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Javier Peñafiel, Quizá Conveniente, 2005 (detail)

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Basel Art Fairs
June 14-27, 2006

In a riff on Busby Berkeley-style glamour, emerging artist Mai-Thu Perret encircles papier-mâché mannequins with neon rings. She's just one of the innovators included in Art Basel, which takes place this week, as the established art confab strives to remain a prime mover amid loads of encroaching fringe fairs. Competition is fierce from experimental events like the VOLTAshow, and we interview co-founder Kavi Gupta on his ideas about presenting contemporary art. We also sample the offerings of the newest kid on the Basel block, the Design Miami/Basel fair, which presents work from talented designer Maria Pergay. Elsewhere on the fringe, we review a handful of shows around the world that subvert the traditions of abstraction and political art.

  Rioja, a region of vibrant wines, is where art, architecture, and wine come together. The region's pioneering spirit is evidenced by the company it keeps: Calatrava, Gehry, Hadid, and Quemada — just to mention a few. It's no surprise that style meets culture in Rioja. Discover Rioja at and enter to win a tasting party for 20 of your friends.

Foster Completes First NYC Work
(International Herald Tribune, June 7)
British architect Norman Foster has finished his first New York City project: the 46-story Hearst Tower, built on top of the publishing company's original 1928 offices at Eighth Avenue and 57th Street. Known for his redesign of Germany's Reichstag and several high-profile structures in London, the Pritzker Prize winner is increasing his profile in the US, thanks to his contribution to a $5 billion development plan in Las Vegas and the recent commission to build Tower 2 at 200 Greenwich Street for New York's World Trade Center site.

Manifesta 6 Is Canceled
(Artnet, June 5)
Manifesta 6, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which was scheduled to begin in Nicosia, Cyprus, this September, has been canceled. Increasing friction between the event's three curators — Germany's Florian Waldvogel, Egypt's Mai Abu ElDahab, and New York's Anton Vidokle — and local nonprofit Nicosia for Art, which was sponsoring the festival, culminated in the organization terminating its contract with the curators. Set to run for three months, the exhibition had intended to feature an art school modeled after North Carolina's famed Black Mountain College. Tense relations between Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus added to the problems, as Turkish-Cypriot officials accused their Greek-Cypriot counterparts of keeping them out of Manifesta's coordination efforts.

Cooper-Hewitt Picks Design Winners
(Washington Post, June 3)
The Cooper-Hewitt museum in New York recently announced its picks for its seventh annual National Design Awards, which will take place at the museum in October, hosted by first lady Laura Bush. Among those receiving honors are Paolo Soleri, who will be presented with a lifetime achievement award for his ecological architecture in Arizona, MoMA's design curator Paola Antonelli, illustrator Syd Mead, and architect Thom Mayne.

Art Reality Show Debuts
(Chicago Tribune, June 1)
Taking its cues from MTV's Real World, Artstar, a new reality show, brings together eight artists, ranging in age from 21 to 67, to a SoHo studio, where they spend a month working and stimulating some art-world drama — though the results are surprisingly civil. Broadcast on Gallery HD, the eight-episode program was spearheaded by prominent New York gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch, who held a group exhibition of the work done for Artstar in February. More than 400 artists auditioned for the program in March 2005, and while the artists selected for the show are labeled "unknowns," several of those chosen, including Bec Stupak and Virgil Wong, received some media attention prior to their television debuts.

Art boom may slow down with global economy more »

Paris triennial looks to boost contemporary French art more »

Dale Chihuly sues two glass blowers over copyright more »

Miami embraces celebrity architects more »

Stockholm museum asks for $6.8 million to spend on women artists more »

Twitchell's "Ed Ruscha" mural painted over in Los Angeles more »

Zaha Hadid celebrated at New York's Guggenheim Museum more »

New Orleans unveils revitalization project more »

Expectations run high for design auctions more »

Adjaye's Denver museum breaks ground more »

Actress on display in public art project more »

Art Basel director to resign more »

Photographer Arnold Newman dies at 88 more »

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ Basel Art Fairs ]


Beto de Volder / Michael Bell-Smith / Frank Stella / Marco Zanuso Jr.

The mother of all art fairs, Art Basel has attracted throngs of art aficionados every summer for 36 years. Challenged now by four upstart fairs in Basel — LISTE, VOLTAshow, Design Miami/Basel, and bâlelatina — the grande dame is working harder to prove she's in touch with the younger set.

The organizers of Art Basel are wisely including the artists and galleries from the exploding art communities of Asia, Latin America, and Germany. ShanghART from Shanghai, Galeria Fortes Vilaça from São Paulo, Galerie Eigen + Art from Berlin and Leipzig, and Gallery Koyanagi from Tokyo are showing their country's rising stars as well as newer, riskier picks. Galerie Eigen + Art, for example, is bringing paintings by the lauded Matthias Weischer and Tim Eitel alongside new work by the Israeli artist Yehudit Sasportas.

But the special exhibitions provide the best venues for emerging art — Art Premiere allows 12 young galleries from Europe, the US, and India a spot at the fair, and Art Statements hosts 22 solo shows for young international artists, such as Clemens von Wedemeyer and Terence Koh. Art Unlimited offers an enormous exhibition space to more established artists, including Carsten Höller, Rodney Graham, and Douglas Gordon, for the realization of unusual, large-scale projects.

The second-oldest Basel fair, LISTE, is vigilantly youth-oriented, admitting only galleries under 5 years old and artists under 40. Among the 59 galleries exhibiting this year are the Breeder from Athens, which has commissioned new work from artists including Markus Amm and Marc Bijl, and the Tal Esther Gallery from Tel Aviv, which is showcasing collages and embroideries by Anat Shalev. The two-year-old VOLTAshow, founded by an international group of dealers, includes 48 mature galleries focusing on emerging artists and 8 project booths. The emphasis is on newcomers to the New York scene, and Guild & Greyshkul is showing new cream from the MFA crop — Mariah Robertson, Ernesto Caivano, and Valerie Hegarty.

This year two brand-new fairs are also diversifying the scene — bâlelatina, which spotlights Latin art, and Design Miami/Basel, a Swiss version of the Miami design fair. Bâlelatina adds to the growing visibility of Latin American art by bringing together galleries and video programming from the Latin communities of São Paulo, Madrid, Houston, and Milan. The new design fair, taking place in a neo-gothic church and the Basel Theater, will host 17 international design galleries and symposia with leading design curators. (BR)

Art 37 Basel, VOLTAshow, and bâlelatina take place June 14-18; Design Miami/Basel is open June 13-16; and LISTE runs June 13-18.

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Chris Johanson: I Can Feel It (Co-Exist in Modern Death): Alright Yeah!
Los Angeles

Jack Hanley Gallery
Now through June 30

  Born of the same calligraphy-cum-street impulse as the work of Barry McGee and the late Margaret Kilgallen, Chris Johanson's paintings and installations exemplify the diversity of San Francisco's Mission School. With knowing whimsy and a keen eye for abstraction, Johanson engages viewers through unconventional, Technicolor fireworks: this exhibition includes forays into Ellsworth Kelly-style swatch canvases and painted sunbursts of three-dimensional color, accompanied by interactive sounds. In the center of the gallery, an amorphous blob sits with occult presence while crudely carved, pastel-hued statuettes gravitate toward it along a structural framework. Johanson creates art that functions as a holistic experience, stimulating body, mind, and senses. (ML)

John Bankston: Locating Desire
San Francisco

de Young Museum
Now through June 25

  John Bankston is the second artist to take part in an exhibition series at the de Young in which artists create work that incorporates objects from the museum's collection. Thus, the protagonist of Bankston's adult fairy tale Locating Desire falls down a rabbit hole by way of a cocoa pod-shaped Ghanaian coffin, the inspiration for which can be seen at the de Young. Illustrated in the artist's signature coloring-book style, Bankston's homoerotic adventure unfolds through 20 drawings and four large oil paintings. It depicts men cavorting in an Edenic paradise, based on Golden Gate Park, where the museum is located. Bankston's use of childish media — the figures, drawn in sharp black outline, are colored with a Crayola-inspired palette — camouflages his insertion of the African-American, gay male body into an institutional context, offering an alternative reading of the museum's eclectic heritage. (KK)

Shilpa Gupta: Recent Work
New York

Bose Pacia
Now through June 24

  Media artist Shilpa Gupta combines child's play with political edge to comment on world affairs. At Bose Pacia, an installation of customized police-barrier tape, shaped like a flag, spells out a story of failed love. In an untitled media piece addressing the fiercely contested Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, Gupta invites viewers to touch a group of consoles. Her chilling game of follow the leader reveals a news-wire photo of children smiling around a bomb blast and traces an alphabet of military terms. Another large-scale projection presents a cadre of women clad in fashionable camouflage mechanically performing aerobics to credos such as "Shut up and eat" and "Shop Shop Order," suggesting that even the MTV generation succumbs to social conformity. (AM)

Tal R: Minus

Victoria Miro Gallery
Now through June 23

  Tal R's latest show at Victoria Miro presents his signature fusion of decorative design, '70s-style off-key colors, and consciously naive techniques. The artist covers large square canvases in thick wedges of frantic paint, often depicting loose landscapes and cityscapes surrounded by decorative borders that recall the blocky patterns of African rugs. The sickly browns, yellows, and whites in the work embrace the everyday "pure" colors from a child's paint box. Tal R also adds a large installation for the gallery's project space, filled with prints, photographs, and smaller narrative pieces, where primitive pop meets childhood via Basquiat. (FG)

David Shrigley: Fish, frogs, men

Galleri Nicolai Wallner
Now through June 17

  Fish, frogs, men, an exhibition of etchings, woodcuts, and silk screens, offers up a delightful dose of David Shrigley's savage slapstick. Including more than 60 works and the award-winning animated film Who I am and what I want, the show offers a window into Shrigley's world of severed heads and spiderwebs done in the crude vernacular of doodle drawings. The artist's illustrative graphics and comic absurdity may recall cartoonists such as Far Side-creator Gary Larson, but the poetic sentiment underlying his often grim themes retains a philosophical appeal. Famed for silliness, Shrigley pokes fun at our inevitable demise, giving us a good laugh on the way down. (HV)

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[ Mai-Thu Perret ]

Mai-Thu Perret

Since 1999, Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret has worked on a fictive narrative titled The Crystal Frontier, about a group of women living in a New Mexico commune. Perret creates texts and objects that are the hypothetical products of her protagonists, ranging from diary entries to rabbit coops.

In Apocalypse Ballet, which was presented earlier this year at Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin and recently at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Perret's papier-mâché mannequins in utilitarian dresses strike gymnastic poses with white neon hoops. The title comes from a 19th-century illustration by the French satirist J. J. Grandville, while the neon hoops were inspired by a surreal chorus-girl performance in the 1943 Busby Berkeley film The Gang's All Here.

These references lend an ironic undertone to the seemingly constructivist performances, while the abstract white circle allows for multiple interpretations: are the mannequins taking a feminist stance against da Vinci's Vitruvian Man or re-enacting a ritual from Native American cosmology? The force of Perret's work lies in its ambiguity. At the Renaissance Society, she added a giant aluminum teapot that could be entered to view abstract paintings supposedly crafted by the women.

The past year has been a busy one for the artist. Solid Objects, a show in collaboration with Swiss artist Valentin Carron, opened first at Geneva's Centre d'Art Contemporain and then traveled to London's Chisenhale Gallery. Among Perret's sculpted figures and porcelain objects on view, a massive golden rock evoked the form of a seated Buddha. Ritualistically covered with layer upon layer of gold leaf, the divine was transformed into a purely abstract object.

Perret brings back milestones forgotten along the long road of modernism. Her elegant storytelling refrains from imposing strict interpretations and walks the fine line between the utopian and the satirical, the revolutionary and the mainstream. (MS)

Galerie Francesca Pia presents Mai-Thu Perret in the Art Premiere section of Art Basel. Perret is represented by Praz-Delavallade in Paris, Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin, and Galerie Francesca Pia in Bern.

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[ Kavi Gupta ]


John Isaacs / Eddie Martinez / Simone Aaberg Kaern / Scott Anderson

Paul Laster interviews Kavi Gupta of Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago about the VOLTAshow in Basel, which he co-founded in 2005 with Friedrich Loock of Wohnmaschine in Berlin and Ulrich Voges of Voges + Partner in Frankfurt.
AK: What were your reasons for establishing the VOLTAshow?

KG: After seeing the success of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) Art Fair in Miami, we realized that the next generation of art galleries had really arrived and that collectors and curators wanted to see these artists when they traveled to fairs. But unfortunately, the current structure of the established fairs didn't allow for the next generation of galleries to enter. It seemed like the same galleries with the same artists were all that these fairs were going to allow in. We knew the art world wanted more, so we decided to take control of our own destinies instead of working with third parties who weren't really gallerists or involved in the art world, other than organizing a commercial trade fair.

AK: Did you have a model in mind for the creation of the fair?

KG: Not a specific model, but NADA definitely was an influence — young galleries that were important, doing it themselves. In addition, we decided we wanted to have a high-quality "boutique" fair. To this end, we handpicked the highest quality galleries with the most exciting programs. We made the interior spaces museum-quality — not like a trade-fair booth. The space was open and airy, with access to the outside at all turns — not a jumbled, stressful maze. The gallery booths were all the same size, to get rid of the impression of art-world "power" and hierarchy. In the end, the fair became one of the most enjoyable experiences for the galleries and the collectors.

AK: What was the response to the first year?

KG: It was tremendous. We had collectors lining up to get in — major ones, such as the Horts, the Rubells, Jerry Speyer, Gloria Thurn und Taxis, etc. Booths were sold out in the first hour — booths showing new artists! We also had over 1,000 VIP requests and were featured in almost every major European newspaper (our press package is over two inches think).

AK: How will VOLTAshow 02 differ from last year's event? How do you see it in relationship to the other Basel fairs?

keep reading the interview »

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  Maria Pergay: Between Ideas and Design
Suzanne Demisch
Demisch Danant

Maria Pergay began her illustrious career designing objects for the window displays of Parisian couturiers in the mid-'50s. An invitation from a chic boutique to create a candelabrum resulted in her first work in silver, which became a gift to Princess Grace of Monaco. That success inspired a collection of contemporary silver objects, including a stylish champagne bucket that was sold by Hermès. Commissions soon poured in, she opened a shop that catered to a savvy clientele, and by the late '60s, Pergay was producing a line of stainless-steel furniture that included the concentric Ring chair and whimsical Flying Carpet daybed. She spent a lengthy period designing villas for the Saudi royal family, private residences for Russian businessmen, and her own guesthouse in Morocco, until gallerist Suzanne Demisch — the author of this comprehensive book — encouraged her to produce a new line of furniture. The work, which is also reproduced and discussed in this delightful volume, was recently exhibited to critical acclaim at the Demisch Danant and Lehmann Maupin galleries in New York. (PL)

Demisch Danant exhibits Maria Pergay's new stainless-steel furniture at Design Miami/Basel through June 16.

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Cover Art
Javier Peñafiel
Quizá Conveniente, 2005
Video still
Courtesy Art Basel and Galería Joan Prats, Barcelona
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Bryony Roberts
Andrew Maerkle
Greg Zinman
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Marlyne Sahakian
Sarah Kessler
Laura Moser

Naomi Beckwith
Justin Conner
Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Annette Ferrara
Francesca Gavin
Cole Godvin
Leigh Goldstein
Katherine Gunderson
Jessica Kraft
Catherine Krudy
Katie Kurtz
Melissa Lo
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Audrey M. Mast
Shiraz Randeria
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Claire Trancons
Hannah Vaughan
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney
Jules Gaffney

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

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