Art Basel Miami Beach

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's been over a week since the art world, celebrities, socialites, glitterati and those who just live for the party touched down in Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach, the American sibling to the venerable Swiss art fair. This year marked the seventh year for the fair, which has quickly risen to prominence as an important barometer of the contemporary art market. While some critics have likened the stampede of deep pocket private and institutional collectors at Vernissage, the VIP-laden preview day of the fair, as a high brow garage sale for multi-million dollar artwork, there is something undeniably glamorous about the events that take place during the whirlwind week, even in a more sobering economic climate. Given the chance to escape the chilly weather in New York and sneak a glimpse into how the other half lives, how could I say no to my first time at the fair? Here are some of my top highlights of my trip from December 3rd through the 7th.

The Convention Center
The main fair itself was a labyrinth of over 200 galleries set up in white booths like a vast warehouse style tradeshow, only the attendees were dressed to impress, flashing designer bags and statement-sized jewelry pieces. The crowd was very international, with an emphasis on spoken French and Italian. There were museum-quality pieces from Miro and Warhol on display, and it was thrilling to see the pieces, albeit a bit intimidating and at least for this writer, vastly out of reach. Jenny, a friend I met this week, told me that her boyfriend asked about a small graphite print and was quoted by a cool art dealer "Oh that's just twenty" (as in $20,000!). My advice for first-time goers at the convention fair? Wear comfortable shoes and be aware that cameras are not allowed, although we did spot iPhone cameras snapping away on the floor. If big name artists don't impress, the Art Positions section of the fair may be more your speed. A dozen or so emerging galleries showed works in shipping containers which were set up near the beach, lending a more casual vibe to the experience.

The Satellite Fairs and Side Shows
While the main event was definitely worth checking out, I found myself enjoying the low key vibe of smaller satellite art fairs, such as the Ink Art Fair, which took place in a small hotel courtyard across the street from our hotel on Collins Avenue. The success of Art Basel Miami has encouraged the proliferation of smaller art fairs, with more affordable pricing for mere mortals, this writer included. I purchased an inkjet print from a San Francisco gallery at the Bridge Fair and was impressed by the New Art Dealers Alliance fair, which is a revered nonprofit organization of new art dealers and had an exciting youthful energetic pace at the Ice Palace, which was once the site for Miami raves. One of the most buzz-worthy shows during Art Basel week was a collection of 48 new artworks from artists, curated by a young Whitney curator and an artist, entitled The Station, held in a grungy, Williamsburg-worthy half-finished office building in midtown Miami. Another standout this year was In Fashion Photo, a photography exhibit in a covered parking lot near the Design District, which, in its second year run presented a retrospective of fashion photographs of Naomi Campbell.

above: Ink Fair courtyard

above: the scene at The Station

above: In Fashion Photo

The Parties

above: The Sunset Bar at the Mondrian Hotel

above: the blazing bonfire at the Vanity Fair party at the Raleigh Hotel

Of course no pilgrimage to Miami during Art Basel week would be complete without making a round at the parties. Though this year was supposedly more low key than years past on the party circuit, we enjoyed the poolside scene at the Raleigh Hotel for Vanity Fair's Free Arts NYC/Tommy Hilfiger fundraiser, which featured a cozy beachside bonfire and picturesque sand, which didn't bode well for my stilettos! The opening reception at the new Morgans Group hotel, the Mondrian, featured a hedonistic open bar where Miami socialites were spotted double-fisting glasses of Veuve Cliquot. Another highlight of the week included a GrandLife party held at the temporary Le Baron space at The Florida Room of the Delano Hotel, fusing New York and Paris nightlife party scenes into a rollicking closing night finish.

The Beach

Let's not forget the beach! Where many priceless mornings were spent contemplating the shoreline and the art-centric activities of the day ahead. My first experience at Art Basel Miami Beach was truly memorable, and so long as they continue the fine tradition of satellite fairs and off-beat parties, I will try to make my way down south for the festivities... Bravo, Miami!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Dream Sequins All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger