What to Expect at Art Basel Miami Beach
by sue hostetler
When the owners of the august Swiss art fair Art Basel first brought a stateside version of the show to Miami Beach in 2002, they were gambling on whether the contemporary art community would support a new frontier. In 10 quick years, Art Basel in Miami Beach has arguably become the most influential show in the Americas, an annual pilgrimage for top collectors, curators, museum directors, and art aficionados.
Since its inception, the show has grown to feature 257 of the most prestigious international galleries, featuring an increasingly ambitious citywide program that boasts outdoor and public video, sculpture, and performance. It has also helped spawn a cultural renaissance across South Florida; blue-chip collectors have opened private spaces, a raft of public institutions have been commissioned or revitalized (the Miami Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, and the Miami Science Museum are all currently building new homes), and the Wynwood Art and Design District features cutting-edge galleries, furniture boutiques, and artist studios.
“It was an exciting decade, not only for the show but also for Miami Beach,” says Annette Schönholzer, who, along with Marc Spiegler has served as the show’s codirector since 2008. “The city evolved from being the winter destination for art lovers into a year-round cultural hot spot.”
The show itself, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, has also matured. “The quality of the galleries exhibiting has increased significantly and so has the diversity of the galleries,” adds Spiegler. “People have come to take the show quite seriously, saving great material and planning their booths all year long. Also, the Miami Beach edition was originally established in part as a link between North and South America. Over the past few years we have seen this dream come truly to fruition in terms of our exhibitors, their artists, and their collectors.”
Last year drew a record 26 Latin American exhibitors, and with the immense proliferation of global art fairs, it’s no secret that dealers now often broker nearly half of their annual business at them. As a result, and after buying Art HK (now called Art Basel in Hong Kong) last year, Art Basel is poised to dominate the contemporary art world, staging shows on three continents.
The Miami Beach show, held December 6-9, is poised to be the best yet. The most creative and audacious section is often Art Nova, though Art Positions was considered a highlight by many of last year’s attendees. Art Public is the most visible sector and not to be missed, with Collins Park transformed into a transcendent series of site-specific, conceptual, and performative installations. Another fascinating sector is the new Art Video, a collaboration with the Frank Gehry–designed New World Center.
Break away from the confines of the Convention Center and hit the legendary private collections and prominent art spaces that show avant-garde work. Miami’s stock of private collections—housed in everything from a former DEA drug warehouse (the Rubell Family Collection) to what was once the World Class Boxing gym (the collection of Dennis and Debra Scholl)—are located in the once-dilapidated Wynwood neighborhood, just north of downtown Miami. Enjoy the show! 305-674-1292