Impressions Of Art Basel Miami 2014
Though I have not yet been to the other two editions of Art Basel, which are held respectively in Basel and Hong Kong, I have been told that each of the three shows has its own distinct flavor.
This fact is certainly reflected in Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests, which (to date) have only performed their beach walks at the Miami edition of the world-renowned art fair.
And while I have been to Miami several times, I had never been there during Art Basel. The art, which is not just contained to an indoor fair hall but spread around South Beach, adds another colorful layer to this glitzy, at times glamorous, city in south Florida.
For example, walking from the Audemars Piguet sandlot on Miami Beach up to the convention center, one passes through a lot of greenery called Collins Park, which, during the fair, is also filled with colorful art.
One installation I found there was created by New York artist Hank Willis Thomas as a part of “Fieldwork,” the Public Art exhibition at Art Basel Miami Beach curated by Nicholas Baume. The bouncy castle-like object is called In Search of the Truth (Truth Booth) and it serves to compile video responses regarding one’s personal truth from passersby.
The green section of Miami Beach known as Collins Park was home to 26 art installations during Art Basel Miami 2014, all grouped within a show entitled “Fieldwork.” This show included a hot pink-tinted, translucent, polyurethane sculpture by Lynda Benglis called A Pink Lady, which recreates a classic outdoor fountain using organic shapes.
Inside the fair, 267 galleries hailing from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa put the artistic works of more than 4,000 artists on display. These range from some of the great masters to modern art and emerging painters. I spied works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst as well as many others that I recognized.
Naturally, there were plenty of lesser known artists that captured one’s attention as well. Here are a few examples.
Strolling through the halls of Art Basel Miami, I happened upon a colorful painting that caught my eye in a serious way. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was entitled Clocks and Clouds. Could it have a time theme, I asked myself?
The painter, Terry Winters, is a modernist. Wikipedia reveals that his subjects are usually found in natural sciences and architecture, though more recently information systems and computer graphics have crept in. Tessellation is also a recurring theme for Winters (for more on tessellation on a watch dial, please read Vacheron Constantin’s Infinite Illusion Of Time: Les Univers Infinis.)
Time does indeed seem to play a part in Winters’ paintings. In an interview in The Brooklyn Rail, he says, “… they’re somehow the consequence of function, of being used over time. The paintings are a track of the time that it took to paint them – what’s left after the activity of having painted them. On some level, they’re a temporal architecture or cross-section. In a way, I want the opposite of a breakdown. My approach uses construction to provoke unpredictable, surprising images that emerge and become recognizable.”
This oil-on-linen painting also made for the perfect backdrop for a wrist shot with the Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 that I was fortunate to have been able to borrow for a couple of days in Miami.
At some point during the day, I headed over to the collectors’ lounge, where the associate sponsors had their corporate booths. Here I found that Audemars Piguet had managed to even infuse art into its fair booth.
To do this, the Le Brassus-based brand hired two artists to beautify the surroundings, turning a plain fair booth into an experience fit for Art Basel Miami. The first was Kurt Hentschläger, who created a video installation for the booth called Measure. Measure’s theme centers around the nature prevalent in Le Brassus.
French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, who confessed that he knew absolutely nothing about watches before coming into contact with Audemars Piguet, made the trip to Le Brassus and stayed for a while to better understand both the traditional brand and its Vallée de Joux surroundings in order to realize the artistic booth, which was characterized by large boulders of the variety found in the Vallée de Joux.
It might have seemed easier to just take a few of the large rocks from the Vallée de Joux to Miami for this purpose, but it would have in no way been practical. So Lehanneur took silicon molds of actual boulders he found in the remote Swiss valley and recreated the boulders in his Paris studio using crushed stone powder mixed with resin to “retain the DNA of the rocks.” In essence, he cloned original Joux rocks and placed them strategically in the booth.
“Le Brassus is a tiny place on earth set in the midst of strong and violent nature,” he explained his choice of expressing what Audemars Piguet is by means of a strong visual installation. “I tried to show the contrast, the balance between the sophistication of the items Audemars Piguet creates and the violence of the nature it is surrounded by,” he said. “It’s kind of a metaphysical quest.”
Finally, I will leave you with a composition of two of my favorite impressions from Miami Beach during Art Basel: Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest and the Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 in pink gold.
For more on Theo Jansen’s incredible “walking” Strandbeests, please see Audemars Piguet Partners Art Basel Miami And The Locomotive Strandbeests By Theo Jansen.
Quick Facts Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101
Case: 47 x 13 mm, pink gold
Dial: open-worked to display the AP Escapement
Movement: automatic Caliber 4101 with AP Escapement, which is in an inverted position so as to be seen from the dial side
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds
Price: $39,800 / € 34,400