Mon December 10, 2012
The Art Basels They Remember (And The Therapy They'll Probably Need)
The assorted farewells to Art Basel in the national press this morning leave a variety of impressions, not all of them positive, of Miami's big festival of art, celebrity and wealth.
Let's start with the Wall Street Journal, which left regretting its descent into the classic loop of insanity -- doing the same thing and hoping for different results:
We go back year after year expecting that this time we'll have mastered it, we'll have figured out how to cover the scene without feeling consistently overwhelmed, exhausted and annoyed.
But our temperament makes the opposite inevitable. There are just too many people, too many locals who feel like they own the week, too many publicists, too many brands and too much bad music even when you try to take a few minutes for yourself at the pool, regardless of what hotel you're staying at, to have a good time.
At 257 galleries from 31 countries, art changed hands for eye-popping prices during Art Basel. The Daily Beast, noticing buying and pricing patterns that favored trendy new work, declared the art economy a bubble that's about to burst:
Maybe we should expect obscene price tags when it comes to the proven icons of art history: who can say if The Scream by Munch was overpriced or not when it sold for $120 million last May, or whether it made sense when The Card Players by Cézanne sold for twice that in 2011? But when prices go nuts for artists whose reputations are still in play, trouble is sure to be looming.
At Florida Trend, Joyce Edmondson, in a state of art-induced shellshock, dumped her notes into an impressionistic piece that should probably be exhibited at the next Art Basel:
Aisles at the Convention Center were mixed with serious collectors, students, casual tourists, art aficionados, interlopers, gallery representatives and artists. All ages, nearly all nations.
I believe I heard a dozen languages spoken. No, make that everything except Klingon.
On seeing Harry Dodge's sculptures that made up "Nine Mechanisms for the Deformation of Layers and the Subsequent Folding of Rock," I wished they would come alive and walk, stumble, slither.
Every piece told a story. The experience was quite overwhelming. It made me recall friends who, when going to a museum, would contemplate two or three works, and after that, were so emotionally drained they had to leave. This type of art appreciation isn’t possible at Art Basel galleries, as it was too busy, too over the top for that.
Or was it some random, revealing thing that, knowing you, no one would ever guess? Like, say, Paz de la Huerta?
Sorry, did I say that out loud?