A Look at Art Basel Miami Beach 2014

by Paddy Johnson on December 4, 2014 · 1 comment Art Fair + Events

The Art Basel Miami Beach convention center entrance.

The Art Basel Miami Beach convention center entrance.

Now in its 14th year, Art Basel Miami has clearly reached a point of maturation. The exhibitor list varies slightly from season to season, but the roster’s largely the same, the fair regularly draws over 70,000 visitors over the course of the five day event, and almost all of the visitor experience kinks have been worked out over the years. (As a small example, yesterday I ate at “healthy” veggie bar, a catering service that stands in stark contrast to the hot nachos and 6 month old Entenmann’s danishes offered a mere 7 years ago.)

This maturation process has its pluses and minuses. On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to eat a meal without fearing what it will do to our stomachs. Predictability and stability is important. On the other, the codification of high end taste over the last few years, leaves very little room for discovery. If there ever was a thrill to seeing an art fair, it’s certainly gone now. As art critic Ben Davis aptly described the situation to me yesterday, “When I look down these halls, it doesn’t make me think about anything”. We were standing in front of a six foot blue latex glove.

To be fair, it’s not quite that bad. This year, there’s less pandering art than usual—the year of Erwin Wurm has thankfully passed—and a larger amount of risk taking and experimentation. But that’s in the arena of aesthetics alone. As a mirror of how removed from the collecting class has become from the struggles of those less fortunate, probably the most notable aspect of this fair is how little politically engaged art is on view. Outside the convention center, protestors of this year’s fair were barely noticed.

So here’s a look at the fair’s highlights, chose mainly for aesthetic reasons. As far as trends go, these pictures suggest that patterning and installations celebrating middle class decor are popular.

James Brown Listening Station, 2012, Chair, 2009 at Sperone Westwater

Tom Sachs, “James Brown Listening Station”, 2012, “Chair”, 2009 at Sperone Westwater. This is all built from repurposed Ikea furniture. The chair may look familiar to art history buffs—it’s modeled after Donald Judd’s “Chair”.

Donald Judd Chair at Anthony Meir Fine Arts

As it happens, that Donald Judd chair is across the aisle at Anthony Meir Fine Arts.

Luciano Fabro, Ovai, and Jack Pierson's Destiny at Christian Stein

Not sure what anyone would do with that Luciano Fabro stretched across the floor, but it’s certainly a bold visual stroke in this fair. Jack Pierson’s “Destiny” at Christian Stein has a similarly assembled look.

Michael Buthe at Alexandre and Bonin

Alexandre and Bonin provided a great introduction to Michael Buthe’s sculptures. Above is a standout from the installation. A must-see.

Sheilah Hicks, Lares and Penates, Sikkema Jenkins

I love Sheilah Hicks, but these wound balls at Sikkema Jenkins need  more space than can be given at an art fair.

Martin Creed at Gavin Brown

This thing rotates. Ben Davis’s words now feel like a mantra. “It doesn’t make me think about anything”. Martin Creed at Gavin Brown.


Nancy Lupo sculptures and David Korty paintings at Wallspace

Nancy Lupo sculptures and David Korty paintings at Wallspace. I liked this for the art handler blanket rug.

Real Fine Arts (see check list)

Real Fine Arts, installation view (Sam Pulitzer and Jon Pestoni)


Bureau, installation view

Ajuy Kurlan, Hive (want), 2014, trash can, plexiglass, fake pearls, etc at Canal 47

This photograph makes this sculpture in a garbage can look like a paper plate adorned with LEDs. It’s a world of mirrors, toy cars and moss in there. Worth checking out. Ajuy Kurlan, Hive (want), 2014, trash can, plexiglass, fake pearls, etc at Canal 47

Travesia Cuato,

Travesia Cuatro, Installation view

Travesia Cuato,

Travesia Cuatro, detail

Martin Creed at Gavin Brown

If you like the grand entrance at Hauser & Wirth New York, (and I do), this maybe for you? Martin Creed at Gavin Brown.

Urs Fischer at Sadie  Coles HQ

The best booth at Basel this year? At the very least it’s the most photo friendly. Urs Fischer at Sadie Coles HQ.

Daniel Burin at Bortalami

Daniel Buren and Jutta Koether  at Bortalami

Marcel Storr at Andrew Edlin Gallery

You just gotta see these close up. They are so delicate and detailed. Marcel Storr at Andrew Edlin Gallery

Tony Tasset, Coke Can Cross at Kavi Gupta

Diet pop addiction is a paramount to religion? Tony Tasset, “Coke Can Cross” at Kavi Gupta.


Probably the most ridiculous piece at the fair came from May Hands at T293. As you can see, these are two canvases, with pleasant colored packing materials wrapped in plastic. In case you need to be reminded that paintings get shipped.

{ 1 comment }

strunken white December 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

The trashcan artist is named “Ajay Kurian”

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: