Art Basel Miami 2012: The Writing Is on the Wall

Bullet Shih Dec, 2012 0
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Brett Murray at Goodman Gallery

Brett Murray at Goodman Gallery

Another major theme at Art Basel Miami 2012 was the prevalence of text based works. Barbara Kruger carried the day by commanding space in multiple booths with single words or simple sentences blurring the line between art and literature. Unlike my previous observation of the dominance of simple rectangular works obeying no international borders, text based works seemed to be primarily a US or New York specialty. With 99 of the exhibiting 257 galleries coming from the United States, it is safe to say that at least one quarter of all exhibiting US galleries had a text based work. While other regions added a little extra in the way of collage or images such as Gilbert and George’s recent London Pictures which contained headlines and images, most of the text based works at US galleries contained clichéd catch phrases such as Tavares Strachen’s You Belong Here at Anthony Meier or words loosely based on new age slogans such as Hank Willis Thomas’s Give US Our Own Future at Jack Shainman or Sam Durant’s Dream More Work Less at Blum & Poe .  All of these works were executed in 2012 and their inclusion shows a shift in the plate tectonics of the contemporary art world.  No longer is it replete with opaque inside jokes and esoterica, haiku are out and buzz words are now de rigueur.
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