The consensus ranged from satisfactory to solid, with few surprises, after the first day of public sales at the eighth edition of PULSE Miami. Eighty-six dealers packed the Ice Palace near downtown Miami, an advantageous venue with spacious booths and an outdoor patio dotted with hammocks, which offers a contrast to the big tents. “What I’ve always loved about PULSE,” says the fair’s director, Cornell DeWitt, “is that it’s a deeply pleasant experience for looking at art.” Many of the dealers in attendance agreed, with Nick Lawrence of New York’s Freight + Volume praising the “convivial atmosphere,” and the event pulled in an attendance of 5,000 on the first day.
DeWitt cited a 20 percent turnover in galleries this year, and many of the new exhibitors came from Europe, giving the fair a more international flavor than previous iterations. First-timers included The Fine Art Society Contemporary, of London; Nuova Galleria Morone, Milan; Galerie Alex Daniels/Reflex Amsterdam; Vigo Gallery, of London; Galería Visor, of Valencia; Galerie Wittenbrink, of Munich; and, in the Impulse section, Alarcón Criado, from Seville, showing Nicolas Grospierre’s axonometric projections of vintage stereo receivers and public-housing blocks.
DeWitt believes PULSE fulfills a unique niche in the Miami fair market. “My perspective has always been that the market is pyramid-shaped,” with a broad base at the lower end, he says. Photography is a medium price point ideally suited to that midmarket segment, and first-day sales were no exception. M+B, of Los Angeles, made a very strong impression with photographs and C-prints by Alex Prager, Mona Kuhn, Jessica Eaton, and Robert Polidori; the gallery’s Shannon Richardson said that Jeff Rosenheim, curator of photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, had stopped by. The enormous Matthew Brandt C-print from his “Lakes and Reservoirs” series behind the desk had sold, as had several of his images of houses silkscreened in bubblegum. Prager’s Judith, 2011, sold out in an edition of six for $14,000. New York’s Danziger Gallery sold out the edition of five of Karen Knorr’s barely domesticated tiger, The Survivor, 2012, at $23,000 a pop, with two going to new clients, and saw takers on Hendrik Kerstens’s Vermeer-like portraits of his daughter in variously tweaked Old Master poses. A large Edward Burtynsky, tagged $30,000 at Galerie Stefan Roepke of Cologne, remained available after the first day.
Two New York galleries chose PULSE to debut works by recent additions to their stables, with Julie Saul showing C-prints of sculptural assemblages of objects found in abandoned Mexico City buildings by Alejandra Laviada, and first-timer Pablo’s Birthday giving over half the booth to the Hamburg-based Thorsten Brinkmann.
The Spanish artist Jordi Alcaraz’s post-minimalist shadowboxes, trapping blank books or sheets of paper between sheets of punctured acrylic, were on offer at Nieves Fernandez, of Madrid; Tomlinson Kong Contemporary, of New York; and Galerie Stefan Roepke. The largest, and finest, Idees Per A Dibuixos (Ideas for Drawing), 2012, at Tomlinson Kong, was priced at $20,500. According to Rebecca Kong, the piece had seen admirers but was not yet sold.
Paper proved popular. Diana Lowenstein Gallery, of Miami, had sold two wall works made of layered, punched sheets of ecru paper by Angela Glajcar at prices ranging from $8,000 to $11,000. Pavel Zoubok Gallery, of New York, sold Shauna, 2011, an intricately pieced portrait made of inlaid cuttings of maps on wood panel by Matthew Cusick, for $20,000. “It was a mob scene early,” says the gallery’s Steve Weintraub. “We do well here.”
Contemporary painting that combined abstraction with collage or snippets of figurative elements found an appreciative audience at PULSE. Roepke’s new recruit, Bulgarian artist Iva Gueorguieva, had a large acrylic, ink and collage work, The Hymn of Aten, 2012, which had drawn a dozen inquiries at $14,000. At Freight + Volume, paintings by Damian Stamer and Kristen Schiele were creating buzz; four works by Stamer, at prices ranging from $3,000 to $5,500, found homes. There was less on offer in the way of historical works, though Morone, from Milan, spotlighted embroidered pieces by the Italian Conceptual artist Maria Lai, a welcome addition.
A frisson of discovery could be found, however, in the emerging-artist solo booths at Impulse. Narwhal, of Toronto, showed collage works made from dead-stock and vintage papers by Jacob Whibley. The cut-paper trend carried over to Jessica Drenk’s shredded encyclopedias strung up in a roiling cloud at Adah Rose, of Kensington, Maryland, and to the meticulous text-based incisions of Pablo Lehmann at Miami’s Black Square Gallery.
Nadine Wottke of Widmer + Theodoridis Contemporary was announced this afternoon as the winner of the PULSE Prize, anointed by a jury that includes art advisor Alistair Hicks and critic Alexandra Peers. The other two finalists were Nicholas Grospierre of Alarcón Criado, and Charles Lutz of C24 Gallery.
Another highlight was the hilarious information-booth installation in the PULSE Play video lounge, WATCH SOME MOVIES, created by Casey Neistat and manned by the artist himself. Conceived and styled after a doctor’s waiting room, the installation offered amenities including jumbo-size bottles of lube and visual aids. It was amusing, if slightly misplaced at a fair whose offerings, by definition, do not attract the most masturbatory of buyers.
To see images from the PULSE fair, click on the slideshow.
To see all ARTINFO’s Miami 2012 coverage, click here.