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thanks for the vernissage - my neck has been kind of stiff lately

Post #420 • December 2, 2004, 9:02 AM • 13 Comments

I resent the importation of "vernissage" into the language - it sounds like something you do with deer meat - but I digress before I start. Art Basel Miami Beach opened yesterday evening. Someone remarked rightly that it's a hair more conservative this year. I went around with no plan looking for things I liked, and found them in decent supply.

Tadashi Kawamata and a spectacular little Matisse at Annely Juda.

Tony Oursler at Bernier/Eliades.

Stephan Balkenhol at Johnen 38 Schöttle.

A handsome Joan Mitchell and a Matisse drawing at Barbara Mathes. I was especially excited to see the drawing - you can see the inspiration for the drawings appearing at the top of this web page.

Rodney Graham at Donald Young.

Susan Rothenberg at Sperone Westwater.

Gina Rorai at Artcore.

Neil Rock at Henry Urbach Architecture.

Jan van Cock at Campaña.

Big damn Susan Rothenberg at the entrance - didn't catch the gallery.

Schiele at Karsten Greve.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Lucian Freud at Aquarella. This ought to put to rest the question of whether he's declining in old age.

Beautiful photographs that I couldn't get decent shots of: a portrait of a female IDF soldier by Rineke Dijkstra at Sommer (I wonder what it's like running a contemporary gallery in Israel?), August Sander kickin' it at Kicken, a forest scene in Nara, Japan by Wim Wenders at James Cohan.

Off to see more...




December 2, 2004, 8:06 PM

Dude, vernissage is really poetic. Though, it does have a sober air to it.



December 2, 2004, 9:02 PM

Vernissage makes me think of nail polish. I should probably be thinking of varnish instead, but I can't help it. I think of a lot of people getting thier nails painted, a gallery full of them, everyone painting everyone else's nails.



December 2, 2004, 9:05 PM

Kathleen I think I saw that piece too in Art Statements... a whole room of people painting each other's nails and toenails. I think it was a Gallery from Prague.



December 2, 2004, 9:27 PM

Huh? Is that being exhibited in the convention center right now? Hm. I haven't seen it! I haven't been yet; I'm hoping to focus on the off-sites as I didn't see any of them last year.

Well, it only makes sense that someone else would think of that. Vernis means nail polish (varnish for the fingernails).



December 2, 2004, 10:22 PM

Vernissage means varnishing. Varnishing day at exhibitions at the Royal Academy in England in the 19th C. was a day (or two) set aside before an exhibit opened so artists could varnish and put finishing touches on their pictures. Turner was notorious for putting up a half finished picture during this time, taking a look at the competition and then slapping on bright colors at the last minute.

"Vernissage" didn't get popular as a replacement term until the 20th C., probably because the old traditions of varnishing and last minute finishing made "varnishing day" sound quaint, and possibly also because it sounds Frenchy and arty.



December 2, 2004, 10:56 PM

Great taste Franklin.



December 2, 2004, 10:59 PM

varnishing learn something new everyday.
Hey are these all at the convention center? I'm thinking of heading over tonight. Oh and what are the hours there?



December 3, 2004, 12:10 AM

My parents, who are not particularly art people have used 'Vernissage' to refer to regular art openings. I gather that's the standard word for an art opening in Europe.



December 3, 2004, 7:27 AM

Nice selections. I didn't see all those. I was doing more of a run-thru and greeting friends. That Japanese sculpture looks like something I want to check out. And, speaking of not being able to get good photos, I had the same problem. Oh well. It's the lighting and some pieces really need better. I'm heading back tomorrow, Friday, to ABMB, NADA and to -Scope which I haven't made it to yet. Did you see the Rubell's renovation? Wow.



December 3, 2004, 3:46 PM

Funny, I don't remember the Rothenbergs looking like that! Must have been the lighting along with the crowds.

Can anybody explain the popularity/success of Caio Fonseca's paintings?



December 3, 2004, 10:08 PM


It is tough to account for popular taste in art, but it is possible to see characteristics that certain species of popular art have at any particlar time.

There are a number or these species evolving right now. One example would be the Hernan Bas type of picture - you see a lot of them here and in NY right now - which I described in part on the blog a while ago as:

... nothing too direct and straightforward or expressively far out, no bright and garish colors, no forceful brushwork ... no excesses in the sense of "life" or "spiritual values" or protest or committment of any clear and open kind, no frankly evident delight in color or drawing or surface. The rendering, for the most part, has a utilitarian, stylish aura ... an art committed to maintaining a cautious observance of certain principles of presentation as rigid as any academy; an art supressed by its own irresolution...much more "about" mannerism than feeling...

You might say that Fonseca's paintings are an abstract version of this, very well maintained, full of stuff learned in art school, very tasteful, individualized enough to be identifiable but quiet enough so as not to seem odd or far-out. You see it everywhere in NY and it sells - go to the Stephen Haller Gallery web site, for example, to see a whole stableful. If I were a young artist in NYC at the moment and my ambitions extended only to worknig up a "look" to get in a gallery this is the sort of thing I would do.



December 4, 2004, 3:29 AM

there's something "hands on" about Susan Rothenberg
she has a nice sense of TOUCH



December 4, 2004, 8:01 PM

"Great taste Franklin" means "Surely you jest; right, Franklin?"



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