Art Fairs on the Move at the Art Basel Miami 2017
Art Basel in Miami Beach 2016 | © Art Basel

The biggest, wildest art fair week in the country is fast approaching. Art Basel Miami, the import fair that revved up the entire South Florida art scene takes place December 7-10 at the newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center. Beyond the main fair there are dozens of satellite fairs, parties, outdoor art parks, and some fashionable benefits this year. The main fair itself has over 250 leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa showing significant work from the masters of Modern and contemporary art, as well the new generation of emerging stars.

Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films, and editioned works of the highest quality are on display in the main exhibition hall.

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What makes Art Basel Miami the biggest? It’s a unique combination of time, place and zeitgeist. Miami’s location – a major city but in the tropics certainly helps, as winter descends on the rest of the NY and European art world, a week of reveling in balmy temps on a world class beach is a no brainer. The timing is right too – with the advent of the internet, the art world can see instantly what is happening in Miami Beach, Wynwood and the Design District and want to be a part of it.

A lot of extremely deep pocketed collectors have settled here – Don and Mera Rubell, Martin Margulies, Jorge Perez – who have financed artists, museums and the art fairs. And art itself has become trendy – a world fueled by new ideas that brings in celebrities and attracts the luxury powered worlds of design, autos, jewelry, and fashion.

The Fair brings the world to Miami – no small feat and one that has become somewhat overwhelming in recent years as the city has experienced growing pains to accommodate the masses. Locals have reaped the rewards of increased business and interest in the city but suffer through gridlock and high prices. Fairgoers face a bewildering array of events, satellite fairs, parties and outdoor art to choose from. It has become impossible to see it all, so advance planning and a focus on what one wishes to get from the week is needed. And some don’t come for the art at all anymore.

Some of the galleries exhibiting in Art Basel 2017

Dealers say they need to be seen here to be taken seriously and some make as much as half their yearly sales in a single week. Artists get a major showcase, with thousands of people seeing their work that would never see it in a gallery show. The Fair aims to put on the best show possible – with plush lounges, craft service, champagne stands and artfully designed floor plans.

The booths in the main hall are the attraction with top tier mind blowing works from the best of the best in the world. Picassos sit next to Richard Prince, celebrities rub elbows with billionaire collectors, artists generally squeak by unnoticed.

Film has become a big part of the fair with world premieres and cult films all getting screened. This year there will be more than 50 works and video projects created by artists from around the world. The program will feature video compilations on display within the Art Basel Film Library, as well as offsite screenings at nearby SoundScape Park—projected on a 7,000-square-foot wall.

Sculpture Park at The Bass

Collins Park in front of The Bass will have 11 new site specific sculpture installations for the week, called “Territorial” curated by Philipp Kaiser who notes “Since time immemorial, sculpture has been territorial, commanding and authoritarian. Even when sculpture is presented with the utmost restraint and elegance, it asserts its own physical space that we inevitably must share with it.”

The works selected claim space or territory through size, scale, intensity and sound, among other artistic practices.

The New ICA Opens

Art Fairs on the Move at the Art Basel Miami 2017
ICA south facade red panel

The Institute of Contemporary Art opened their new permanent home in the Design District at 61 NE 41st Street on December 1. The first exhibition, “The Everywhere Studio,” includes 100 works by over 50 artists — along with commissions by Charles Gaines, Mark Handforth and Chris Ofili. Also on display will be a large-scale work by Allora & Calzadilla titled “Unspecified Promise” made from a Caterpillar tractor and a 55-ton black granite boulder.

ICA’s Director is Ellen Salpeter formerly of New York’s Jewish Museum and their Deputy Director and Chief Curator is Alex Gartenfeld. The ICA formed when MOCA in North Miami found their board splitting with a majority of the permanent collection. Salpeter said in a statement that “the new ICA Miami enables us to deepen our relationship with audiences of all ages and backgrounds from throughout South Florida—and, with a rigorous, thought-provoking program and expanded exhibition spaces, it ensures that Miami will continue to be at the forefront of the discussion on contemporary art at the national and international levels.”

Fashion Art: RxARt at The Webster

An interesting project with international artists that benefits kids unfolds at the historical 1939 Art Deco building The Webster. This Deco jewel on Ocean Drive will host the debut of an exhibit and coloring book by big name artists that benefits childrens hospitals called RXARt.

The newest edition of RxArt’s coloring book, Between the Lines: An RxArt Coloring Book by Contemporary Artists, Volume 6, features works by 51 contemporary artists and an original cover and stickers by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The coloring book is produced biennially as a gift to pediatric patients in hospitals nationwide. Volume 6 was sponsored by design house Sies Marjan. RxArt is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help children heal through the power of visual art. A new artwork on display will be by Walter Robinson, the Pictures Generation ambassador who has recently shown in Switzerland and at Deitch Projects in New York. The event is December 6th from 3-5 pm at The Webster.

Art Miami

Art Fairs on the Move at the Art Basel Miami 2017
Jason Newsted in his studio

Art Miami and its sister fair Context move to an impressive new location on Biscayne Bay where the Miami Herald once stood. The new location is so fresh the concrete foundation was literally poured 3 weeks before the fair opens. One unusual artist will be showing at Art Miami, Jason Newsted, the former bassist for Metallica who is now a full-time artist and lives in Jupiter.

Swampspace Art and Club Culture

Cutting edge art and literature is feted over at hipster gallery/clubhouse Swampspace where a show by Kiki Valdes called The Drawing Chronicles opens on Friday December 1, from 6-10pm and runs through January 1, 2018.

The recent works of Valdes are a “maniacal storm” of ink on paper.

“The world is at an eclipse of nuclear chaos and personal communication has been replaced by smartphones and dating apps. Love has lost its old feeling. My drawings are in search of love. The world is crazy and I just want to feel 15 again, to have butterflies and to draw comic books. I feel that’s why I’ve engulfed myself back into drawing. For me, It’s how it all started,” says Valdes.

SWAMPSPACE, 3940 N. Miami Avenue, 33127
(Miami Design District) 305-710-8631

Wynwood Walls New Murals and Concerts

Art Fairs on the Move at the Art Basel Miami 2017
WU TANG CLAN

Wynwood is changing yet again with new street art and music events. During Art Fair Week they’ve tapped far out songstress Bjork to DJ on Tuesday, December 5, 9 p.m., for an event produced by III Points at Mana Wynwood (2217 NW 5th Avenue, Miami). Also ready to throw down (up?) a party is Wu-Tang Clan at Mana Wynwood on Saturday, December 9, 9 p.m.

The main attraction in Wynwood is Wynwood Walls, the famed epicenter of the Wynwood Arts District renowned for its top notch and continually evolving collection of curated street art. This year the theme is “humanKIND” for Art Basel Miami Art Week.  Goldman Properties will be unveiling 12 new murals on its revolving art walls aligning with sculptural installations tied to “humankind.” Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties and Goldman Global Arts, has hand-selected the talent to continuously transform the Wynwood Art District. Over a million people a year stream past the walls.

“Art Basel Miami is an opportunity to showcase visionary works from elite artists that provide Wynwood visitors, who come to us from all around the world, with a unique, global experience.  We choose a theme each year to reflect what we want to say to this international audience, and this year, humanKIND is a highly relevant message,” said Goldman Srebnick. “The world needs an infusion of kindness more than ever. If we can inspire people to act with kindness towards one another, then we can accomplish our goal of not only promoting creativity, but also inspiring action. Art is universal. It speaks to all humanKIND.”

Artists that will take part in Wynwood Walls’ Art Basel Program include: Seth Globepainter (France), Joe Iurato (USA), Leon Keer (Amsterdam), Tristan Eaton (USA), Lady Pink (USA), eL Seed (France), 2SHY (France), Audrey Kawasaki (USA), Bordalo II (Portugal), Pro176 (France), Risk (USA) and Martin Watson (Norway).

Deitch at The Moore Building

This year, for their third outing, the Gagosian-Deitch super dealer duo will present “Abstract / Not Abstract,” a theme show of decidedly non-figurative work. “The theme and title of ‘Abstract / Not Abstract’ was Larry Gagosian’s suggestion,” Deitch said. “Millions of abstract paintings have been made since 1910, but the concept of abstraction continues to be expanded and reinvented by each generation of artists. There is an especially strong and diverse generation of painters working today in a mode that opens the definition of abstraction.”

The few details that have leaked out say the show will feature recent painting by Chrsitopher Wool, Josh Smith, as well as Tauba Auerbach woven works and Seth Price pieces made with vacuform plastic.

Art Fairs on the Move at the Art Basel Miami 2017
Artist Portrait of Christopher Wool

“We are exploring how artists are expanding the concept of abstraction to reflect the contemporary world,” Deitch said. “A number of the artists in the show work on the boundary between abstraction and representation.”
As an arts writer who has covered fairs in NY and Miami, I can say that this is truly a world class event. NY may be easier to get around, but there’s something in the air here that causes a downright giddy excitement. Maybe it’s the positive ions, maybe it’s the edgy feel of being in the middle of something new being created.

When I landed in Miami Beach in 1986, I couldn’t believe this Art Deco slum existed – so ready for a new coat of paint. Art Basel Miami has brought the big brush.

Art Fairs on the Move at the Art Basel Miami 2017 edition. What’s new at the biggest, wildest art fair week in the country taking place December 7-10?