassuring. To all those art critiques and historians telling us that painting is washed up, over, done, kaput....yeah, right. Artists continue to use the medium in new, clever, creative and provocative ways, and galleries and collectors are still buying, even in today's depressed economy. Long live painting!

The amount of art at Basel is astounding. It really is too much to take in on one visit. Next year, I'll swing for a two-day pass.


Martha Marshall said...

Oh wow, don't you love that Frankenthaler painting! Went to ArtBasel two years ago; almost went this time, but stuff got in the way.

I'm so glad I found your blog, Stephanie. Thanks for stopping by mine. This one will be a regular stop for me.

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for your comment! I so enjoy your blog, always look forward to it.
This was my first opportunity to attend Basel. That Frankenthaler was on the back cover of a recent Art Forum or Art in America, forgot which. I was just thrilled to see it up close & in person at Basel!