A collection of dioramas by artist Kenji Sugiyama, "Institute of Intimate Museums" proved to be one of the most engaging displays at Scope Basel 2012. Spanning the artist's output from 1999 to 2008, the works serve as clever variations on traditional diorama art—cramped consumer boxes containing lilliputian scenes of museum-goers standing in halls of shrunken art. Within the setting of the fair, Sugiyama's museums forced attendees to reflect on the nature of observance and perspective in the contemporary art scene.
The "Institute of Intimate Museums" filled the entire booth held by Japanese gallery Standing Pine Cube. Sugiyama's impeccably detailed interiors are head-scratching for their complexity, and his choice of packaging—that of a post-consumer food containers—likewise had viewers guessing. The most visually complex piece involved an angled mirror doubled the miniature world when viewed correctly. The artist went to great lengths when remaking the art world's hallowed halls, covering them in everything from inlaid wood to dated wallpaper.
Scope Basel 2012 marked one the few times that the full spectrum of Sugiyama's dioramas has been on display, and the collection provided us the opportunity to see his experimentation over time with voyeurism and the spectator's role in art.
See more images of the "Institute of Intimate Museums" in our slideshow.
Images by Josh Rubin
Initially catching our eye at the recent NADA NYC fair, Michael Bauer has made an impression in the European art market for years with his energetically moody compositions. The German artist recently set up shop in New York, and in celebration of his move from Berlin to NYC he is holding his first solo show at Lisa Cooley Gallery, dubbed "H.S.O.P. - 1973".
Bauer spent much of 2012 experimenting with collage and drawing, a practice that has invigorated his new paintings with what the gallery calls an "openness, dynamism, lightness and mischievous humor" not seen in his previous work. Still, certain elements from his early career remain, most notably his small, meticulous markings and his predilection for highlighting and obscuring physical deformity. According to the Saatchi Gallery, "Bauer uses the qualities of abstract painting as a deviation of representational portraiture, allowing the media to replicate the characteristics of physical matter."
Even as his compositions become tighter and more centralized, Bauer seems consumed with making figurative elements from the marking of his medium. He describes the work in "H.S.O.P - 1973" as "portraits of gangs, families, music bands, collectives, or mobs—a grouping of characters revealed through the occasional eye or profile emerging from shadowy abstraction. Flat, crisp, bright, patterns usually provide the structure from which these organic nebulas originate."
The title for the exhibition is a little obscure, and Bauer calls "H.S.O.P." an "arbitrary reference" to the Hudson River School of painting, and because there's a foot or foot-like shape in each painting, the accompanying numbers indicate European shoe sizes. The other elements aren't quite so random. Bauer adds circular shapes to the corners to make them more like playing cards, with each painting like a "character in an unfolding cast, a mad tea party of sorts."
”H.S.O.P. - 1973” is on view at Lisa Cooley Gallery through 17 June 2012.
In our second look at NADA's first annual art fair in New York City, we take a step back from the white gallery wall and focus on some of the more colorful, sculptural showings. Materials like hair, blood, crystals, broccoli and fake fur had us and everyone else gawking. Here, a selection of three-dimensional standouts.
Among the 60 galleries occupying the four floors of NADA NYC, Galerie Hussenot easily lured buyers into their booth with Ciprian Muresan's sculpture of a Barbie-type doll splaying her legs out over the Empire State Building. On the opposite wall was Muresan's suspended sculpture comprised of a skull, a cane and a cuckoo clock sprouting a foam-wrapped spring and dangling numbers. The piece is open to various interpretations, but it's certainly a new direction for the artist whose previous work includes pencil sketches and carefully executed installations with clear references to religion, politics and other power structures.
Ten Haaf Projects had some similarly confounding work on display by Andrew Gilbert, who delighted onlookers with his frightening yet funny soldier sculpture made from traditional craft items like hand-carved masks, as well as everyday objects, including a broom which acted as a stand-in for a flag pole or, possibly, a bayonet. Beside this piece was a smaller sculpture made from a head of broccoli and two potatoes with painted-on eyes. We visited Gilbert's personal website for more information, and found only a drawing of "The Temple of the Algerian Parsnip".
Ron Athey's "Foot Washing Set w/ Blonde Hair Towel" at Invisible Exports was constructed with some surprising items. In addition to a wig and some wool, Athey used crystals and, apparently, blood—so that's not red paint covering the spiky-looking brush.=
Diane Simpson went unconventional in her use of materials for "Muff", shown at Corbett vs. Dempsey. Working with faux fur and fleece, Simpson said it was inspired by "the formality and elegance of traditional Japan with the influence of Western funkiness". The kimono-like sleeves hang from a polished wood handle and the structure, depending on what angle you view it from, looks completely flat or situated at a permanent 45-degree angle. Simpson also played with angles with "Cape", a hanging sculpture similarly inspired by women's clothing, this time from the structured forms used in hoop skirts.
David Adamo's wooden installation at Ibid Projects was transported from a cathedral where it was previously on display. For the last few years Adamo has focused on everyday wooden tools like axes, bows, arrows and baseball bats, which he whittles into oblivion. He saves the wooden shavings as a testament to the object's former life and to the art-making process itself. Now that Adamo seems to have mastered smaller items he's moved onto very large wooden beams.
Michael DeLucia also shreds his sculptures, but instead of using wood alone he attaches found posters to OSB (oriented strand board) panels and scrapes them to smithereens, revealing intricate linear patterns and a new texture. The side view of the raw, ripped-up paper had collectors marveling.
Popping up in Miami during Art Basel for nearly a decade now, New York-based NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) brought the show closer to home this year. The non-profit wisely timed their alternative art fair to run alongside the NYC debut of Frieze, London's major art event that drew dealers and collectors from all over the world to Randall's Island for the first time. NADA offered a great antidote to the frenzy of Frieze, taking place in a four-story building in Chelsea that made good use of the rooftop with a Phaidon book booth, coffee shop and a showing from Artis—a nonprofit that supports contemporary Israeli artists.
Instead of presenting work in a booth, Artis hosted The Artis Shuk, a playful rendition of traditional Middle Eastern marketplaces, or shuks (also known as souks). Works from more than 20 artists were available for sale, but unlike in the gallery booths at the rest of the fair, prices were listed on small cards displayed next to each piece. Most were less than $500 and all the proceeds went to the Artis Grant Program, which awards more than $125,000 to artists and nonprofits every year.
The undeniable standout at the shuk was an untitled sculpture of a glass of Turkish coffee sliced in half by Gal Weinstein. Turkish coffee, known in Israel as "mud" coffee, is an iconic Middle Eastern image. "Coffee can act as an invitation to a conversation or as reprieve from routine. Shown using the scientific visual language of a cross section, it also speaks to the gap between the efforts to analyze the Middle East and its complex reality," explains Weinstein.
Another highlight, "Rolodex" by Zipora Fried is a real Rolodex the artist found. Fried went through it page by page and covered up all the names and numbers with archival tape, emphasizing the sense of loss that a discarded history of a person's entire network would represent. Fried's work often features covered faces as well as "drawings so dense they rebuff any illustrative meaning" and sculptures that are altered to deprive them of their functionality.
Working in a somewhat similar vein, Naomi Safron Hon seems to revel in making objects useless. "Straining, Mixing, Grating" and "Cement Grater", two of her clay-clotted kitchen tools, were on display at the shuk. Hon uses these objects to symbolize how politically-motivated creation and destruction impact our daily lives, but on a more basic level, the delightful way the clay oozes out of the implements is aesthetically quite satisfying.
"D.I.Y: Fold Your Own Skull" is a kit by Itamar Jobani that you can use to construct a 3D skull from paper or plastic sheets. The pieces come pre-cut and pre-scored—all you need is glue. Jobani didn't just want to make a cute rainy day project, he wanted to engage the buyer in a hands-on, art-making process.
"I think of our fair as a discovery fair," explains Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp. For the first US edition of Frieze Art Fair, Sharp and partner Matthew Slotover have taken over Randall's Island, a sprawling piece of land at the confluence of NYC's East and Harlem rivers. What began as a London-based magazine in 1991 soon evolved into a must-see contemporary art event at Regents Park in London. Now in NYC, the massive venue is teeming with curious works from a cast of well-chosen international galleries, with new delights to be had at every booth. Nude mannequin nutcrackers, neon jokes, custom-casted busts, turntable muffs—Frieze NYC is packed with innovative art.
Criticized somewhat for taking place outside of Manhattan, Frieze is worth the free ferry ride to Randall's Island, thanks to careful consideration of the venue as a destination. The Brooklyn-based architects at SO-IL have designed a 250,000-square foot serpentine tent that encourages visitors to linger and look, building out enough space to really stop and take in the art. When you need a break, there are equally alluring NYC restaurants to choose from, like Roberta's, Fat Radish, Saint Ambroeus and The Standard Biergarten.
For New York, the fair has special significance; it's a sign of a rebounding post-recession art market. In terms of timing, Frieze comes on the heels of the recently ended Armory Show, and coincides with the NADA, Verge and Pulse art fairs happening throughout the city. Sharp has lived the past 14 years in New York, and this show is in part her response to gallery owners who have been requesting a New York version of Frieze. Of the 182 galleries showing at Frieze, 46 hail from NYC.
While media attention has hyped the fair to the point that this is now being called "Frieze Week", we went along for the art. Among the standout galleries were Alfonso Artiaco from Naples, London's Sadie Coles HQ, Sean Kelly Gallery from NYC and Paris' Galerie Perrotin. Text art, floor art and neon were all out in full force, and the sprawling collection offered endless examples of new works from the best artists around.
Frieze Art Fair runs through 7 May 2012 with free ferry service running to and from the island. For those who can't make the fair, head over to Frieze Virtual New York 2012 to browse all of the galleries, artworks and artists. Find more stellar art (and captions for the above pieces) by checking out our slideshow.
When we attended Wanted Design's inaugural debut during NYC Design Week 2011, we knew that the fledgling venture was a force to be reckoned with. While ICFF remains the main attraction, Wanted Design drew our attention for bringing American and New York-centered design into conversation with the dominance of the Milan and Stockholm Design Week crowd. Spearheaded by French founders Claire Pijoulat and Odile Hainaut, the satellite fair has grown from meager origins to include 50 exhibitors alongside a multitude of talks, workshops, presentations and social spaces.
This year's Wanted Design will be returning to take over 22,000 square feet of the Terminal Warehouse (former home of the historic nightclub "Tunnel") as designers both domestic and foreign gather to show their wares and spread ideas. Focused on the city's creative community, the response from last year's event bodes well for the four days of design celebration to come this May.
Pijoulat and Hainaut created Wanted Design in part to combat the major shortcomings of design fairs—namely, the lack of interaction between creatives. With this in mind, the 2012 event will feature a conversation series as well as a stream of workshops with eminent designers and craftsmen. Manhattan Neon—a decades-old vendor of neon works—will be hosting a neon-centric workshop. An exhibition entitled "New Finnish Design" celebrates Helsinki as the 2012 World Design Capital, and 3M Architectural Markets will be presenting an experimental installation called "Lighfalls" in partnership with Todd Bracher.
Also on tap is the "Design Students Challenge", which calls on students from six design schools in the U.S. and France to build a lighting prototype in the span of three days. Using one material, one concept tool and one fabrication tool, the students' creations will then be judged by the public and a panel of design professionals. Focusing on the Americas, highlights from the fair include a group exhibition of Brazilian design curated by Objeto Brasil as well "America Made Me", an exhibition that bridges fashion, art and design curated by Bernhardt Design.
As with last year, the 2012 exhibition will feature a pop-up shop curated by iGet.it with domestic furniture, accessories and objects for sale in-store and online. Cafe Intramuros, sponsored by Intramuros Magazine, will be serving La Colombe Coffee and is one of a few spaces offering creatives a chance to sit, meet and discuss ideas.
There will of course be some stellar design objects premiering and showing at the fair. While many of the specifics remain to be seen, major events include a book launch from Rizzoli, a showcase of next-generation designers hosted by Dwell and DWR as well as numerous new products and prototypes.
18-21 May 2012
11 Avenue between 27th and 28th
Photo LA was sprawled across the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with as much bustle as the city itself. Wandering through the labyrinth of pop-up exhibitors, those that stood out most conveyed a strong cinematic narrative with a sense of humor.
Pulp Art Book marks a collaboration between photographer Neil Krug and model Joni Harbeck. The collection of serial adventures is set against fictional landscapes of pulp cinema. The primal COYOTE episode chronicles the rugged existence of a hunter in the desert, while BONNIE follows the final minutes of a girl-gone-bad during a shootout.
In his Skeletons in the Closet Klaus Pichler ameliorates the dusty archives of Vienna's Museum of Natural History with austere yet personality-loaded behind-the scenes-photographs. The stuffed animals become characters, or as Pichler puts it, "they are full of life, but dead nonetheless."
Glen Wexler's large-format Improbable Realities weave awe-inspiring fantasy narratives. Wexler's attention to whimsical details is realized by his team of top-notch feature film motion graphics experts.
Atlantic Garden by Ulu Braun conjures a seemingly infinite, psychedelic video collage. As the camera pans perpetually to the right, Atlantic Garden reveals idyllic scenes from a diverse selection of places and times.
Maria Luisa Morando's Silver series reveals a vast triptych of over-exposed beach scenes from Southern France. Tired of details, Morando explains that she seeks simplicity in her images. The moody nostalgia of each landscape flows seamlessly into the next, drawing in viewers to lose themselves in the washed out colors, and identify with the obscure figures of beach-goers during magic hour.
In our second look at the common threads running through Art Basel and its satellite fairs, we shed light on the knitted, knotted, woven and other handywork that elevated traditional craft techniques to an artistic level. While we all were taken by Ambach & Rice Gallery's presentation of Ellen Lesperance's flattened-out sweater diagrams (covered on Cool Hunting last April), below are ten works new to us that celebrate sheer artistry.
Disciplinary artist Angela Ellsworth turns prairie attire into slightly sinister works with her series of sculptural hats. This 2010 piece, "Seer Bonnet VIII" is made from nearly 20,000 pearl corsage pins and fabric—a stunner we saw at the Lisa Sette Gallery at Art Miami.
Brian Wills exhibited at Nada with his 2011 work "Untitled (Blue Cross)"—a perfectly woven intersection of ribbons that is as imaginative as it is structured.
"My Decoy" and "Walking Heart" are both 2011 office chair assemblages by Canadian artist Brian Jungen, in which stretched elk hides are held together with tarred twine. The unique works were on view through Casey Kaplan gallery at Art Basel.
Passing away in 2010 at 99-years-old, Louise Bourgeois's small sewn fabric collages represent her philosophy that "art is a guaranty of sanity." Our favorite among the series is the 2004 tapestry called "Fabric BOUR-6821," which was on view through Galleri Andersson/Sandstrom at Art Miami.
Augusto Esquivel stopped pedestrians at Art Miami with his trio of sculptures on view at Now Contemporary Art. Strategically placed buttons hang to reveal a gramophone, grandfather clock and an antiquated telephone.
Seoul's Gallery Seomi brought multiple intriguing chairs to DesignMiami/ but we couldn't escape the fine craftsmanship of Bae Sehwa's walnut chaise. Brilliantly curved, it's as easy on your eyes as it is on your seat.
Exhibited through Lehmann Maupin gallery at Art Basel, "Specimen Series: New York City Apartment - 1" is Do Ho Suh's version of standard utilities and fixtures found in urban rentals, delicately crafted in polyester fabric.
Beginning outside with palm trees covered in men's dress shirts, Finish sculptor Kaarina Kaikkonen continued to impress at Art Miami with her "And The Sea Was Empty" installation, originally created in 1998.
At Art Basel, Berlin's Neugerriemschneider gallery spotlighted Simon Starling's clever bike concept, called "Carbon (Urban)." The 2006-designed bike features a chainsaw for a chain and comes equipped with chopped wood.
Enrique Gomez de Molina conflates taxidermy techniques to create exquisitely creepy animals, such as this 2011 work called "Tauro"—a bison made from ring neck pheasant feathers. Spotted at Art Miami, de Molina is represented by Bernice Steinbaum Gallery.
Contributions by Josh Rubin, Jonah Samson and Karen Day
Many themes emerged from the various galleries converged in Miami for Art Basel and the surrounding fairs this year, but unsurprisingly the one that stood out the loudest among the crew from Cool Hunting was work that played visual tricks on the viewer. Whether eluding us with clever technology techniques or purely an abstract form of painting, below are the pieces that grabbed our attention through some element of subterfuge.
Hans Kotter's 2011 "Tunnel View" series features LED lights between plexiglass, which are amplified by a metal mirror. The two mind-bending works featured here were on view through Priveekollektie at Art Miami.
"Lover's Quarrel" is the work of media artist James Clar. At first glance the piece appears to only say the word "leave" but further inspection reveals the subliminal "don't" behind it. The playful lighting installation was on view at Blythe Projects at Pulse.
Two different 2011 works that are less smoke-and-mirrors but equally entrancing are Michael Eastman's "M1" (at Barry Friedman at Art Miami) and Karen Gunderson's "Divergent Sea" (at Waterhouse & Dodd at Scope).
Eastman used simply a wide-angle lens and pushed the depth of field to create this image, which seems like it would have physical depth but is really just a trick of the eye. Gunderson's paintings of water also challenge the eye's understanding of space, but through her detailed brush strokes. Depending on the position of the viewer and the angle of the light refraction, the water seemingly moves like nature intended.
Also on view through Waterhouse & Dodd, Patrick Hughes' 2008 work called "Sea City" is arguably the most staggeringly trippy piece we saw. This oil and photographic collage toys with the mind through "reverspective"—a concept he created in which the portion of the picture that appears furthest away is physically the nearest, painted on protruding blocks.
Have a look at our rough cut video above for a full realization of how delightfully confusing his works really are.
Known for his unusual approach to currency, Mark Wagner's 2011 work "Gale Bills" puts real money on wood panels. Twisted to a perfectly odd degree, the latest from Wagner was on view through Pavel Zoubok Gallery at Pulse.
Julian Opie's computer animated sculptures were on view at a few galleries, but we first took notice of these optical illusions at Scope, where the various works of people walking took us by surprise as we moved around the corner where they were hung at Gallery Biba.
Mia Rosenthal exhibited several new pieces that demonstrate her adept talent for sneaking graphic design symbols into her fine art works. The Philadelphia-based artist aptly showed through Gallery Joe, on view at Pulse.
Contributions from Josh Rubin, karen Day and Jonah Samson