Miami: Hub of the rich and famous, home of art deco, Cuban-style hot rods, Latin culture, palm trees, blue skies and blue waters. It is also one of three international cities to host Art Basel. For the uninitiated, Art Basel is one of THE most important annual events in the artworld. Galleries, artists, collectors and art lovers from all over the globe descend for a week of intense – and I mean intense – art immersion. I’m talking about hundreds of exhibiting galleries and over 100,000 visitors. If you get saturated after visiting a museum, you might want to think twice about visiting Art Basel!!! For me, though, it was Heaven.
It would be impossible to relay the scope of paintings of every type, size, and subject, sculptures big and small of every material conceivable, photographic works and digital compositions. So for digestibility, I will focus on artworks that use unconventional materials. It’s a trend I found incredibly interesting and one that demonstrates the infinite creativity that artists bring into our lives. I challenge you, my readers, to guess what medium the following artworks are made from. (NB My sincerest apologies to those artists whose names I failed to record.)
Nice nostalgic scene, right? Well, there’s a bit more to the artist’s method: used jeans!
This next artist creates large and beautifully composed abstract compositions from….
…collaged pieces of chipped paint collected from crumbling buildings all over the world!
By far one of my favorite work was by Italian artist, Andrea Salvador. These gorgeous works below blew my socks off – wait till you see what they are made of…
The big reveal:
Salvador creates his photorealistic works from hand-chipped glass mosaic. I met the Venetian glass blower who created the custom glass colors ordered by the artist. Wow.
There were numerous artists whose works used traditional craft methods like quilting and embroidery to create fine art works that took the craft to a totally new level:
I’m pretty sure you’ll never guess what material the next artist used to create this huge watercolor-like painting that had me stumped until I got the lowdown from the gallerist:
Give up? Plastic bags fused onto a huge canvas…
And another head scratching work…
Cuban artist Jorge Otero’s lifesized work was striking and fascinatingly unique. Venture to take a guess at how he achieved this beautiful effect? Woven photographs!
I’m willing to bet that no-one recognizes the elements used in the following wall hanging:
Used and stained computer keyboard keys…
If you aren’t wowed by now, I don’t know what to say. I’ll leave you on a lighter note with an artist who has playfully and successfully ($2500 a piece!) re-purposed vintage bowling pins.
Check out my next blog post ART BASEL MIAMI PART II where you’ll find a broad range of art that caught my eye. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season. You can find out more about all the satellite art fairs here and here.
Like many, many people living in the US right now, I am experiencing great anxiety about the state of this nation. It’s hard to believe that we will ever extricate ourselves from this free-for-all bog of lying, fear and hatred. A recent visit to the MOMA exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria comforted me by reminding me of my mother’s wise words: ‘This too shall pass‘ – words that got me through some tough times. Hundreds of iconic artworks created over the past 130 years were on display, portraying the challenges that each new decade brought with it.
Walking through the highlights of New York’s Museum of Modern Art collection was like a visual walking tour of history. The impressionist, cubist, surreal, abstract expressionist, fauvist, modernist and contemporary works revealed the artists’ responses to wars, culture clashes, political upheavals and inner turmoil.
I won’t even begin to attempt to walk you through such a content-rich and complex exhibition – I’ll leave that to the NGV’s curated site. But I will share a few teasers.
I also enjoyed the ephemeral contemporary installation by Roman Ondak, Measuring the universe. This dynamic installation was created by marking the height of individual museum visitors, creating a panorama of human height variables.
On site volunteers stand you up against the wall (just like your mom or dad did then they marked the kitchen doorway to check your growth) and mark your height along with your name and date. The names scribbled by the volunteers one on top of another become a black mass of jumbled individual names ultimately unreadable but representing all of humanity.
Ondak’s goal in this work is to unite people in a shared action. After all, we inhabit the same universe – that comes with privileges andobligations to treat one another as equals.
(Oh, by the way the Belgian artist’s name was Magritte and the famous Dada artist’s name was Marcel Duchamp).
NEWS UPDATE: I will be teaching a three-day collage workshop at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs to accompany my exhibition there in November. Stay tuned!
I love discovering new art experiences in far-flung places. Sometimes, though, I need to remind myself of the wonderful museums right here in Washington DC. I was fortunate to catch two major exhibitions at the National Gallery that are polar opposites in every way. I began with the blockbuster show Vermeer and the Masters of genre painting. (A twitter-style primer: Johannes Vermeer is the most celebrated painter of 17th century Dutch Golden Age painting. ‘Genre’ painting captures scenes of everyday, domestic life).
These paintings are miniaturized, highly detailed glimpses into life in Holland in the late 1600’s. Apart from appreciating the beauty and skill, two things stood out for me: First, the care taken by the artists to provide narrative clues. For example, look at this brothel scene by Frans Van Mieris.
Did you notice the dogs going at it in the lower right? The artist threw that in there just in case the viewer was in doubt as to where this scene was taking place…!
Likewise, in Samuel van Hoogstraten’s View of an Interior (below) we see what appears to be an empty room. But somebody is definitely in there even though we can’t see them – note the shoes on the mat, the keys still hanging on the door…
Or in Gabriel Metsu’s Woman Reading a Letter, the maid is pulling back a curtain to reveal a painting of a stormy sea, connoting that the letter could be bringing bad tidings.
This painting brings me to my second take-away from the collection of paintings in this exhibition: There was an awful lot of letter-writing taking place, which made me realize that texting obsessively is just a natural extension of our intrinsic need to communicate.
I was just in awe of the fabulously elaborate clothing and the sumptuousness of textures that seem to leave our contemporary, minimalist aesthetics lacking in some way…
Keep this in mind for my next blog post that will feature minimalist sculptor, Anne Truitt’s solo show, also on exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington DC.
(The Vermeer exhibition closed last weekend. More on the National Gallery website)
Art Basel Miami is THE North American art event of the year. It’s hard to overstate its hype and importance in the art world. Over 250 international and US galleries are represented, drawing more than 70,000 visitors to Miami. Every establishment in the city hitches a ride on this massive event. It’s an opportunity for anyone involved in art, food, culture and fashion to shine. I got a sneak peak at one small sliver of Art Basel at Wynwood Walls.
Wynwood is the artsy/funky/upcoming neighborhood in Miami that boasts wall art that goes way beyond graffitti. In fact some of these magnificent wall paintings are protected 24/7 by uniformed guardians. I came across a number of selected artists for Wynwood Basel hard at work completing their giant commissions.
There were some truly magnificent walls. Here is a small selection.
One of my favorites was a clever take on Picasso’s famous bull composed of found objects:
Another 20′ wall was painted to advertise an exhibition at a nearby gallery. Impressive.
Next year I hope to get more than just a tiny taste of this global art destination.
Let’s welcome the New Year in with a smile. Say cheese!
Since returning from my artist residency in Auvillar, France, I have had my nose to the grindstone, preparing fortyworks for a show in Paris next May with Carre d’artistes gallery. This is a departure for me in terms of technique, commercial output, and most difficult for me, sticking to a unified theme.
The gallery only shows square formats and specifies four different sizes their artists have to adhere to. The largest is 19″ square. I am working on wood in mixed media – photo transfer, collage and paint, and experimenting with resin coating. I am going for a French-inspired, contemporary look, with an eye to fuse art/fashion/social media imagery with a cheeky narrative.
It’s very fiddly work but I am enjoying it when not panicking about the deadline. My studio is strewn with magazines, old stamp albums and all manner of source materials. More details about the exhibition as I get closer to the date.
My time at the VCCA artist residency in Auvillar is sadly coming to a close. There will be much to miss. Roasted chestnuts/bedding airing on windowsills framed by blue shutters/ children who pass you in the street and greet you politely with a Bonjour, madame/the accordion music that drifts out of the house by the bend in the road/the long, silent hours of uninterrupted writing/the sharing of creative trials and tribulations/the weekly communal meals/the telling of time by the tolling of church bells rather than the screen of an iPhone.
And of course, the gorgeous countryside. I sometimes feel like I am on the set of a French version of Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. Come and join me on the bike ride I took this morning and you’ll see what I mean. Allons-y!
I had a very productive writing residency here, and I also completed a labor-intensive painting, entitled Les murs, The Walls. Walls in medieval villages like Auvillar speak of the passage of time. They reveal glimpses of centuries gone by, the marks of masons and artisans long gone who added to existing layers rather than destroy what came before. In this painting, I have left traces of multiple layers in the hopes of creating a textured, timeless piece. The result pleasingly resembled a fresco – another wall association!
Oh, and if you’re headed this way tomorrow night, please drop in on our literary salon:
Artist and writer Lilianne MILGROM will introduce the project that she is working on while in residence. She will show us the artwork by Gustave COURBET that has inspired her writing and then read an extract of her novel in French and in English.
Lilianne Milgrom says “My life revolves around art – creating art, looking at art and writing about art. My work can be found in both private and institutional collections worldwide.”
“The current residency in Auvillar is the first residency in which I am concentrating primarily on writing rather than painting. I am working on a novel, inspired by Gustave Courbet.” www.liliannemilgrom.com/
Poet Kathryn LEVY will introduce her work in French then read several of her poems in English as well as a couple in French.
Kathryn LEVY is author of the poetry collections Losing the Moon and Reports, a finalist for the 2014 Midwest Book Award. Her work has appeared in various journals including Slate, Hanging Loose and Seattle Review, among many others. Her numerous writing fellowships include awards from Yaddo, MacDowell and VCCA.