Pop Shop Reboot, Tribute to Richard Gray Among Curated Offerings at Art Basel Miami Beach
By Annie Armstrong and Sarah Douglas
Keith Haring once said of his Pop Shop in downtown Manhattan that he wanted it to be “a place where, yes, not only collectors could come, but also kids from the Bronx.” Haring passed away in 1990, and his Pop Shop shuttered in 2005, but Lévy Gorvy gallery is recreating aspects of the artist’s New York store at Art Basel Miami Beach next week, where a rebooted Pop Shop will certainly be viewed by a lot of collectors, especially on the VIP preview day.
Lévy Gorvy describes its booth-filling exhibition “Radiant New” as “an homage to the radical spirit of New York in the 1980s.” The centerpiece is Haring’s famous Silence = Death, a vibrant, triangular pink canvas. The gallery is offering the painting, on consignment from a European private collector, at $8.5 million. Haring finished the painting in 1988, the year he was diagnosed with AIDS, at the height of the syndrome’s crisis, and meant the piece as a political statement. Lévy Gorvy has also gotten original wallpaper from the Pop Shop to festoon its booth walls.
Gallery co-owner Dominique Lévy feels that Haring’s painting will connect with today’s viewers. “I felt strongly that it’s relevant now in every way shape and form,” she told ARTnews. “In the art world, politically, there is more communication than ever, but there is also more silence than ever. . . . It’s like a flag for courage, and to speak up and be responsible humans, you have to open your mouth and say what you think.”
Rounding out “Radiant New” will be a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting on a football helmet (it includes human hair), a Richard Prince fashion photograph, Jeff Koons’s iconic vacuum cleaners, and works by Tom Wesselmann and others. Another highlight is a 1976 Andy Warhol ten-part silkscreen of skulls, which hasn’t been shown publicly in 15 years and was once owned by the esteemed art dealer and collector Thomas Ammann. That work is priced at $16.5 million.
The Haring and the Warhol are at the upper end of the price range typical for Art Basel in Miami. (At its sister fair in Basel, Switzerland, you may very well find a $80 million Mark Rothko painting.) Last year, the highest-priced artwork reported to have sold at the fair in Miami was a Bruce Nauman installation at the booth of Hauser & Wirth, where it was purchased for $9.5 million by a collection in Asia.
And Lévy Gorvy isn’t the only curated offering at the fair.
For its booth called “Lightness of Being,” Pace Gallery will focus on West Coast artists of the Light and Space movement. James Turrell, Robert Irwin, and Mary Corse, the latter a recent addition to the gallery’s roster, are all on the menu, in addition to Douglas Wheeler, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, and Larry Bell. There will also be a bit of Christo: the gallery recently announced a partnership with the artist; in Miami, they will have five works on paper all related to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida (1980–83), which is also the subject of a show across the water at the Perez Art Museum.
You can also expect to see some Christo at Galerie Gmurzynska. With their presentation, the gallery will nod to New York, as their new Upper East Side space opens next week, by showing a series of collages by Christo made in conjunction with his piece in Central Park from 2005, The Gates. Known for its flamboyant fair presentations, Gmurzynska is also displaying a survey of American artists led by a tribute to Pop-art icon Robert Indiana, who died this past May. Gmurzynska’s Isabelle Bscher told ARTnews, “We have a whole section where there’ll be a great Motherwell painting that used to be hanging in the head office of General Electric, and we have some fantastic [work by] Marjorie Strider, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith.”
Galleries at Art Basel Miami have the option to offer a curated section of their booths through Art Basel’s “Kabinett” program, and Chicago’s Richard Gray Gallery’s “Kabinett” booth is dedicated to its founder, who passed away earlier this year. “A Tribute to Richard Gray” will have 17 post-war pieces from Gray’s personal collection. Gray’s son, Paul Gray, who runs the gallery, told ARTnews, “He was a collector of works from quite a wide time period: Old Masters, Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary. In fact the collection has about 225 works, and the earliest one dates from the late 16th century.”
Then there are the galleries in Art Basel’s “Survey” sector, which present mini-exhibitions of historical artists. For its inaugural outing at Art Basel Miami Beach, the New York gallery Venus Over Manhattan is installing its booth with works by Polish artist Maryan, focusing on his “Personnage” paintings (1967–72) from late in his career, while he was in New York.