What I find so paradoxical about the art world is how it pairs, leftist creative free thinkers, with free-market conservative capitalist elitists.
This week was the opening of Art Basel Miami, the largest international art fair in the United States. The art market remains a superficial indicator of how the economy is perceived. If rich people are feeling rich, they buy. If rich people are feeling poor, they don't. In a way the art world reflects the ups and downs of the stock market. Just as the stock market doesn't reflect the actual health of the economy, so does the Art Market reflect the fickle up and down financial fears of the uber-rich.
In 2007 during the last financial bubble, Art Basel Miami made record sales. Last year just weeks after the crash, dealers where jumping out of windows. This year the Art Market is back up, reflecting the 30% increase in the overall stock market's gains since the March lows.
It boggles the mind that the art world is made up of the very rich and the very poor, the poor being the artists at the mercy of financial titans. This year European and Asian collectors have stepped aside for their South American oil rich counterparts to burn dollars in the art pyre.
If you can get beyond the hype and celebrity, and the funny money, contemporary art remains obtuse and quirky as ever. I, unfortunately, am missing the fairs in Miami this year, but here is what is being reported back from the blogs.
Art star Kehinde Wiley, hangs one of his neo-classical inspired portraits at Deitch. This time the late King of Pop sits equestrian style while Rococo cherubs fly hapily above. I love Kehinde's painting but this boarders on camp... camp is so 2000:
This really is Sly Stalone, and not a wax sculpture that I initially confused it for. Kids let this be a lesson; just say no to cosmetic surgery:
Maria Jose Arjona, Mexican performance artist who's work consists of "endurance tests" stood for six hours on four glasses with live goldfish. Kids this is the great genera of "performance art":
I admit its really hard to grasp contemporary art sometimes. And to understand art performance takes a certain somethin' somethin'. So for your context you must watch this interview James Fracno did with the great 2nd waver, Marina Abramovic. If you think Lady Gaga is the be all end all of culture, then you must must must pay homage to the great performance artists who created the template. I saw Abromovic two years ago at Basel, she was entirely too entertaining:
You can hear more about Art Basel Miami on this morning's NPR coverage: