The new domesticity as seen in decorative arts at Art Basel Miami Beach

Focus is on the decorative arts at Art Basel Miami Beach


When the cross-dressing artist Grayson Perry won the Turner Prize in 2003 he remarked that the art world was more likely to be shocked by the fact that a ceramicist had been awarded the prestigious prize than a transvestite. Not anymore.

Some of the trendiest contemporary artists, including Mr Perry’s compatriot Tracey Emin, have been drawing inspiration from the domestic scene and looking to the decorative arts for some time.

The Zurich-based Hauser & Wirth Gallery (C16) is showing Mary Heilmann’s sporty rendition of the lowly aluminium lawn chair. Constructed of plywood with plastic webbing for the seat, each of the five pieces are unique and have now been sold. Matthew Marks (B14) is showing Roy McMakin’s handcrafted wooden furniture and says the artists has gained several commissions over the last few days. A walnut chest sells for $35,000, the same price as country Chippendale.

Chandeliers are everywhere at ABMB. London’s White Cube (C13) is offering Cerith Wyn Evans’ Venetian glass chandelier programmed to translate the text of the Marquis de Sade’s 1795 Philosophy in the Boudoir into Morse code. The elegant 12-light chandelier was sold at $45,000. Over at Lehmann Maupin (D13), Vincent Mazeau’s edition of six chandeliers sold out fast. Meanwhile, at PaceWildenstein (H10) an edition of six chandeliers by Fred Wilson in black Murano glass each sold for $50,000.

Even wallpaper is in high demand. Continua Gallery (D2) is showing a graphic print by the South African artist Kendall Geers with the word “fuck” repeated in a bold pattern for $36,000 while Ruth Benzacar Galeria de Arte is selling a kit to make floral wallpaper, Vanishing point, by the Argentinian artist Jorge Macchi. Three works from an edition of four were sold at $38,000 each, and a fourth was put on hold showing that some collectors fancy the do-it-yourself mode.

Other artists like Yale University dean Jessica Stockholder use common kitchen ware and bathmats as sculptural elements. The New York gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash (F7) is selling Ms Stockholder’s sculpture priced from $12-$60,000. Dealer Jay Gorvey says there is no literal meaning to her work. “She removes items from the domestic scene and recontextualizes them as abstract elements,” says Mr Gorvey.

Knitted items are having their moment too. At New York’s Marian Goodman Gallery (E11), Annette Messenger’s heart-shaped collage of knit gloves are on view.

Originally appeared in the Art Newspaper as 'The new domesticity'