Sunday Afternoon at ArtBasel MB 2013

The Pursuit of Perfection


By Anthony Japour & Nathaly Charria

In the brand obsessed world we’re living in today, many collectors instead of mentioning the name of the artist they bought or the gallery from which they bought the artwork, say simply: “I bought this at Art Basel”. Art Basel, the grande dame of the art fair world has become the benchmark of quality. There’s a cache with saying you acquired a work at “Art Basel”.


Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles, New Shelton Wet/Drys 5-Gallon, Double Decker, 1981-1986
two Hoover Convertibles, two Shelton Wet/Drys,
acrylic and fluorescent lighting, 99x41x28 IN
Sold, Christie’s Auction, May 2008, $11,801,000


Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994-2000
mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent
color coating, 121 x143 x 45 IN
One of five unique versions
(Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow)
Sold, Christie’s Auction, November 2013, $58,400,000

A notable exception to the aforementioned idea is a work by Jeff Koons, who now holds the public auction record as the most expensive living artist in the world when his Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994-2000 sold at Christie’s Auction in November 2013 for $58.4 million.

A local Miami collector whose private collection I visited during Art Basel Miami Beach said: “The Jeff Koons next to the Yves Klein just arrived yesterday.”

And, Koons, it seemed, was everywhere in Miami Beach including the booth of his dealer, Larry Gagosian, and is my choice for “Best in Show”.

Jeff Koons (American, B. 1955)

Gagosian Gallery
980 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10075

Koons was educated in painting at the Institute of Chicago and the Maryland Institute College of Art. For me, the works that define Koons and his entire career are his early conceptual works, The New (1981-87), which are a series of vacuum cleaners in Perspex boxes. Noting the rapidly growing worldwide population, the work suggests the vast numbers of new consumers entering the marketplace for a vacuum cleaner; if one could only invent the perfect vacuum cleaner, the line for the product would be endless. Koon’s work since that time has been about the pursuit of perfection, toward which the world gravitates. This pursuit is evident by the Celebration series of which the work at the Miami Beach Convention Center is a part. A perfect gift for the Holiday Season!

The week leading up to the First Choice pass to Art Basel Miami Beach is fantastically busy for collectors, art advisors and galleries alike; by Sunday most of the major transactions have been completed. This year I had the pleasure of spending a perfect Sunday afternoon at the Art Basel art fair with collector Susanne Van Hagen, who resides between Paris and London, and is a passionate rechercher (seeker) of young contemporary American artists. She brought me to see her most recent acquisition, a work by Seth Price, Nothingness as a Big Face on Film, 2013. Apparently, the work was on hold for a museum but when they were not able to come up with the funds in time, Reena Spauldings sold the work to Van Hagen at the fair!



Seth Price
Nothingness as a Big Face on Film, 2013
Gesso, molding paste, and ink on plywood
55 x 48 inches

Seth Price (b. 1973, Israel, resides in New York)

Reena Spauldings Fine Art
165 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002


Seth Price is a multi-disciplinary conceptual artist working in video, sculpture, sound and written texts.

One of Price’s most important works is local and was exhibited last year at the Rosa & Carlos de la Cruz Collection during Basel Miami Art Week, Digital Video Digital Effect: Spills, 2004 where Price altered a homemade video shot by Joan Jonas in the early 1970’s featuring artists Richard Serra and Robert Smithson discussing the art market with dealer Joseph Helman who says “Bischofberger isn’t paying that price because he wants Bruce Nauman to be happier!” As Elizabeth Schambelan writes in Artforum (May 2005): Spills is a “70’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe”.

Price’s works on plywood are a Photoshop in real life, hand made by gradually building up layers of gesso on top of printed surfaces. For his envelope series, he designed the prototypes for the envelopes on a computer, printed it out and then cut, folded and glued its edges to generate paper models; then he tore the models open and rescanned them back on the computer to make the images we see printed on the plywood.

Conceptually, the envelope symbolizes the anonymous tool of private communication begging the questions: “what was in that envelope”, “who read the contents of the envelope before it arrived at its final destination” and “where are the contents of this envelope”?

Price has had solo exhibitions including at Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, England; Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York; Galleria Emi Fontana, Milan, Italy. Group exhibitions include the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; P.S.1 Center for Contemporary Art, New York; the 2002 and 2008 Whitney Biennials; and Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Florida.


Agustina Woodgate, “Milky Ways”
Stuffed Animal Skins, 18 x 11 ft
Sold by Spinello Projects, Art Basel Miami Beach December 2013

Augustina Woodgate

Spinello Projects
2930 NW 7th Avenue
Miami, Fl 32127

Agustina Woodgate is an Argentina-born artist currently living and working in Miami. Woodgate graduated from the National University of Visual Arts, Argentina, in 2004, from which she’s moved on to exhibit across the US and abroad. From museum shows to site-specific installations, Woodgate explores the physical, emotional, and cultural relationships we have with our surroundings. Represented by Spinello Projects, Woodgate featured Milky Ways in Nova at Art Basel Miami Beach. Made entirely of stuffed animals, Milky Ways presents an evolution to the concept and construction of animal rugs. Woodgate began her animal skin series in 2010 with smaller-scale rugs in geometric graphics to its now large-scale fluid style that shows movement through a galaxy-inspired palette.

Untitled Art Fair - Miami Beach


TM Sisters
Untiled Art Fair opened the week of Basel Miami Art Week with a private preview and benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Marina Abramovic Institute. Hosted by Marina Abramovic, Untitled celebrated its second year on the sands of Miami Beach with an iconic performance “Sky Tidings” by the TM Sisters. In honor of the new moon and the four elements (earth, water, air, fire), the TM Sisters blessed the week with a psychedelic procession where melodic undertones met beatbox beats, screams, and electrifying visuals (see YouTube Video). Alongside a group of 25-30 participating artists, the TM Sisters brought their collaborative perspective to presenting earth angels, synchronized swimmers, surfers, and boogie boarders in an explosion of color and light that set the caliber for the week’s events.

Tasha and Monica Lopez de Victoria are the sister duo behind the TM Sisters. Born in Gainesville, Florida and raised in Miami, Florida where the artists currently work and reside, Monica received her BFA from Florida International University and Tasha received her BFA from New World School of the Arts. Their work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway. Art Forum, ARTnews, New York Times, Art + Auction, are amongst the publications that have featured the TM Sisters. The artists are represented in Florida by David Castillo Gallery and in Los Angeles by Nathaly Charria at Natology.

Anthony Japour is an art collector and art advisor. Japour lectures on the Chinese Contemporary Art Movement and its relationship to the pillars of Western Contemporary Art. For over a decade, Japour mounted numerous art exhibitions and installations in Miami Beach and South Florida through AJ Japour Gallery and linked these exhibitions to charity events at his home in South Beach devoted to the health, education and welfare of children.