The premier art event that is Miami's Art Basel opened, and closed, last week in a five day mecca of art offerings for both the serious collector and the merely curious observer. From celebrities to students, press and collectors, more than 60,000 people descended upon the Miami Beach fair grounds for the showings, which kicked off with a VIP event on Wednesday.
The fair has become a winter wonderland of art enthusiasm for the international art community and the fair celebrated its tenth anniversary in December of 2011. This year, the world’s top 250 galleries were selected to be featured at the main fair showcase at the Miami Beach Convention Center. And among those galleries more than 4000 artists will be featured.
The main fair is the focal point of the entire Art Basel extravaganza. It hosts row upon row of booths by the art worlds leading names. Premier art galleries such as the Gagosian Gallery, David Zwirner, and White Cube lure the crowds in with their tempting works.
Jeff Koons sculptures and polka dot works by Yayoi Kusama are among the sightings that were featured, according to the Art Basel website that detailed the event highlights. According to the site, favorites like Nir Hod, Kehinde Wiley, Richard Prince, Nick Cave, and Ed Ruscha were all represented by various galleries, and even an original Andy Warhol piece was among the featured works.
Even celebrity art patrons like Leonardo DiCaprio, former Disney chief Michael Eisner and even artist Jeff Koons, whose inflatable art recently set a record price, were spotted at the art fair during the five-day event.
In conjunction with the main fair, Miami's private art collections open their warehouses and gallery homes to the art enthusiasts who flock to Miami Beach for the fair each year. In addition, South Florida museums organize exhibits, including shows at the Miami Art Museum, Bass Museum of Art, Norton Museum, Wolfsonian-FIU and MOCA North Miami. In fact, Art Basel's neighbor directly across the street is the Holocaust Museum of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and police and road blocks have been established to divert traffic so both venues are accessible.
And to further entice Miami residents and visitors to the attractions of the event, attention has been drawn to the local Miami culture as well. The Miami Beach Museum Mile Cultural Pass has been established for the Art Basel time period and offered discounted admission to the areas four leading museums. The pass included admission specials to the Bass Museum of Art, the Wolfsonian, the Jewish Museum of Florida and the World Erotic Art Museums.
Despite recent suggestions of a fair relocation to the West Coast, fair director Marc Spiegler said Art Basel would stay in Miami Beach. He told the Miami Herald that recent discussions of a move to San Francisco were due to concerns over potential disruptions from the planned redevelopment of the Miami's convention center. But Spiegler is assuring Art Basel fans that any construction on the convention center would be planned to ensure that the fair does not lose any floor space.
Additionally, art adviser Thea Westreich, of Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services, talked with the New York Times about the highlights of this year's Art Basel event. Her expertise is based in the fact that, as an art adviser, her profession is primarily to build collections for private clients. Hence, Westreich knows how to navigate an art fair environment.
Regarding her favorite pieces at this year's Art Basel Miami, Westreich told the Times that she enjoyed the works of Matthew Marks, "even though it’s very specific. It’s really a gay program, is what it is. I love it, I just love it. Whenever I go there, the photographs for one are great, both the vintage and the contemporary. It’s just a gallery that you respect."
She adds that “Andrew Kreps has a very peculiar point of view, which I love. He’s so passionate about the artists he represents.”
Both these galleries were on her must see list. And ultimately, when asked how to see the fair in under an hour, she tartly remarks on the impossibility of doing so, Specifically, she told the Times, “Oh, just go to a brothel and take in some girls. An hour is not enough. That’s enough time to drink a cup of coffee and go pee.” So according to a career advisor, an hour is simply not enough time to take in the five day event that is the 12th induction of Art Basel Miami.