Automotive artistry

Though Art Basel Miami Beach is all but a distant memory (it closed on Sunday but we're in art mode - things move on) a lasting legacy of this year's fair, which by all accounts was the most over-the-top in years, is a sculpture by American artist Julian Schnabel.

Best known for his rugged neo-expressionist paintings and for his direction of 2007's stunning Jean-Dominique Bauby biopic, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Schnabel seemed an unlikely candidate to join hands with a global car manufacturer in what, on the surface, is a relatively arbitrary artistic partnership.

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Maybach - a German car manufacturer synonymous with stateside politicians and celebrities alike - called upon Schnabel to come up with a "Maybach Sculpture" for this year's fair. No artfully oversized gearsticks or melted Maybach tires here, Schnabel's work is as disconnected from the brand as possible, and both parties are the better for it.

Consisting of two cast bronze sections “Queequeq – The Maybach Sculpture,” (the name is taken from the harpooneer in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick) the unignorably phallic structure demonstrates the fluidity and lightness of touch for which Schnabel is celebrated.

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The start of a two year partnership between Maybach and Schnabel (the car manufacturer has previously worked with the likes of Christo & Jeanne-Claude and David LaChapelle) Maybach are using the partnership as a platform from which to demonstrate their - undeniably admirable - dedication to the arts, while for Schnabel it marks the start of an exciting year, with the sculpture set to be exhibited across the globe in 2011, most notably at the Venice Biennale and MOCA in Los Angeles as part of a major Julian Schnabel retrospective.

For something a little closer to home, Maybach is - as of this year - the official automotive partner of The Louvre in Paris, and to celebrate, the company will be installing a temporary sculpture by English artist Tony Cragg, which will be on display beneath the gallery's pyramid from January to October 2011.

www.artbaselmiamibeach.com

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