The Legends of Art Basel in Miami Beach
Photo: Robert Mapplethorpe. Lisa Lyon, 1982. Silver Gelatin Print. 50.8 × 40.6 Size (cm). 20.0 × 16.0 Size (in). Courtesy of Galería Elvira González.
Legends loom large in the public imagination for they are greater than life, becoming sweeping epic sagas that impart not only myths and histories, but parables of human life. The greatest artists do this with what appears to be effortless grace, but when you study their work over the years, you realize that their commitment, dedication, and practice allow them to achieve great heights.
There’s nothing quite like seeing new work from your favorite artists. It’s exciting, inspiring, and enlightening to see the new turns they have taken in their conceptual process and creative output. The 16th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach featured a great many heavy hitters in the modern and contemporary art world – and needless to say we were thrilled to see a great many Crave faves in the mix. In celebration of their incredible careers, we are showcasing the latest and greatest on view, including works both recently made and new to the market this year.
Kicking things off is American artist Jack Pierson, who is always right on time with his mixed media wall sculptures that speak to out present state of mind. Whether observing the fact that we continue to be a culture obsessed with MONEY & SEX (2017) even when some are now losing their jobs for transgressing the law, Pierson cannot be bothered with the stress and strife. FORGET IT (2017) he strongly words.
But perhaps you simply cannot let it go and you must seek vengeance upon the earth. Then you might wish to consider Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1982 photograph of Lisa Lyon. Here, beautifully silhouetted to recall both silent screen legends and Greek sculptures alike, we see a woman in profile, her arm so buff you might take her for a man, clasping a dagger raised to strike those who have done her wrong.
Tis best to take care, for you never know who is watching who. Consider Dennis Hopper’s 1962 photograph of Andy Warhol with a camera, in which the actor observed the Pop artist as he took aim, reminding us that even when we think we are in control, we are still subject to other people’s games.
In that case you might think, as Barbara Kruger observes, Ignorance Is Bliss (2017) only the legendary American artist knows better and has firmly planted tongue in cheek. However, we live in an era where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing: a malformed opinion leads to a mistaken action and mounts a defensive posture – invariably it can snowball out of control leading you to wonder if Kruger was onto something after all…
You might take a gander at the work of South African artist William Kentridge, whose Book of Slights (2017) uses charcoal on encyclopedia pages to illustrate the idea that we are all walking around with a prodigious catalogue of petty grievances. Over time these diminutive snubs take solid form, etching themselves in the echelons of the ego, never to be forgotten or forgiven. At least we can take solace in knowing no one else remembers these inconsequential indignities.
But then it may come to pass that the grievances are greater than we care to admit. That we have so offended the parameters of taste and respectability that we are wanted on a violation. This is Marcel Duchamp’s area of expertise, thumbing his nose left and right with his 1963 Poster in a Poster, in which we advertises his exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum by placing “Wanted” sign for himself under an alias and offering $2,000 for his capture.
After all of this hubbub, you might need a reprieve to get away frm it all, in which case you might delight in Derrick Adams’s Floater No. 36, which perfectly captures the thrill of escaping from the mundane reality of life’s daily toils. Here, we can lounge on an inner tube floating endlessly in a sea of pure turquoise that will have you saying “Calgon, take me away…”
That sensation is beautifully echoed in the work of Ian Davenport, whose Mirrored Place Study (turquoise and magenta) (2017) is an extraordinary symphony of color, stripe after stripe after stripe, evoking the most sensational synaesthesthia. You may have a hankering for candy or a tropical drink, something that smells of sunshine, fresh cut flowers, and a cool breeze gently caressing your cheek.
Then there is Alice Neel, coming through with the 1968 portrait of Robyn Evans, giving us the clear understanding that art need not been needlessly complex either aesthetically or conceptually. Sometimes the best feeling is knowing what you are looking at, and in doing so, feeling seen – that art is not some enigmatic, self-important experience but rather the sheer exultation of everyday realities.
It is, as Keith Haring understood, a continuum from childhood to adulthood, with no boundaries necessary, no proscriptions that require us to bare the unnecessary burdens of maturity. It is The Story of Red and Blue (1989), a simple, straightforward tale that is as true when we were 5 as it is now. It is an open book ready to be written when we are ready to turn the page, an invitation to imagination for really that’s all that art asks of us.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.