2013 ART BASEL—Basel, Switzerland

Anthony Japour (AJ) is an art collector, advisor, independent curator, and private art dealer. Japour deals in the international contemporary art movement with a focus on the Chinese Contemporary Art Movement and its relationship to the pillars of Western Contemporary Art. Since 2003, AJ has produced numerous art exhibitions and installations in Miami and South Florida through AJ Japour Gallery and now works on various art projects. AJ has served on the Fine Arts Board and the Cultural Arts Council of the City of Miami Beach.

Like the City of Miami Beach, its Sister City, Basel Switzerland faced an aging convention center in need of updating but maintaining operations and appropriateness of size for the city. The new structure, designed by the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, was unveiled this year just in time for the 2013 Edition of Art Basel. One of the interesting features of the renovated exhibition hall is the so-called City Lounge which is a covered public space made of twisting aluminum bands to an amazing effect. The original space was designed in the 1950’s by another Swiss architect, Hans Hofmann. See more images of the Messe Basel New Hall at the link: http://www.dezeen.com/2013/05/27/messe-basel-new-hall-by-herzog-de-meuron-new-photographs/

John Wesley The Signing of the Declaration, 1976 acrylic on canvas 42 x 50 inches (106.7 x 127 cm) Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA and Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY Photography: Fredrik Nilsen

John Wesley
David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

John Wesley (b. 1928, Los Angeles), is a painter whose canvases are remarkable for the flatness of image and the limited color range within which he works. While his imagery of bodies (particularly women’s breasts) and cartoon characters has a visual language of Pop Art, his strong personal relationship with artist Donald Judd, (considered one of father’s of Minimalism) appears to have had a major impact on Wesley’s artistic oeuvre. John Wesley’s works appear regularly at cutting-edge contemporary art fairs including works I saw with my friend and colleague, Lillian Heidenberg at the 2013 Frieze-NYC Art Fair (Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York City). At Art Basel, Basel 2013 David Kordansky Gallery exhibited a humorous work from 1976 entitled, The Signing of the Declaration, already sold by the first day of the art fair.
John Wesley received his BFA at the University of California, Los Angeles, Objects and Paintings, is currently on view at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Among the offerings is a wonderful work from 1965 entitled Picnic Basket. Wesley has had several solo exhibitions including PS1/MoMA. A permanent installation of John Wesley works reside at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa Texas which was founded by artist Donald Judd.

John Wesley Picnic Basket, 1965 acrylic on found object 15 7/8 x 15 3/4 x 12 3/4 inches (40.3 x 40 x 32.4 cm) Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA and Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY Photography: Fredrik Nilsen

Mickalene Thomas
Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

Buying contemporary art isn’t just about the acquisition of objects, its also a lifestyle and a way of supporting the artists of our time, borrowing from the raison d’etre of Peggy Guggenheim. So when a Miami friend and collector invited me to attend Better Days, an art bar installation by New York artist, Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971, New Jersey) in collaboration with Absolut Art Bureau, I jumped at the chance which was quite fun including a performance by Solange Knowles and the artist herself!

Mickalene Thomas is best known for her fauve-like works embellished with paint, rhinestones, and crystals exploring the black female icon of the 1970’s—her muse is her mother (and her mother’s friends) of Thomas’ childhood. While Thomas’ work is distinctly contemporary in execution, she draws from historical references, most notably for me is Henri Matisse. Thomas was recently exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City entitled Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe organized by the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

On view at Lehmann Maupin Gallery during Art Basel were two excellent examples of the artist’s oeuvre including, Naomi Looking Forward. Thomas received her BFA in painting at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn and MFA at Yale University of Art. Her work is part of many important collections including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Solomon Guggenheim, Whitney Museum of Art, and Studio Museum of Harlem. Thomas has been included in many exhibitions including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

Mickalene Thomas Naomi Looking Forward, 2013 rhinestones, acrylic, enamel and oil on wood panel 96 x 120 inches 243.8 x 304.8 cm Courtesy Mickalene Thomas, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Artist's Rights Society (ARS) New York Photo by Elisabeth Bernstein

Pablo Bronstein
Herald St, London

Pablo Bronstein (b. 1977, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is an artist whose practice is rooted in performance that combines architectural elements and choreography because the artist is “ultimately interested in people’s relationship to architecture and not in architecture per se, . . . in the way architecture constructs or helps to construct images of power and control and ways in which is fails to do so”, according to the artist himself. The architectural settings draw from the historic and ancient times to the postmodern era. One of his best-known works, Plaza Minuet, was first created for the Tate Triennial in 2006 at the Tate Britain and later re-worked in New York City.

Mickalene Thomas Interior: Fireplace with Monet Tiles, 2012 rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel 120 x 96 inches 304.8 x 243.8 cm Courtesy Mickalene Thomas, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Artist's Rights Society (ARS) New York Photo by Elisabeth Bernstein

For Art Basel, 2013 in an obscure corner of the New Hall, Herald St of London presented an amusing work entitled, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre engage in an irritable post-coital conversation, 2013. Apparently, when one buys the work, the architectural elements, props, costumes, and playbook are what you get with the right to re-perform the work at the owner’s pleasure. Notably, the actors for the performance must be professional dancers, adding another layer of complexity to the acquisition but affords a collector who enjoys supporting their local dance companies by providing additional employment opportunities for dancers during the off-season.

Bronstein received his BA Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London and MA at Goldmsiths College, London, UK. His works have been shown at such notable institutions as Museo Marino Marini, Florence; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneve, Switzerland; and Tate Modern, United Kingdom.

Pablo Bronstein Marie Antoinette and Robespierre engage in an irritable post-coital conversation, 2013 Performance with props Dimensions variable Courtesy: Herald St, London
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