Search results: #artbasel2009


Art Basel - reading list

Updated 10:58 am, 12/02/09.

NO Feel Good

“NO” / “Feel Good” respectively from the Convention Center parking lot and the Oceanfront installation.

I’ve shaved off the links to articles and information from the main list, which continues to be updated. Newer entries here will be added to the top.


Posted: Tuesday December 1, 2009 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment [3]


Art Basel - the spectacles

art basel 2009

Fuentes, D18. The mood was of course more subdued then at past Basels on Wednesday, but not by too much! Still, there was much less pranky stuff like this then in years past. “You go to school to learn not for a fashion show,” and you go to Basel I guess to shop for art that you want to live with, not to see a carnival freakshow. But to say that nothing was over the top would be a tragic misrepresentation. Let’s see…

art basel 2009

Haye, H19. Nothing says “I have $35,000 to blow on a Basel booth rental and the rep to score one, but it ain’t no thang” like some gold and silver plated chess pieces scattered around, with only an incognito guard for staff.

art basel 2009

This elephant’s cup says, “How ‘bout some PB and Joe? / A friendly reminder from the National Peanut Board.” Serious contender for best-of in the sculpture category.

art basel 2009

Yes-That-Sylvester-Stalone’s horrible self-portrait from a Life cover was one of the few things with a red dot.

art basel 2009

The “is that art or have you just not gotten a chance to tidy up yet?” category is alive and well, represented here by some actual animal poop.

art basel 2009

Some quarters modified to contain blades. If we can’t use art to make suggestions to terrorists, then the terrorists have already won.

art basel 2009

Beautiful but ephemeral. MadeIn’s Metal Language 1 at ShanghaiART.

art basel 2009

Art that got shipped is always a hit. Here are some copper boxes that show fingerprints, smudges, scrapes, and FedEx tracking labels. Walead Beshty.

art basel 2009

Anyone who made anything even vaguely Michael Jackson-related got their piece into Basel. The best of the bunch were Dave LaChapelle three (photoshopped?) images. Here, the MJ Pieta.

art basel 2009

I loved these goldfish swimming around some impenetrable legal-looking documents. Titled “They are learning fast,” John Latham, Lisson Gallery.

art basel 2009

These Lorna Simpson photos were more poignant than spectacles, but don’t miss them.

art basel 2009

This piece comes with instructions. At least it has the decency to be titled “WTF.”

art basel 2009

If you choose to include a little shelf and some magnifying glasses next to your little newspaper cutouts, be sure that they really reward a close look.

art basel 2009

A giant wooden box that tells you to DIE over and over, into infinity. Ivan Navarro. Edition of three, so you probably still have a chance.

art basel 2009

You get two primo Gurskys this year, and here’s one.

art basel 2009

Probably my favorite Jenny Holzer piece of all time.

art basel 2009

William Pope L’s “The Black Factory” at the Botanic Gardens.

art basel 2009

Probably my favorite thing so far was this Chiho Aoshima digital drawing at Perrotin.

art basel 2009

It turns out that the Robert Indiana “LOVE” game is way too easy to play, and this year everyone got in on it. Here’s my winner.

art basel 2009

This whole time you could have chromed an old TV and set it to play nothing but wrestling match footage. Paul Pfeiffer.

art basel 2009

Empty bottle of 90 proof Cuban rum, and time lapse of the artist consuming it over 24 hours. Once again proving that anyone can have a good idea, but it’s only if you execute it elegantly that victory shall be yours.

art basel 2009

Lawrence Weiner’s “PLACED BENEATH THE SAND BENEATH THE SEA” got me. Regen Projects.

art basel 2009

And last but sure as hell not least, Ebony Bones, easily the best performer ever at Art Loves Music (but I missed Peaches), who galvanized the crowd by getting them to move the left. Awesome (but she needs a ballad to break up the set a little). More Later!!


Posted: Thursday December 3, 2009 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment


The Art Basel guide for normal people, 2009 edition

art basel guide

This is for folks who are in Miami this weekend but don’t really know from art. You’ve heard of Art Basel, and thought about maybe checking it out, but you’re really not sure what exactly it is, and it all sounds very expensive and intimidating and complicated, right? There are like 20 different fairs, and a million different events, traffic is crazy, and there are sneering art people and punk kids everywhere. Also, who understands art today?

But the fact is that you should go. You don’t know anything about biology, either, but if the best zoo in the world came to town, you’d check it out. Same situation. Don’t worry, in a minute I’m going to teach you to look at art. But first, the question is what to do, and the answer will depend on your budget. If you’re broke, you can go to NADA, check out some of the stuff at Oceanfront (pdf), and maybe hit up a couple of the smaller fairs. The de la Cruz Collection will be in town after this weekend, but it’s free for Basel, so I guess that’s an option. If you have a little money to spend, you could try to do some of that, and spend a few hours at Pulse. It’s the best non-Basel fair I’ve seen so far this year, and there are interesting performances, and lots of little areas and things to discover. But if you can swing it at all, by far the best value is the $35 admission to the Art Basel fair at the convention center.

You can easily spend an entire day at Basel and not come close to seeing everything. The contemporary weirdness there is a notch above what you’ll see anywhere else, and there are plenty of Big Name artists thrown in. And it’s more fun to walk around in than the other fairs; because of the layout, you’ll almost immediately get lost, and walking through the same areas always reveals things you missed before. (This is not an easy effect to achieve — every other fair seems like rows of boring stall-shaped booths in comparison.) Pick a day, go early, and plan to spend all day. Bring the kids! (There’s arty childcare onsite if bad comes to worst.) Dress up (serious or zany — your choice!), prepare yourself to fight some crowds, park in the garage (or better yet, spring the $20 for valet parking), sneak in a camera (they check bags, but you can figure it out), and make a day of it. Take a break and wander over to Collins or Lincoln Rd for lunch. Grab an Oceanfront program and wander over there if something interesting-sounding is happening (there are also talks at the Art Salon, right inside the fair). Pick up a Showguide (a free fat brochure they hand out at the counters by the entrance) and see if you can figure out what the different color-coded booth signs mean (most of the booths have white signs, but there are also yellow, teal, and orangeish ones).

How to look at art

Ok, so what the hell is this stuff, do they really consider this art, and do people really pay thousands of dollars for it? The first thing to understand is that there’s nothing necessarily to “get.” If something has an explanation and a reason for existing, it’s a tool, not a piece of art. That said, we can come to understand something about any given thing, and I suggest the following strategies when confronted with something that looks pointless, impenetrable, and maybe stupid:

  1. First, really look at it. Almost everything here rewards close inspection, even if does not seem so at first glance, and very little about what you’re seeing is arbitrary. Pick up on as many details as you can.
  2. Imagine it in your living room. Imagine living with it there for a year. Now imagine it in an empty room. How does it transform a space?
  3. Think about a collector who would pay lots of money for it. (By the way, few galleries post prices, but you’re allowed to ask.) Everything in Basel is there because someone thinks it has a good shot at selling, so imagine why someone would want to own this thing you’re looking at.
  4. Think about the artist that made it. They are, by at least one definition, successful at what they do. How and why did they make this particular thing in this particular way? Most artists have a somewhat cohesive body of work, so what sort of things might they have been making that brought them to international prominence? Remember that they are not trying to make an easily articulated “statement” with any given piece, but it should evoke a unique sensation and intangible realization. Go with that.
  5. Think about the actual process that would have been required to create it. Lots of artists have outside help; how do they imagine the final product, and how might they have communicated that image? Is the piece meant to show how it was made, or is it all about the final physical object?
  6. Think about the gallerist. Very few galleries at Basel specialize in only one genre or style, so the juxtapositions of works often seem haphazard. However, lots of thought actually goes into laying out the booths. Why is this particular combination of things together? What is the aesthetic common thread between all these pieces. (Hint: this is not the point on which you want to spend the least amount to time.) Feel free to ask questions — keep it open-ended. Most of the people working the booths have something they can say about any piece, and a simple, “what’s the story here?” will get it out of them. Sometimes there’s an interesting tidbit that will really help.

Good luck! Here are some links:
Google Maps link to the location of the Convention Center
Art Basel website
Yelp search for nearby restaurants
List of fairs and other things going on


Posted: Friday December 4, 2009 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment [3]


Art Basel - the list

Updated 5:57 pm, 12/01/09.

Giant Slingshot, Robert Chambers

Preparations are under way all over town for the Main Event, starting more or less this Wednesday morning. Tents have sprouted over the generous undeveloped portions of Midtown Miami for many of the larger satellite fairs, art delivery trucks are fighting for unloading spaces at the hotels housing the less fortunate fairs, and the din of hammering and unwrapping is emanating from the Convention Center. It’s that time of the year where the New York Times runs stories about Miami that neither mock or pity. It’s the time of the year where the average IQ of the tourist arriving at MIA spikes unexpectedly, and when the cool kids from all over the world wish they were here. It’s Art Basel Miami Beach, y’all, and the weather this year (give or take a stormy Thursday) looks to be cooperating.

But for now we wait, not unlike Robert Chambers’ giant slingshot (pointed at the Bass art museum). Today brings the list below, which will to be updated throughout the week. A few more tidbits and links tomorrow. Wednesday comes a first look at the convention center, with stuff from the rest of the fairs daily probably into next week. Friday brings the perennial Art Basel guide for Normal People. Also follow me on twitter, as updates will be live and glorious. (Note: I’m indicating Miami galleries showing at each fair on an ‘as I notice’ basis — not comprehensive.)

Main fairs

  • Art Basel | Miami Beach. 1900 Washington Ave / 1901 Convention Center Dr, Miami Beach. By Vernissage invitation (try to get one!) 6 – 9 pm Wednesday, $35 after that. (Miami galleries: Snitzer, Bruk)
  • The Oceanfront, formerly known as Art Positions, by popular demand without shipping containers of art this year, though with all the other usual wackiness promised, courtesy of Pae White. (Hint: 3D glasses!) $0
  • Scope, 2136 NW 1st Avenue, Miami (there have been a few different addresses floating around, but this is the correct one! Same place where Pulse was last year, which should be pretty sweet. $20
  • Pulse moves to the Ice Palace, 1400 North Miami Avenue, Miami, where NADA was last year, which is sort of a bummer because NADA was my favorite place to send people who’s budget is $0, and this year it’s in a crappy hotel. $15
  • Art Miami, Midtown, NE 1st Avenue between NE 32nd & NE 31st Street, Miami. Probably the biggest and best of the tents. $15
  • Aqua abandons its Miami Beach hotel namesake and moves all exhibitors to the Wynwood location, 42 NE 25th St. Not sure if the space will be larger. $15
  • NADA, Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Should still be cool and everything, but a little out of the way, and the free admission looses its shine after you get your car towed. (Still, features Miami favorites David Castillo Gallery and Twenty Twenty.) $0 (I’ve bumped this back up to the major fairs category after comments here. Persuasive.)

Smaller fairs

  • Miami’s Independent Thinkers, “a multimedia art festival dedicated to South Florida’s premier and emerging artists.” Dig the artist list, alpha by first name. Mitrani Warehouse, 222 NW 27th Street, Miami. $15 (via)
  • Pool, a fair of independent unrepresented artists. The Cavalier Hotel, 1320 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach. $10 “suggested donation”
  • Art Asia, 2136 NW 1st Avenue. Next to Scope, and probably admission to one gets you admission to the other.
  • Photo Miami, a tent at Midtown. You would expect a fair dedicated to photography to be great, and you would expect wrong. There is better photography elsewhere, and unless you have lots of time and money, the few gems that were to be found here in years past are not your while. $20
  • Design Miami, NE 39th Street & 1st Ct, Miami. Fun for fans of DWR, this has usually been nice for a quick stop, and looks even more promising this year. Price impossible to find on website.
  • Red Dot. A website with text you can’t copy or search, and an incorrect address. Should be awesome. One of the tents at Midtown, $10.
  • Ink, 1850 Collins Avenue Miami Beach. Some nice things, but also plenty of cartoons, so discretion is advised. $0
  • Verge (formerly Bridge), The Catalina Hotel, 1732 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. $10 (tho supposedly free if you friend them on Facebook, which should be all you need to know on this world pertaining to how worthwhile this will be.)
  • Fountain, 2505 North Miami Ave Miami. 13 mostly New York galleries. $5
  • Sculpt Miami, 46 North West 36th Street, Miami. Probably not a good idea, but who knows? Probably free.
  • Green. A complete disaster last year, FWIW. Midtown. Price unknown, probably too much.
  • Focai, 3000 North Miami Ave. $10
  • Nobe 67 wtf?

Special projects, local endeavors, etc.

You can just assume that all these are free admission, and many will have an opening reception with free drinks. Quality tends to be very good, tho many are up for weeks after Basel.

  • Primary Flight (more info here ..): mural project featuring several notable local artists, and Shepard Fairey(!). Street art, plus a show at Art Center South Florida. Video.
  • FALLOUT, 23 artists mostly from around the US, showing work in the actual fallout shelter of the old Burdines building (now Macy’s) at 2 W. Flagler Street in downtown Miami.
  • Littlest Sister, “smallest art fair in town,” Spinello Gallery. 50 artists, 8 booths, 1 store-front space. 155NE 38 St, #101, Miami.
  • “He Believes in a Beauty” — your pal Nick Cindric is back, and curating this oddly named exhibition. Includes work by Christina Pettersson, Gavin Perry, Carlos Betancourt, and Cristina Lei Rodriguez. So, worth checking out despite any web presnece. Buick Building, 3841 NE 2dn Ave, Miami.
  • Subtropics’ Autonomous Sounds, sound art performance/installation, Thursday and Friday, 7 – 11 pm, 2100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach (just northeast of the Convention Center).
  • Art | Baselita / Zones. Lots of local art, both fine and funky.
  • Dark Night of the Soul / It Ain’t Fair, the former being the collection of photographs by David Lynch with accompanying music by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse that you’ve heard of and the latter being, well, another show with a bunch of artists. At OHWOW, which is getting mad buzz, 3100 NW 7 Avenue Miami.



  • Art Loves Music: Ebony Bones, free concert at “Oceanfront,” 9 pm-ish. Free.


  • Vivian Girls perform at Pulse at 7pm, with locals Little Beard playing at 6. Don’t miss the whole list of art performances at Pulse, which sound impressive. (thanks, misael)
  • Atlas Sound at Stages, “invite only,” whatever that means. 888 Biscayne Blvd. Miami. (via)


  • G. Love at Fountain, 7 pm, $5
  • Art Film: ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child’, at Oceanfront. This is apparently a rough unfinished cut of the documentary. Free.


  • Chairlift at Fountain, 7 pm, $5
  • Kinky and Mala Rodriguez at Awarehouse. I’m skeptical of anything that’s “presented by” a shoe brand, but be my guest. Free with online RSVP.


Posted: Monday November 30, 2009 by Alesh Houdek · Permalink · Comment [3]