If you have ever had the fortune of attending an Art Basel event over the last 10 years, you would know what gallery owner Michael Kohn knows. There are no trends. There are no rules. And you can forget about trying to find a common theme among the torrent of music, art video, 1960s abstract sculpture, neo-expressionist paintings, head-spinning digital collages and everything else that’s on display in the Miami Convention Center. After all, what could Anthony Caro or Warhol have in common with a rusty Volkswagen bus stuffed with bananas and an L.A. graffiti artist that has collaborated with Louis Vuitton—except the art itself? The question has never bothered the organizers of Miami’s Art Basel, nor Kohn, whose eponymous gallery marks its 10th year at the fair from Dec. 6-9, 2012.
“The only common denominator is me,” he explains of his shows. (You get the sense that this is probably true of the other 250 galleries exhibiting at Art Basel as well.) He also shrugs off journalists’ temptations to hook on to some sort of thesis or trend, telling them, “there are too many things happening simultaneously in the art world today for the old notion of a single trend to hold true. It’s not a valid model anymore.”
Kohn would know. As a gallery owner for 27 years, he has watched the art world change dramatically. The traditional black-and-white boundaries have blurred to a gray, mobile and global business.
“I can’t think it’s a coincidence that the immense growth of the art business has coincided with the advances we’ve seen in technology over the last 25 years,” he says. “Art is a visual business, and with the rise of the Internet and availability of 24-7 auction websites, we can reach buyers and collectors we could never reach before with a magazine ad.”
Whether purposeful or not, the juxtaposition of old and new cannot be overlooked at the Michael Kohn Gallery’s current Art Basel exhibition. Andy Warhol, Basquiat and Joe Goode paintings from the 1970s and 80s mix with contemporary work from emerging talents such as Simmons and Burke, Ryan McGinness and RETNA. Given Kohn’s art history background (he has a Master’s Degree in Art History from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts) and passion for contemporary art, it all makes sense. Previews Inside Out is proud to give our readers a special look behind the visually inspiring digital photography, collage, abstract paintings and textual graffiti-inspired works currently on display from the Michael Kohn Gallery.
For 27 years, the Michael Kohn Gallery has mounted museum-quality exhibitions in Los Angeles of the work of Andy Warhol (during his lifetime), Richard Tuttle, Peter Halley, Keith Haring, Dan Flavin, Mark Tansey, Jay DeFeo, Lorna Simpson, Kenny Scharf, Christopher Wool, among many other notable and talented artists. More information on the Michael Kohn Gallery is available atwww.kohngallery.com.