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Art / Basel / Miami and Art Miami are currently in town and better than ever. I spent a day at each. The quality of the art works is the best it has ever been, and the prices for many artists were very high. But you have the opportunity to see the best works available from almost 600 galleries all over the world. Art Basel, in Miami Beach, has 300 galleries, and Art Miami, across Biscayne Bay in the city of Miami, has more than 200, and then you have all the small galleries from Miami and Miami Beach who are not in the two main shows. These are the best shows for modern and contemporary art anywhere in the world.


One of my favorite artists is Joan Mitchell, and this year there were almost a dozen of her works available at Art Basel and another large, splendid canvas over at Art Miami. Whereas the prices for her works were under a million dollars in previous years, this year one of her large canvases was priced at $2.4 million and another at $4 million. When you first entered the exhibition hall for Art Basel, you looked to the left and saw an incredible gallery display, including three Calders and three Rothkos. There were lots of works by Calder in both shows - mobiles, stabiles, prints, and watercolors. And all of them are extremely expensive. A small mobile to be placed on a table cost about $130,000. There were two small Rothkos here, each 20x24 in, and they were priced at $2.4 million each. One of them sold as I was standing there looking at it.


A number of galleries from Central and South America were present, and a number of South Florida galleries show Lain American art. The best works by Jesus Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez were on display, and Mr. Cruz-Diez, who is 89, was sitting in one of the galleries and greeting visitors. Excellent works by Joaquin Torres-Garcia and Wifredo Lam and Amelia Pelaez of Cuba were in several galleries.


Art Miami had the best A.R. Penck, in the Galerie Terminus booth, and they also had the best Tom Wesselmann steel cut-out painting, "Birthday Bouquet Tulips and Daffodils." It was gorgeous, unique, and selling for $545,000. There were many works by Wesselmann in both shows. Terminus, which is a very fine gallery from Munich, was also showing two of Lichtenstein's "Monet's Nympheas." They were both gorgeous, and far better than a couple other "Nympheas" at Art Basel.


Art Miami also had three of the best Adolph Gottliebs and three very fine late Kenneth Nolands. There were several works by Helen Frankenthaler at Art Miami, but the very best, "Quattrocento," was at Art Basel. It is stunning and lush and sensual and powerful, and priced at $4.2 million. Pace Prints, and they are wonderful, are at Art Miami, and Gemini Prints, also superb, were at Art Basel.


Damien Hirst's dealer had only some uninteresting polka dot paintings. Marc Quinn's dealer had three rather strange works, including two bronze sculptures covered with gold leaf. A number of galleries had recent works by Donald Baechler, including a huge "Skull" and a large "Red Rose." None of Jeff Koons' usual works were there, but they did have one sterling silver bucket and then a huge 6x9 foot painting of a photorealistic white rose on a background of swirling abstract forms. I had not seen this before.


One gallery had the finest Edward Hopper painting I have seen in years, and one never seen before; it has been in a private collection and this is the first time it has been seen in public. Another gallery had a superb David Bates' painting, "Almond Blossoms." There were a number of Bates paintings in both shows. Many crushed steel sculptures by John Chamberlain, in sizes from 12" to 6' high were in both shows. There were also quite a number of works by Robert Motherwell in both shows, but the best were in the Ameringer Gallery at Art Basel.


You can visit all the best and most famous art galleries in the world in one space and easily. They come from London, Paris, New York, Zurich, Rome, Los Angeles, etc. It saves a great deal of time and effort, and they bring only their best work. Landau Gallery from Montreal always has excellent Marino Marini, Alexei Jawlensky, Marc Chagall, paintings by Le Corbusier, Magritte, Max Ernst.


Sam Francis had many works in both shows, and there were a few smaller Pollocks and DeKoonings. A beautiful "Azul Landscape" by Mexican artist, Gunther Gerszo, was available for $79,000, and a good, although not excellent, Frida Kahlo was also there. A number of works by the Chilean artist Matta were at both shows, and Art Basel also had five excellent Claudio Bravo paintings. Fernando de Szyslo of Peru, now a very elderly man but still working, had a majestic work at Art Miami.


If you enjoy modern and contemporary art, it is worth making a visit to Miami for this very special art occasion. There are also hundreds of things happening around Miami Beach and Miami during this week in art. Today is the final day.



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Wow, thanks for the excellent review.


I'd have killed to see the Claudio Bravo paintings. I've loved his work

since the early 80's. Unfortunately by the time I could afford his paintings,

the prices had skyrocketed out of my reach once again....lol


Looks like a fun event and a great chance to see a large number of art pieces

all in one place. It's definitely on my radar for next year.

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What an interesting post. I just spend several days at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) listening to critiques of masters degree candidates. I shall save your comments, and search the Internet for paintings by the artists whom you mention (the ones I am not aware of).


But, I am stuck in the past in some ways. I am seeing the new Barnes Foundation building & paintings tomorrow.


Thank you for taking the time to write such useful information.

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playwrestler: I go to these fairs to see and enjoy additional works by artists I know and enjoy, but for whom I can see but a single artwork in any museum. I always meet and learn about some new-to-me artists, this year for example, Beatriz Milhazes of Brazil, Winold Reiss of the U.S., and the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. But "no" as to new up-and-coming artists. I saw interesting works by a number of new young artists in the galleries of Wynwood, the area where Art Miami is held; but none were strong enough yet to have me memorize their names.


nycman: The Claudio Bravo paintings included a triptych of three wrapped package paintings as well as a splendid still life of four squash vegetables.


William: Had you been to the old Barnes Foundation? It would be interesting to read your reactions to and evaluation of the new Barnes. Try and not be influenced by what you know ahead of time and just react to the new environment. You are fairly close to the new Yale U Galleries, which are opening this week. They claim to be the largest and best college art gallery in the world, so it would be very interesting to hear a report by an observer. I may have to try that next spring.

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Had you been to the old Barnes Foundation? It would be interesting to read your reactions to and evaluation of the new Barnes. Try and not be influenced by what you know ahead of time and just react to the new environment.




Yes, I visited the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion many times. It was not always a good experience because the staff was not particularly friendly. Of course, the excellence of the paintings (100s of Renior, Cezanne and Matisse paintings) made up for their behavior.


I live just a few blocks for the new Barnes (5 minutes away), today was my third visit. The lighting is a huge improvement; it's direct, but mostly indirect lighting. So all the paintings can now be seen to full advantage. I am particularly impressed by the old masters; paintings that I barely noticed before. I am working my way through five or six rooms a visit. I could be a lot more specific, but people just need to know the new Barnes is on the same level as The Philadelphia Museum of Art, just a few blocks away. I plan to visit again next Monday. Warning: You need tickets in advance, especially on weekend.


I never thought of visiting Yale. You are right it is not that far from Philadelphia. I may wait until the spring, or go sooner. I am very glad you mentioned the expanded galleries. I have never visited New Haven, except for football games.

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You are fairly close to the new Yale U Galleries, which are opening this week. They claim to be the largest and best college art gallery in the world, so it would be very interesting to hear a report by an observer. I may have to try that next spring.


Cannot wait. They were, even back when I was there ca. 1980. British Gallery to swoon over. Then at the modern across the street, when the docent wasn't looking, one time I touched Johns's White Flag. I ought to have been shot.

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Hate the new Barnes. It's lost all of its charm and improved lighting doesn't make up for that. Of course' date=' paintings were never intended to be seen under that kind of light anyway.[/quote']


I totally disagree. I visited the Barnes in Lower Merion many times. I shall never forget my last visit in May 2010. Some rooms were so dark you could barely see the Cezanne and Renior paintings---the core of the collection. It was extremely frustrating because I had invited friends who had wanted to see the famous collection for years. If there is a major museum in Europe, including Russia, that believes paintings were intended to be seen in such dark conditions, I have never visited that museum.


Finally, the paintings, medal objects and furniture are displayed in exactly the some way that Dr. Barnes required in Lower Merion. So the charm you mentioned was essentially the building and the location (and perhaps the restricted hours). It's is now a viable option for the average person, on a short visit to Philadelphia, to see the collection. That was Dr. Barnes' most basic goal.

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