The more time I spend here, the more I realize that I have no clue what’s going on.
I’d like to think that part of this is just because of the sheer scale of the fairs and that it’s really impossible for anyone – especially a spectator like me – to know what is happening by just observing what people are saying and doing, but I also admit that some of the deficiency may be purely me.
Here’s where the frustration is coming from: talk to (or listen in on) three dealers with booths here, and one will tell you that they have never had such a miserable experience at a fair, another will tell you that their booth sold out in a matter of hours, and the last will say that things are better than expected. So… what does that mean? Are collectors being highly selective, skipping some galleries entirely and spending their fortunes on others? Are some of the dealers being melodramatic (or maybe lying, when they say the whole booth is sold)? What – exactly – gives?
I have no clue whatsoever.
Anyway. I’m just back from the main fair and here’s what I saw that I really liked:
There’s a collection of Duchamp ephemera at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art that’s worth checking out, even if there are no “major” works there (hell, it’s still Duchamp after all). I’m nutty for ephemera and so I liked seeing all the weird little invitations and such that the artist made.
Over at Barbara Mathes Gallery, there is a little exhibit that was billed as “Kusama and her contemporaries” but really winds up to be Kusama and Joseph Cornell, which is… odd. Still, it was an interesting juxtaposition, even if I’m not totally sure it did Kusama any favors. I’ve long been a fan of hers, but together with Cornell I found that his work brought out the cuteness of hers and her work brought out the edginess of his – meaning, in the end, that I think he fared better than she did.
There was a sculpture by Elliot Hundley at Andrea Rosen that basically rocked my world – hard for me to articulate what exactly what did it for me with this piece. Something about the intricate assemblege of all these little parts, plus laid over them what basically amounts to a collaged drawing… ok, I’m never going to do a good job at this. The same artist had a painting at that booth which I liked, although not nearly as much as the sculpture which I am now officially in love with.
And speaking of being in love… two people dressed in matching bigfoot costumes were roaming around a bit – the only piece of actual theater/performance I saw this afternoon (while there’s something in the atmosphere at the hotel fairs that seems to encourage this sort of thing, that sort of energy simply doesn’t exist at Art Basel). Upon seeing them, I did the only reasonable thing one can do when one happens across a pair of bigfoots: I reached for my camera phone. As I was attempting to take a shot, one of them came over to me and hugged me, placing his head on my chest and calling me “mom” in a falsetto, and we stood there cuddling for a moment in the middle of this huge fair. It was kind of…. awesome. Really. And the best part is that I got this wonderfully blurry bigfoot-sighting photo which is now (sadly) trapped on my cell phone… if I can get it off of there, I’ll post it here.
More in a bit…