My Highlights from Art Basel 2014

My Selection: 

Oliver Laric, Yuanmingyuan 3D, 2014, at Tanya Leighton

Laric is one of the few artists tapping into the 3D printer, a development that will have a far-reaching impact on the global economy in the future.  

Camille Henrot, Which came first? (“Desktop” series), 2013, at Kamel Mennour

Henrot is one of the most important young artists working today. Her visual essays, which explore typologies of objects from a wide array of cultures and eras, harken back to art historian Erwin Panofsky’s studies in Iconology. Equally, her sculptural hybrid objects remind us of Panofsky, as they demonstrate the way the classification of artifacts and the production of imagery structure meaning in the world.   

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2005, at Galerie Max Hexler

Oehlen’s computer paintings were first made in 1990, around the time that the World Wide Web was launched. He was in L.A. and glanced at all of these nerdy tech magazines discussing computers and thought to himself, “I will make a computer painting.” He set out to design the first one with his Texas Instrument laptop. The resulting works represent a very strong body of paintings for him. I think in light of recent technological developments in the world, these paintings seem more fresh than ever before.  

Mark Leckey, LED 1 from The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, 2013, at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Like Henrot, Leckey looks both backward and forward, linking the way the vastness of the internet takes us, on the one hand, into the realm of science fiction but also back towards the primitive, where an animistic relationship with objects pervades. Leckey is really a father figure for so many young artists working today.

Katia Novitskova, Approximation (Loro), 2014, at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler

Of all of the young artists working today, Novitskova is my favorite. The work is simply so fresh.  Appropriated and familiar images of animals from online sources are turned into larger-than-life digital prints on aluminum. The resulting sculptures completely surprise the viewer and feel like some sort of sci-fi movie, where the digital takes on a life of its own.

Joan Mitchell, UNTITLED, 1960, at Cheim & Read

Joan Mitchell is one of the underdogs of Abstract Expressionism, and Cheim & Read has worked tirelessly to elevate her historically. This is a stunning painting and a very smart buy, as she’s incredibly undervalued vis-à-vis her male contemporaries.

Alina Szapocznikow, Lampe-Bouche, 1967, at Andrea Rosen Gallery

Szapcoznikow is RAD(!) and so is Andrea Rosen for showing these. They are must-haves with deep historical and contemporary references—looking back to the Surrealism of the 1920’s, and looking forward to today’s young tech artists.

Ian ChengMetis Suns, 2014, at Standard (OSLO)

Cheng is one of the smartest artists working today. He signals a real bridge between the art, tech, film, and science worlds. His use of digital technology is the new painter’s palette or sculptor’s tool box. He is the future.

Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Flying and Falling, Spiritual in Art face 45.32), 2013, at Anton Kern Gallery

While artists like Leckey and Henrot link the primitive to the digital world, painter Mark Grotjahn takes us there in a more traditional form. His mask paintings are the strongest of any to emerge from a mid-career artist. There is something shamanistic about them. And, of course, they are just over-the-top stunning.  

Sherrie Levine, Bird Mask, 2014, at Paula Cooper Gallery 

Levine’s mask is a gold-hued bronze cast of a tribal artifact from Papua New Guinea and it continues her longstanding examination of modernism. She considers its importance to artists such as Picasso as well as the importance of the medium, a more traditional use of bronze. 

I find this particular bird mask to be so striking and haunting in the clash between the fetishized gold-hue she has given it and it’s intensity as a primitive and spiritual object. Something of a resurgent interest in primitivism is a common theme among younger artists considered here as well. 

Sherrie Levine, Bird Mask, 2014. cast bronze. 16 x 6 3/4 x 5 in. (40.6 x 17.1 x 12.7 cm) © Sherrie Levine. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo: Steven Probert.

Explore Art Basel 2014 on Artsy.