Beyond the White Cube: The Best of the New at Art Basel Miami Beach

Valeska Soares. You and I, 2011. Courtesy of Eleven Rivington.

Each December, the art world heads to Miami for the international art fair Art Basel Miami Beach.  The goal of this 4-day extravaganza is ostensibly to buy, look, talk and think about art.  This year, the fair turned ten and cemented its reputation as the ruckus and slightly inebriated younger sibling of the staid and serious Art Basel in Switzerland.

Fashion designers, glossy magazines and liquor companies sponsor events hosted by celebrities leading up to the weekend when consumption of all kinds crescendos into a jet set feeding frenzy. But, the real fun comes before the champagne-soaked hangovers. And that’s actually looking at the art.  Mid-week VIP openings and previews allow collectors, curators and art world professionals to catch a glimpse at what is being offered this year.  There are always the big-time artists like Matthew Barney, Tracey Emin and Yoshimoto Nara, creating impossibly expensive but nonetheless covetable work.  But, there’s also a very wide selection of art by lesser-known names with art that varies from $3000 to $40,000.  Some of these artists are well known among the arty circles while others are just out of art school.  All are creating strong work and, for those who have the budget, these are the ones to snap up before they command Barney, Emin or Nara price tags.  Art Basel is not typically known for displaying emerging artists, but there are a few if you keep an eye out.  Emerging art is mostly the domain of satellite fairs, such as NADA (New Art Dealer’s Alliance) and PULSE.  Here’s a selection of work I found particularly compelling. Let me know if you agree, comments welcome!

Echo Eggebrecht. Toast, 2010. Courtesy of Horton Gallery

This is a great example of Eggebrecht’s style, which mixes the abstract with a touch of the Old Masters. When I went to the Horton Gallery booth at NADA, they had already sold out all of her work.

Mark Schoening, 2011. Courtesy of Blythe Projects

I’ve been following Mark’s career for several years now and am thrilled he’s starting to get the attention he deserves. His style is approachable and intelligent and his process meticulous. Click here to learn more about his method.

Vicky Wright, The Tensor, 2011. Courtesy of Josh Lilley Gallery

This work by London-based Vicky Wright jumped out at me when I was visiting NADA. She has applied an oil painting to the outside of a wood crate normally used to protect and transport art work. Here, she breaks away from the preciousness of oil painting by putting the art on the outside instead of the inside.

Friedrich Kunath, I Love Melancholy, 2008. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery

Kunath is currently the darling of the emerging arts scene. The German-born LA-based artist creates disjointed and dream-like worlds in his paintings, drawings, installations and sculptures. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on now since soon his work is going to be astronomical.

Sarah E. Wood, Untitled (Memorial Balloon Chime), 2011. Courtesy of Kate Werble Gallery

At this year’s NADA, Werble displayed a haunting sculpture of black balloons made of steel, foam, rubber and brass suspended mid-air, by New York-based artist Sarah E. Wood.

Soo Kim, 2011. Courtesy of Angles Gallery

This LA-artist creates intricate cutout paintings that vary from decorative and abstract landscapes to chaotic cityscapes. This night view of a city is a particularly compelling work, which was on display at PULSE this year.

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