artworldArt Fairs
Friday, December 5th, 2014

Fairy Queen: Art Miami’s Consistency in Quality Can Rival Art Basel/Miami Beach


December 2 through 7, 2014
at the Art Miami Pavilion
Wynwood, Miami, Florida

De Buck Gallery, Antwerp, booth at Art Miami, 2014, featuring works by Luciano Fontana, left, and Turi Simeti.

De Buck Gallery, Antwerp, booth at Art Miami, 2014, featuring works by Luciano Fontana, left, and Turi Simeti.

Art Miami, the oldest of the Miami fairs, is an excellent complement to the now more dominant Art Basel/Miami Beach. There is an international mix of galleries and a healthy cross-section of established, mid-career, and emerging artists. Although there is only a sampling of superstars (Picasso, Malevich are stand outs) the fair includes nationally recognized and significant masters such as Frank Stella, Milton Avery and John McLaughlin. Overall, there is a consistency in the quality of the works presented that sometimes rivals Art Basel/Miami Beach and certainly exceeds all of the other satellite fairs.

The first gallery we visited was one of the best in the fair. The De Buck gallery from Antwerp and New York featured five artists from the Zero Group, the German abstract/technologically oriented movement from the 1960s now the subject of a major survey at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. They were also seen extensively at Art Basel/Miami Beach. De Buck also featured artists from other countries aligned to the Zero group. Their Lucio Fontana painting from 1959 in three shades of green and beige showed how closely his early work could resemble landscape painting. The slashes in this work also reminded us of the rods in Walter de Maria’s Lightning Fields. Turi Simeti’s meditative, white, shaped canvases of 1968 are reminiscent in structure of the American artist, Charles Hinman, active in the same period. Other fine examples of the Zero Group were found at the Tresart Gallery from Coral Gables and at Jerome Zodo from Milan.

Ludwig Wilding, Single Z 22, 1970.  Digital printing on plexiglass,100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Galerie Renate Bender, Munich

Ludwig Wilding, Single Z 22, 1970. Digital printing on plexiglass,100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Galerie Renate Bender, Munich

A publicized focus of this year’s fair was art from Germany. Across from De Buck was Lausberg Contemporary from Düsseldorf, featuring small fluorescent acrylic glass cubes by Regine Schumann, who was also had an installation at Galerie Renate Bender, Berlin. For us, these little gems, such as her Color Mirror Hohenzollern (2013), at Lausberg, could be seen to demonstrate the far-reaching effect of the Los Angeles Light and Space movement of the 1960s, a theme picked up at Peter Blake Gallery from Laguna Beach, CA with their first-rate painting by John McLaughlin, along with works we liked by artists who extend his aesthetic: John M. Miller, Scot Heywood and New Yorker Don Voisine.

Galerie Renate Bender from Munich shows both German and American artists, amongst them the Op artist Ludwig Wilding, and some exceptionally strong works by U.S. artists including thick tactile paintings by Robert Sagerman, shiny gold wall reliefs by Bill Thompson, and biomorphic and edgy floor pieces by Jeremy Thomas. A mainstay of this booth is Peter Weber who works mainly in folded felt in a variety of colors. This year, he exhibited a small cotton folded white work called System & Zufall to effectively and viscerally represent the two poles of order and chaos. Directly in front of this work were two folded white floor pieces that people were encouraged to walk on with their dirty shoes. After the fair, this piece will be unfolded to reveal an abstract design of clean and dirty areas created by the Fair’s participants–another example of Weber’s ability to synthesize order and chaos.

Regine Schumann, Colormirror Hohenzollern, 2013.  Fluorescent and phosphorescent, 22 1/2 x 7 7/8 x 2 inches. Courtesy of Lausberg Contemporary, Dusseldorf

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