Art Basel Miami Review - Art, Style, Sun


Arriving at Art Basel Miami on day two of the private pre-show viewing, we heard the lion’s share of art work that will be sold during this show had already been cleared out on day one. 




These sales were to the private Learjet crowd who swarm in from across the globe for the early finds-- for love of art or love of art speculation or both. 



Some of these super-wealthy art collectors were likely still lingering in our midst, or at least that was the thought of the Netjets Pilots Union, the private jet service picketers across the street from the Miami Beach Convention Center who were trying to get their grievances aired to their many wealthy patrons who attend the show.



If the best buys had been taken off the walls it was difficult to imagine. Was what we saw really “second string”?  From Picasso to Matisse to Anish Kapoor and many hundreds more—if not thousands--we were seeing more top dollar and arguably top talent art than one would see on view in most of the country’s art museums. 



Of the dozen or so brightly colored David Hockney paintings we learned that only five of the 21 exhibited by Juda Fine Art were still available for sale by the opening of day 2. 



If you add in the many satellite art shows happening in Miami and Miami Beach at the same time, there were easily 10’s of thousands –millions? --of art works large and small to be seen, and many films and performance art works as well.  Whether you get a pre-opening private viewing or not, this show is so vast that you simply have to triage, triage again, and choose. 



Starting at the Miami Beach Convention Center and letting serendipity guide us, we first queued up at the entrance and had fun picking out the many languages in our midst—Spanish, Italian, French, German were the easy to spot ones for starts. 



Styles ranged from designer garb to dressed down beach wear.  You could see many women making valiant attempts to make strides in 8-inch heel open-toed boots seem natural, yet quite a few flip-flop clad feet too.  When the beach just a few blocks away beckoned you to stick your Chicago-frozen toes in the water and you ambled back you could tell by the womenswear waxing in artiness that you were getting closer to the show entrance hall.



Dwarfing the likes of Chicago’s Art Expo, Art Basel in Miami is also the solo US art venue that some like South Africa’s Stevenson Gallery attend. 



This was the 13th Art Basel in Miami Beach, with 267 participating galleries from 31 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. 



Some of the galleries were showing solo works while others had more thematic displays. 



Special attention was given to younger galleries, special exhibits of prints, and films by and about artists, among other latest-in-the-art-world showcases. 



Chicagoans would certainly delight at the works by sculptors whose signature public artworks in the City were very much on display at the show. 



For anyone who has ever had a rendezvous “under the bean” there was a highly reflective Anish Kapoor piece that seemed to capture every angle in the room into its polygonal surfaces to make you feel at home.  



A sister of that serene and peaceful Madison and Michigan white African-American head by Jaume Plensa also created a familiar landmark space in Basel Miami, though we heard that most of the sculptor’s drawings on sale by Galerie Lelong were sold out on the first day. 



And, for those who remember “Mother” turnin in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art last year, there was a familiar variant of “PEOPLE” spinning.



Sit in one of the many cafés or linger in a gallery space for a bit and you will hear “I asked him for his best price” in many languages.  You’ll also wander into islands of passionate discussion about what is making or breaking art these days. 



In one show café, speaking to two artists and longtime veterans of the Art Basel scene, Jared Sharon of Miami and Michael Farley of Baltimore, both remarked that the greater number of 3D works at the show not only made for more interest but also reflected on a healthier world economy impacting the art scene.  While it may have seemed to newly arrived visitors that Basel Miami had simply taken over the town, Sharon said that most denizens of Miami, Miami Beach and Southern Florida were not aware or affected by the show.  



True though it was, this was difficult to imagine from within the show’s halls or even to remember that most global citizens could care less about conceptual art, though there almost certainly was a piece of work at the show or several that spoke to that reality.



Art Basel Miami is a yearly show, usually in the first week of December.  To keep track of the details being announced on next year’s show visit the Art Basel website.




Photos:  Peter Kachergis












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