X Contemporary Celebrates Success of Sophomore Edition

December 13, 2016—New York, NY—X Contemporary, the forward-thinking art fair and exhibition platform, concluded its sophomore edition at Nobu Hotel Miami Beach on December 3.

After assisting in X Contemporary’s Wynwood launch in 2015, in 2016 Crystal Curtis stepped into the role of director and spearheaded the fair’s move to Miami Beach. Under Curtis’ leadership, the fair renewed its emphasis on educating and creating art historical context within the greater vision of the market. To this end, curator-initiated presentations took center stage across the two floors of exhibition space, notably, “The Women Who Made Modern Art Modern,” organized by returning Consulting Curator Michael Klein, and “Neptune’s Place: Early Works by Jean-Michel Basquait,” presented by the Bishop Gallery and curated by Al Diaz.

Consulting Curator Michael Klein’s “The Women Who Made Modern Art Modern” earned the praise of critics and collectors alike, who engaged with Klein about the untold stories of women dealers active in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s—including Peggy Guggenheim, Martha Jackson, Terry Dintenfass, Marian Willard and Betty Parsons. On view were twenty works that passed through the collections of the influential women dealers; additionally, the exhibition occasioned the publication of a new catalog-length essay by Klein.

Klein states, “For some viewers this exhibition was a step back in time seeing works by artists who they had not seen in some time. For others it was a revelation of artists and works they did not know before. The point of the exhibition, like any exhibition, is to present works for viewing and discussion. I think ‘The Women Who Made Modern Art Modern’ did just that, and it underscores one of the core values of X Contemporary, which is to highlight not only the new and up-and-coming, but the history of art and artists as well.”

In addition to the informal, salon-like atmosphere of “The Women Who Made Modern Art Modern,” conversation buzzed around “Neptune’s Place: Early Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat,” which featured 20-odd never-before-exhibited works curated by Al Diaz, aka SAMO©. The collection, created between 1979-1981, served as a window into Jean-Michel Basquiat’s evolution as a young artist, the curator said.

Diaz states, “For me as curator, the Miami event was an immensely educational experience. I was able to connect with the collectors on a deeper level; to listen to a great deal of feedback and learn how others view these pieces. It has become more clear to me that the insight I have can help others understand and feel a little more familiar with HIM (not just the work) and shed a bit of light on an otherwise enigmatic artist.”

Emillions (Naples, FL), a boutique art consulting firm specializing in bridging the world of contemporary art and masterworks, celebrated art historical influences in group presentation that included works by neo-Cubist painter Alain Beraud and by Mercedes Lasarte, an artist who employs the Gaugin-inspired technique cloissonisme.

Robin van Arsdol, who at X Contemporary’s inaugural edition held court as the fair’s resident New York street art expert by illuminating Keith Haring’s “The Pop Shop Sign” (1987), returned for the 2016 edition with an exhibition of his own paintings.

Elsewhere at the fair, Lucasta Partridge-Hicks, Director of London’s Cadogan Contemporary gallery, used The Vault as an opportunity to test the waters of the US art market—and to try her hand at exhibiting international projects under her own name. Her ambition was rewarded, and her presentation of the work of artist Deborah Tarr was a success.

Partridge-Hicks states, “I felt this was a great opportunity to bring the work of British painter Deborah Tarr to the attention of various US clients and contacts. As a female gallery director, I was particularly keen to be a part of this fair, especially given its collaboration with Michael Klein on the exhibition ‘The Women Who Made Modern Art Modern.’” Also pursuing independent paths at The Vault were mosaic photo storyteller Robin Austin, who hails from Connecticut, and Miami-based designer Maria Tokenova. Both artists found The Vault to be successful and focused opportunity.

Operating at the intersection of art and fashion, Neoillusionist Gallery (Brooklyn, NY) looked amazing in their bespoke wardrobe and visual style each day. Meanwhile, visitors were spotted sporting caps custom-made by SPENGLISH, an apparel designer known for its textual art and colorful sense of humor, that proudly declared “I ♥ ART.”

Boccara Art (New York, NY and Monaco)—a fine art dealer that brings together artists, galleries and art collectors from across the globe—stunned with an interdisciplinary presentation that included works of sculpture, painting and tapestry.

Ruvan Wijesooriya presented an experimental self-service art booth entitled “How to Buy Art,” which allowed visitors to purchase his photographers directly from the wall without ever interacting with a sales associate.

TIMEBAG (Medellin, Colombia) explored the digital trend of dating apps with their presentation of Juan Obando’s “A Bird Without A Song,” a video-sculpture in the form of an oversized mobile phone displaying a looping Tinder-profile animation.

As part of the fair’s on-site programming, Salomon Arts Gallery (New York, NY) invited live artist Dr. Barnaby Ruhe, who completed over 100 guests’ portraits.

The fair ended on a high note with a closing party, sponsored by Courvoisier, at Nobu Hotel’s Ocean Gardens. Nearly 500 attendees—whose ranks included exhibitors, artists and members of the international art community—celebrated poolside to the sounds of DJ sets by Trauma, Omega and Esta.  Hosts Amani Olu, ARTNOIR and Karelle Levy contributed to the buoyant atmosphere.

Non-profit partner CityArts Factory—a 20,000 square-foot multi-use arts and cultural destination where visual and performing arts co-exist in the heart of the Arts District that is a beacon of cultural growth in Orlando, FL—made their first foray into the world of art fairs by exhibiting at X Contemporary.

A portion of the proceeds from X Contemporary’s 2016 ticket sales will be donated to ProjectArt, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that transforms public libraries into vital cultural hubs that offer students year-round visual art classes taught by emerging contemporary visual artists. On the eve of the fair’s opening, it was announced that ProjectArt had won the Knight Foundation’s ninth annual Knight Arts Challenge Miami.

X Contemporary would like to extend gratitude to media and cultural partners ArtTable, Around Town, Sotheby’s Preferred, Artillery Magazine and POWArts, and to thank beverage partners Hottie Tottie, Buzzbox, Helix Vodka and Icelandic Glacial Water.

About X Contemporary
X Contemporary produces art fairs, organizes exhibitions, and provides curatorial and art advisory services. Using every possible resource, its mission is to: create meaningful and unexpected experiences in the art world; present compelling narratives that slow down how we view art; and emphasize education and art historical context within the greater vision of the market. Through the combination of these efforts, X Contemporary works to create a lasting relationship with art.

Dubbed “a real star of Art Basel Miami Beach,” by Anthony Haden-Guest, X Contemporary was founded in 2015 by former SELECT Fair co-director Matthew Eck. In 2016, X Contemporary assumed new ownership and direction by Crystal Curtis. After the success of organizing “Grace Hartigan (1960 – 1965): The Perry Collection,” Michael Klein returns in 2016 as X Contemporary’s Consulting Curator.