The 20 Best Booths at Art Basel in Miami Beach
As the 15th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach opened its doors, visitors were treated to a surprisingly serene atmosphere and a serious tone that the Miami fair’s audience doesn’t typically encounter. Gallery presentations were strong and deliberate, whether they were delving into the current political climate, mining art history, or debuting new works from blue-chip artists, fresh out of the studio. The fair’s curated sections, like NOVA and Kabinett, felt cogent and cohesive, each standing firmly on its own. And while many booths stopped me in my tracks, these 20 made me stick around for a while longer.
Galleries Sector, Booth G6 • Kabinett Sector
With works by Tomás Saraceno, Angela Bulloch, Martin Honert, Liam Gillick, Ștefan Bertalan, Ryan Gander, Matti Braun, AA Bronson, Christopher Roth • Ștefan Bertalan
The joint exhibition space of Esther Schipper and the former Johnen Galerie (to open in spring 2017) takes an early formation as a booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, and the union is a stellar one. One side of the booth features an inviting and colorful arrangement of works by Liam Gillick, Matti Braun, and Angela Bulloch that fit seamlessly together. On the opposite side of the booth, Ryan Gander’s lightbox The Connectivity Suite (2016)—from the artist’s first solo show with the gallery earlier this year, exploring the nature of creativity—and Martin Honert’s illuminated dormitory room are an aesthetic pleasure for the other side of the brain. Meanwhile, the gallery’s Kabinett section—dedicated to Ștefan Bertalan—explores the later work of the Romanian Neo-Constructivist artist. Almost like three separate shows in one, the presentation is nevertheless a pleasing one.
Galleries Sector, Booth L3
With works by Rodney McMillian, John Divola
If this huge painting-curtain, some 15 feet high and 70 feet across, doesn’t beckon you into a gallery’s booth, then I’m not sure what will. The sheer curiosity of how and where such a large painting could have been made—and with paint so thickly and thoughtfully applied—should draw you in to take a closer look. The work, made with latex, ink, and acrylic paint, is by Rodney McMillian, who has had an exceptional 2016, with shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and MoMA PS1. This artistic feat, made in the artist’s studio in Los Angeles, will likely find its home at a (large) museum. Additionally, the booth features one of McMillian’s iconic textile works, the politically heavy Untitled (flag IV) (2012), which was featured in the ICA show, as well as a series of work by John Divola.
Galleries Sector, Booth J10 • Kabinett Sector
With works by Darío Escobar, Olaf Breuning, FOS, Eduardo Terrazas, Matthew Ronay, Gardar Eide Einarsson • Olaf Breuning
This lively booth draws you in with works by FOS, Eduardo Terrazas, Darío Escobar, and Matthew Ronay, all of which have a sense of material, color, and movement that makes them seem to vibrate. But the highlight of the booth is their Kabinett presentation, spotlighting Swiss artist Olaf Breuning. The humorous and innocuously irreverent miniature ceramics bring Breuning’s childlike naiveté to an intimate scale, capturing scenes like killer whales going after sunbathers on the beach, a re-creation of his Clouds (2014) installation at a miniscule scale, or cartoonish characters referencing Picasso’s Guernica (1937). A large-scale work on paper, titled I don’t wanna know what’s in my brain (2016), adds further insight into the artist’s playful character.
Galleries Sector, Booth C1
With an installation by Toilet Paper
Likely the most-Instagrammed booth of the fair (and the one in which you can hear the most Italian). This is a collaborative booth between Swiss museum Fondation Beyeler and Italian artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s Toilet Paper. Commissioned by Beyeler, the New York City-sized faux apartment is overflowing with elements drawn from Cattelan’s oeuvre and motifs explored by Toilet Paper. It’s filled with fantastical details, a walk-in bar, and a kitchen overflowing with spaghetti.
Gavin Brown’s enterprise
Galleries Sector, Booth L18
With works by Thomas Bayrle, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mark Leckey, Alex Katz
While galleries are usually expected to take it up a notch at Art Basel in Miami Beach, in the case of Gavin Brown, taking it down a notch has made for a solid booth, which speaks to the quality of his program and the individual voices of his roster. On the exterior of the booth, you’ll find two works by Thomas Bayrle (who simultaneously has a solo exhibition on view at the ICA Miami) that ask you to get closer: the large, four-panel painting Mutter und Kind (Maggi) (1980) and a mesmerizing video work Gummibaum (1993/1994). Political works by Rirkrit Tiravanija—a series made in response to the U.S. election, which is being shown by multiple galleries, thus becoming a visual through-line within the fair—and 3D-printed works by Mark Leckey add a breath of levity. Meanwhile, three large paintings by Alex Katz speak to one another across the booth. Taking away the gallery’s usual spectacle gives one the space to appreciate the breadth of works the gallery offers.
Galleries Sector, Booth M9
With works by Conrad Shawcross, Yayoi Kusama
No doubt one of the crowd-pleasers of this Art Basel in Miami Beach will be Yayoi Kusama’s Where the Lights in My Heart Go (2016) at Victoria Miro’s booth—one of her signature “Infinity Rooms,” big enough to fit a few adults. Fairgoers are allowed to enter the work four at a time, which is well worth the experience. It’s quiet enough to transport you from the fair and take you into Kusama’s world, even if just for a few minutes. Whether it makes you feel claustrophobic (as it did for one fairgoer who entered with me) or completely at peace (as it did for me), the room is worth a visit, and an acquisition for a public or private museum so that this Kusama gem can bring the same unique, surreal sensation to viewers in years to come.
Galleries Sector, Booth B2
With works by Paul Mansouroff, Alexander Rodchenko, Nadezhda Udaltsova, Gustav Klucis, Xenia Ender, El Lissitzky, Varvara Stepanova, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich, Ilya Chashnik, Nikolai Suetin, Sonia Delaunay, Lyubov Popova, Olga Rozanova
This specially curated show is the collaboration of art historian Sir Norman Rosenthal and Pablo Picasso’s son and heir, Claude Picasso, in a booth that has its own manifesto: “The future is our own goal,” quoted from Russian Constructivist duo Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova. The booth focuses on the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, covering themes and angles such as abstraction, advertising, architecture, cinema, design, fashion, music, photography, and poetry, with works by artists including El Lissitzky, Sonia Delaunay, and Mikhail Larionov as well as Rodchenko and Stepanova. It’s a lot to take in, but give yourself the time. Underlining the Russian avant-garde’s fusion of art and life—which arguably set the stage for the Bauhaus movement and conceptual art—this booth not only gives us a picture into the past, but also a path to the future.
Survey Sector, Booth S10
With works by Margaret Kilgallen
It’s rare you see the work of late artist Margaret Kilgallen at all, let alone at a fair. So it came as a surprise to see so many of Kilgallen’s paintings at the booth of San Francisco gallery Ratio 3. Kilgallen and her Mission School contemporaries—the best known being her husband, Barry McGee—made folk art part of the contemporary discourse. A cluster of the artist’s small-scale works and handful of medium-scale works are presented, all in Kilgallen’s signature folksy style—depicting scenes of women surfing, or couples embracing and brawling. This marks the first time since the artist’s death, in 2001, that her works are available for sale.
Blum & Poe
Galleries Sector, Booth K21
With works by Pia Camil, Julian Hoeber, Kazumi Nakamura, Friedrich Kunath, Quentin Morris, Kishio Suga, Sam Durant, Henry Taylor, Penny Slinger, Alma Allen, Linder
While many might see the fair as a place to escape reality, it was hard to ignore Sam Durant’s imposing, large-scale work with “End White Supremacy” scribbled in black on a backlit red background (apparently, it was a post-election decision to bring the work). The booth was brimming with collectors, whether taking photos with Durant’s works (outside and inside the booth) or eyeing the others—including paintings by Henry Taylor, a series of haunting collages by Penny Slinger, goo-covered lovers in Linder’s 2011 photographs, and a new series of bronze sculptures by Alma Allen.
Positions Sector, Booth P10
With works by Max Hooper Schneider
Max Hooper Schneider’s captivating works are half science experiment, half time capsule. While small in size, High Art’s first-time Art Basel in Miami Beach booth makes a big impact, mostly from fresh, new pieces by Hooper Schneider, whose work has been demanding the attention of collectors for the last two years. Highlights include City of Yesterday and its Planning (2016), a collection of cassette tape towers placed in an LED lightbox shrouded with living plants and other organic matter, which makes the tapes feel prehistoric. His School for Representing Extinction (2016) features living plants in a repurposed infant incubator. The artist’s background in biology, urban design, and landscape architecture becomes apparent, and refreshing.
Galleries Sector, Booth C15
With works by James Benning, Noa Eshkol, Mario García Torres, Pae White, Andreas Eriksson, Olafur Eliasson, Elizabeth Peyton, Billy Childish, Tobias Rehberger, Michael Majerus, Thaddeus Strode, Simon Starling, Franz Ackermann, Jorge Pardo, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ai Weiwei
Fairgoers will experience this booth differently depending on which direction they enter from. Enter one way and you take in wall after wall of colorful or glittering tapestries by the likes of Jorge Pardo, Noa Eshkol, Simon Starling, and Pae White. Enter from the other side and you witness a wave of paintings by artists such as Franz Ackermann, Andreas Eriksson, Michel Majerus, Mario García Torres, Thaddeus Strode, and Elizabeth Peyton. Step into the booth and wind through an intimate labyrinth of rooms, each featuring a light work, like White’s glittering installation or Torres’s peaceful film shot in a butterfly sanctuary. If you need a moment of Zen, this is the place.
Galleries Sector, Booth L16
With works by Gary Hume, Thomas Demand, Rosemarie Trockel, Llyn Foulkes, John Baldessari, Frank Stella, Ed Ruscha, Sterling Ruby, Louise Lawler, De Wain Valentine, George Condo, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Craig Kauffman, Robert Therrien
While Barbara Kruger’s black-and-white text work Untitled (Cast of Characters) (2016) is featured on on the booth’s exterior, the gallery’s own cast of characters—their very strong roster of artists—is celebrated in this presentation. Textures, colors, and mediums work harmoniously together: a wall of mixed-media works by Robert Therrien from 2006; a beautifully misshapen fabric “peace” sign from Sterling Ruby; an epic painting (made with metallic paint, charcoal, oil pigment, and a host of other ingredients) from mastermind George Condo; and brand new works from the likes of Gary Hume and Cindy Sherman—all exist naturally in the space together.
Survey Sector, Booth S6
With works by Betye Saar
The gallery presents a museum-quality presentation devoted to the work of 90-year-old artist Betye Saar, titled “Ritual.” At the center of the booth is the artist’s iconic 1973 work Mti, where viewers are encouraged to place a personal offering at the base of the altar-like work, surrounded by collages and assemblage works. With the artist present at the VIP opening and engaged in conversation with fairgoers, the experience took one outside the fair and into the artist’s creative space.
Nova Sector, Booth N27
With works by Wong Ping
While it’s worth lingering in the whole NOVA sector, Edouard Malingue’s presentation of Hong Kong-based artist Wong Ping is one that will leave you thinking. Whether it’s for the satisfying feeling of walking on the plush pink carpet, the two dozen beckoning “lucky cat” figurines (the Japanese maneki-neko, meant to be a good-luck charm), or the colorful, poppy animation that ventures into a fantastical world to explore repressed sexuality, this booth—the gallery’s first venture in Miami—deserves a prolonged stay.
Galleries Sector, Booth G4
With works by Abraham Cruzvillegas, Jimmie Durham, Carlos Amorales, Damián Ortega, Haegue Yang, Gabriel Orozco
The aesthetic of this Mexico City-based gallery typically leans toward clean, stark presentations—ones you’d almost miss. But this year at ABMB, they add a dose of color and texture to their presentation. A series of tactile, biomorphic sculptures from Damián Ortega on simple wood plinths draw fairgoers into the booth, which then curves around to a nook dedicated to romantic, abstract paintings and a series of 12 black-and-white collages by Carlos Amorales. The Kabinett portion of this booth is the gallery’s hidden gem.
Galleries Sector, Booth C2
With works by Sigmar Polke, Imi Knoebel, Otto Steinert, Peter Keetman, Tata Ronkholz, Helga Paris, Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer, Charles Fréger, Man Ray, Kaoru Ohto, Joachim Brohm
A booth of black-and-white photography wouldn’t normally be the obvious choice for a colorful Miami crowd, but Kicken’s presentation makes black and white come alive. Facing the aisle is the gallery’s Kabinett section, dedicated to 1960s–’80s German photography of the body in action, performance, or staging, tucked within the booth’s darkly painted nook. Multiple series by the playful Klaus Rinke—a German counterpart of Bruce Nauman—and erotic work by Jürgen Klauke (Masculin/Feminin II, 1974) are highlights. Outside of the Kabinett section, the booth also features works by Kaoru Ohto, Man Ray, and the contemporary Charles Fréger, among others.
Galleries Sector, Booth B21
With works by Carrie Mae Weems, Barkley L. Hendricks, Richard Mosse, Garnett Puett, Nick Cave, Odili Donald Odita, Radcliffe Bailey, Titus Kaphar, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Enrique Martínez Celaya, Kerry James Marshall, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
The gallery brings a fresh group of works to the fair this year, feeding new works from its sought-after roster to collectors champing at the bit. Highlights include a haunting mixed-media sculpture by Radcliffe Bailey, titled Conductor (2016); new paintings by Titus Kaphar (who has a show simultaneously up at Lowe Art Museum), Toyin Ojih Odutola, Enrique Martínez Celaya, Kerry James Marshall, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; a new 40×120-inch photograph by Richard Mosse that takes the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece as its subject; and a deconstructed soundsuit by fair favorite Nick Cave.
Galleries Sector, Booth E15
With works by Mary Ramsden, Ulla von Brandenburg, Ken Okiishi, Gerasimos Floratos, Shahzia Sikander, Tschabalala Self, Tala Madani, Philippe Parreno, Rirkrit Tiravanija
Want a treasure trove of brand new works by desirable artists? Then come here. The London-based gallery—which has long been known for snagging artists on the rise—presents new works by emerging favorites Tschabalala Self and Gerasimos Floratos, alongside works by more established names like Tala Madani, Philippe Parreno, and Shahzia Sikander. The booth also features a work from Rirkrit Tiravanija’s 2015 “do we dream under the same sky” series (which complements the aforementioned series presented at Gavin Brown).
Galleries Sector, Booth L17
With works by Philip Guston, Jack Whitten, Anri Sala, Rita Ackermann, Rashid Johnson, Arshile Gorky, David Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Martin Creed, Roni Horn, Mark Bradford, Ellen Gallagher, Lygia Pape
With a museum-worthy group of artists and works, the blue-chip gallery does not disappoint. On one hand, the gallery presents the paintings, sculptures, and drawings from late American masters such as Arshile Gorky, Louise Bourgeois, David Smith, and Philip Guston. On the other hand, there are recent works from a younger generation of American artists—including Roni Horn, Ellen Gallagher, Jack Whitten, and Mark Bradford—that complement their predecessors. But the real highlight here is a carved-out moment of respite: a small room that features the work of late Brazilian artist Lygia Pape, with quiet works that cast fluttering shadows on the white walls. With your back to the fair and your face toward this corner, you’ll forget where you are for a moment.
Galleries Sector, Booth B6
With works by Jorinde Voigt, Jonathan Meese, Serban Savu, Richard Artschwager, Jim Nutt, Mel Kendrick, Carroll Dunham, Wardell Milan
It’s never a surprise to see major curators hanging around Nolan’s booths at art fairs, a clear sign of the quality of his programming. This year, the booth features a suite of rhythmic works by Jorinde Voigt; a new large-scale mixed-media “painting” by one of the youngest artists on Nolan’s roster, Wardell Milan (titled Around about noon. That’s the time of the warmest color, 2016); new large-scale paintings by Jonathan Meese—who currently has a solo show on view at the New York gallery—and a suite of black-and-white ink drawings by Carroll Dunham. The booth’s light, airy design nicely complements the richness of the works Nolan is showing, giving them the space needed to take them in.