Buyer's guide: The 9 pieces to know at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016


Untitled, 2006, Sigmar Polke

Words by Anna Brady

The 15th Art Basel Miami Beach runs from December 1 to 4, with 269 modern and contemporary art galleries from 29 countries across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa exhibiting. For potential buyers, the choice can be overwhelming, with 46,000 square metres thronging with paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films and editioned works, plus large-scale public artworks outside and film presentations across three venues. To help you navigate, here are our highlights from key galleries to seek out, and some emerging (and re-emerging) Latin American fine art for displaying on board your superyacht.

Untitled, 2006, Sigmar Polke

The German artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) was a true polymath, working in paint, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, performance and stained glass. Michael Werner Gallery held its first show of Polke’s work in 1970. He was, says Jeff Alford, director of archives and operations, a “highly influential figure whose ceaseless experimentation with the methods and materials of painting expanded the medium’s expressive possibilities and redefined what a painting can be”.

This work on paper, to be shown at Art Basel Miami Beach, is a late work from 2006. It typifies the “abstract manifestation of ephemeral light and movement” that, says Alford, is “a recurring motif in much of the artist’s work”.

Untitled_, 2006, by Sigmar Polke at Michael Werner Gallery, London and New York._


Rosso Plastica, 1968, Alberto Burri

Image courtesy of Mazzoleni and Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Citta di Castello - DACS 2015

There has been a trend for post-war Italian art on the international market over the past couple of years. One of those leading the field, along with Lucio Fontana, is Alberto Burri (1915-1995), the subject of a retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2015. Last autumn, Mazzoleni held a solo show of Burri’s work at its London space and subsequently, in Miami, sold three works by Burri from the 1960s, including Plastica ($2 million) and Cellotex ($500,000). Luigi Mazzoleni, director of Mazzoleni London, highlights this work from Burri’s Plastiche series.

Rosso Plastica_, 1968, by Alberto Burri at Mazzoleni, Turin and London._


PROTRUSION 000, 1987, Kishio Suga

The Survey section of Art Basel Miami Beach concentrates on solo shows that reassess often under-the-radar 20th century artists. Tokyo Gallery+BTAP will focus on the work of Kishio Suga (b.1944), a key figure in Mono-ha (School of Things), a sculpture and installation-based movement in Japan in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Rather than producing representational art, they explored raw materials such as wood, metal, stone, concrete and plastic. This booth brings together Suga’s Protrusion series, first shown at Tokyo Gallery in 1987, and includes the cylindrical lacquer and wood piece PROTRUSION 000, never before exhibited.

PROTRUSION 000_, 1987, by Kishio Suga at Tokyo Gallery+BTAP, Tokyo_


Moyo, 2013, Kudzanai Chiurai

Kudzanai Chiurai was born in 1981, a year after Zimbabwe gained independence. Far from reconciliatory, his politically and socially engaged work “concerns the conflict between the self-image and universal viewpoint of young Africans”, says Liza Essers, owner and director of Goodman Gallery. The film Moyo – meaning air – is one of a series of projects by Chiurai exploring how the media represents public acts of violence. “Moyo tenderly articulates the moment in death when the spirit leaves the body,” says Essers. “The woman in the film witnesses this moment and cries ‘wakrazulwa ngenxa yami’ (‘you were ripped and torn for my sake’) as she wipes the wounds of a lifeless figure.”

Moyo_, 2013, by Kudzanai Chiurai at Goodman Gallery, Cape Town_


Untitled, 2016, Etel Adnan

Image courtesy of Etel Adnan

This summer, London’s Serpentine Gallery held a retrospective of the Lebanese painter, poet and writer Etel Adnan (b.1925), her first solo exhibition at a UK institution. A surge in international attention has come late for Adnan, who is a staunch feminist and anti-war campaigner as well as a creative force, producing paintings, drawings, tapestries and films. Adnan, who now lives in Lebanon, the US and Paris, studied at the Sorbonne and Harvard then taught philosophy from the 1950s until the 1970s when she concentrated entirely on her art and writing. This recent oil on canvas is typical of her vivid paintings of semi-abstracted, often mountainous landscapes, imbued with a rare, heartening optimism.

Untitled_, 2016, by Etel Adnan at Galerie Lelong, Paris and New York_


Retreat, 2016, Andreas Eriksson

Image courtesy of Andreas Eriksson

There’s strong Scandinavian character to Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson’s (b.1975) paintings, imbued as they are with the influence of northern European Romantic painterly tradition. “We had been following his work for some time but seeing his presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2011 was the defining moment when we knew we had to work with him,” says gallerist Stephen Friedman.

Though primarily a painter, Eriksson also works in photography, sculpture, installation and textiles, all rooted in the landscape around his studio in rural Sweden. Retreat is an archetypal Eriksson, showing the full range of his painterly techniques. Recently, says Friedman, Eriksson’s palette has shifted. “A few years ago it was very Rothko-like, dark and layered. Eriksson’s most recent work has bright hues and pastel shades, almost suggesting that the sun has bleached its surface.”

Retreat_, 2016, by Andreas Eriksson at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London_


Roâ, 1950, Carmelo Arden Quin

Image courtesy of the artist and Simões de Assis Galeria de Arte

In 1946 in Buenos Aires, the Uruguay-born painter Carmelo Arden Quin co-founded Arte Madí, a movement dedicated to pure geometric abstraction. Without any roots in reality, the frame was often incorporated into the work itself as in Roâ. Simões de Assis Galeria de Arte started working with the estate in 2012 and believes Latin American artists of the 1940s and 1950s, including Lygia Clark, are having a revival – next year there will be Arden Quin retrospectives in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. In Miami, the gallery will show a group of works dating from 1935, the year Arden Quin met his mentor Joaquín Torres García, to the 1940s when he created the Madí group and moved to Paris.

Roâ_, 1950, by Carmelo Arden Quin at Simões de Assis Galeria de Arte, Curitiba, Brazil_


Herbarium of Artificial Plants – New Zealand Expedition, 2009, Alberto Baraya

Image courtesy of the artist and Instituto de Vision

Born in Bogotá in 1968, the Colombian artist Alberto Baraya has always had a fascination with scientific endeavour and the figure of the explorer. Internationally recognised, his work has been shown at numerous biennials, including Berlin (2014), Venice (2009) and São Paulo (2006). Between 2009 and 2013, Baraya went on expeditions to New Zealand, China, Australia, Peru and to Teyuna, the lost city of Colombia. He painstakingly documented these travels by collecting artificial plants from each country in his Herbario de Plantas Artificiales (Herbarium of Artificial Plants) project. A group of these delicately beautiful works, a playful take on the role of scientist, artist and traveller, will be shown by the Bogotá gallery Instituto de Visión.

Herbarium of Artificial Plants – New Zealand Expedition_, 2009, by Alberto Baraya at Instituto de Visión, Bogotá_


Paístiempo, 2007-2013, Oscar Muñoz

Image courtesy of the artist and Mor Charpentier

Colombian Oscar Muñoz (b.1951) was the first artist Alex Mor and Philippe Charpentier contacted, and they opened their Paris gallery in 2010 with a show of his work. They were, says Mor, “literally obsessed” with the idea of working with the Colombian artist, calling and emailing him for two years. Muñoz employs photography, video and printing techniques in unconventional ways to explore human issues. In Paístiempo, Muñoz brings together the front pages of the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo and the Cali newspaper El País, reproduced in a newsprint notebook with a pyrographic tool, dot by dot. Gradually text and images disappear, until the paper is totally white.

Paístiempo_, 2007-2013, by Oscar Muñoz at Mor Charpentier, Paris and Bogotá_