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Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian to Collaborate in Miami

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian to Collaborate in Miami


You don’t immediately think of Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian as collaborators.

Indeed, the two were historically competitors, dealers who represented some of the same artists at different points in their careers.

But these art world heavyweights — both protégés of the dealer Leo Castelli — have known each other for years and decided for the first time to collaborate. The result is an ambitious exhibition on figurative painting and sculpture in Miami in December.

“Larry and I have wanted to do a project together for some time,” Mr. Deitch said. “Everything came together.”

The show, “Unrealism,” opens on Dec. 1 in a 20,000-square-foot space in the Moore Building in the Miami Design District and will remain through the week of Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 3 through 6). Craig Robins, the developer who spearheaded the district, offered Mr. Gagosian the space, and Mr. Gagosian said he thought of Mr. Deitch.

“He’s one of the most imaginative, innovative curators out there,” he said. “My gallery represents a lot of figurative artists. I think it’s a very important part of what’s going on now.”

Mr. Deitch had long wanted to explore the subject in a show, but said he never had the chance as the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. When he returned to New York, he was struck by the work of emerging figurative painters — many of them women — like Ella Kruglyanskaya, Jamian Juliano-Villani and Tala Madani.

“The new energy in figuration inspired me to take this on and include artists from earlier generations, from the ’80s and ’90s, who continue to be doing exciting work today,” Mr. Deitch said. “People have made figurative painting since the beginning of all art — it goes back to the cave painting — but every generation redefines it.”

The more established artists in the show include John Currin, Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton and David Salle.

How to explain the resurgence of figurative art? “The audience and artists are seeking a humanistic connection in art,” said Mr. Deitch, who is now back in his old Grand Street gallery. “There’s a need for that because a lot of the art that is prominent now is very oriented towards inside-art issues.”

Whenever the architect Frank Lloyd Wright arrived for his annual stay at his winter home, studio and school in Scottsdale, Ariz. — Taliesin West — he would rearrange things, like the original canvas roof system.

“Wright used to change it every time he got there,” said Gunny Harboe, principal of the Chicago-based Harboe Architects. “When he got there in November, he would start pointing around with his cane and saying, ‘Hey guys, I want you to move that.’ ”

This is the kind of quirky history that made a plan for preserving Taliesin West — a National Historic Landmark — such a challenge. Now, bringing to a close an 18-month study process, the board of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has approved a master plan, developed with Harboe architects, that will guide the future conservation and restoration of the landscape and the 77-year-old building, which melds Southwestern vernacular and Prairie-style elements.

“For the first time ever, the foundation has completed something that talks about what needs to be restored or preserved at Taliesin West, to what level — what period of significance — and why,” said Sean Malone, the foundation’s chief executive.

Harboe Architects conducted thousands of hours of research. “We spent a week going through photographs, color slides, to try to discern what those changes might have been and to try to figure out when they occurred,” Mr. Harboe said. “Most aren’t dated. It’s like a giant puzzle.”

“In my 25 years,” he added, “I think it’s the most complicated job I’ve worked on.”

The plan addresses how to preserve Taliesin West while keeping it a living, active residential community of people who helped create it alongside Wright. The site also houses extensive collections of Wright’s art and artifacts and receives more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Much of the research has been spent trying painstakingly to reconstruct the evolution of the complex during the period that Wright lived and worked there, between 1938 and 1959. Like the architect’s annual rethinking of those canvas roofs. “We’re going to be doing a number of mockups — working with different vendors and engineers — to figure out how we capture that feeling of a winter camp in a way that is sustainable year after year,” Mr. Malone said.

While canvas may have proved to be high-maintenance, Wright chose the material because it was inexpensive and captured the quality he wanted. “He was very interested in the soft, filtered light that you get through a canvas panel,” Mr. Harboe said. “He loved that.”

You don’t have to know that the nurse in Roy Lichtenstein’s famous painting looks stricken because she is overhearing a conversation between her boyfriend and a woman she suspects is trying to steal him away.

“He’s completely concentrated the image, taken away the words,” said Brett Gorvy, international head of contemporary art at Christie’s, where “Nurse” will be auctioned on Nov. 9. “There’s fear in her face — you’re not quite sure what the narrative is. You bring your own narrative.”

“Nurse” is part of the artist’s popular “girl paintings,” based on comic-book images. Perhaps because most of those paintings from the 1960s are in museums and hard to come by, and because Lichtenstein created very few at this scale — 48 x 48 inches — Christie’s low estimate for the bottle blonde with troubled blue eyes and parted red lips will be a hefty $80 million. The work also has a guarantee, an undisclosed sum promised to sellers regardless of the auction’s outcome.

The painting was previously owned by the newsprint magnate Peter Brant, before being acquired at auction in 1995 by the unidentified present owner for $1.65 million (about $2.58 million in today’s dollars).

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