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Art Basel Miami Beach: All the World’s Art in One Place

At Art Basel Miami Beach, works by such important artists as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, and Marcel Duchamp, among others, coexist with brash, provocative art by contemporary artists, some of whom are true neophytes, showing their work for the first time.

Por Margarita de los Ríos
Fotoo: William Torres

The white sand beaches of Miami, the blue sea, and the city’s characteristic art deco architecture now frame a frenetic cultural life that reaches its boiling point in December, when more than ten simultaneous cultural events converge. In this context, there is no doubt that Art Basel Miami Beach is the jewel in the crown, followed very closely by Design Miami.

When you enter Art Basel Miami Beach’s enormous enclosure it is striking to find, just a few feet from the beach and in the middle of so many famous nightclubs, works by such prestigious artists as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, and Marcel Duchamp, among others. But visitors soon realize that the event’s great value lies not only in that fact, nor even in the volume and density of works displayed: 258 prestigious galleries from thirty-one countries and 140 museum groups present 4,000 works in corridors and endless labyrinths.

The show’s true value lies in the unique opportunity to find, mixed in with the most masterful artists, works by brash and provocative contemporary artists, some of whom are true neophytes exhibiting their work to the world for the first time. And for those who recognize true talent at a glance, this means the opportunity to purchase works at a price that, once the artist takes off, will never be seen again.

Art Basel is recognized as the world’s most prestigious art show. It first took place in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland when a group of European gallery owners wanted to promote cutting edge new artists in the visual arts. Its prestige and positive reception allowed the event to expand to two additional cities: Hong Kong and Miami Beach.

Seven Sectors in Miami Beach

The first Art Basel Miami Beach took place in 2002 and since then, each December ambitious works of art and performances have been added to this vibrant city’s characteristic landscape of beaches and boulevards. This time, the organizers divided the show by themes to enhance the visitor experience.

In the Galleries sector, prestigious institutions from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia exhibited paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and digital art. Attendees could acquire economically priced limited edition works created by emerging young artists or expensive universally museum-worthy masterpieces. Sean Kelly Gallery (New York), Sprüth Magers (Berlin), Sadie Coles HQ (London), Corbett vs. Dempsey (Chicago), 80M2 (Lima), Fortes Vilaça (São Paulo), and Alan Cristea (London) were among the galleries that participated.

The Nova space, designed so that galleries could present the latest works by their new artists, provided the opportunity for attendees to admire pieces brought directly from the artists’ studios. Thirty-four works by David Ostrowski (Peres Projects), José Dávila (Max Wigram Gallery), John Finneran and Alisa Baremboym (47 Canal), José Antonio Suárez, Juan Londoño, and Johanna Calle (Casas Riegner), among others, were highlighted.

The Positions sector allowed curators, critics, and collectors to discover new and ambitious talent from all over the world by providing a platform for their major projects. Latin American artists Nicolás Consuegra, Juan López, Jorge Pedro Núñez, and Gabriel Acevedo Velarde were showcased.

In the Kabinett sector, twenty-five exclusive galleries with diverse curatorial concepts participated with works ranging from political art to art-historical pieces. Works by Marina Abramovic (Luciana Brito Galeria), José Bento and Raymundo Colares (A Gentil Carioca), Richard Fauguet (Art: Concept), and Leon Polk Smith (Valerie Carberry Gallery), among others were included in this section.

What is more, in the Public sector, visitors could see sculptures, installations, and performances outdoors, in an exhibition installed in Collins Park, with more than thirty sculptures and large-scale installations by international artists, such as Huma Bhabha, Mark di Suvero, Matias Faldbakken, Sam Falls, and Tom Friedman.

The Film sector presented dynamic programming projected on small individual viewing pods, with more than seventy film and video works by Leo Gabin, Joan Jonas, Óscar Muñoz, Cheng Ran, Regina Silveira, and Mickalene Thomas, to name a few. In the Edition sector, the printing industry played a leading role, with the exhibition of works by renowned artists; in the Magazine sector, editors displayed their art-specific magazines and publications, and offered a schedule of presentations and forums.

To capitalize on the fact that prominent artists, museum directors, collectors, and curators were gathered together in one place, Art Basel Miami Beach’s daily Conversations program offered talks on the present and future of art. The next show will take place December 4-7, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Alternate Art 

Miami pulsates with art during the first days of December. Here are a few of the other important events and art fairs held at the same time as Art Basel Miami Beach, from downtown to the Design District.

Art Miami: This fair, now in its twenty-fifth year, was held at the Wynwood Art District complex in Midtown Miami; it promotes contemporary art with the participation of more than 125 galleries, and thousands of collectors, curators, designers, and artists.

Tapas: Design for Food: This expo took place through December 15 as part of the program “Spain Visits Miami,” in the Moore Building of Miami’s Design District, where culinary products and ingredients were elevated to an art form.

Aqua Art Miami: This event has taken place in South Beach since 2005; it is intended for those looking to purchase new and contemporary art and exchange cultural ideas.

Context: A new fair taking place the first week of December, intended to develop and support emerging artists.

Pop-up Piano Miami: More than a dozen pianos painted by artists were distributed around Miami to be played by musicians, advancing social responsibility in communities through art.