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Historic Female Dealers Lead the Way at X Contemporary

December 2, 2016

Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Paul Jenkins are among the other highlights.

 

By: Sarah Cascone

Paul Jenkins, Phenomena Galileo Galilei (1963). Courtesy of the Estate of Paul Jenkins.

 

As art collectors flocked to the Miami Beach Convention Center for the opening day of Art Basel in Miami Beach on November 30, X Contemporary quietly celebrated the launch of its second edition slightly north at Miami Beach’s Nobu Hotel.

 

It’s a new location for the fair, which was last year held in a tent in Miami’s Wynwood district.

 

The fair made a bit of a splash in pre-Miami Art Week coverage for two of its planned booths: “Neptune’s Place: Early Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat,” presented by Brooklyn’s Bishop Gallery; and “The Women Who Made Modern Art Modern,” curated by Michael Klein.

 

The former is the public’s first chance to see 20-odd early works by the legendary artist, all created between 1979 and 1981 in New York. The booth is curated by Al “SAMO” Diaz, a former collaborator of Basquiat’s.

 

 

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (colorful skull face). Courtesy of Bishop Gallery.

 

The latter shines a light on the underappreciated contributions of women dealers who played key roles in “promoting, marketing, and selling many of the artists we think of as top of the line,” Klein told artnet News. He’s compiled a lengthy essay on his subjects, who include Martha Jackson, Terry Dintenfass, and Marian Willard, as well as more familiar names such as Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons.

 

A private dealer, Klein is an X Contemporary vet, having presented works by Grace Hartigan at the fair’s inaugural edition in 2015. The 12 dealers and small selection of 20 works he is showcasing are just a small taste of a larger, mostly untold story, he explained, noting that “I could have had 150 pieces.”

 

 

Lester Johnson, East Hampton, Three Profiles (1962). Courtesy of Private Collection, Chicago.

 

The works are mostly on loan, and are in many cases for sale, with prices ranging from $4,500 for a charcoal study by Elaine de Kooning—represented by Eleanor Ward, who gave Andy Warhol his first show—to $150,000 for larger works.

 

A gorgeous 1962 figurative canvas by Robert Gwathmey titled Ecstacy, as well as PHENOMENA GALILEO GALILEI, a colorful 1963 triptych on canvas by Paul Jenkins, are among the standouts.

 

These two headliners lent the fair some much-needed cachet: other booths were something of a mixed bag, suggesting that the young fair hasn’t quite nailed down its identity. And even if there was plenty of chaff, it meant that prices were more reasonable than at some of the bigger fairs, with some works starting at as little as $400.

 

 

Barbara Rosene, The Village Vanguard. Courtesy of Barbara Rosene.