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A Fair to Remember
Matt Stewart | Photo: Henrique Oliveira Photo Courtesy of Galeria Millan | December 4, 2017
The art world is revving up for its annual pilgrimage to the most prestigious and plenteous fair in the Americas, Art Basel in Miami Beach.
In the world of art, things are not always as they seem. What looks like paint can turn out to be peanut butter and jelly (see Vik Muniz), or the meaning behind a street cafe scene can be about the Last Supper (see Vincent van Gogh). So last year, when 77,000 attendees and 269 galleries from around the globe celebrated the 15th anniversary of Art Basel in Miami Beach, Fla., this was unexpected good news in the face of external forces working against the fair. Word on the street was that between the controversial U.S. elections, Brexit, the threat of Zika and renovations at Miami Beach Convention Center, ABMB would suffer setbacks similar to what the art world saw in 2008. Instead, a number of stunning sales were realized, including $6 million for Lee Krasner’s “Another Storm” (1963). “The success of last year’s fair speaks to the continued strength of the art market and the outstanding quality of the works,” says Noah Horowitz, director Americas of Art Basel. “[It] underlined how art can be a powerful tool to address social and political issues, with Art Basel providing a vital platform for galleries and their artists to exhibit artworks that engage with these pressing matters.”
As is the case each year, the happenings at the museums and institutions surrounding Art Basel in Miami Beach are a palpable part of the overall fair experience. “2017 is an interesting year for cultural institutions in Miami Beach,” shares Horowitz. “The new permanent home of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami will open in the Design District, and the Bass Museum reopened in October following a large-scale renovation. We are thrilled to see Miami’s art institutions continue to grow, and are proud to be a part of the city’s flourishing cultural scene.”
This year’s edition of ABMB will kick off with a by-invitation-only private day for VIPs Dec. 6, and then open to the public Dec. 7 to 10. The usual buzz surrounding highly anticipated works and the introduction of new galleries—this year’s ABMB will feature 20—will be heightened by an updated floor plan and show design within the convention center. The excitement will continue outdoors as Philipp Kaiser takes the helm as curator of the Public sector, presenting site-specific sculptures and performances in the beauty of Miami Beach’s Collins Park.
Press coverage surrounding the art world tends to focus on big ticket sales, like the $110.5 million garnered for the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting “Untitled” at auction in May. Despite this spotlight on the dramatic, Art Basel features a wide array of modern and contemporary works that attract both big-league international collectors and those of more modest means. “Those multimillion-dollar price points remain an important indicator of the state of the contemporary art market, but only reflect a very small portion of the overall market,” says Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel. “Our shows give a much broader view. At any given Art Basel show, galleries participating represent more than 4,000 artists—ranging from the young to midcareer, as well as the established. Those works range from four-figure price points up to millions of dollars.”
Whether you’re looking to set a price record with the purchase of a world-class work, take in a lm screening, see unique performances, sit in on a curated conversation by renowned art experts or are coming to observe the spectacle and creative energy, ABMB is the annual art event in the Americas at which to see and be seen. 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach
Originally published in the November/December issue of Silicon Valley