Times change and art fairs—with luck and hard work, or the virtue of time—change with them.
For the first time in over 10 years, Art Basel in Miami Beach is starting to look like an international art fair of genuine interest. The unwelcome truth is that season after season the booth displays in Miami were predictable, unadventurous, and often vapid. A lot of bad art was sold here for a lot of years.
Gone, mostly, is the big, dumb, shiny stuff. I don't know if it is the galleries or the collectors, but there is a concerted effort this year to break the Miami art fair cliché and deliver substance over style.
Perhaps it is the bubble market which has flushed out so many good, older artworks, or perhaps it is that the collectors have matured. Either way, there is a tremendous depth to the secondary market work on offer at the main fair this year. We'll see how the sales do—but at a glance the change is promising.
Even the primary market work on offer tends towards the serious, albeit with a strong affinity for color and form. That plays well in Miami, where figuration is popular. It's no surprise that the Jeffery Deitch and Larry Gagosian collaboration on view in the design district is a survey of international figurative art.
So which dealers are breaking the mold, turning their backs—well, sort of—on anything turquoise, pink, or bright orange and purple? Here are 10 booths that struck me as brave, intelligent, and beautiful, and that present displays that could stand the test of critical scrutiny anywhere in the world.
The gentility of this booth with its casual pairing of a Brancusi sculpture with a 1960s Frank Stella makes you fall in love with art and art collecting all over again. Who doesn't want to take these things home? It never ceases to amaze me how few dealers understand and respect the raw emotion of visual pleasure.