The fifth iteration of the Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary Art Fair (March 24-27) at the Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach paid homage to photographer Harry Benson, who received a lifetime achievement award for his 60-year career.
The fair opened with a preview event Thursday evening benefiting the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, whose The Garden Exhibition featured works from four artists represented by Long-Sharp Gallery, including Patrick Hurst, Julian Wild, Tarik Currimbhoy and Jason Myers.
Best known for his iconic images of The Beatles on their inaugural American tour in 1964, Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, The Clintons, Jackie Kennedy, Ray Charles, Andy Warhol, Queen Elizabeth, Muhammad Ali, Dolly Parton and The Rolling Stones, Benson’s photographs have appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Time Magazine, Fortune, ParisMatch and The London Sunday Times.
Locally, he’s represented by the Holden-Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach.
Now at 92, the Scottish-born and Palm Beach based photographer is still on his game, having recently photographed singer and Hall of Fame rocker Jon Bon Jovi.
“We’re thrilled to honor Harry Benson,” said Nick Korniloff, director of Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary Art Fair and of ArtMiami, at the awards ceremony.
“You are a tremendous force and a real talent,” he said to Benson, and admitted to being “a little taken aback” by Benson’s career. Korniloff recalled perusing Life magazine as a child and admiring Benson’s photographs, many of them iconic and instantly recognizable.
“Harry’s six decades of work are inspiring to everyone,” he said.
His photographs of Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow on their way to Truman Capote’s Black and White masquerade ball in 1966, all four Beatles posing with Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) in boxing shorts in 1964 at the 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, taken one week before Ali defeated Sonny Liston, and of Andy Warhol posing in front of his 1983 Times Four lithograph of Mia Farrow, graced the hallway as patrons entered the fair.
Also on display in the Convention Center were a wide range of investment quality art from an international group of galleries and artists from over 85 galleries, nine countries and 30 cities, including such well-recognized names such as Robert Motherwell, Roy Lichtenstein, Banksy, Alex Katz, David Hockney and Fernando Botero.
Marlborough presented works from Ahmed Alsoudani, Claudio Bravo, Deborah Butterfield, Sam Francis and Alex Katz.
Maddox Gallery showed Banksy’s Britannia CCTV and George Condo’s 1998 painting, The Escaped Hippie.
Andres Valencia, the 10-year-old art prodigy who sold out his work at Art Miami last year, was on display at Chase Contemporary.
Gilles Dyan and Opera Gallery featured Botero’s Musicians, an oil on canvas, and Women on a Horse, a bronze sculpture.
At Paris and Montreal-based Galerie Got, were works artists Hallman and Stum, known creatively as Stallman, a 60-foot-by-60-foot canvas titled Drop Acid. Depending on the angle from which you viewed the canvas, the colors and shapes undulated and changed color. The two have pioneered a new technique utilizing both the painting and the canvas as sculpture.
Lisa Burgess, owner of New River Fine Art gallery in Fort Lauderdale, was showcasing work by “Miss Bugs,” a street art duo from Banksy’s rumored hometown of Bristol, England, who are known for their colorful and contemporary mixed-media artwork.
“Since COVID-19, the market in Palm Beach has grown by leaps and bounds,” she says. “Many of the New York galleries have relocated or opened satellite galleries in Palm Beach and Worth Avenue, following their customers to Florida.”
“Since this fair attracts a world-class, internationally respected group of galleries and their artists, it has raised the bar for contemporary art in Palm Beach County,” Burgess says. “Even though compared to major cities like New York or London, the Palm Beach market is smaller, it’s very affluent and many of the world’s top collectors are here.”
How does one collect art?
Art adviser Anthony Japour of the Lillian Heidenberg Fine Art gallery, based in New York and Bal Harbour, counsels his clients on how to buy fine art. He compares shopping for art to shopping for a rich man.
“It’s just as easy to love them both, so why not go with the rich man, or with the art which will appreciate,” he said.
“It’s nice to be back,” he added. “Palm Beach has an amazing fine art community and discerning clients.”
Those who couldn’t afford to leave the fair with a Kiyoshi Nakagami painting or one of Anthony James’s monumental stainless steel, glass and LED sculptures, might have been able to start their collections with one of Miss Bugs’s Do No Harm resin lollipops, individually priced to sell at $350.