Last Resort

Miami
12.08.08

Left: Artist Anri Sala and Calvin Klein. Right: The SeaFair Art Boat. (Photos: Nicolas Trembley)


“THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES lie at the intersection of your world and ours; be ready to discover a canvas for your imagination.” The new Fontainebleau Hotel, recently “reinvented” according to Morris Lapidus’s original design, didn’t skimp on words in its brochure to welcome Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami visitors. I (along with Ivana Trump) was among the visitors to stay in its hallowed walls last week.

A couple of weeks prior the hotel had opened with a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, a video of which was relayed on a screen in a hallway. (“Delicious,” salivated one young guest as he watched.) The place itself practically constituted its own ABMB crossover event (a fact punctuated by the presence of the SeaFair Art Boat, moored just outside the hotel); the rooms are chock-full of specially commissioned works (James Turrell paneling in the lobby, Ai Weiwei chandeliers). In my room, #1422, I even had a print of Baldessari’s I will not make any more boring art. Of course, boredom was the least of my worries.

There was no time for boredom (read: relaxation) by the time I arrived last Tuesday afternoon. Design Miami, organized by Ambra Medda, was opening in the city’s (surprise!) Design District. Twenty-three galleries, displaying wares ranging from Perriand vintage classic to contemporary (à la Zaha Hadid), had set up shop. Design wallah Philippe Jousse, who presented several magnificent historical pieces by Maria Pergay, confided to me that some of the most important design collectors would, unfortunately, not be present. Nicolas Chwat of Perimeter, which presented new editions of works by Janette Laverrière, thought that this year he would likely be selling to collectors rather than interior decorators, because the latter were in even shorter supply.

Left: Perimeter's Nicolas Chwat. (Photo: Nicolas Trembley) Right: Designer Jil Sander with Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz.


Going against the grain, designer Arik Levy, who happened to be on my flight from Paris, was extremely positive. His Big Rock, exhibited at Kenny Schachter’s ROVE, were in no danger of neglect. Nor were the Campana Brothers, who had just been named designers of the year by the fair. As I was leaving the district, I bumped into T magazine editor Stefano Tonchi, style editor Alix Brown, and Olivier Lalanne, the editor of French Vogue Hommes. Together we set off to join fashion designer Consuelo Castiglioni for the opening of the latest Marni boutique, this one designed by Future Systems.

“Hello. Hello darling. So nice to meet you.” Thank you and goodbye. We finished our glasses of Champagne elsewhere.

Next stop was the opening of Anri Sala’s show at MoCA North Miami. So that’s where everyone was! The museum was overflowing with viewers desperately trying to catch the complex exhibition’s various segments––videos played in sequence, one after the other, while ghostly mechanical sticks beat drums positioned around the room. From Ingrid Sischy to David Lynch, Bruce Weber to Calvin Klein, the most elite guard of image-makers had shown up for a concert orchestrated by Sala. (I missed the performance but caught the attendees—such is life around the fair.) They then set off for the dinner sponsored by Cartier, where Chantal Crousel’s Niklas Svennung giddily pointed out Lynch’s “floating diamond” projection illuminating the ceiling.

The next day, totally jetlagged, I tried to locate the Fontainebleau’s dining room to have breakfast and instead stumbled into a meeting for the PCICS (Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society). I don’t recommend it; the coffee was awful. Dismayed but not discouraged, I decided to test the breakfast at the massive Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Wynwood. The first segment, “Photography and Sculpture: A Correlated Exhibition,” crafted subtle interplays between Joan Miró, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer, and vintage prints by Umbo, Herbert Bayer, and Albert Renger-Patzsch. The result was magnificent.

Left: Margulies Collection curator Katherine Hinds with Martin Z. Margulies. Right: Collector Craig Robins. (Photos: Nicolas Trembley)


In the meantime, Rosa de la Cruz, another great Miami collector, opened the doors to her Key Biscayne house, likely for the last time, she confided, since she’s planning to open her own museum in Miami next May. Right on the oceanfront, in a high-security neighborhood with chic houses—indeed, so chic you have to stop your taxi at the entrance and get in a golf cart—she presented an impressively wide selection of works: Wade Guyton, Kelley Walker, and many Germans (Kippenberger, Pernice, Immendorff, Oehlen, Meese, Forg, Rauch, Polke, Bock—the whole kit and kaboodle) were on display. It could have been my imagination, but it seemed there were more people speaking German than Spanish.

That evening, the Bass Museum of Art opened an excellent show of work by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes and a group exhibition, “Russian Dreams,” curated by Olga Sviblova, director of the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. The new shoes I bought at Webster’s, Milan Vukmirovic’s “in” store (where Dasha Zhukova was also making some purchases), were really hurting my feet, so I decided it was time to head off to dinner at the Pacific Time Restaurant. There, the Rubell family and Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz hosted the launch of Puma’s “Reality Bag no. 2,” made for the Rubell Collection’s controversial new show “30 Americans,” an exhibition of contemporary art by African-Americans that was the talk of ABMB.

I sat next to John Armleder, who designed a special bag for Puma with contributions by each of the exhibition’s artists, and who insisted that “the bag is a work of art that itself contains works of art.” The evening was altogether pleasant. The Rubells talked at length, thanking the participants and former Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg director Marie-Claude Beaud, who had introduced them to Zeitz. Naomi Campbell was there with her new Russian husband, and a rumor circulated that the elusive Grace Jones was on her way, but we never saw her.

Left: Artist John Armleder. Right: Artist Jim Drain. (Photos: Nicolas Trembley)


The next morning everyone (including Jil Sander) gathered once again at Jennifer Rubell’s annual Art Basel Breakfast. The spread was an installation all its own: There were thousands of bananas piled on the floor, and hundreds of cereal boxes on an immense table next to rows of coffee pots. While the haphazard meal was inspiring, conversation circled back to the exhibition and some made note of the show’s prescient timing with regard to the presidential election. Glenn Ligon’s large neon work, bearing the word AMERICA in black text, appeared charged with meaning. Works by older artists such as David Hammons and Robert Colescott were juxtaposed with those of younger generations, such as Kalup Linzy and Nina Chanel Abney. But Hank Willis Thomas’s panoramic photo installation—comprising advertising and media images of African-Americans made since 1968, with all logos and text removed—was the biggest hit. If its conceit is fraught, it’s certainly a show to chew on.

Before leaving on Friday, I dropped by the collection of Craig Robins (one of the principal figures in Design Miami), a portion of which was on view in his offices. He mentioned that he adores the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija, especially the text piece, written on the wall above the reception desk, that read STOP WORKING. If only life were that easy. Afterward I visited Naomi Fischer and Jim Drain’s studios, and then set off to yet another design event at the Raleigh. In the hotel’s verdant parking lot Marc Newson, cofounder (along with Adam Lindemann) of Ikepod, had installed a geodesic dome to celebrate his new double-dial watch for the company called, in homage to Andrei Tarkovsky, the Solaris. In the courtyard out back, Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia welcomed guests to her reception for an installation by Stuart Semple in conjunction with Italian skiwear brand Moncler, whose latest men’s line was designed by the impeccably elegant Thom Browne. (Browne, wearing one of his trademark ankle-showing suits, was also in attendance.) By the time I left I was suffering crossover hangover.

“We invite you to be your own news, narrate your own story, and translate your imagination into memory,” a demonic voice from the Fontainebleau website kept repeating. Three hours to checkout time at the hotel. Unbelievable. As I was leaving, I finally saw Grace Jones, who was also checking out! And there wasn’t a velvet rope in sight.

Nicolas Trembley

Left: Don Rubell, Mera Rubell, artist Glenn Ligon, Studio Museum director Thelma Golden, Jennifer Rubell, and Jason Rubell. (Photo: Patrick McMullan) Right: Julian Schnabel, Vito Schnabel, and Fondation Beyeler director Samuel Keller. (Photo: David Heischrek)


Left: Collector Rosa de la Cruz. Right: Designer Thom Browne. (Photos: Nicolas Trembley)


Left: T magazine editor Stefano Tonchi with dealer Emmanuel Perrotin and artist Takashi Murakami. (Photo: Nicolas Trembley) Right: Artist Nina Chanel Abney. (Photo: Patrick McMullan)


Left: Artist Naomi Fischer. Right: Marie-Claude Beaud with Glenn Ligon. (Photos: Nicolas Trembley)


Left: French Vogue Hommes editor Olivier Lalanne. Right: Artist Hank Willis Thomas with Trace editor Claude Grunitzky. (Photos: Nicolas Trembley)


Left: Whitley Bouma Herbert with the winners of the Art War at the Raleigh: artists Haley Mellin and Rashid Johnson, Tracey Ryans, artist Joel Mesler, and Interview editor Christopher Bollen. (Photo: Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan) Right: Artist Lorna Simpson. (Photo: Nicolas Trembley)