5 Artists to Eye at Art Basel

At Art Basel Miami Beach, where the art-world’s eyes turn each December, it is well established that leading galleries from around the globe will showcase work from masters of modern and contemporary art. In addition to those household names, however, one can also experience emerging artists who are becoming stars in their own right.

What follows is a selection of 5 artists at Art Basel you should keep an eye on this year.



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Jeffrey Gibson has had quite a year: a major exhibition at the Denver Art Museum and a current show at the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College. Gibson, who is of Native American descent and based in New York’s Hudson Valley, is an expert at reinventing craft traditions from various indigenous peoples while respecting the original sources. In the Nova sector, the Los Angeles gallery Roberts Projects will present an immersive installation featuring text-based wall hangings, paintings, and a figurative sculpture intended to disrupt the usual fair setting. Gibson has a way with decoration and pattern, so prepare to be amazed on the visual level as well as the intellectual one.



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Kiwanga, a Canadian artist who works in Paris, is getting good at fair presentations. In May at Frieze New York, she installed a sculpture called Shady, made of fabric panels, in front of the event. Now in the Positions sector, Galerie Jérôme Poggi of Paris presents works Kiwanga made with Haitian craftswomen, including a sculptural wall piece that incorporates sequined and beaded flags from Haitian voodoo ceremonies. It’s part of a movement called “social practice,” where artists employ and collaborate with people of different cultures who have craft expertise to make contemporary art.



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The last couple of years have been very big for older African American artists who might have been overlooked in the past but are finally getting their due. Cases in point: big museum presentations of works by Jack Whitten, Sam Gilliam, and others. In the Survey sector of the Miami fair, New York’s Firestone Gallery presents the geometric abstractions of Joe Overstreet, a longtime New York–based painter who turns 85 this year. His unusual canvas shapes—and the fact that most of his canvases are not on the wall but stand up on their own—offer a fresh take on the medium while also touching on the African American experience.



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In showing Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña at the booth of Amsterdam’s Upstream Gallery, two art world trends converge: duos who work in tandem and the appreciation of Latin American art, which has deepened dramatically in recent years. The latter fact is in part due to the popularity of Art Basel in Miami Beach, easily one of the best places on the planet to understand what is happening culturally in Central and South America. Léon and Cociña—Chilean artists who are both only 40 years old—present a new work, La Casa Lobo, that incorporates a feature film, paintings, and wallpaper. All the elements shine a light on religious symbolism and magic rituals in Latin American traditions.

—By Ted Loos

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