Trip to Art Basel Miami Beach 2007 and Art Miami 2007, Dec. 4-9

Art baselMiami beach

After a few years of hesitating, as befits a novice like me, this year I followed the cognoscenti to Art Basel Miami Beach. It was like being in a candy store, with all the free samples I wanted, as long as I didn't try to carry anything out of the store. Fair enough. Great art–memorable Motherwells, Mapplethorpes, Legers, Kapoors, you name it. Especially hard to pass up were a nice De Kooning for $6 million, a reasonable Lipschitz wood sculpture for $5 million, and several Nevelson wood sculptures for under $200k. I even stuck to my resolve by not even considering a tiny Sugimoto theater print at a "satellite" show a few blocks from Art Basel.

Most disgusting piece of the show: a headless cat–not only realistic but apparently real, since the medium described on its label was "taxidermy." Funniest: photos of abstractions "chewing gum sculptures" molded orally with the original toothmarks still in them.

Very big at this exhibit were trompe l'oeil sculptures. I spotted three, but who knows how many I missed, mistaking them for real objects?? The three I spotted: an ATM machine, a baby in a basket on the floor near the ATM machine, and a full-sized 7/11 type store from Shanghai that you could walk around in. Just looking at the store made me yearn for a hot dog and a slurpee.

Nearby was Art Miami 2007, also really great, with again some fine Motherwells and many other surprises, including a Sugimoto abstraction I had seen at his de Young Museum retrospective. Because this show was less intense and less formal than Art Basel, I broke down and schmoozed with some dealers I didn't know before. However, I was careful not to visibly admire the actual works for sale. But who knows what may happen down the line? A Sugimoto seascape, I hope.

Miami is an odd place, part Nebraska and part Havana. I can't see spending lots of time there. But the weather is nice (highs around 80 and lows around 70 last week), and the beaches are beautiful.

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