The 8 Best Booths at miart
The 22nd edition of miart opened to VIPs today at Milan’s Fiera Milano. This year, the first under the artistic direction of Alessandro Rabottini, sees 175 galleries from 14 countries—up 19 exhibitors from last year. The program includes several international newcomers such as Marianne Boesky Gallery, Gladstone Gallery, 47 Canal, and Stuart Shave/Modern Art, adding to the fair’s growing prestige. Below, we highlight the eight strongest presentations across this year’s fair.
Some of miart’s most compelling booths can be found in the Emergent section, which is devoted to young galleries. Among them is pact, a Parisian gallery just shy of a year old, which is presenting a large work on paper by Italian-Venezuelan artist Manuel Scano Larrazàbal and several sculptures by Brooklyn-based artist Amy Brener. According to gallery co-founder Charlotte Trivini, the gallery discovered Brener’s work in last year’s “Greater New York” exhibition at MoMA PS1. Brener’s pastel-colored resin and foam sculptures conjure up a mock-archaeological assemblage of objects from daily life—fossilised bed posts, flowers, and keyboards—that become almost alien in their new form.
Covered in bright red paint, Gió Marconi’s unmissable booth showcases works by Russian artist Dasha Shishkin. A virtuoso with line and color, Shishkin creates a surreal, carnivalesque universe in which characters are caught in overtly erotic scenes that are playful, sinister, and sometimes sexually transgressive. The solo booth presents works from the artist’s recent years, all of which crescendo in a fresh, Matisse-esque pastel drawing of a reclining nude titled Sulphur-Yellow Interstices (2017). The goddess-like dame holds a giant mushroom in one arm, and gestures her other hands as if slapping two round fleshy rumps. In a separate room in the booth, several small etchings of gestural markings create elaborate compositions that picture genderless, ageless, and possibly non-human bodies and body fragments.
Galerie Nathalie Obadia’s debut at miart features works by Laure Prouvost and Rodrigo Matheus. Prouvost’s assemblages are often based on the imagery of her seductive film installations. Her assemblages, like her films, combine intimate stories and objects, like Grand Dad’s mirror stick (2015), which is on view at the booth. Also on view, works by Matheus were created from found objects that have no intimate significance, but instead were chosen for their formal qualities and shapes for potential compositions. The standout work in the booth is Prouvost’s enigmatic tapestry, Swallow me, From Italy to Flander, a tapestry (2015), which pictures a dreamlike scene—including floating breasts, lush foliage, TV screens, a cat, and woman eating ice cream—across more than four meters in width.
An Italian art fair wouldn’t be complete without the work of Giorgio de Chirico, and indeed, several of his paintings could be spotted around miart. In a collaborative presentation with Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M. at Sadie Coles HQ’s booth, however, de Chirico was part of an unexpected triad that includes works by English artist Don Brown and German artist Daniel Sinsel. The three artists’ works offer various approaches to classicism in art, all including elements of figuration and abstraction. Sinsel’s work shares in the illusionism and eroticism implied in the subject matter of de Chirico’s, while Brown’s sculptures share more of the formal qualities with de Chirico.
Powerhouse London gallery Robilant + Voena presents a booth dedicated to Italian Pop Art from the 1960s, with one of American Pop icon Andy Warhol’s Marilyn silkscreens at its center. One one side, the booth features a selection of works by artists from Rome, including a graphite drawing of a woman wearing eyeglasses, Gli Occhiali (The Glasses) (1968), by the often underappreciated but distinctive Giosetta Fioroni.
Across the booth, a selection of work by artists from Milan includes one of Sergio Sarri’s most popular works, The Great Magician (1967), and a mixed-media collage by Enrico Baj. The opposing sides also face off with two works depicting U.S. President John F. Kennedy—a red-and-blue portrait by Sergio Lombardo on Rome’s side and a mixed-media collage by Paolo Baratella on Milan’s side.
Alison Jacques Gallery’s booth is part of the fair’s new section, Generations, which replaces the former THENnow section and is organized by independent curators Nicola Lees and Douglas Fogle. The section combines eight pairs of artists of different generations, though not necessarily in a straightforward pairing of modern and contemporary. Alison Jacques Gallery’s booth, among the more subdued and elegant stands in the section, features works by the Brazilian artist Fernanda Gomes and the American pioneer of fiber art Sheila Hicks.
The booth includes monochrome works that border on painting and sculpture. Both artists share a concerted attention to raw materials: Gomes with the wood or paper in her modernist sculptures and paintings, and Hicks with her threads of linen fiber. Unlike Hicks’s usual woven threads, however, these latest works were made by simply wrapping the thread around the canvass.
Berlin’s KÖNIG GALERIE, one of the first booths you see when entering miart, is showing a survey of brand-new works from the gallery’s roster. A strong presentation of sculptures accompany wall works by Anselm Reyle and Jorinde Voigt. At the entrance of the booth, a sculpture by Alicja Kwade assembles mirrors and a found bar stool to play with reflections but also provide a sense of precariousness. Nearby, two of Andreas Schmitten’s slick vitrines—featuring industrial materials like metal, polyurethane, fabric, and lacquer—ooze of coolness, while Tatiana Trouvé’s elegantly simple bronze and rope sculpture hangs from the wall.
Guido Costa Projects’s solo booth dedicated to Golden Lion-winning artist Gregor Schneider covers several decades of his Dead House Ur project, begun in 1985, for which Schneider has been altering, building, and transforming the interior of a house owned by his family in Rheydt, Germany. A menacing cement monument transported from the house, 2 Locher – Rheydt (2002–03), sits at the center of the grey booth, surrounded by readymades such as a plastic trash bag and rope titled Dead Woman, (1998–99), objects that were presumably also found in the house. A related series of mock-conceptual black and white photographs portray the fictional story of a women’s murder at this house from multiple angles, while photographs of dolls eerily resemble family portraits.