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art basel and bass

Post #168 • December 4, 2003, 12:20 PM • 1 Comment

Art Basel Miami Beach opened last night. When I attended ABMB last year I was haunted by thoughts that I was viewing the art of the impending apocalypse. The art was pretty much the same this year but the wacky stuff bounced off of me with no effect. Bad art does not make me as angry as it used to. By exposure, I have become innoculated against it.

I also had a plan - instead of trying to see everything, I wandered aimlessly through and kept my eyes open without forcing myself to consider everything. This Taoist approach worked well; unlike last year, I left feeling well-fed instead of glutted. Instead of taking notes about this and that, if I saw something I liked, I took a card from the gallery showing it and wrote it down. Now I have a little pile to read from:

An exquisite Frank Auerbach cityscape at Marlborough, with a chalky, scraped-out blue sky and a city of slashing paint. (Click on "The Studios." Colors are rather, well, wrong.) An airy soft-focus abstraction by Prudencio Irazabal at Helga de Alvear. Susan Rothenberg, whose palette, execution, and weirdness all seem to improve year after year, painting an arrangement of dominoes and cigarettes at Waddington. Stylish, pieced-together flat abstractions by Ruth Root at Andrew Kreps (terrible reproductions here). Somebody had a beautiful Lucien Freud view out of the studio window of some fuzzy blooms on a tree - I'll have to go find that again.

The Judith Schaechter show at the Bass was a knockout. Schaechter works in painted stained class to create twisted depictions of little girls, mostly, in states of Edward Gorey-like psychological and physical torment. (I kept thinking that Inka Essenhigh wishes she could get this much bang out of an image.) Nothing else at the Bass was worth the time of day. Photographs of famous people (such as the Frida Kahlo snaps here) make for bad exhibitions in every case I've witnessed. And the "Selections from Collection of Somebody or Something or Other from Spain" show was forgettable. Looks like collections the world over are filling up with the same drab abstractions, clever photos, and low-concept concept pieces.




December 23, 2003, 8:42 AM

The main Bass show, recent Spanish works from the Coca Cola (of Spain) collection, is precisely what it, in fact, is: Corporate art. It looks like it was put together by a committee and meant for an office-building environment, however upscale and "with it." I found the whole business rather dreary.



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