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Miami Art Week 2014: Reimagining The Human Form

Paintings and sculptures that reconstruct the figure in beautiful new ways

A centuries-long obsession with human form continues to inspire artists across all media. Both the familiar and the unknown, the easy-to-recognize and the purely abstract, it is the self and the other. At this year’s Miami Art Week, many works caught our attention that reconstructed the human image with refreshing perspective. Across both painting and sculpture, here are a few favorites from multiple fairs.


Not only are the paintings in artist Dan Coombs‘s “Nudes” series (2014)—found at the Pulse Art Fair—warped and visually stunning, the process used to achieve the effect is an interesting one. Coombs takes countless photos of nude models, selects his favorites, and then photocopies them over and over, distorting the image slightly each time. He then paints a rendition of the final photocopied project, landing soft edging and the impression of melting.


Already acclaimed for his visionary painting, drawing and printmaking, George Condo presented the “God 2” (2014) sculpture at Art Basel. This gold-painted bronze piece, at the Skarstedt Gallery booth carries hawkish attributes, but remains recognizable human—and distinctly Condo.


“Bums” (2013) by Polish artist Pawel Sliwisnki forgoes many of the attributes that define the human form across all his figures, in place of bright, loosely constructed characters. Found at the Beers Contemporary booth at Pulse Art Fair, this oil on canvas work offers up an almost mystical interpretation of street drunkenness.


Artist David Humphrey presented “Sidewalk” (2014) among other acrylic on canvas works at the Fredericks & Freiser booth at UntitledArt Fair. His portrayal of the human form involves bold lines, thick blocks and light shading. Even without further attributes, the silhouettes convey more than enough to build not just figures, but a scenario.


Nothing more than blackened smudges, and yet recognizably human, Leszek Skurski‘s figures within the acrylic on canvas “Karussell” (2014) allow the imagination to build further definition. Found at the Red Corridor Gallery space within Scope Art Fair, this work is a true representation of how little must be in place for our mind to connect with our own form.


In stark contrast, Danish artist Johnson Tsang goes into exaggerated detail within his “Baby” porcelain sculpture series. Seen at the Galleri Oxholm set-up, also within Scope, the out-of-proportion head and rear end of the baby, and the full lips visible in a reflective mirror, exacerbates our impression of newborns.


The Aureus Contemporary booth at Scope played host to a series of new works by Robert Pokorny. These figurative pieces, while highly line-based and almost invoking calligraphy, convey far more about the character’s nature than they do about physical attributes—with the emotions and energies being represented by way of color.


“The Crusader,” an older piece found within the Red Dot Art Fair seems ever-relevant. A figure, cloaked in an oversized hoodie, was crafted from mixed media and gold leaf on wood back in 1980 by Haitian artist Francesca Lalanne. There’s almost an air of death, despite the glowing port where a face would normally be. Seemingly before its time, the work actually calls to mind the “hoodies up” movement surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin.


CH favorite Dan Gluibizzi delivered another large-scale wonder at this year’s Ampersand Gallery booth within Miami Project. Much like his other vibrant, often NSFW watercolor paintings, “On Division” (2014) captures a playful, sexual nature with concise brushwork and minute tonal details.

Images by David Graver


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