Art on steroids: Art Basel Miami

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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.

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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.)

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Ian Berry  Club Deuce

Nice nostalgic scene, right? Well, there’s a bit more to the artist’s method: used jeans!

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Detail

This next artist creates large and beautifully composed abstract compositions from….

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…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…

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The big reveal:

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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:

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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:

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Give up? Plastic bags fused onto a huge canvas…

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And another head scratching work…

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Jorge Otero  Untitled

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!

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I’m willing to bet that no-one recognizes the elements used in the following wall hanging:

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Used and stained computer keyboard keys…

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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.

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Paris – where life imitates art

There are many great cities around the world that boast a hip art scene and magnificent museums. But Paris oozes Art through its pores. The city’s history, its architecture, gardens, food, fashion and lifestyle are marked by a finessed artistic sensibility. It is a city that practices a mindful approach to all aspects of life, long before mindfulness became a 21st century catchphrase.

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Fountain at one of the entrances to the Grand Palais
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Reading room of the Keppler Hotel

Van Gogh and Titian are featured in Louis Vuitton’s new line of handbags

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One couple, two very different fashion statements
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A ham hock ready for carving. Not something I would eat, but I love the presentation
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Statue at Trocadero overlooking Eiffel Tower
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Neighborhood cafe. Very patriotic with the ‘bleu, blanc, rouge’!

America has the Stars and Stripes but France is all about stripes. One of France’s most notable artists, Daniel Buren, has crystallized the essence of the stripe in his iconic works. “It was the idea to have something very banal, but very strong,” says the artist in Interview magazine. He calls his stripe motif a visual tool that can transform any physical space.

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Painting by Daniel Buren at the Modern Art Museum, Paris
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Stripes play a big part in French fashion. I couldn’t resist…

EXHIBITIONS – TOP PICKS FOR THE SEASON

There’s always so much going on in Paris that it’s hard to know what to see when time is limited. Two noteworthy exhibitions are being shown concurrently at the Grand Palais – Rodin and Jardins. The Rodin exhibition marks the centenary of the sculptor’s death (1840-1917) and covers Rodin’s extensive creative universe. Jardins (Gardens) is a bit of a stretch from a curatorial standpoint, but there is something for everyone, from antique gardening equipment and Impressionist paintings of gardens, to installations offering contemporary interpretations of nature. Below are two of my sketches from these exhibitions.

I would also recommend two private collections that do not often hit the international circuit. On exhibit at L’Orangerie is the Ishibashi collection normally housed at the Bridgestone Museum in Tokyo. Fabulous. The Caillebotte painting is particularly exquisite. At the Jacquemart-Andre Museum you can catch Spanish businesswoman Alicia Koplowitz’s eclectic collection. Handpicked works by Goya, Tiepolo, Schiele, de Staël, Freud, Rothko and Bourgeois are among this enviable private collection.

Bon voyage!

Back from Thailand and Australia!

I had never heard of the island of Koh Samui in Thailand, till my best friend’s daughter decided to get married there. And all I can say is I am very pleased she did make Koh Samui her destination of choice. Think deserted beaches, warm winds, Thai massages, fresh coconut and pineapple on the beach, fish grilled in banana leaves, lapping waves, and you might get a brief glimpse into a typical day on the resort. However, I did bring my trusty watercolor pad along and an always surprised at how enjoyable it is to paint small, loose watercolors without overthinking or overplanning the work. I gave a lot of these out to close wedding guests, and was even asked by the manager of the resort if I had more for their gift store. It was so fulfilling to see the genuine joy a little piece of art can bring. Here are three watercolors I brought back with me for my own memories.

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After Thailand I was off to Australia to visit with my family in Melbourne. Did not have too much time for the art but did see an incredible Ricky Swallow exhibit and of course saw some pretty incredible street art too (I sort of blend into the picture like a Where’s Waldo puzzle!)

Street art Melbourne