Cultured Magazine

Winter 2015

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rt history, much like fashion, is a cyclical push-pull between opposing trends. At the moment, the abstraction zeitgeist that has ruled the past decade seems to be winding down, making way for the return of figuration—depictions of the human body, ostensibly the opposite end of the artistic spectrum. Noting the changing tide, power dealers Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch are mounting an expansive show of figurative painting and sculpture during Art Basel Miami Beach, coyly titled "Unrealism." The collaboration sparked after real estate mogul Craig Robins invited Gagosian to mount a show in the Miami Design District. Gagosian then approached Deitch, (whose interest in uniting high culture with pop culture left an indelible mark last year when he booked the tongue-wagging Miley Cyrus to perform). Gagosian, however, was more drawn to Deitch's curatorial prowess than his celebrity affiliations. "Jeffrey is one of the most talented curators in America," says Gagosian. "We see eye-to-eye on the concept, which has made him the perfect partner for the show. He's brought a fresh vision to the project—and he's fun to work with." These accolades may come as a surprise to those who generally regard the two dealers—who both credit their respective careers to the late art titan Leo Castelli—as rivals. "Some of the artists I showed began with Gagosian, and a few artists he's shown have shown with me," Deitch concedes, although it doesn't damper his admiration for Gagosian either. "He's the greatest art dealer of our era, so it's a privilege for me to be able to work with him." Focusing largely on new works with a few nods to the '80s and '90s, "Unrealism" is an expansive show, (filling 20,000 square feet of the Moore Building) and including the work of more than 50 artists, both heavyweights like Dana Schutz, John Currin and Urs Fischer, as well as an emerging generation of figurative artists that includes Ella Kruglyanskaya, Tala Madani and Jamian Juliano-Villani. The works adhere to the conventions of traditional painting and sculpture ("We're not doing 3-D printing," Deitch assures), and yet together they express the genre's evolution. "What I find fascinating is how each generation redefines the figurative image for their own time," says Deitch, noting the enduring interest in depicting the human body. "It goes back to the cave paintings and yet it continues to evolve. Figuration never goes away." 142 CULTURED GO FIGURE Unlikely collaborators Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch mount an unreal exhibition during Art Basel Miami Beach. BY JANELLE ZARA "Jeffrey is one of the most talented curators in America." —Larry Gagosian John Currin's Fortune Teller, 2015 PHOTO BY DOUGLAS M. PARKER STUDIO, COURTESY GAGOSIAN GALLERY © JOHN CURRIN A

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