The New Kid on the Block at Art Basel Miami Beach

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At only three years old, the Untitled Art Fair is definitely the new kid on the block at Art Basel Miami Beach. To be perfectly honest, we weren’t even expecting to visit this fledgling fair until we we happened to be walking along South Beach and spotted the extraordinary Untitled Pavillion.

But it’s a good thing we did.

We emerged from the show feeling like we had just come from Churchill Downs because a three-year-old had won our Art Basel derby! Primarily because of the art. It was new and interesting and provocative and genuinely engaging. And it was all exhibited in a way that let us breath and think while we took it all in. More like a luxury boutique than a strip mall.

Everything else at Untitled ruled as well — from the food, to the music, to the way the structure itself embraced its beachside surroundings, plus we ran into some awesome friends.

So we’ve gone ahead and assembled the 15 reasons the Untitled Art Fair stole the show at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach.

1. Anastasia Ax Is What Would Happen If Scientists Dug Up Jackson Pollock and Fused His DNA With Urs Fischer and Marina Abramovic’s Imaginary Love Child.
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Untitled, Anastasia Ax (2014)

Yes, that’s our proposed plotline to JurARTsic Park. But we honestly believe that we are refraining from hyperbole by saying that Anastasia’s Ax’s art is far more powerful than the work of those whom we have imagined to be her progenitors. Hers is not the sort of art one sees and thinks, “I could do that.” And it’s not the sort of work one sees and wonders, “What is that?” Anastasia Ax makes the sort of art that forces you to feel colossal feelings. She smashes through your default phone-y-ness and jadedness and makes you once again believe that art may unveil the mysteries of life and death.

Words feel frail in the face of her art. The best we can do is to literally describe what she does: she swallows black ink and then spits it up while simultaneously pulverizing masses of plaster and paper to percussive beats that make Ramstein sound breezy.

2. Norman Mooney’s Windseed Is Precisely the Sort of Stone You Shouldn’t Throw If You Live in a Philip Glass House
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Windseed, Norman Mooney (2014)

It pierced our eyes with pleasure. This belongs on Elysium — right next to the “med-bed” required to heal those blissfully peripatetic souls who unwittingly impale themselves on one of its symmetrical spears.

3. The Feeling of Being Hammered Is Perfectly Conveyed By Pablo Gomez Uribe’s Reality Crumbles.
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Reality Crumbles Representation, Pablo Gomez Uribe (2014)

With soul-pounding simplicity, this hanged our throbbing heads upon the wall. A work this powerful deserves Teutonic praise. Das ist der absolute Hammer!

4. Paul Kremer’s Aim Right / Aim Left Is Para-toxically Hypnotic
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Aim Right, Aim Left, Paul Kremer (2014)

Could one make a protective vest that works through optical confusion? Just as the assailant attempts to focus his weapon, his line of vision would blur more thoroughly than Robin Thicke qua Bill Cosby’s conception of consent. And then maybe those budding King Joffreys might crossbow themselves.

5. Adrian Esparza Stages the Unfurling of Life as a Serape
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Untitled, Adrian Esparza (2014)

In Greek mythology, the three fates spin the threads of life that control our destiny. In Esparza’s work, those threads lie unspun, nakedly displaying the fruits of our teleological loom.

6. In 1967, Alejandro Puente Built a Pasteleporter
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Complementarios Llevados Al Blanco, Alejandro Puente (1967).

A staple of science fiction, the teleporter tends to assume stock shades of functional black and silver — or perhaps the occasional UBERian gray. In Miami, the future of transportation takes on the hues of art deco. Puente’s pasteleporter disingenuously promises to disintegrate and reconstitute your transient particles with the pointed gentleness of Seurat painting you into Watteau’s Embarkation for Cythera.

7. Social Media Onomatopoeia Pops Like a Kaboom from Nina Chanel Abney’s Canvas
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Untitled, Nina Chanel Abney (2014)

That buzz-ing, and ding-ing, and ping-ing, and rattl-ing in our pockets. It’s up there for us to see and wonder how we absorb it all while still maintaining the semblance of sanity. Or so we think…

8. Dennis Loesch Imagines the Sort of Images That Samantha Might Make in Her
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Gradient Type II, Dennis Loesch (2013)

Will it end in fire or ice? Or will it end in the restrained stripings of a robot in love? Alone in those woods on that snowy evening, how was Frost to worry about artificial intelligence? His horse would have indeed thought it queer were he to begin musing about the lovely, dark and deep markings that might one day be made by androids.

9. The Grid Becomes a Cage and the Cage Becomes a Grid in the Work of Alois Kronschlaeger.
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Untitled, Alois Kronschlaeger (2014)

At the main fair we heard Simon de Pury praise the grid while lauding Instagram alongside Kevin Systrom and Klaus Biesenbach. The Insta-ntly canonized grid has Simon thinking like an indentured squarecropper. We were thankful for Kronschlaeger’s counterpoint. In her work, the grid loses its luster. Incongruous objects are trapped in a perpendicular state of panoptic transparency. This work casts a long and needed shadow over the gird’s newfound (and questionably undeserved) gridibility.

10. David Kramer Questions the “Me” In “Meme”
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David Kramer

Kramer brings you face to face with the generic perception of particularity. That’s so true. That’s so me. Yet it’s so you too. Right? And all of us. So how can it still be so “me”? Can uniquely personal resonance be created on a mass scale simply just by placing platitudes alongside an image depicting one of Ekman’s basic emotions? Kramer puts that riveting question on display.

11. The Untitled Pavillion Was Beachtastic
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It felt like an art fair on the beach should feel. You don’t want sand blowing in your face, but you don’t want to feel like you’re in some repurposed warehouse in Williamsburg. The structure, designed by K/R architects is right on South Beach, and its beach-facing wall is transparent. So that big, hot Miami sun shines right through and illuminates all the art within. And those murmuring Miami waves roll on predictably, straight outta La Plage by Robbe-Grillet.

12. The Food at the Jeepny Stand Proved that FilipiNO means Yes
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13. Michelle von Mandel’s Beats Made the Untitled Terrace Feel Like the Pool at the ManDelano
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14. Hennessey Made a Convincing Case That One May Indeed Drink Cognac Before Sundown
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Shout out to superstar photographer and DJ Leslie Kirchhoff for hooking us up with our very own bottle.

15. We Opened with Anastasia Ax, and We Want to Close With Her.

Watch this video to discover what we’ve dubbed #AxionPainting: