Thursday December 1, 2005

Glimpse of Basel

Too much of this sort of thing gave Basel a bad name in years past; but this was one of only a very few silly installations around the perimeter of the show. “Daddy, what are those two papier-mâché men doing?” As with every Basel, there is lots of crap, lots and lots of indifferent stuff, some great work, and one or two knockout pieces. Maybe a smaller percentage of great stuff, but lots to see. Some samples:

It’s always nice to see a couple of new Gurskys (he only makes but two pictures a year or so). Here are some computer enhanced cow pastures (you can tell which Gurskys have gone through the computer by getting really really close – the pixels are visible), probably to make the distribution of cows more even.

A detail (not close enough to see pixels, of course).

A great, big Candida Höfer photograph; sorry about the glare in all these photos – they’re under glass, dang it!

A nice painting on a sofa cushion(?) by Lutz Braun.

This oil on panel painting, by Victoria Gitman, was a stunner. It’s just over a square foot, and has just exactly as much detail as it needs to achieve the proper poignancy.

A detail. See?

This piece was the real stunner in the show. We have three tinted acrylic rings (seen on the left part of the image), hung from a device on the ceiling that slowly rotates each one at a different rate/direction. A tightly focused beam of light (from a very complicated light, not pictured) shines through them and projects the ever-changing image onto the wall (right part of the image). The lines projecting vertically from the center were much brighter in reall life, and the motion is really what makes it. The effect is like a million dollar kaleidoscope (it probably is a million bucks . . .) for adults. Not sure who the artist is (best guess: Olafour Eliasson); neugerriemschneider gallery, which also had some other great stuff.

Basel always brings a few great abstract expressionists. Here’s a spiffy little Motherwell. A photo of a spectacular Helen Frankenthaler piece was ruined by poor autofocus.

This is from a group of three photos of people standing in front of mural-sized paintings. They look like paintings at first glance, then like photos. Interestingly, they would be effective pictures even if they weren’t media-mashing.

Way too much Ed Ruscha. Somebody get this crap away from me (and paint the library).

A surprising little Andy Warhol screenprint of a ferry ticket. (With more bad glare plus lens distortion.)

This Mark Ryden painting will steal the show for a certain contingent. Nice, especially the frame, which often gets cropped from reproductions.

Video/computer work didn’t get as much representation as in past years (fine with me). This is one of three computer-animation pieces by Gary Hill, each of which shows two objects moving together, yet not interacting, in the same virtual space. Simple and effective.

A cute elevator installation, just about the right size for GI-Joe. This one was fully functional, with lights changing and doors opening/closing.

A Bevis ‘n Butthead sculpture at Ambrosino. Yes, the t-shirt says “FART IN AMERICA.” Guess what the other one says…

A great (and very painterly, somehow) photograph by Mauricio Alejo at Galeria Ramis Barquet. Eloquent, smart, and very, very beautiful.

More later!

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  1. Art Carnage    Thu Dec 1, 09:06 AM #  

    Great review, Alesh. Unlike Franklin, apparently you LIKE art. (just joshin’)

  2. Kathleen    Thu Dec 1, 09:16 AM #  

    I love that last photo.

  3. Miami Harold    Thu Dec 1, 09:18 AM #  

    Those two guys humping were papier mache?

    I thought it was UM’s Dean Sandler

    and the football program.

  4. Alex    Wed Dec 7, 08:58 PM #  

    Your presumption is correct, that is an Olafur Eliasson.

  5. j-MAN    Thu Dec 8, 11:27 AM #  

    i enjoyed the glare on the Gursky/Hofer images.