PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

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the 280 international dealers set up exhibition booths. Seasoned collectors have their favorite dealers, which they will see first. Often preview images and prices of artworks will have been sent to the best clients well before they arrive. Pace is a favorite. It represents the estates of Rothko, de Kooning, and Rauschenberg. Last year at Basel, half of its booth was devoted to Rauschenberg — within hours, all the works had sold. This year, Pace featured Houston's best-known homegrown artist, Julian Schnabel, who epitomized the ar- rival of the art star in the 1980s. Brash and bold, Schnabel reintroduced the art world to the human figure and a vigorous, emotionally rich style of art making. In what appears to be a nod to Rothko Chapel, with its angled walls and centered panel installation, Schnabel presented five large atmo- spheric purple paintings installed in the round. Beautiful and somber, it was a marked contrast to the almost bombastic works from earlier in his career. They were priced at $375,000 each — by today's standards, a modest price for a major artist. (I mounted two major shows for Schnabel at my own gallery in 2006 and 2007.) Pace also represents the most recent art-market darling: 38-year-old Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie. Ghenie is a supremely gifted painter. Ges- tural, bold, and expressive, his tortured figurative works have earned him comparisons to Francis Bacon. His subject matter can be difficult, with early portraits featuring Joseph Mengele and Eva Braun. Recently Ghenie has tackled portraits of art giants such as Van Gogh and, in a new painting showing at Pace, Pablo Picasso. When I first saw a Ghenie painting in 2012 at Pace at Art Basel Miami, a midsize painting was $120,000. This portrait of Picasso sold for $800,000. Ghenie makes very little work, and the demand is rabid. In a February auction at Sotheby's London, a Ghenie painting sold for more than $4.5 million. One of my interests is the re-emergence of the artist of 1980s. Twenty-five years provide ample perspective to evaluate which artists have staying power. Some, like Jeff Koons (who had multiple works on view at five different dealers), have remained market giants for the last two decades. Others who were overlooked 10 years ago are un- dergoing a major reevaluation. Another '80s artist, Christopher Wool stenciled words onto aluminum panels, challenging the notion of what a painting is. His best-known painting, Apocalypse Now, is on exhibit at the Beyeler Foundation; it rocked the art world when it sold in 2013 at Christie's for an unfathomable $26 million. The text "SELL THE HOUSE SELL THE ART SELL THE KIDS" is taken from a letter written by Marlon Brando's character in the Francis Ford Coppola film classic. The painting was purchased in 1988 for $7,500. The most recent '80s revival is for the work of a German artist who died at the end of 2013, Günther Förg. I exhibited Förg's iconic lead paint- ings in 1992 when he was among the most col- lectable artists of his generation. Not long after, his drinking short-circuited his career. Time heals, and fresh eyes reexamined the work a few years ago. Now, it's a land rush. I counted no fewer than 10 significant works by Förg at Art Basel, with prices ranging from $200,000 to almost a million. Ten years ago, these works were $10,000 to $20,000. The two museums that are a must-do are the Beyeler Foundation and the Kunstmuseum Basel. The Beyeler building will re- mind you of The Menil Collection, and for good rea- son: Renzo Piano designed both. The museum is a long, low-slung structure, with daylight filter- ing in from above. However, the humble materials of cypress and painted steel at the Menil are replaced by luxurious stone and polished stainless steel at Beyeler. The collections share a similarly diverse collecting sensi- bility, featuring tribal, early-20th-century masters, and contemporary work. A striking Calder survey combined with works by the Swiss duo Fischli/ Weiss was on view. And nothing is more beautiful than sitting on the long bench opposite Monet's monumental late Water Lilies painting. It stretches 30 feet. The end of the painting leads your eye to a glass wall and a view of a pond filled with actual water lilies — a wonderful, magical moment. The Kunstmuseum is the historic encyclopedic museum of Basel. Josef Helfenstein, former director of The Menil Collection, is now its director and arrived this year to inaugurate a new gallery wing. De- signed by Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein, it's a 30,000-square-foot stone structure designed to show contemporary art with voluminous open spaces. The current exhibition, "Sculpture on the Move 1946-2016," was universally well regarded. Art Basel can be a collegial club where collec- A Calder retrospective, among the fare at Fondation Beyeler A Calder retrospective, among the fare at Fondation Beyeler "NO OTHER ART FAIR ATTRACTS THE WEALTHY ON SUCH AN INTERNATIONAL SCALE, FROM NEW YORK HEDGE- FUND BILLIONAIRES TO RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS, EUROPEAN INDUSTRIALISTS, PRIVATE MUSEUM FOUNDERS, AND THE NEW FRONTIER OF MEGA COLLECTORS: THE SUPER-RICH CHINESE." — Robert McClain 126 tors, dealers, and art professionals mingle, network, and make plans for exhibitions, j o i n t v e n t u r e purchases, and sales. I was de- lighted to run into Ivor Braka, the London-based private dealer whom the me- dia dubbed the rock 'n' roll art dealer, with his long hair and ra- z o r - t h i n K e i t h R i c h a r d s b o d y . Some consider Braka a driving force behind the exponential rise in prices for artists of the Lon- don school — Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, and Francis Bacon in particular. Considering the recent record price for a Bacon was $142 million, Braka's prescient purchases of Bacon paintings 25 years ago for low seven figures proved he is one of the shrewdest prognostica- tors of where the art market is headed. Lately, Eva and Adele, always a welcome sight New Schnabel paintings at Pace On the high wire at Dominique Lévy Gallery's dinner party COURTESY PACE GALLERY

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