Left: Collectors Jason, Michelle, Mera, and Don Rubell. (Photo: Brian Sholis) Right: Peaches disrobes. (Photo: David Velasco)
Twenty minutes before the 4 PM Tuesday kickoff of NADA’s preview (benefiting the New Museum), a small queue had formed outside the still-locked gate, while dealers inside breezed past in designer shifts and flip-flops, racing to make finishing touches to their booths before donning heels and greeting VIPs. Banished from memory were 2005’s assorted technical difficulties and power outages. “We learned from last year. This time we brought our architect when we came down to see the space,” said new NADA president Andrea Smith. “But still there are new steel columns we weren’t told about.”
Minor glitches notwithstanding, red dots were soon ubiquitous. But the initial push hardly filled the cavernous Ice Palace Film Studios, and the aisles didn’t achieve critical mass until half past six, when dealers (everyone from Tanya Bonakdar to Jay Jopling) and artists (I noticed Kori Newkirk, Aaron Young, and Nate Lowman) installing over on Miami Beach crossed the causeway to check in on their chums—and the competition. They joined a hoard of collectors, including notables like Marty Eisenberg, Eileen Cohen, and David Teiger. Rob Fischer’s gymnasium-floorboard sculpture, snaking across the corner of Mary Goldman’s booth, impressed, as did a disturbing new Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn video (at Elizabeth Dee), which featured Kahn and her son, Lenny, playing in the yard while wearing matching bright-pink detainee hoods adorned with smiley faces.
A brief detour brought me to artist Cristina Lei Rodriguez’s studio, filled with the sculptures that composed her solo at Emmanuel Perrotin’s Miami outpost last year, where curator Amy Smith-Stewart and I loaded up on packets of Emergen-C to help us through the week. Thus equipped, we faced down a phalanx of guest-list gatekeepers stationed beneath the highway overpass adjacent to the Moore Space Loft, the local nonprofit’s new seventy-five-hundred-square-foot digs. While waiting for John Bock’s performance (a variation of his Venice piece from 2005) to begin, a live band stationed outside tested the limits of what humans will endure in exchange for a little bit of food and something to drink. And despite moments of perverse humor, which were imitated immediately by a mob of turned-out ladies, Bock’s manic intensity couldn’t build to a cathartic release.
Left: Dealer Michelle Maccarone with staffer Ellen Langan. Right: Dealer Jeffrey Deitch. (Photos: David Velasco)
So I plopped into a taxi—alongside an Artforum colleague and MoCA director Jeremy Strick—and sped back into the city, my destination the Delano, the deluxe Deco hotel on the strip. Striding along the length of the pool, I heard Los Super Elegantes’s Milena Muzquiz introduce herself and partner Martiniano Lopez-Croset and add, “Our goal for this set is to wake that guy up.” A young man in driving shoes, sprawled out on a deck chair, continued to doze as the duo launched into their he-said-she-said lounge act. By the third song, though, the snoozer had come to, and the LA contingent (Javier Peres, Daniel Hug) was on its feet and dancing.
I could’ve used LSE for my 7:45 Wednesday-morning wake-up call. The Rubell Family Collection’s “Redeye,” a just-opened survey of Los Angeles art, beckoned. Paul McCarthy’s The Painter, seriously damaged during shipment to Sydney for the 2000 Biennale, was remade for the occasion, and the artist was obviously the lodestar both for the Rubells and for his younger cohorts. Many worked with (read: deformed) the figure, and limbs and heads by Matthew Monahan, Thomas Houseago, and others were scattered throughout the upstairs rooms. A brief tour through Wynwood’s galleries ate up my spare minutes before the noon opening bell at the convention center.
Less than half an hour into the fair’s professional preview, I noticed SF MoMA curator Madeleine Grynsztejn admiring works on paper by Lisa Yuskavage and Luc Tuymans in New York dealer David Zwirner’s closet, so I glanced at my watch and commenced the countdown. Across the aisle, a clutch of bullying, I-me-mine collectors encircled Chelsea’s Matthew Marks, who patiently explained, “There is another one—very similar—that I will reserve for you now and hang tomorrow.” While I was chatting with Bard CCS executive director Tom Eccles in the Metro Pictures/Sprüth Magers booth, an art advisor from LA interrupted to ask me the cost of an Ed Ruscha drawing. Fair director Samuel Keller strolled past, squiring Dennis Hopper. Keanu Reeves, an advisor on his arm, followed not far behind. Down the aisle, Greek tycoon Dakis Joannou peered at images on a Blum + Poe laptop. Best of all: Renaissance Society curator Hamza Walker slipped off his blazer to reveal an Art Chicago 1997 T-shirt. “A reminder of the possible fate awaiting these things,” he deadpanned. Elapsed time: six minutes . . . and counting.
Left: Artist John Bock. Right: Curator Hamza Walker and artist Carl Pope. (Photos: Brian Sholis)
Andrea Rosen treated visitors to an unofficial Venice preview with an impressive, boulder-size head by David Altmejd (he will represent Canada) and works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (USA). Peter Freeman improved on the quirky inclusion of Marcel Broodthaers's eggshells on last year’s stand by bringing a late-’30s James Ensor canvas, Christ in Agony. You guessed it: It looked totally fresh. More predictable—but gorgeous just the same—were a bright-red Judd stack (still available at $4.5 million as of 6:30 PM) and a lovely 1961 Agnes Martin drawing, both at Anthony Meier. The most expensive work of the fair may be Jan Krugier’s Picasso (a 1941 bronze bust of Dora Maar; reported asking price: $30 million) but one big sale (at Jeffrey Deitch’s booth) was confirmed: a 1982 Basquiat double portrait—of the artist plus Andy—sold for $5.5 million to another dealer. (Never fear: Acquavella’s enormous 1987 canvas was still available at 2:45 PM Thursday for $3.25 million.) Another sign that times are good: Sylvie Fleury’s iridescent-purple mushrooms looked so nice to Paris-based dealer Thaddeus Ropac, he thought he’d take a chance and wheel 'em out for the second year running.
“The gallery exhibition—as a publicity mechanism for artists—is obsolete,” suggested one dealer late in the afternoon, surveying the crowd in his booth. But Michele Maccarone’s presence here indicates that maintaining a public venue may itself be on the way out. Why open a new space in the West Village when you can hop from Frieze to ARTissima to Art Basel Miami Beach? Nate Lowman’s eight-hundred-pound tombstone was the only visible work in her booth: Anthony Burdin and his creations were once again hidden behind a locked door. Across the aisle, Gavin Brown’s at-first-glance empty booth was shortly filled by a spinning Urs Fischer sculpture. At the tail end of fishing line hooked to a rotating arm above dangled an empty Marlboro pack that danced erratically, like the plastic bags in American Beauty. Word is that both editions have sold at $160,000. “I’ve scrambled across the floor, hallucinating, after empty packs at 4 AM,” admitted a friend, empathetically.
Needing to find a meal before reaching a similar state, I toured the Art Positions containers quickly. Daniel Reich’s booth, with sand dumped on the floor and images carved into bath towels by Christian Holstad, wins the award for site-responsiveness. And unlike Alex Katz's and Marilyn Minter’s just-unveiled beach-towel designs, Holstad’s work seems unlikely ever to make its way into Target stores. Kelly Nipper’s Calder-esque melting-ice mobiles and Aïda Ruilova’s new video at Salon 94, as well as Dana Schutz’s canvas at Zach Feuer, left a strong impression—which, after ten-plus hours on your feet, is about all you can hope for.
Well, perhaps more: “I want cum on my titties!” screamed my normally buttoned-up friend in a Peaches-induced frenzy as she jogged toward the beach in a prim skirt and sensible heels. Had the organizers found just the musician to bring out everyone’s inner Miami hedonist? Needless to say, the Canadian schoolteacher–turned–sex diva didn’t disappoint, tearing through an hour-long set. At the end, she dashed for the sea, stripping on the way, with one hundred fans in tow. If only we could all exit as gracefully. I dashed in the opposite direction—toward the Raleigh, where Deitch played host to a performance by the magnetic singer Devendra Banhart. Fleshed out with a full band, his elegant “freak folk” morphed into the kind of shambling pop you might have found on the AM dial thirty-five years ago—but better. For just a moment, with my feet in the sand and a chair to relax in, there was no place I’d rather have been.
Left: Musician Devendra Banhart. Right: New Museum curator Richard Flood with dealer Emi Fontana. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealers Roland Augustine and Lawrence Luhring. Right: Dealer Jay Jopling. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealer Daniel Reich. Right: BOIS de B's Antonio Chaveros and hotelier Andre Balazs. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealer Tomio Kayama. Right: Dealer Christian Haye with the Serpentine Gallery's Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans-Ulrich Obrist and New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Clarissa Dalrymple. Right: Collector Jay Smith with dealer Toby Webster. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Whitney director Adam Weinberg, Whitney curator Donna De Salvo, OCMA director Dennis Szakacs, and Liz Armstrong. Right: Whitney curator Shamim Momin. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealer and NADA president Andrea Smith with NADA assistant director Sarah Murkett. (Photo: Brian Sholis) Right: Pascal Spengemann. (Photo: David Velasco)
Left: Marian Goodman Gallery's Andrew Richards and dealer Marian Goodman. Right: Dealer Anna Helwing. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealer Mónica Manzutto. Right: Amada Cruz, United States Artists program director, and Katharine DeShaw, United States Artists executive director. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Rodney Hill of Marc Foxx Gallery and dealer Sarah Gavlak. Right: Collector Marty Eisenberg. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Artist Aaron Spangler, dealer Kimberly Brown, and artist Christoph Ruckhäberle. Right: Dealer Zach Feuer. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealer Paula Cooper. Right: Friedrich Petzel Gallery's Maureen Sarro and dealer Friedrich Petzel. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Dealer David Kordansky with artist Thomas Houseago. Right: Dealer Burkhard Riemchneider (on right) with client. (Photos: David Velasco)
Left: Collector David Tieger. (Photo: Brian Sholis) Right: Artist Chuck Close. (Photo: David Velasco)