For the past eleven years, Miami has become the epicenter of the art world for one week in December, and we are now squarely on the map as a burgeoning center for the arts.
Art Basel is the catalyst, Wynwood, the now well-known Art District, plus the art fairs in MidTown Miami and the Design District have become more interesting and dynamic than the “original” Art Basel fair on South Beach.
“One of the things that called our attention in this 2012 edition of Art Basel is the larger amount of photography showcased all across town”
At least 40% of all galleries, fairs and private shows were displaying fine art photography, from the valued classics to the new and contemporary photographic artist in their walls. This is a huge change compared to years before, where photography had a faint, almost intangible presence.
One of the main reasons, and many critics agree on this, is that the prices of other contemporary visual arts, painting, 3D installations, sculpture etc, have soared to such high levels, in a market-driven environment, where talent becomes less relevant than the perceived value of some art work, thus making good photography become an important part of any emerging collection.
Photography is finally being perceived as a collectible art form as evidenced by the huge interest and prices paid for vintage images by masters such as Stieglitz, Weston, Penn, Watson to name a few, and contemporary creators such as Lilian Bassman, Shinichi Maruyama, Peter Eaton Gurnz, Burtinsky and Polidori.
Both Close’s , Bassman’s and Gurnz’s work on chemically modified prints with alternative methods (Dichromate and/or Permanganate bleach, Woodburytype printing and mixed collodion/Gum prints on fabrics, respectively) brought back the magic of non-digital processes in the spotlight.
We fell in love with a photographer’s work from Canada, David Burdeny. All his works have a graphic, minimalism approach. Pale colors with perfect compositions that border Japanese in his look.
We also loved, as usual, the works of Tom Chambers, who, through his mastery of light and Photoshop, brings you into his fantasy world that look more like paintings. He was very popular as always.
One of the “Satellite” fairs that many claim is now better than Art Basel is ART MIAMI It offers a much better blend of mediums with a lot less lean on installation art and without extremely high price tags present in other fairs.
There, we stopped to chat with one gallery representing Nick Brandt, whose iconic B&Ws of animals in Africa are ver well-known by now. When asked what is the line between great photography and art photographer, her response was: “while there is a multitude of people who can shoot great work today, few can sell”. There is something that has a star quality and they become the collectible ones.
As for contemporary visual art in general, much of the new work created today requires a lengthy and often unintelligible description of why the work is important. The concept becomes more relevant than the execution, and in many cases the art cannot stand on its own. So the work becomes inaccessible and uninteresting to the average art-lover, and caters only to the art elites of higher end dealers and collectors.
Miami Art Basel and the entire array of fairs and exhibitions are now a force to be reckoned with, and will only get better for the Miami art scene all year round.
It will be interesting to see what next years bring, specially now that photography has got the well deserved and long overdue importance in the art market.