Art Basel Miami 2023 Highlights

The latest publication about the artworld

Art Basel Miami Highlights

Explore the vibrant tapestry of contemporary art at Art Basel Miami 2023, where a kaleidoscope of global artists converges to ignite inspiration.

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE Dennis Speight, 1983 gelatin silver print 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Robert Mapplethorpe became best known for his transgressive black-and-white photographs, which often celebrated the artist’s queer community. The artist was concerned with Classical aspects of beauty, whether in his nudes, floral still lifes, or self-portraits - light, shadow, composition, and form were central to all his work.
During the 1970s and ’80s, he photographed himself and his New York City coterie, artists, socialites, porn stars, and members of the gay S&M underground. While his content could be shocking, Mapplethorpe was also highly attuned to his medium’s formal, more traditional elements; his pictures are deeply concerned with composition, color, texture, balance, and attraction.

ANRI SALASurface to Air XI series, 2023fresco painting, intonaco on aerolam, Tartaruga marble
In the names of Anri Sala’s “Surface to Air” fresco series, each day corresponds to the beginning and end of a part of the work, since the base of intonaco (plaster) can be painted only when wet; additionally to this process, marble fragments are grafted on the flat surface of the fresco. A contrast of nature: the clouds that change hastily their landscape are surrounded by immutable marbles.
Here clouds float and melt with the marble shapes, sometimes sinuous and sometimes more angular. Like magma, suspended in its transitory nature, or like the sea moments before the waves break, these works seem to capture a moment torn from its inevitable change.

TOM WESSELMANN"Monica Crosslegged with Beads", 1985/2004alkyd oil paint on cut-out steel29,2 x 19,2 cm
An American Pop artist best known for his collages, sculptures, and screenprints that stylized the female figure. Often isolating segments of the body, like red lips with a cigarette, a single nipple, or a stylish shoe, his artworks aim to seize a viewer’s attention. “The prime mission of my art, in the beginning, and continuing still, is to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art,” he once said of his work.
The cut-out works began with Wesselmann's original idea to preserve the process and immediacy of his drawings, including the false lines or errors, and to transfer them to steel. He called them 'steel drawings'. The main motifs of these works are the same that preoccupied him since the 1950s - nudes, still lifes and landscapes. However, from the beginning, he was mainly interested in the form and presentation of the image, which caused constant change and development in his work.

RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJAuntitled 2023 (invasives) (old man's beard), 2023Mirror-polished stainless steel, paint148.5 x 99 cm
Rirkrit Tiravanija is an Argentine-born contemporary Thai artist who pioneered the Relational Aesthetics movement and developed a holistic and socially-engaged approach to art, and language.
By deconstructing the concept of art into its basic components, the artist focuses on the interactions between people and their surroundings rather than aesthetic objects. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he grew up in multiple countries, including Thailand, Ethiopia, and Canada, ‘searching his identity in foreign places’.
“I usually describe my text works as road signs. Like when you drive on a highway and you drive by a big signage and pick up whatever the words are written on it. It’s about whether that gets into your consciousness or not. […] You read it because it stands out, and it does have some effect, whether you agree with it or not.” (Rirkrit Tiravanija, 2020)

NICOLE EISENMANCrazy Cat, 2022Bronze and steel91.4 × 71.1 × 81.3 cm
The French-born American artist Nicole Eisenman is known for her inventive, figurative painting and sculptures. Utilizing bright colors and wry subject matter, Eisenman’s complex paintings tackle tropes of Western art history. Throughout her career, she has proved to be a master at the construction of new worlds, mixing figurative rigor with an animated and expressive counter-world, arriving on a body of work that alternatives between lush, cartoonish bodies and meticulous depictions of close friends and sitters.
Edie, who is Eisenman’s three-year-old cat, appears severally throughout the shows and artworks, getting beastlier with each incarnation: first as a kitten whose curiosity causes a hero to collide with his Destiny; later as a symbol of figuration’s ninth life. In the final form – ‘Crazy Cat’, (2022), Edie is all head and no body, molded out of clay and cast in bronze, weighing nearly 400 pounds: a wrecking ball lying in wait. Naturally, the biggest head is home to the smallest brain.

VALENTIN CARRONL’homme et l’enfant, 2023Painted aluminium cast225 x 137 x 55,8 cm
Valentin Carron bases his practice on appropriation strategies. Through the switch of material, the artist allows himself to formally recreate certain existing works of art. From granite to resin, from leather to glass, he pays homage with humour and casualness to sculptures from the past and images of the present. The artist deconstructs codes and hierarchies in art, highlighting forms that have fallen into disuse. It is not a question of copying, but of interpreting vernacular or artistic forms. The content, the form, and the meaning are therefore three keys to understanding his work, which is itself in perpetual transformation.
​​In a new series of works, the artist forms little characters alone or in pairs, in a repeated attempt to create a connection. At a time of ‘divided families’, fathers have learned to take their children by the hand, and the new artworks seem to complete a forgotten section in the history of representations of the family. The national colours of the Ukrainian flag come as no surprise in the work of L'homme et L'Enfant.

EMMA WEBSTERObstacle of Time, 2023Oil on linen213.4 × 152.4 × 2.5 cm
Webster’s creative process involves the generation of digital landscapes using VR imaging, which the artist then translates onto a canvas. A painter of landscapes and not a landscape painter, the artist’s imagined scenography entrances viewers to a slightly hallucinogenic effect that might impose questions of real versus imagined.
She builds her new worlds: pulling in sketches, watercolors, photographs, whatever is inspiring her, exploding them into 3-D landscapes in virtual space, illuminating them with virtual lighting and the colors she wants. The paint is juicy and applied generously, and some passages look as if they’re still wet. Each finished work is a window into her virtual world.

KADER ATTIALove me, please love me, 2023 led light 7 x 178 cm
Attia spent his childhood living between the suburbs of Paris and in Algeria. Drawing from his experience of living within two disparate cultures, he has developed a dynamic practice that examines the intricacies of social, historical, and cultural differences across the globe. For several recent years, his research has focused on the concept of Repair. From culture to nature, from gender to architecture, from science to philosophy, any system of life is an infinite process of repair.
“Love Me, Please Love Me” focuses on the contemporary subject of the 21st Century, who is trapped in the desire of being desired. Nowadays, we live in a society where attention, individual and collective, has become an economy. Individuals today are obsessed with becoming the object of others’ attention, whether in a small group of friends or on a larger scale, which explains the success of social networks. The more human attention is becoming scarce, the more humans are searching for the attention of others. The more anonymity and anxiety our globalised society creates, the more it activates this desire for attention. It’s a vicious circle in which we’ve been trapped, the new colonisation of the human subject.

AI WEIWEISleeping Venus, 2022 LEGO bricks 308 x 500,5 cm
Art history meets Lego again in Ai Weiwei's “Sleeping Venus (After Giorgione, 1510)”, which revisits a Renaissance painting through LEGO bricks, a playful, readily accessible medium. Ai Weiwei has been working with Lego since 2014, using the medium to replicate Old Master works and “tell a story between something very valuable, historical and something very capitalistic and contemporary”. There is also, as always with Ai Weiwei, a political edge, made clear by the motif of the coat hanger in the corner, an object associated with back-alley abortions. It is a commentary on the repression of rights, especially women’s rights, as one of the gallery representatives at Art Basel Miami stated.
Ai Weiwei is the artist, who after denouncing government corruption and lack of respect for human rights and freedom of speech in China, was arrested, beaten, placed in isolation and forbidden to travel. His activity as a dissident has gone hand in hand with his artistic career and he has continued to produce work testifying to his political beliefs while at the same time making plenty of room for creativity and experimentation.

JENNY HOLZER Survival: In a dream you saw..., 2023 Text: Survival (1983–85) Blue Boquira quartzite bench 43.2 x 116.8 x 49.2 cm
Jenny Holzer’s medium is writing. Since the 1970s, Jenny Holzer’s conceptual practice has involved inserting language into public settings. Regularly combining texts with everyday forms such as benches or billboards, Holzer’s works feature a thought-provoking phrase written by the artist, in this case from Survival, a series she began in 1983 and whose overall tone is rather urgent. The sentences instruct, inform or question the ways an individual responds to their political, social, physical, psychological or personal environments.
Initially written for electronic signs, Holzer soon transferred the messages to other media, like benches and footstools, which have come to form a crucial part of her practice. Blue Boquira quartzite is a precious and sought-after stone that has an exotic appearance, its pattern makes a dynamic play of striking blue tones and dramatic gray veins.