Paul Laster’s Art Basel Miami Diary & Photo Album: Day Two


Because we can’t all escape from our desks to enjoy 72-degree weather and international contemporary art, Flavorpill’s resident guru Paul Laster will be bringing you daily bold-face name littered updates and photos from Art Basel Miami all week. If you missed yesterday’s first installment, read it now.


The art world scoop from Day Two after the jump…

Events quickly fizzled to ground zero when the press lunch for Scope Miami and Art Asia never materialized. When asked about the lack of food for the purveyors of information and the general state of things related to the fair, Scope founder Alexis Hubshman said, “We really needed one more day.” While one day more might have put food on our plates, it wouldn’t have changed the look of the fair, which was confused and lightly trafficked. Of course, being at an art fair usually provokes a sense of bewilderment, and Scope is always good at instigating some craziness. The Miami art collective Friends With You constructed an inflatable Fun House and other colorful sideshow attractions in the café and Scope organizers let French graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash loose to tag phrases like “Life is Beautiful” and stencil images on a variety of walls.

Standouts at the fair included Izumi Kato’s primitive sculptures at Tokyo’s Arataniurano; Guerra de la Paz’s assemblage of found clothing, a wig, baby bottle nipples, and a doll, that made a nursing mother figure at Miami’s Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art; and Korean artist Yoo Young Woon’s larger-than-life, pop sculpture of Elvis, which was painstakingly constructed from cut-up magazine imagery at Gana Art Gallery. Best at Art Asia, which adjoined Scope, was Tang Hui’s paintings of heroic figures and failed corporations at New York’s Ethan Cohen Fine Art.

Somewhat bleary-eyed, Renee and I journeyed over to the opening of Art Basel Miami Beach, where the quality of the work immensely improved and the aisles proved to be filled with lots of stylish lookers, though not necessarily buyers. Deitch Projects, the first gallery we encountered after entering the fair, set an upbeat tone with an electrically lit Happy sign by the Brit duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster and a Kurt Kauper painting of Barack Obama. Berlin’s Jablonka Gallery turned its whole booth over to beautiful, new abstract paintings by Philip Taaffe while NYC’s Robert Miller Gallery offered a solo show of historical works on paper, along with two precious paintings, by Jackson Pollock’s talented spouse, Lee Krasner. Belgian bad-boy Wim Delvoye’s laser cut steel cathedral-cum-tractor-with-shovel was a showstopper at NYC’s Sperone Westwater, as was Richard Dupont’s distorted, fleshy, nude self-portrait sculpture at Carolina Nitsch, also from New York. Unlike previous years, there were no celebrity spottings at the opening, but it was good to see father and daughter art dealers Ronnie Greenberg (Greenberg Van Doren Gallery) and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn (Salon 94) touring the fair together.

Departing ABMB, we headed for the Bass Museum of Art’s Russian Dreams… opening; but upon seeing everyone else going in the same direction, we decided to go to a private opening for Olaf Breuning’s sand sculpture at the Sagamore Hotel. Hardly anyone was there when we arrived and not that many people showed up in the end, but it made for a restful couple of hours where we could chat calmly with friends around the pool while sipping champagne and eating hors d’oeuvres. The massive sand sculpture, which Breuning described as “a nude with an art face”, looked like a voluptuous reclining sphinx with a Paul Klee-style mug. Miami art-stars Naomi Fisher and Jim Drain came by to lend their support, while Gelitin’s Ali Janka took the opportunity to refresh himself in the Sagamore pool.

The next stop was Deitch Projects’ presentation of the Portland band Gossip in the sandy backyard, called the oasis, at the Raleigh Hotel. We sat next to Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman, Visionaire creative director Greg Foley, fashion photographer Sante D’Orazio, and Surface magazine publisher Riley Johndonnell, while spotting Tar Magazine contributing editor Bill Powers and his wife, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, at a distance. The King Pins, the opening act, wore glam rock costumes and lip-synced and danced to a mix of popular songs, including “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce. That prepped the audience for more fun when Gossip took the stage in outfits made from cut-and-sewn T-shirts. Lead singer Beth Ditto was as big as a house and belted out song after song. We had to split before the set ended and I tried to give my wristband to Studio Museum in Harlem curator Christine Kim, without avail. Not that it mattered much — the crowd outside the velvet rope was as colorful as the seated swells.

Last on our list of revelry was dinner at the super-chic Casa Tua, a nearby restaurant that’s hidden behind a high hedge. Since the host was Edmiston, one of the world’s leading yacht brokers, we anticipated a somber party. However, much to our surprise, the room was full of A-list art and publishing players, including actor Benicio Del Toro, who plays Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s new film Che, which is premiering in Miami Beach tonight; Vanity Fair contributor Bob Colacello; Art in America and Interview magazine creative director Glenn O’Brien; hip-young-socialite Lola Schnabel; and artist-in-demand Terence Koh.

Before dinner was over, Julian Schnabel dragged a third of the crowd out to a Grace Jones concert at the Delano Hotel; but, as we later heard, they arrived in the middle of the last number, not realizing that something would actually start on time in Miami. Meanwhile, back at Casa Tua, film-producer/design impresario Stuart Parr, one of the party’s co-hosts stood on a chair and poked fun at many of the art dealers in attendance, including Stellan Holm and Larry Gagosian — much to everyone else’s drunken amusement.