Works by Marc Chagall, Francis Bacon, Alex Katz, Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Banksy and other contemporary artists will be on display when the Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary returns this week after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many never-before-seen works from more than 85 galleries will be on display at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach. The fair opens today with an invitation-only VIP preview to benefit the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens and will run through Sunday.
“The problem with this year’s show is that it grew with Palm Beach County and the city of West Palm Beach,” said Nick Korniloff, director of Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary. “We haven’t had a show with this level of quality of contemporary art with such depth and diversity. Before the pandemic, our area was a very savvy art-loving community during the winter months, but now it’s become a more open, year-round urban environment, which has really created a lot of energy around the event.
During the pandemic and the hiatus of early art fairs in South Florida, many galleries established satellite locations in Palm Beach, following their clientele that had moved here. This has radically changed the landscape of artistic offerings in the region, creating a world-class destination for art lovers.
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Previously housed in a temporary tent site, the art fair is moving to the convention center for the first time this year.
“We were able to increase the number of presenters not only because of demand in the community, but also because of the size of the convention center,” Korniloff said. “We’ll have over 85 exhibitors and galleries this year, so it’s 40% bigger than in the past.”
Highlights include works by 10-year-old painting prodigy Andres Valencia, who took the art world by storm at Art Basel Miami in December, catching international media attention. He is represented by Chase Contemporary and will exhibit several pieces on his stand.
Opera Gallery, which has locations around the world, features an installation by British American sculptor and lighting artist Anthony James, and public art by American sculptor Will Kurtz with a piece in the VIP lounge and an installation on the place, both with proceeds benefiting the Ann Norton.
One of the highlights of the fair will be the work of photographer Harry Benson, who will receive a lifetime achievement award on the VIP opening night.
His photographs will be lined up on both sides of the main entrance hall leading to the fair and will be exhibited in the VIP lounge. The Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach, which has represented Scottish-born Benson for more than 25 years, will host an exhibition at its Benson booth, “Harry Benson: A Lifetime of Legendary Photographs.”
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Gallery owner Holden Luntz said he began his relationship with Benson at a time when photographs were just beginning to enter the category of fine art as an established medium.
“He’s one of the oldest living photographers who we established a consistent working relationship with at a time when people were really starting to get into the photography business,” Luntz said. “It was a time when people were beginning to understand that photography was something they could hang on their walls, collect and see as art. Photography was not common in the art market, so we started our relationship with Harry at a time when all that was changing.
“His images have become windows to the world. He was in the right place at the right time in history, but he also knew what to do once there, so he got some great photos and they always look so fresh.
Benson, 92, has photographed countless celebrities, presidents and musicians, including The Beatles on their inaugural US tour in 1964, Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jackie Kennedy, Ray Charles, Queen Elizabeth , Muhammad Ali, Dolly Parton and the Rolling Stones.
He also photographed important historical events such as the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; walks with Dr. Martin Luther King; Irish Republican Army maneuvers; the Los Angeles Watts riots; the Berlin Wall being torn down; famine in Somalia; and the wars in the Middle East, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
“Taking pictures has always been fun for me and I’m really lucky to make it my job,” Benson said. “Where I grew up in Glasgow, most people had jobs they weren’t happy with, so even though sometimes the things I’ve photographed and seen happen have been horrific, some of the things I “have photographed have been wonderful, and photography has always been fun. tome. I’m really lucky to be doing this for a living.”
Speaking about the role of photojournalism, Benson said, “The big thing right now with photojournalism is that you don’t want to make anything up, and that’s been a really big thing for me. Don’t fail now, that’s all.
“Photojournalism has shown very wonderful moments, but also very terrible moments, but that’s what a photojournalist has to do. I was there in 1968, only four or five meters from Bobby Kennedy when he was shot and murdered… I still wake up sometimes at night, and those are the screams I remember about it.
Benson has received countless awards, including Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and twice named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Association, but he says the work of a lifetime is meaningful.
“I’m very honored and humbled to receive this award at this age and time,” Benson said. “It’s a great honour. I’m an old man and it’s fun to get an award that I can show my grandkids and show all my friends.
If you are going to:
What: Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary
Where: Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.
When: The opening VIP preview is from 5-9 p.m. today. General admission is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday
Cost: One-day ticket is $35, multi-day ticket is $60, VIP ticket is $175 and includes access to the VIP preview opening night, admission unlimited on public fair days, access to VIP lounges and one-day general admission to the Palm Beach International Boat Show. Seniors 62 and older and students 12-18 pay $20. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. All tickets are available exclusively online with no on-site box office.
Information: For more information, visit www.artpbfair.com.