Kanye talks art, while Kim admires from the wings
“You’re seeing a reality show of my thoughts right now,” declared Kanye West as the hip-hop superstar took a break from his “Jeezus” tour to join the architect Jacques Herzog and über-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in a free-ranging discussion hosted by Surface Magazine. West riffed on myriad matters, from dropping out of art school (“I had a stronger opinion with music”) to the merits of his concrete Corbusier lamp (“it cost me so much as a rich person, but was made for poor people”) and the fact that “watches are dated”. But one thing the design-loving rapper did not disclose was the fact that, unbeknown to the audience, his reality-star fiancée Kim Kardashian was also present, discreetly watching from the wings. However, baby North West was prudently left at home.
Victoria, queen of the stand
There was a high standard of personnel on the stand of the London-based non-profit Studio Voltaire at Nada, when the director of Frieze Masters, Victoria Siddall, took a turn as salesgirl during the fair’s VIP opening—and had shifted so much stock within two hours that the gallery surpassed its daily estimate. “I love selling; I get quite carried away,” she said, while encouraging Frieze co-directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover to snap up a Matthew Brannon beach bag and a boxed set of tea towels by the English designer Peter Saville. However, the Frieze folk drew the line at “Cock Eyes, Cunt Face”, a limited-edition print by the veteran feminist Judith Bernstein. Perhaps when the Met’s Modern and contemporary art curator Nicholas Cullinan does his stint as the Voltaire shopboy today, he will manage to find a few brave buyers for the provocative piece.
The Kosuth diet
The art dealer and newsletter publisher Josh Baer has done a lot of market-related Salon talks at the fair, but yesterday’s was his first with an artist. Lucky for him—and the audience—the conceptualist Joseph Kosuth, a rollicking raconteur, was the artist involved. Kosuth reminisced about when “some dealers had been very engaged with conceptual art, but then there was this return to painting”. He wasn’t naming names. “One said, ‘Joseph, I’ve sold more of these paintings this week than I’ve sold of your work all year. You’ve had us on a diet.’” What else did we find out about Kosuth? That as a teenager, he was “treated like a juvenile delinquent” by his guidance counsellor, until it was discovered that he had “the highest IQ in the high school”. Having gone on about the market, Kosuth had the final word: “There’s too much emphasis on this shit.”
During the Rubells’ annual brunch, the very tall art collector and man-about-town Jean Pigozzi, resplendent in a signature loud shirt, was unmissable as he and Don Rubell toured the family’s collection with a TV crew in tow. It turns out that Pigozzi is to have his own show on the Esquire network, premiering, he told us, in February or March. The show is “basically about people I know”, he said. The gregarious collector does indeed know a lot of people, and he says that, in addition to Calvin Klein and Martha Stewart, there will be more than a few art-world guests, including Kehinde Wiley and Don Rubell. What will it be called? “Ohhh,” Jean mused in his deep baritone, “Pigozzi something.”
This week, Dennis and Debra Scholl unveiled their new collection of Australian Aboriginal art, sensitively displayed in their new loft on Meridian Avenue by the art historian Henry Skerritt. The man is not only an expert on Aboriginal song lines, but has also done a spot of performing himself, as the former frontman of the Aussie folk rock group The Holy See. Dennis revealed that he had developed this particular collecting bug during a decade of making wine Down Under, and among the art in his den, there’s a tell-tale Perspex plaque engraved with the words “life is too short to drink cheap wine”, confirming to sharp-eyed visitors that Mr S still loves the vine, Antipodean or otherwise.
Shirts versus skins
VIPs had a sneak preview of some of the Public performance pieces at the fair’s welcome party on Tuesday, with the section’s official opening taking place the next night. And there was a rather revealing difference between the two evenings. Last night, the sledgehammer-wielding ladies and gentlemen in Kate Gilmore’s metal-cube-smashing performance were fully clothed, whereas at the fair’s VIP event, they were all bare-chested—a facet of the performance that perhaps attracted a few more, ahem, gawkers than might otherwise have been interested
We go way back
The intrepid New York collectors Susan and Michael Hort are known for their support of emerging artists and galleries, but at this year’s fair, they have bought a painting from Meyer Riegger that reflects their long relationships with artists. Armin Boehm’s J’ai un sché ma du coeur, 2013, a scene of seated figures in a living room, depicts none other than the Horts themselves. On the wall behind them hangs a painting by Andreas Hofer (who goes by the name Andy Hope 1930) of the Horts’ late daughter Rema. When we visited the German gallery’s stand, the Horts’ son Peter was there, and pointed out a third figure in the painting—a nude. “We’re not sure who that is,” he said, “I hope it’s not my wife.”
Showtime, Mr Shafrazi
In the post-digital milieu, the dealer Tony Shafrazi, who has recently returned to making art, has upped the game. At the Best Buddies Art + Friendship charity auction on Tuesday night, he appeared in digital form on a huge HD screen displayed among the sale lots; prospective bidders could talk to him via a webcam. The question was, why? “He didn’t want to be here,” said a friend of Shafrazi’s. “It’s a performance piece,” said the collector Ara Arslanian. Peter Brant, one of the event’s hosts, finally explained. “His piece isn’t here, so he’s showing how he’s working on it.” On the screen, as though on cue, a studio assistant appeared and began rolling something across a canvas. But the “Tony show”, for all its weirdness, was the hit of the night. Within the hour, none other than Leonardo DiCaprio could be found in front of the camera, yelling into it affectionately.
Eye on the prize
The collector and philanthropist Maja Hoffmann received a taste of her own medicine on Lisson Gallery’s stand when she eyeballed Ryan Gander’s Magnus Opus, 2013, a work that not only returns your scrutiny but responds accordingly. It may just be a pair of robotic eyes, activated by a wireless sensor, but the effect is disquietingly human—as are its reactions. Too much staring makes it frown, too many people make it confused and it expresses ultimate displeasure by looking the other way and shutting down completely. However, obviously aware of the importance of Ms Hoffmann and her Luma Foundation, Magnus behaved impeccably in her presence.
In Art Basel Miami Beach’s Positions section, Tang Contemporary Art is facing a bit of a dilemma: visitors to the fair are mistaking its stand for an office and passing right on by. “They look around and don’t come in,” a representative of the gallery laments. It’s easy to understand why: the booth, an installation by the artist Wang Yuyang, is a replica of a typical finance office in Beijing, complete with blind-covered windows and a plaque on the door. Those who go in, however, are rewarded. Nearly every object in the place—printers, phones, computers, chairs, file cabinets, books, a cell phone, even a pack of cigarettes—appears to be breathing, thanks to little motors installed inside each one. “He wants to give life to inanimate objects,” the representative says.
When Marina met Jacolby
Guests at Untitled’s opening gala on Monday were treated to a historical artistic encounter when the young performance and video artist Jacolby Satterwhite, bristling with mini-monitors and resplendent in a spandex suit emblazoned with orgiastic Technicolor images culled from the piece he will be showing in the next Whitney Biennial in 2014, flung himself at the feet of Marina Abramovic. And what advice did performance art’s grande dame have to offer the new kid on the block? “Do the work, and don’t talk to strangers,” she said.
Forgive me, Father Christmas
Finally, there’s a way for Miami’s VIPs to expiate their sins before racking up new ones during the week of art fairs. At Art Basel’s annual welcome party on Tuesday night, the artist David Colman, dressed as St Nick, ran his “Santa Confessional” in the “North Pole Chapel”, AKA the Collins Park rotunda. The booth, which is reminiscent of a gingerbread house, is open on all sides, so all confessions are (gasp!) audible to any spectators who get close enough to hear. “The only message I have for everybody is, I don’t judge,” Colman could be heard saying during one confession. For those who prefer a more private experience, the New York style maven and all-around art guy Glenn O’Brien will conduct his own confessionals as his “altar” ego, Father G, at the Standard Hotel on Friday afternoon. Come all ye faithful.
A Miami miracle
One of Design Miami’s more magical booths has been devised by the Dutch artist Simon Heijdens for the champagne house Perrier-Jouët. The installation is made of suspended and illuminated vessels of water, through which colour and light play in a way that aims to reinterpret the champagne company’s Art Nouveau aesthetic and propel it into the 21st century. “He’s taken water and transformed it into art,” a passer-by was heard to enthuse, before her companion tartly replied: “It would be more impressive if he had turned it into wine.”
No need to RSVP
Anybody driving into South Beach along the MacArthur Causeway after dark this week is due to be treated to the tantalising sight of an extravagant soiree taking place in the panoramic setting of the city’s waterfront. So who is hosting this ultra-VIP extravaganza, with its fluttering drapes, acres of red carpet, banks of parked Cadillacs and striding security, all illuminated by towering spotlights? And how can we get in? The answer is, you can’t. It’s a project (bottom) by the Miami artists Jim Drain and Bhakti Baxter, who have decided to make a statement about the frenzied whirl of restricted-access events this week by declaring: “Everyone is invited and no one may attend.” The ultimate in exclusivity, then.
Washed in with the tide
Hew Locke’s dramatic flotilla of suspended model boats, For Those in Peril on the Sea, 2011, is being unveiled at the Pérez Art Museum Miami this week, but the artist reveals that the work almost lived up to its name when its arrival at the museum suffered a last-minute postponement, courtesy of the vagaries of old Poseidon. “I was waiting and waiting for the boats to arrive as they were being brought to Miami by sea, but the timing clashed with the hurricane season,” the London-based artist explains. “We had to wait for the storms to die down before we could ship them—and it nearly did put the whole piece in peril.”
Tate cancels Christmas trees
Tate appears to have ended its festive tradition of artist-designed Christmas trees. Among the luminaries who have contributed decorated “trees” are Giorgio Sadotti (2011), Gary Hume (2005), Tracey Emin (2002), Craigie Aitchison (1992) and Bill Woodrow (1988). The spot where the trees magically appeared every December has now disappeared into thin air, replaced with Caruso St John’s dramatic new spiral staircase in the entrance rotunda of Tate Britain. A Tate spokeswoman blamed the building work for a lack of a tree this year, but would not comment on future plans. Fortunately, the Victoria and Albert Museum has taken over the baton. Although it too has sometimes had designer trees, this season it has been particularly ambitious with the Red Velvet Tree of Love, created by the English Eccentrics fashion designers Helen and Colin David. Made with 79 blood-red replica antlers, Helen tells us that it symbolises “love or sex, depending on whether one is human or animal”. Unveiled on 3 December, the V&A tree will greet visitors at the main entrance until 6 January.