Art Basel bound: Canada’s most creative A-types preview the best of 2013’s fair
Now in its 12th year, Art Basel Miami is regarded as the biggest art event in North America. Beyond attracting star couples like Jay Z and Beyoncé, the 250-plus international galleries participating bring more than 50,000 art lovers to Miami. To help navigate this gigantic affair, which runs from Dec. 5 to 8, we’ve highlighted key names from Canada’s art scene who will be in attendance, and asked them about past memories and future itineraries.
Ottawa’s Hugh Scott-Douglas is looking forward to heading to Art Basel Miami this year with his fashion designer wife, Lara Vincent. The duo will be hanging at nightspots like Le Baron and David Lynch’s Silencio by night and frequenting the Jessica Silverman, Blum & Poe and De La Cruz spaces by day (all of which will have pieces by the 25-year-old on display). “NADA at Art Basel Miami 2011 was the start of my career, because it gave my work the opportunity to be seen by larger galleries and collectors,” he says. “I stepped up from being an emerging artist to being an internationally recognized emerging artist.” His collectors include the Dallas Museum of Art, Takashi Murakami and François Pinault. Scott-Douglas’s latest work took inspiration from the notion of how we can imagine a building from a blueprint or a film from its poster or trailer. “For me, it becomes about how to find a material or process that can reflect or highlight some of this content or echo its history.” —Alexandra Breen
“I was making work as a closeted artist,” laughs Julia Dault, 35, referring to her past life as an art critic for the National Post. “You can only put off what you’ve wanted to do your whole life for so long.” So in 2006, the painter/sculptor packed her bags for an MFA program at Parsons. Now, she’s included in the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Guggenheim Museum collections. An art fair regular (she shows with Jessica Bradley and International Art Objects), the Toronto native says she was “stopped dead in her tracks” by an Ellsworth Kelly painting in the Matthew Marks Gallery at last year’s fair. This year, she’s been commissioned to do a sculpture for the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Pérez Art Museum Miami. Adding to her buzz is the fact that her sculptures are constructed entirely on-site. Fashion lovers are equally worked up by the news of her upcoming collaboration with Jeremy Laing on his S/S 2014 collection. —A.B.
In 2002, Toronto’s Judith Tatar attended her first Art Basel Miami. She packed a couple of outfits, but had few expectations. Eleven years later—having done the global art fair circuit and opened Tatar Art Projects, which advises clients like the Conrad Hotel in New York—things have changed. Tatar now plans her visit to South Beach months in advance. “From an anthropological point of view, watching that much wealth and glamour mixing together is a fun experience,” she says. “Seeing Emily Blunt and Calvin Klein is fascinating. It’s like celebrity porn.” This year, Tatar has her eye on Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, the son of Carine Roitfield, who has opened a New York gallery: “He’s becoming quite the scion in the art
Daniel Faria and Rui Amaral
Gallery owner and curator
If Gen Y thinks of Douglas Coupland first and foremost as an artist, it’s largely thanks to Daniel Faria. In 2012, the Torontonian curated 100 “canvases” by the Vancouver icon, and last summer he nurtured their relationship with a show of Coupland’s new pixellated works. Faria and his partner, Rui Amaral, who also works with the Toronto gallery Scrap Metal, are both international art fair fixtures, spending months on the schmooze. In December, the duo will return to Art Basel Miami. “In New York or London, you get sucked up in the big city,” says Faria, “but in Miami you’re inevitably running into art people [and] having conversations about art.” As a result, younger, concurrent fairs like the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) have taken hold. “Miami has turned itself around in the last 10 years,” says Amaral. “Basel has been one of the strongest pioneers of that shift.” —Ellen Himelfarb
Dr. Diane Vachon
Museum Board Director
For Dr. Diane Vachon, art collector, board member and acquisition committee member at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the attraction to Basel lies beyond the sheer beauty of the art. “Artists are like the people at the front of the ship, keeping vigil over society,” she says. “They show us the way.” Which is why each year, Vachon makes her way south to hunt for talent at the event’s offshoot fairs—NADA and Pulse—which focus on emerging talent. As for Art Basel Miami proper, she has a tip for newbies: “I go to the main fair three or four times during my stay, just so it can sink in.” In 2012, Vachon brought home a large drawing by Berlin-based artist Jorinde Voigt, whose sudden popularity has since risen to international levels, giving Vachon Basel gold. —Abi Slone
Laing and Kathleen Brown
“Basel has become such a big part of our lives,” says Kathleen Brown of Brown Art Consulting, a company she founded in Vancouver with her husband, Laing. “We’ve been collecting for 30-some years for other people, and we’ve attended Basel Miami since 2007.” Works from artists like Ai Weiwei and Jenny Holzer—who’s known for making LED pieces with politically charged phrases—are among the Browns’ Basel triumphs. “Jenny’s a blue-chip artist,” says Laing, adding that appreciation of Holzer’s work has gone up considerably since they secured her art in Miami. “She was just written about in The New York Times.” Naomi Campbell and Will Smith are among the Browns’ celebrity encounters at the fair. “We think we can attract and retain good clients based on our knowledge of international art and the market,” Kathleen says. —E.I.
As a curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Kitty Scott says she heads to Art Basel Miami because it’s “a great chance to see work from around the world and private collections in a really concentrated way.” The Newfoundlander’s career has included gigs as a visiting professor at several high-profile universities and colleges. This year, Scott is hoping to become acquainted with more artists from Central and South America at the Cisneros Collection. When she’s not art-hopping, Scott will likely be spotted chatting with colleagues about art at Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market. Emerging Canadian talents like Duane Linklater, Annie MacDonell and Mark Clintberg (who tops her “artists to watch” list) may creep into her conversations too. —A.B.
Sarah Anne Johnson
In 2007, Winnipeg artist Sarah Anne Johnson’s entire first show at the Julie Saul Gallery was scooped up by the Guggenheim Museum. “It exceeded any hopes and dreams I had for myself. In one month, everything changed,” explains the 37-year-old Yale grad and teacher. The National Gallery bought most of her second show, and the third was purchased by collector Michael Nesbitt and donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario. This year, Johnson’s Basel presence will be felt at the Julie Saul Gallery with new pieces about intimacy. Heading into the bedrooms of her friends to capture “intimate moments,” Johnson says, “These surrogate bodies [served] as blank canvases to paint over with hopes, insecurities and desires for romance.” When it comes to her own art collection, she says, “I’d consider re-mortgaging my house to buy one of Shary Boyle’s porcelains.” —A.B.
Before his paintings were mounted in the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Gallery of Canada, Karel Funk was an aspiring pro skateboarder turned University of Manitoba grad/artist working as a part-time janitor. An MFA from Columbia University gave him “one more push conceptually and technically,” and led to a 2004 show at 303 Gallery, which The New York Times praised as breathing “new life into the seemingly exhausted genre of photo realism.” Based in Winnipeg, Funk, 42, is looking forward to showing the world what he’s been up to at Art Basel Miami. “I’ve got some figurative work that I’m doing right now—portraits of people who are turned away from the viewer, with most of their flesh covered by deep shadow.” The hyperrealist painter cites the Metropolitan Museum of Art and painters like Albrecht Dürer as top inspirations. —A.B.
Critic Paddy Johnson, a 38- year-old Guelph, Ont., native, is an art fair sibyl of sorts. The art-meets-digi maven behind New York’s beloved art blog Artfcity.com (voted best blog by The Times online) posts daily Basel updates that have the industry talking. Her street cred is about to be upped, as Art F City has teamed up with Tumblr to sell the first Tumblr art piece at NADA. It will feature 40 artists, including Toronto-based Lorna Mills, and the entire thing—the size of a football field—will be printed out and rolled onto a wheel. Other activities that have this blog queen pumped are the Untitled fair, the W Hotel parties and NADA’s pool scene. At night, though, she’s curled up with takeout at the Marriott.—A.B.
Jeanie Riddle, director and curator at Montreal gallery Parisian Laundry, is no fool when it comes to counting the benefits of Art Basel Miami. Beyond the art, there is the pleasure of heading south from a Montreal winter. “It’s warm, sunny and glamorous,” she says. “People are excited and ready to feel blown away by work—hopefully enough to take it home.” Networking, parties, sunshine and rubbing elbows with art stars aren’t the only things that make the trek worthwhile. “Our experience at the NADA fair with [Montreal artist] Valérie Blass garnered exceptional exposure,” she says. “This was also the case at the inaugural Untitled fair, hosted right on the beach! Nothing compares to people walking into the fair, damp from a swim and ready to talk art.” This year, Parisian Laundry will show the work of David Armstrong Six, Janet Werner and Jaime Angelopoulos. —A.S.