One word to describe Art Basel Miami Beach and all of the accompanying art fairs – overwhelming!
It is amazing to think that there is so much art in one building, one block, one city, and one metropolis. However, amidst the crowds (75,000 visitors) and the sensory overload, there were places of inspiration and moments of contemplation. This post is in no way comprehensive nor a review of Art Basel. Rather, it’s a look at a few highlights from our experience.
Art Basel – Miami Beach
An extension of Art Basel in Switzerland, Art Basel – Miami Beach began in 2002. In just a little over a decade, this art fair has become America’s largest gathering of contemporary art. This is where you go to see the art world currents and some of the most significant artists of our time.
A few favorites . . .
Pulse Spent a lot of time here. It is less traditional and showcases only contemporary artists. I loved the location in a historic building – an old ice factory from the 1920s with exposed wooden rafters in a nice contrast to the polished concrete floors. Some favorites . . .
Project Miami First time visiting this fair – a nice surprise and an accessible scale that feels more intimate. Also, enjoyed the VIP lounge (thanks to having a husband whose a contemporary art curator).
Family Collections Miami is a tight-knit art community that along with some others, particularly some local family collectors have helped restore Miami’s Design District and make Miami a thriving and influential art hub. These three families below have collected some of the best contemporary art in the last several decades and work hard to make their collections available to the public.
Rubell Family Collection Established in 1964 in New York City shortly after its founders Donald and Mera Rubell were married, the Rubell Family Collection is now one of the world’s largest, privately owned contemporary art collections. During Art Basel, the Rubells exhibited an amazing show highlighting the work of 28 contemporary Chinese artists.
de la Cruz Collection Situated in a somewhat newly built space, the de la Cruz Collection has an impressive array of significant contemporary art in addition to a strong mission in supporting the local art scene.
Margulies Collection This is another amazing personal collection that has been made available to the public. For a personal collection, there is an extraordinary mix of video, installation, and sculpture with some photography and painting by foremost contemporary and modern artists, such as Ai Wei Wei, Olafur Eliasson, Doug Aitken, Cory Arcangel, John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Isamu Noguchi, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Franz West.
Art Museums The art museums are not to be forgotten, and they put on excellent shows at the same time as the art fairs. We visited the Bass Art Museum in Miami Beach, and especially enjoyed the outdoor sculpture garden which is kitty-corner to the W Hotel, which has excellent art in the lobby and can also be a fun place to people watch. A treat this year was to experience the PAAM – the Perez Art Museum Miami. It literally opened the first day of Art Basel (in fact they were still installing landscaping and the parking lot). As expected, there was great art, but I must admit that I was more interested in exploring the architecture. They were innovative in the use of their auditorium space.
Tips for Tackling Art Basel
- Wear comfortable shoes!
- Mix up visits to major art fairs with smaller family collections (some of the best art we experienced).
- Stay in Miami Beach, easy public transit system takes you to any of the major art fairs, both in Miami Beach and Miami.
- Have lunch in Little Havana – for an authentic experience, try Nikki’s Cafe at 1226 Southwest 8th Street.
- Keep snacks with you – so much to experience, sometimes it’s hard to fit in a meal.
- Ditch the car – parking is hard and traffic is a mess.
- Get to the beach – take a break.
- Bring a camera and a notebook, but easiest to use cellphone camera.
- Map out where you want to go beforehand to maximize public transit and the different fairs’ hours and parties.
- Be sure to visit the museums because they open great shows in conjunction with Art Basel.