In case you missed it, a banana duct-taped to a blank wall, that fruit whose peel has been the basis of so much slapstick comedy, sold for no less than $120,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach, the sun-soaked winter outpost of the Swiss art fair. Called Comedian, the sculpture—three editions available—was the creation of the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who recently had another brush with mainstream press when his full-functioning 18 karat gold toilet, America, was stolen from Blenheim Palace in England less than two months ago. The banana attracted a great deal of attention at the fair, with people lining up to take selfies with the fruit mounted to the wall of the global mega gallery Perrotin. It also attracted, depending on your perspective, vandalism or critical intervention: The performance artist David Datuna ate the banana on Saturday. Comedian was taken down for the last day of the fair because of the disruption it was causing, after which someone used the opportunity to scrawl “EPSTIEN [SIC] DIDN’T KILL HIMSELF” in blood-red paint on the now-bare wall. It was promptly covered up. https://twitter.com/GiancarloSopo/status/1203875430803087367 While Datuna’s performance may appeal to some as a means of pointing out the relative valuelessness of the work, they would be missing the point. Of course Comedian is just a fruit and some household tape. Nobody is meant to believe that the materials are in-themselves valuable beyond their grocery store price points. What is sold to collectors is not duct tape and a banana, but rather a certificate, which presumably includes maintenance instructions. The inherent ephemerality of the fruit is part of the work: owners can change the banana whenever they see fit. Obviously anybody could make this work at home, that's not in dispute. What’s sold, supposedly, is an idea (and the right to resell it). That is to say, that it is not about the objects. Like much art of the past 100 years, which has included urinals, apples, and canned feces as high-value objects, the intention of art like Comedian is to question how value is produced in the context of art. The controversy, mainstream and art world press, and social media presence is presumably as much as part of the work as the banana mounted in almost painterly gesture by a diagonal strip of duct tape somewhere it doesn’t belong. Even if we were to take Comedian at face value, putting decay on display through constantly-rotting produce isn't a new idea, either. Comedian also references the history of Cattelan’s own practice. The 1999 A Perfect Day, a mainstay of art history classes, used a whole lot more tape to attach Cattelan’s gallerist Massimo De Carlo to the wall for an entire day. Now, 20 years later, with a title that suggests a person—maybe himself, maybe his gallerist—perhaps we can see this banana as a stand-in for the body. Or, depending on one's leanings, it might just be rendering all the art system’s actors (this writer included) as charlatans and jesters. Whoever the joke may be on, Comedian is at the very least an ironic critique of the art market. As Jason Farago points out in his "grudging defense" in the New York Times: “[Cattelan’s] entire career has been a testament to an impossible desire to create art sincerely, stunted here by money, there by his own doubts.” By asking so much money for an idea (successfully, at least one edition has sold) that unifies two cheap, common objects, and creating so much controversy along with it, Cattelan attempts to expose the ways value is generated in art, as well as issues of authorship. Of course, at a time of rising inequality and rising seas that threaten Miami Beach, one might not find it so funny and fairly see it as a further indictment of an art system awash in cash, a playground for the one percent. That's what Comedian has to tell us: it’s all a charade, fresh fruit and painted canvas and plain-old dollar bills alike. Regardless, Cattelan will surely be happy to take his 50 percent cut.
Posts tagged with "Art Basel Miami Beach":
Just in time for this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach (December 6 through 9) and Design Miami (December 5 through 9), the Miami-based firm Rene Gonzalez Architect (RGA) has released the first look at a new public art space for the nonprofit Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation (BCF). RGA was approached to design the space in 2017, and the BCF is looking to break ground on Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard between 26th Street and 26th Terrace in 2020. The dramatically cantilevering concrete arts space has been designed from the ground up with input from the artists whose work will be featured within, allowing RGA to carve out spaces that will specifically highlight those pieces. Once complete in 2023, the new building will create a permanent home for BCF’s collection. RGA has pulled most of the gallery’s mass off of the street level and onto the second story, where the building terminates with a double-height window. The three-story, 45-000-square-foot art space will hold 30,000 square feet of exhibition spaces. Rotating galleries for traveling installations and work from the permanent collection will be located on the second and third floors. Much of the building’s shape was driven in response to the needs of two massive works in particular. Richard Serra’s Passage of Time, a sinuous, 218-foot-long corten steel sculpture will be given a dedicated courtyard area between the building proper and the garden. The viewing area will be closed off by a street-facing glass wall, allowing pedestrians to look inside. The other work is James Turrell’s towering Aten Reign. The 80-foot-tall light installation, first unveiled at the Guggenheim in 2013, will be located at the end of its own transitional hallway to give visitors time to adjust to the lighting conditions. Aten Reign will be positioned within the building’s tallest section; a skylight will allow natural light to filter in through the top of the cone through five tiers of rings, each embedded with hidden LEDs. The end result is a free-floating “light tunnel” that creates an enclosure using only light. “I am honored to be working with the founder and board of BCF to design and realize its vision for a new landmark building in Miami,” wrote RGA founder Rene Gonzalez. “We have worked closely with the Foundation, as well as several of the artists in their collection, to design an immersive and contemplative building that will enhance the city’s cultural landscape.” The building will be free to enter and open to the public when the project is complete, furthering BCF’s goal of highlighting international contemporary art.
Known most for her landmark piece, The Dinner Party (1979), revolutionary feminist artist Judy Chicago uses art, painting, and sculpture to showcase the role of women throughout history and culture. Opening on December 4 in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach, Judy Chicago: A Reckoning, is an exhibition that will feature six major works of art produced by Chicago between the 1960s and 1990s. The exhibit, which will take place at Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), will also unveil A Purple Poem for Miami, Chicago’s new, site-specific smoke piece that will ignite the museum’s sculpture garden with colorful smoke bombs, dry ice, and other pyrotechnics. A Purple Poem draws from Chicago’s radical performance works from the sixties called Atmospheres, a series of pyrotechnic art installations that took place in Pasadena, California. The Atmospheres pieces, which Chicago displayed in the '60s and '70s and then recently again in 2012, were intended to be daring acts of feminism. At the time of their conception, Chicago often joked that she would set the Pasadena Art Museum on fire in protest of its male-dominated curatorial preferences. While the art museum was never set ablaze, Chicago inflamed the deserts, fields, and forests of Pasadena with fireworks, smoke bombs, and other colorful explosives she had learned to use. Each eccentric and vivacious display of pyrotechnics created a mesmerizing visual effect, conjuring feelings of wonder, fear, and inspiration among its viewers. “The narrative of landscape and land art had been dominated by men,” said Chicago in an interview with New York Magazine. “Atmospheres came from the desire to insert a feminine perspective into the conversation and to soften and feminize the environment.” Her words are especially significant in light of the fact that she was sexually harassed by the head of the fireworks company where she once apprenticed at, causing her to take a two-decade hiatus from her project. However, in 2012, with funding and support from the Getty Performance Festival, Chicago was able to revisit her role as a pioneering female pyrotechnician. Atmospheres, along with the upcoming exhibition at ICA Miami, represent the ways in which Chicago’s powerful feminist voice not only transforms the landscape and environment but also interpretations of modernism and its values. Photographs documenting Atmospheres are currently on display at Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami. A Purple Poem for Miami, her sixth major art installation, will take place at ICA Miami in February 2019.
Representing the first U.S.-based project for Spanish studio Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos, the new home of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) will be opening its doors to the public on Friday, December 1st. The ribbon cutting marks the start of Art Basel Miami Beach 2017, and the 37,000-square foot ICA Miami will be hosting a special exhibition of rising and well-established contemporary artists across all three stories of gallery space and outdoor sculpture garden. Representing a threefold increase in size over the old ICA Miami, the new museum is located in Miami’s Design District and includes new spaces for educational and community programming. Each of the building’s three floors are double-height, with the six ground-floor galleries holding long-term and permanent collections, while the second and third stories will host rotating special exhibitions for a total of 20,000-square feet of indoor presentation space. Visitors to the ICA Miami are greeted by a three-story metal façade made up of interlocking, patterned metal triangles and lighted panels, with cut-outs that specifically frame views from the museum’s interior. The back of the building features an all-glass curtain wall that allows guests on every floor to peer out over the 15,000-square foot, landscaped sculpture garden, and brings natural light into the gallery spaces. Besides hosting site-specific commissions and work by both post-war and contemporary sculptors, the garden also features educational space for public programming. A breezeway by the museum’s entrance gives visitors the option of walking directly from the street entrance to the back garden. The museum’s inaugural exhibition, The Everywhere Studio, seeks to examine the role of the artist’s studio and is a veritable who’s-who of post-war and contemporary artists, featuring works by Anna Oppermann, Carolee Schneemann, Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso, and more. Admission is free for the public.
Oyler Wu Collaborative partner delves into jewelry design.Oyler Wu Collaborative partner Jenny Wu had long dreamed of designing jewelry—just as soon as she found some spare time. Last fall, she realized that she might wait forever for a break from her busy architecture practice. "At some point I decided, 'I'll design some pieces, and the easiest way to make it happen is just to 3D print them,'" said Wu. She fabricated a couple of necklaces, and brought them on her just-for-fun trip to Art Basel Miami Beach 2013. "I wore my pieces around, and I was stunned by the response I was getting," she recalled. "People kept coming up to me, literally every five seconds. After a while, I thought, 'Maybe I do have something that's unique, especially for a design crowd.'" Back home in Los Angeles, Wu began prototyping necklaces and earrings for retail sale under the name LACE. Though she originally planned to use 3D printing only to mock up her designs, she decided carry the technology through to her finished pieces. "I'd like to do more high-end, low-run pieces," said Wu. "Especially for jewelry, when you're making custom pieces, people are willing to wait for them. It just made sense from the production point of view for me to use 3D printing." Wu's next step was to design additional pieces and test materials. Typical 3D printing materials like nylon "might look great, but they're extremely fragile and brittle," explained Wu. "Especially resins—they don't have the right tensile quality. Like if you're wearing a necklace and someone hugs you too hard [it can break]." Wu's current line includes necklaces in an elastic nylon material. She also offers earrings and rings in polished nylon that takes advantage of selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, plus a premium cast-metal series that utilizes 3D-printed wax molds. Wu, who is collaborating with Stratasys on certain designs in addition to partnering with other professional 3D printing firms, aspires to use the technology as more than just a production expedient. "Pieces that push the technology are important," she said. "There's so much detail you can introduce in 3D printing, even in metals. You can create this nice edge detail—it's something I notice, but it isn't necessarily something you'd see in jewelry." Nor is the speed with which she can materialize a concept typical by jewelry-world standards. "I can make these chain-link pieces as part of one print, because the support material is something like powder that you can basically wash off," explained Wu. "That's what's amazing, where in the traditional jewelry-making process you'd have to make individual links that you'd eventually assemble." In a neat closing of the circle, LACE returned to Art Basel Miami Beach last week, this time in a pop-up shop at Aqua Art Miami. One year into her experiment, Wu is comfortable having one foot each in the worlds of jewelry and architecture. "If you look at the jewelry pieces, you see how they could relate to our architecture: our emphasis on line-based geometries, the interesting bundling and layering of material, and creating something very spatial, not graphic and flat," she said. "I don't see a separation between my architecture and my jewelry." As for the day-to-day reality of spearheading two creative businesses at once, that seems to be working, too. LACE is in Wu's name, but "the work's happening simultaneously with all the same people," she said. "While it may have its own identity, it's very much part of our office in terms of production. We like how it keeps things fun."
For Miami Art Basel this year, food artist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves teamed up to recreate some of the most architecturally masterful art museums of the world using a very sugary medium. In candy, chocolate, gingerbread, and icing, the New York City–based collaborative pair have molded and modeled highly detailed scale versions of six iconic art spaces. Photographed by Hargreaves in black and white, the dynamic chocolate angles of Yasui Hideo’s Karuizawa Museum and the sweeping icing curves of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim almost seem real. From December 5 to 8—the duration of the annual international art show—the pictures will be exhibited at Dylan's Candy Bar in Miami.
(Editor's Note: FXFOWLE Architect’s PR head, Karen Bookatz, offers a brief, Instagrammed account of architecture and design highlights at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012.) Don’t get me wrong: I love art and I love attending art fairs. They provide one a unique opportunity to see what’s fresh and new in the art and design industries—or whatever trade is being rep’d—every few months. For me, however, a booth is a booth is a booth. Art fairs must continue to find new ways of further distinguishing themselves or otherwise run the risk of conventionality. What Frieze did last May with SO-IL’s tent design (and to a lesser extent, Bade Stageberg and Cox’s environmental design effort for The Armory Show 2012) was a major step in the right direction. Likewise, custom installations and collaborative efforts, while public relations/marketing ventures more than anything else, have proven to be undeniably effective in creating buzz and increasing visibility for the respective firm, artist, or collaborative. (This is why I was personally so adamant about my own firm’s presence—with an architectural installation/lounge project at the Miami Project art fair—at this year’s Basel.) Untitled Art Fair | Keenan/Riley Architects The example of Frieze was most certainly a source of inspiration behind the new Untitled Art Fair, the tent of which was designed by Keenan/Riley Architects . I had the chance to chat up the founder of Untitled over sunset cocktails on Friday evening. I asked if he was considering commissioning a new tent designer for subsequent years—an RFP, or a call for proposals, perhaps? Unfortunately, this did not seem like his intention, but I nevertheless applauded his efforts. And the location of the fair—right off 5th and Ocean Drive on the beach—was off the chain. Guiro | Absolut Art Bureau Perfectly situated on the beach (between the W Hotel and the The Setai), Guiro, Absolut Art Bureau’s glowing, egg-shaped installation that—quite literally—secreted vodka for nine hours every evening, all in view of top-notch curated art and music programming, is exactly what the doctor ordered. I can’t wait to see what Absolut Art Bureau has in store for us next year. Drift | Snarkitecture There’s not much else to report on this crowd-pleasing, Louise Bourgeois-inspired installation other than restating the obvious: it was awesome and there should have been/should be more installations like it. Miami Art Museum Construction Tour | Herzog & De Meuron A first for me at—what is, now, my fourth—Art Basel: a construction site tour. I spent a beautiful Saturday morning on an intimate site tour of Herzog & de Meuron’s new project for the Miami Art Museum—which is slated to open at Basel 2013—led by Jacques Herzog, in the flesh, along with MAM director Thom Collins. Perfect structure, perfect site….perfect everything.
In a series of articles over the past week, The Art Newspaper takes an extensive look at the recently concluded art extravaganza in Miami. It reports that the scene was not as grim as last year, offering this roundup of celebrity-studded Art Basel Miami Beach: “The fair attracted its usual tribes of pop stars, fashionistas, museum directors, actresses in sky-high stilettos and dressed-down buyers, including a denim-clad Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire. Lily Allen was sashaying around White Cube, while John Taylor of Duran Duran showed interest in a Richard Prince collage at Gagosian.” But while on the subject of Miami and its art world, the paper reported on Terry Riley’s exit from the Miami Art Museum (MAM), and added a few interesting tidbits to the story. The paper claims that Craig Robins—a MAM trustee and the person behind developer Dacra and the Miami Design District—was surprised by Riley’s departure, given that he had just unveiled plans for the museum’s new $220 million Herzog & de Meuron–designed home. “He saw the writing on the wall. It was either get out now or commit for another five years,” said Robins. Yet Robins also suggested that Riley might not have been the right fit for a protracted building project. “Terry was brilliant,” Robins said, “but his strength does not lie in construction management.” The paper also claims that Riley was frustrated by a spending squeeze imposed by Miami-Dade County earlier this year, which resulted in a $350,000 funding cut. The museum laid off eight members of staff, and senior management saw their salaries cut by 5 percent, all of which, according to the paper, contributed to Riley’s departure from the museum. Riley, as we pointed out in our story, will focus his energy on his Keenen/Riley architecture practice.