POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
A totally banal picture of the Miami Convention Center. Photo: AFC
I spent all day at the Art Basel Miami fair and I came away with boring. When was the last time anyone saw a blue-chip gallery take a big risk at Art Basel? 2006 marks the most recent great art stunt I witnessed — Urs Fischer’s cigarette box pulling crane at Gavin Brown — that was when the cash was flowing. I don’t know how much easier it is to gamble gallery sales on a lone piece of trash when the market is strong, but if the last two years of dreary art are any indication, it would seem to make a difference. The result heightens a pre-existing fair problem — a monotonous stream of endless group shows.
Barbara Kruger at Mary Boone Gallery, D32. Photo AFC
So, when are we going going to see White Cube or Gagosian give Damien Hirst a solo show at Art Basel, or Mary Boone offer Barbara Kruger her entire booth? Where’s the over-sized art section Basel Switzerland offers? If Art Basel Miami organizers want to solve the problem of it becoming a dreary fair, they need to create a program that incorporates a greater diversity of exhibition formats.
Jorge Pardo, Untitled, 2009, Naugerriemschneider (E18). Photo AFC
With the exception of Jorge Pardo’s tacky wire-people in a hippy habitat at Neugerriemschneider, dealers’ only solo shows this year are the emerging galleries at Art Positions. I suppose a tip of the hat to Basel organizers for finally moving this program into the convention center is due, but it’s a rather reluctant tip from us. After all, it took them eight whole years to address the fact that they’d been treating new art dealers as second rate citizens, providing crappy shipping containers as exhibition spaces.
Agathe Snow at James Feuntes. Photo AFC
Not surprisingly, much like Frame, the new emerging art section of the Frieze Fair, Art Positions offers a bit of variety and life to an otherwise staid show. Stand outs include Brent Green’s charming booth of spindly objects, the colorful sculptures of Agathe Snow at James Fuentes, and Joe Bradley’s minimal paintings at Canada. But there are only 23 of these kinds of small, lively booths in a fair of over 250 exhibitors. That’s a pulse, but it’s thin at best.