Dialogue

"Women artists dominate Art Basel Miami Beach’s new Survey section"

Stepping back: Niki de Saint Phalle, Fragment de l’Hommage au Facteur Cheval, 1962

Stepping back: Niki de Saint Phalle, Fragment de l’Hommage au Facteur Cheval, 1962

The Art Newspaper previews this year's fair, which has an added historical dimension.

By Anny Shaw. Market, Issue 263, December 2014
Published online: 30 November 2014

Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) takes a historical turn this year, with a new section devoted to projects from the past. “Survey” features nine solo shows and four group presentations—many of which focus on female or feminist artists who made their mark in the 1960s and 1970s.

Charim Galerie from Vienna is showing works by Actionist artists including Valie Export, New York’s Broadway 1602 is bringing a four-woman show, the Parisian Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois will show assemblages by Niki de Saint Phalle, New York’s James Fuentes Gallery has a solo show by the Fluxus artist Alison Knowles and New York’s Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects will present works by the land and conceptual artist Michelle Stuart.

Marc Spiegler, the director of the Art Basel fairs, says there is a greater interest now in artists’ artists. “People have realised that new discoveries are not just coming out of the studios of art schools, but also the studios of art-school professors,” he says.

History also permeates the “Kabinett” section, which offers galleries the chance to present thematic displays. “Germany’s Coming of Age” at Kicken Berlin features photography from East and West Germany from the 1970s and 1980s, rare examples of Joseph Cornell’s first collages made from found objects can be seen at New York’s Van Doren Waxter Gallery, and Valerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago, features works from the 1940s by Judith Rothschild.

Art history gives way to anthropology in the “Public” section, where this year the 26 outdoor works are grouped under the title “Fieldwork”. “Public art demands a willingness to take risks,” says its curator, Nicholas Baume. “On the breezy lawns, gardens and pathways of Collins Park we find that fertile terrain, where artists get to try out their ideas and verify them ‘in the field’.”

Fittingly for an exhibition held in an open space, ancient history also plays its part. Roman statues are invoked in Justin Matherly’s concrete sculpture from 2010, which is inspired by the Belvedere Torso in the collection of the Vatican Museums, while Nuria Fuster’s iron work tests the Greek philosopher Anaximenes’s hypothesis that air is the source of all things.

Meanwhile, several younger US galleries exhibit in the “Galleries” section for the first time, including two from Los Angeles (Freedman Fitzpatrick and Honor Fraser) and one from Miami and Detroit (Michael Jon). “Los Angeles is represented in Miami [this year] in a way it perhaps wasn’t three or four years ago,” Spiegler says, quashing last year’s rumours of plans to relocate the fair to the West Coast. “The Art Basel model is to do one show in one state and to be the best show on the continent.”